Photo: www.discovergreece.com

Northern Evia

Lush and mysterious northern Evia is a nature lover’s wonderland waiting to be explored and appreciated by anyone with a high level of standards. Winding mountain paths, bubbling thermal springs, petrified forests and exotic islets are just a few of the natural wonders lying in wait.

The region has been equated with “the good life” since antiquity, with the northwestern corner known for its bountiful wine production as well as its therapeutic natural hot springs. The small seaside village of Loutra Aidipsos has gained international fame for the healing properties of its thermal springs, and spa resorts as well as one-of-a-kind cosmetic treatments with its waters and mud have bathers from all corners of the world flocking to its bubbling elixirs.

Those looking for a more active aqua encounter will love the tropical-looking islets known as Lichadonisia or the “Greek Seychelles”. Tucked away in the westernmost corner of the region, these islets are great for natural explorers and can easily be swum to and in between. Sea kayaking is also popular here, and rowers may need to remind themselves that they are not gliding through waters of the south pacific.

Photo: GNTO/Y.Skoulas

The popular resorts of Pefki and Agia Anna offer everyone from young campers to large families with a variety of activities to do within the beautiful contrast of forest and sea at every turn. Venture father inland and the utopian Nileas Gorge will mesmerize you with its waterfalls, emerald pools, narrow caves and lush vegetation all around. A little north lies the petrified forest of Kerasia, which experts believe date back millions of years ago. Fossils of a number of mammals and invertebrates can still be seen in the hardened surface of the rocks. Most of what was removed from the site can be visited in the local Museum of Petrified Mammals.

If talk of fossilized bones makes your eyes glass over, a plate of hearty “rolled fish balls” is sure to perk you up, as will the numerous delectable local dishes, a large amount of which are made from organic products. Octopus dishes as well as cuttlefish with spinach satisfy seafood junkies, while the ultra –rich custard pie known as “galaktoboureko” will seduce even those who profess not to have a sweet tooth.
As tempting as it may be to never want to leave the table, northern Evia’s excellent cycling and hiking routes are the best way to deal with the region’s affinity towards sweets. The mountain ranges of Telethrio and Kandili are best suited for those preferring scenic walks rather than bona fide hikes, while Mount Ksiro and Pyxarhias provide challenging climbs for avid trekkers. Dozens of short forests paths see a growing number of cyclists, as does the health-conscious city of Aidipsos, where renting wheels is easy.

Photo: JazRio

Horseback riding is a fantastic alternative way to see and appreciate the natural beauty of northern Evia, with a handful of stables offering real trail rides along with a number of other equestrian activities. And if all of this activity has you worn out, let your cares slide away with a class of authentic and organic regional wine made by local producers doing all they can to preserve rare wines native to northern Evia. Raising a glass towards sustainability never tasted so good!

No matter whether you come in search of spa treatments, hiking therapy or the perfect glass of Vradiano, northern Evia is sure to have you coming back for more.

 

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Location - Northern Evia

Cave of Lihada

Near the eponymous village of Lihada lies this cave with a large entrance. Artefacts found in the cave have confirmed it was inhabited as far back as the Prehistoric era.

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Lihadonisia

Known as the “Greek Seychelles”, the handful of small islets across from the seaside town of Lihada are a marine playground, particularly for those who come with their own boat. The popular beach of Agios Georgios features sun loungers and umbrellas as well as a beach bar. It’s very popular with the young and gregarious, though if you’re looking for more secluded swimming, the other islets are all within swimming distance and feature extremely shallow waters.

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Loutra Aidipsou

Though fairly unimpressive at first glance, what sets the beach of Loutra Aidipsou apart from others are its thermal springs which pop up here and there along the coastline. Backed by shops, tavernas and hotels, the beach can be noisy, though allows for a convenient dip for visitors to the well-known thermal spring capitol of Greece.

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Northern Evia’s diverse landscape of open meadows, mountain ranges, wetlands and rocky seaside cliffs provide a welcome variety to several types of birds. The two main areas of interest among bird watchers are the Kandili Mountains to the West and the wetlands and lagoons of Istiea in the Northern part of the region.

The low mountains of Kandili are a favoured habitat among migratory birds and also serve as an invaluable breeding ground for large raptors. Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Emberiza caesia) can be seen within the wooded areas here.

Istiea’s wetlands and lagoons of Mikro and Megalo Livari provide safe shelter to the beautiful Mute Swan (Cignus olor) as well as a large number of seabirds which winter here. The large variety of flora and fauna provide ample food for several bird species, though illegal building, hunting, and draining of some wetland area has imposed a threat on the ecosystem and has prompted the area to become a candidate for SAC.

Canoeing

Photo: Harris Paterakis

The Nileas River which flows from the foot of Mt. Xiron towards the Aegean Sea is one of the few places throughout northern Evia where the sport can be enjoyed in freshwater, though it should be noted that the gorge in which the river flows does not have water deep enough for continuous rowing and only portions of the river can be explored by canoe.

Kayaking

Photo: www.lifo.gr

Unfortunately, the streams and rivers of northern Evia are not suited for kayaking, though sea kayaking is a popular sport along the coastal resorts of Agia Anna and Pefki. The best place to partake in this activity though, are the magical islets of Lihada (Lihadonisia). Dubbed the “Greek Seychelles”, the waters here calm and appear in an array of tropical colours. The small scattered islets are close enough to each for kayakers to take a swim at their beaches while continuing their navigation through the shallow waters.

The Gorge of Nileas and its eponymous river provide a unique and intriguing landscape for canyoning enthusiasts. Most that embark on its two-hour journey start from the long descent into the gorge in the area of Paliovrisi. The river cuts through the rock of the gorge until it exits at Kriovrisi along the Aegean cost, though most walkers head northward towards the village of Kerasia. Swimming is unavoidable in some areas and canyoners should be prepared to cross through narrow passes and caves along the way.

Photo: www.activesundays.com

Cave of Lihada

Near the eponymous village of Lihada lies this cave with a large entrance. Artefacts found in the cave have confirmed it was inhabited as far back as the Prehistoric era.

Find Out More

Northern Evia’s thick pine forests and easy-going coastal roads provide cyclists with endless opportunities to enjoy the region from a different angle. The northwestern section of the area is particularly picturesque and bike rental is easy to find around the health-inclined resort of Aidipsos.

Northern Evia’s diverse landscape is reflected in its regional recipes and on the plates of diners throughout the area. Though not yet among the oil-producing hot spots of Greece, the olive groves here provide high quality olives and olive oil. Just as the rest of Evia, fig production remains an important endeavour among residents. In terms of main dishes, seafood plays a larger role than meat does. One of northern Evia’s most characteristic local dishes is rolled fish balls locally known as “psarokeftedes.” Octopus is also prepared in a variety of ways here. Cuttlefish with spinach and wild greens is yet another product of its rich soil and seas.  Legumes have remained an important staple among locals, and the garbanzo bean-rice mix or “revithomanestro” is a hearty winter meal commonly served within the area. Giant lima beans with fish are another favourite dish. Snacks include savoury mini fried cheese pies with herbs as well as sweets such as baklava and the ultra rich custard pie known as “galaktoboureko”. 

Photo: www.sintayes.gr

Northern Evia’s dense forests and mountain ranges provide walkers with plenty of routes which will take them through some of the island’s most picturesque corners.

Agios – Prokopi                                Duration: 6 hours                             Difficulty: Easy

Fortunately, this lengthy trail is a leisurely walk starting in the village of Prokopi and continuing southward towards Agios. Along the way, hikers will venture around Kandili mountain and pass near the village of Paghondas.

Drymonas Falls – Mount Ksiron       Duration: 3.5 hours                             Difficulty: Easy

Though this picturesque route is a steady uphill hike up a mountain, the elevation is gradual. The lovely waterfalls just outside the village of Drymonas set the tone for this beautiful walk within the heart of northern Evia.

Mnimeio – Mt. Pyksarias                  Duration: 6.5                                   Difficulty: Moderate

One of the region’s more difficult hikes is this long and sometimes challenging route is this uphill climb from the area of Mnimeio towards the summit of Mt. Pyksarias.

Photo: theblogofdimi.com

Pyli – Mt. Pyksarias                        Duration: 2 hours                              Difficulty: Easy

One of the easier ways the reach the top of Pyksarias is this path starting in the small hamlet of pyli just 2 kilometres west of the Aegean coast. The path begins with an uphill climb towards the church of Panagia. From there, walkers will stay to the left of the ravine and pass several springs. Eventually it is possible to cross the ravine and continue from the right sight, heading up towards the peak of Mt. Pyksarias.

Vlachia – Mt. Pyksarias                 Duration: 6 hours                              Difficulty: Moderate

Another challenging hike is this long climb from the village of Vlachia southward up to Mt. Pyksaria’s highest peak. From Vlachia, hikers continue along a picturesque dirt road until reaching the actual path. From there things get trickier, with frequent steep climbs and careful footwork while crossing ravines. Along a good portion of the route, the views of the Aegean are breathtaking, though the path has several steep ridges along the way. Those who can make it to the end can boast about reaching the range’s highest point, at 1352 m.

Nileas Gorge                                    Duration: 2 hours                              Difficulty: Easy

A unique and picturesque path is this intriguing route through northern Evia’s famed gorge, Nileas. The route follows the river with the same name and begins from the village of Keramia. After passing a few kilometres of asphalt and dirt roads, the real path finally begins its scenic descent into the gorge. Along the way hikers will pass a thick canopy of trees and vegetation as well as very narrow passes through the overhead cliffs. Several parts of this journey involve walking through the river’s shallow parts, so hikers should plan accordingly. The path eventually brings walkers to the small village of Kerasia.

Photo: www.activesundays.com

Kastaniotissa – Mt. Telethrio                Duration: 1 hour                       Difficulty: Easy

What this route may lack in difficulty and length, it more than makes up for in beauty. Particularly beautiful during autumn, this path begins from the village of Kastaniotissa and continues southward up into the low mountains of Telethrio. Along the way, walkers will pass under trees and arrive at several picturesque chapels. As the ascent towards the mountain intensifies, following the trail markers becomes more and more important as there are several crossroads along the way.

The mountains of northern Evia may not be as high or challenging as those in the central and southern areas of the island; however, the routes to reach them are some of the most scenic throughout all Evia. The two northern mountain ranges of Telethrio and Ksiron are suited for those looking for a leisurely hike rather than a climb, while the ranges of Kandili and Pyxarias towards the south are more challenging and involve minor elements of climbing.

Photo: JazRio

Northern Evia is a hot spring hot spot. Its thermal baths have been known and sought after since antiquity due to their rich mineral qualities which provide relief and therapy to the thousands visiting them annually.

Photo: www.evia-guide.gr

Most of these are in and around the coastal retreat of Aidipsos (Edipsos) though there are several sprinkled throughout the region. The area owes its rich thermal activity due to the deep rifts within its underground rock sheets. The result is over 80 springs within Aidipsos alone, making it one of the world’s most visited thermal bath destination. Ranging anywhere from 28º to 86ºC, the high levels of iron, sulphur, calcium, radon and magnesium present within the waters, treat a long list of ailments, including arthritis, migraines, circulatory problems, gynaecological diseases and disorders, dermatological ailments, muscular-skeletal disorders, and a host of other health problems.

Photo: www.evia-guide.gr

Springs can be seen throughout the town and some are found along the coast, open to anyone wishing to bathe in its waters. Bath houses and resorts have been built around several, requiring a fee in order to visit. Several of the hotels and resorts offer a variety of modern treatments in conjunction with the spring waters and some have a doctor on site available for consultations. The municipality runs a bath house which offers affordable soaks to Greeks and foreigners alike. 

Municipal Thermal Baths

Eighty-four individual spas along with large interior and exterior pools are housed in the newly built complex of Aidipsos’ public baths. Special customized treatments targeting the neck and limbs are also available as well as a movement therapy pool and gym.

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Like the rest of the island, northern Evia’s is in no short supply of beautiful beaches. Unlike central and southern Evia though, the coastline of northern Evia is known for its lush vegetation and mountains in the backdrop. Gregarious types will appreciate the popular resorts of Agia Anna and Pefki, while bathers seeking peace and solitude can rest assured that northern Evia will not disappoint.

Agia Anna Beach

As one of the most popular resorts throughout the entire island of Evia, Agia Anna attracts thousands of tourists each year. Its long sandy beach stretches kilometre after kilometre and is backed by countless tavernas, beach bars and rooms. As is the case with Pefki, it’s better to visit during the low season if you are not fond of crowds.

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Chronia Beach

Approximately five kilometres north of Limni is the beach of Chronia lays this thin, yet clean strip of beach. Small pebbles and plenty of dried seaweed make up its surface, and though you won’t find any umbrellas for hire here, a couple of rooms and tavernas just beyond the beach provide basic amenities.

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Kanatadika

The beautiful beach of Kanatadika is set apart by the beautiful shades of blue in its waters and its unique position looking out towards both the mainland, the Pelion Peninsula and the Aegean. The beach consists of smooth pebbles, and is backed by a few traditional seafood tavernas.

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Lihadas (Kavos Beach)

Evia’s western most beach looks across to the small islets of Lihadonisia and offers swimmers a shallow sandy beach. Though popular in itself, most people come here to catch the boat which makes runs between the small islands throughout the day.

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Lihadonisia

Known as the “Greek Seychelles”, the handful of small islets across from the seaside town of Lihada are a marine playground, particularly for those who come with their own boat. The popular beach of Agios Georgios features sun loungers and umbrellas as well as a beach bar. It’s very popular with the young and gregarious, though if you’re looking for more secluded swimming, the other islets are all within swimming distance and feature extremely shallow waters.

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Limni Beach

Conveniently located just outside the graphic seaside town it takes its name from, Limni Beach is unorganized and features clean water and pebbles both inside and outside of the sea. It can be busy during summertime, though it large length wards off the feeling that it’s overcrowded.

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Loutra Aidipsou

Though fairly unimpressive at first glance, what sets the beach of Loutra Aidipsou apart from others are its thermal springs which pop up here and there along the coastline. Backed by shops, tavernas and hotels, the beach can be noisy, though allows for a convenient dip for visitors to the well-known thermal spring capitol of Greece.

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Oreoi

Just left of the small harbour in the picturesque seaside town of Oreoi, the eponymous beach features calm, clear waters and fine sand. Tavernas and cafes are found just behind the beach.

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Pefki

The popular beach of Pefki sits close to the northernmost point of Evia. It is a well-known resort, attracting families and very popular with campers. It takes its name from the Greek word for pine tree, and indeed the trees tumble down mere metres from the beach. Pefki is extremely popular during the summer and if you are looking for peace and quiet, it is best to visit during the off season.

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Pylio

Aside from a small section of umbrellas and sun loungers, the beautiful beach of Pylio is unorganised and large enough to handle the crowds. Its shallow waters and sandy beach make it ideal for young children, though due to the fact that it faces the Aegean, it can be prone to strong northern winds.

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Rovies Beach

You could be forgiven for believing you were on the shore of a Swiss Lake rather than an Aegean island while relaxing on the peaceful and scenic beach of Rovies. Smooth pebbles and pine trees that practically overhang into the waters give this stretch of beach a unique feeling. The mountains behind and the mainland in the distance add to the feeling of being anywhere but on an island!

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Cave of Lihada

Near the eponymous village of Lihada lies this cave with a large entrance. Artefacts found in the cave have confirmed it was inhabited as far back as the Prehistoric era.

Find Out More

Lihadonisia

Known as the “Greek Seychelles”, the handful of small islets across from the seaside town of Lihada are a marine playground, particularly for those who come with their own boat. The popular beach of Agios Georgios features sun loungers and umbrellas as well as a beach bar. It’s very popular with the young and gregarious, though if you’re looking for more secluded swimming, the other islets are all within swimming distance and feature extremely shallow waters.

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Loutra Aidipsou

Though fairly unimpressive at first glance, what sets the beach of Loutra Aidipsou apart from others are its thermal springs which pop up here and there along the coastline. Backed by shops, tavernas and hotels, the beach can be noisy, though allows for a convenient dip for visitors to the well-known thermal spring capitol of Greece.

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Though not as popular as southern Evia, the coastal towns of Limni and Kanatadika can be great places to enjoy the sport when there is enough wind. Finding a breeze will certainly not be an issue in the northern town of Pefki where you can expect a decent wind year-round and must actually be careful in August due to the severity of the northern Meltemi winds which pelt the area during this time.

Drosini Tower

Evia / Northern Evia
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Tower of Aidipsos

Evia / Northern Evia
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Photo: www.lifo.gr

The dense forests, gorges, mountains and coastal areas of northern Evia have blessed the region not only with physical beauty, but also with a rich and invaluable biodiversity.

The forests of northern Evia are dominated by pine and other coniferous trees, making the region a year-round haven for birds and other tree dwelling animals. Chestnut trees are also common in this area. The region’s highest mountain of Pyxaria is home to an impressive amount of Juniper trees, while Cephalonia Fir trees and Plane trees are found in abundance on Mt. Kandili along northern Evia’s western coast.

In addition to the large variety of trees, flowering plants and herbs have helped with the region produce some of the highest quality honey in all of Greece. In northern Evia, pine and thyme varieties of this sweet delight are the most commonly found. Evia’s famous mountain tea grows in abundance here as well, just as it does throughout the rest of the island. Rosemary and lavender are prominent throughout the area.

In addition to the numerous trees and plant species, northern Evia is home to the unique petrified forest of Kerasia, about ten kilometres northwest of Agia Anna. It is one of the largest of its kind throughout all of Europe and features remains from a variety of mammals and invertebrates.

The marshes and lagoons of Megalo and Mikro Livari just outside of Istieia are one of the only freshwater habitats throughout northern Evia and are protected under the Natura 2000 initiative. Other sites within the network include Mt. Kandili and Mt. Telethrio.

The beautiful islets of Lihada or “lihadonisia” in the northwestern corner of the region are known for their exotic beauty, which has earned them the unofficial name of “Greek Seychelles” as well as an induction into the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Though not officially recognised, equally breathtaking natural hot spots include the Nileas Gorge as well as the Waterfalls of Drymonas.

The numerous remote mountain ranges and kilometres upon kilometres of rich forest have blessed both northern Evia and the wildlife itself with a symbiotic relationship rarely found elsewhere. This rich diversity is nothing new, as the region’s petrified forest just north of the village of Kerasia demonstrates. The large variety of plant and tree life has much to do with the area’s flourishing natural habitat.

Within the forests of northern Evia, deer, warthogs, foxes, skunks, weasels, moles, wild hares, beavers, squirrels and even wild goats are all commonly spotted. Unfortunately, hunting has been made legal in many of these areas.

The wetlands to the north are also under the constant threat of being drained for agricultural purposes as well as extensive building in the area. Despite this, several species of frogs and turtles as well as water snakes and salamander continue to call the shallow marshes home. They are supported by a large variety of insects that flourish not only in the marshes but throughout the greater north Evia region.

Photo: istiaia-wines.grLike the rest of the island, northern Evia has a long history of wine production. Though grape cultivation has taken place here since antiquity, it has only recently begun to be seen as a viable tourist market and is home to a handful of small but top-notch wineries.

Vrinioti Wines

Evia / Northern Evia
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