Like a siren’s song, there’s something eerily beautiful and intriguing about the delicate landscape of southern Evia, though the only danger awaiting you here is the temptation to never leave. Centuries-old forests lie in the shadows of jagged peaks. Treacherous waves crash onto its eastern coast as dolphins swim carefree above myriad shipwrecks deep below the surface. The mysterious structures of the “Drakospita” or “dragon’s houses” built millennia ago still ominously stand on mountain peaks, marking and defying the passing of time.
Hundreds of metres below, modern cities with traditional hospitality and local culture flourish. Aside from the seaside towns of Styra, Marmari and Karystos, the rest of southern Evia is made up of small villages where authentic agrarian life prevails. Some of Greece’s finest meat and cheese is produced within this region, and the friendly islanders are always looking for a chance to impress a hungry traveller with the fruits of their labour.
And the hiking trails, gorges and mountain routes will certainly work up your appetite, both for delicious cuisine and adventure. The famous Demosaris Gorge is one of the most well-known throughout the country, though it sees a mere fraction of visitors as do the Samarian and Vikos Gorge. Tumbling waterfalls amidst lush forests and rock pools entice walkers to take a refreshing dip during the summer months, while the changing colours of autumn and spring bring an enchanting aesthetic to an already mesmerizing place which leads to an amazing hidden beach along Evia’s Aegean coast. The Archampoli and Agios Dimitrios gorges lead to their own private paradises, and include similar scenery and adventure.
The south central part of the region is dominated by Mt. Ochi, which has acted as a haven for humans, animals and plants over millennia. It is here that some of the finest examples of the infamous “drakospita” still stand, built centuries ago by stacking giant rocks on top of one another, leaving nothing but a slender slit down the middle of the roof to allow sunlight in. Unsure whether or not the structures were built to be temples or homes, researchers have suggested that those remaining today may have been a mixture of both. One thing that is certain is that their unique style of primitive architecture has not been previously recorded elsewhere. They are extremely well preserved,are relatively easy to reach on foot, offer incredible views and are an absolute must for visitors to the region.
Mount Ochi’s allure comes from more than mysterious mountain-top buildings. It is home to several rare and endangered bird and reptile species, as well as a large diversity of flora which sustains a delicate eco-system unique to its peaks. Greece’s famed mountain tea grows here, along with a chestnut forest which dates back to centuries before. Its streams water the fertile valleys below and provide all types of life with a resource that continues to dry up elsewhere year after year. A beloved hikers’ haven, Mt. Ochi is great for those of all ages and abilities who wish to explore this lofty utopia.
For those who wish to do some exploring at much lower altitudes, southern Evia has a large number of hidden beaches which are some of the most unknown throughout the country. Only during summer weekends one can find several campers at these stretches of sand virtually surrounded by imposing rocks all around. Most of these lie along its Aegean coast, and some of the most beautiful are Schinodavila, Kallianos, and Varrelai. Windsurfing is becoming more and more popular, particularly at the exotic beach of Chrysi Ammos along the southern Euboean coast which enjoys northerly winds and currents that are anything but predictable.
Though Evia is geographically a bridge between the Greek mainland and the Aegean Sea, southern Evia feels as though it could be the edge of world thanks to the strong currents that surround it and its imposing landscape found within. And whether you choose to discover it via its seas, by foot or by bike, the sweet, enticing song whispering promises of adventure will never be forgotten.