As is often the case, the inner charms of a country represent the most authentic parts of it - and in Greece, Larissa is no exception. The greater Larissa region is rich in natural beauty, cultural heritage, and agricultural products. You can explore the ancient history of Larissa, the capital city of Thessaly, by visiting its acropolis on the hill of Agios Achillios, where you can see the ruins of two ancient theatres, a Turkish market, and a fortress. You can also enjoy the traditional Thessalian cuisine in the tavernas and cafes of the city, or visit the museums and art galleries to learn more about the local history and culture.
Larissa is surrounded by some of the most impressive mountains in Greece, such as Olympus, Ossa, and Mavrovouni. These mountains offer a variety of ecotourism activities, such as hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, and wildlife watching. You can admire the stunning views of the valleys and plains, where you can find fertile fields of cotton, grains, fruits, vegetables, wine, and tsipouro. You can also visit some of the nearby attractions, such as the Larissa Acropolis in Argos, which is not to be confused with the city by the same name. This acropolis was used by many civilizations throughout history and has a temple of Zeus, a sanctuary of Hera, and an underground passage with two caves.
If you are looking for a way to enjoy nature and support local communities in the greater Larissa region, you will be delighted to discover the many ecotourism activities such as:
- Hiking in the Olympus National Park: Explore the majestic mountain of the gods and admire its rich biodiversity. You can join guided tours or follow marked trails on your own. There are also several mountain huts and campsites where you can stay overnight.
- Kayaking in the Pinios River: Experience the thrill of paddling through the scenic river valley and passing by ancient bridges, monasteries and castles. You can rent a kayak or join a group tour with experienced instructors. The river is suitable for all levels of difficulty and offers a variety of routes.
- Horse riding in the Tempi Valley: Enjoy a relaxing ride on a horseback through the lush greenery and the rocky slopes of the Tempi Valley. Please keep a lookout for the welfare of the horses.
- History and archeology: A visit to the nearby archaeological site of Dion and the famous Agia Paraskevi church.
- Cycling in the Kato Olympos: Discover the hidden gems of the lower slopes of Mount Olympus on a bike along rural roads, forest paths and olive groves, and stop by charming villages, traditional taverns and historical monuments. Rnt a bike or join a guided tour with a local expert.
- Birdwatching in Lake Karla: Observe the diverse birdlife of the Karla lake, one of the most important wetlands in Greece. You can spot rare and endangered species such as flamingos, pelicans, herons and storks. You can also learn about the history and the ecology of the lake at the Karla Information Center.
- Camping in the Kissavos Mountain: Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at the Kissavos Mountain. You can pitch your tent at one of the designated camping areas or stay at a cozy wooden cabin. You can also enjoy activities such as hiking, climbing, rafting and paragliding.
- Visiting organic farms in Tyrnavos: Learn about the traditional methods of organic farming and taste the delicious products of the land at Tyrnavos, a town famous for its wine and tsipouro production. You can visit various farms and wineries that offer tours and tastings, and buy some local delicacies to take home with you.
- Volunteering at wildlife rescue centers in Elassona: Help protect and care for injured or orphaned wildlife at one of the rescue centers in Elassona. You can volunteer for a day or more and assist with feeding, cleaning, medicating and rehabilitating animals such as bears, wolves, foxes and birds of prey.
- Snorkeling in the Aegean Sea: Explore the underwater world of the Aegean Sea and admire its colorful marine life. You can snorkel at various locations along the coast, such as Platamonas, Agiokampos and Velika. You can rent equipment or join a guided tour with a certified instructor.
Larissa is also a springboard to other parts of Central and Northern Greece, including the famous Meteora, only 1 hour and 15 minutes away by car. There are some gorgeous traditional guesthouses on the outskirts of Larissa, such as in the area of Agia (known for its apples, chestnuts and more), and a stay there is highly recommended. On a final note, there's a comically affectionate saying in Greek that has a true ring to it: Λάρισα, Λάρισα, σε είδα και λαχτάρησα! (Larissa, Larissa, I saw you and I longed for you!).