The island is the second largest in Greece, after Crete. Long and
narrow, it stretches over the Aegean Sea very close alongside the shores
of Mainland Greece, separated from it by the Gulf of Euboea and the
famous Evripos Straits. A main highway and ferryboats from several
terminals form the links with this island space, which is a center of
attraction for those seeking natural beauty and scenic variety. There is
something of interest to be seen at every turn in Euboea. Towns brisk
with tourist traffic or peaceful villages, apparently forgotten by time.
There are large fertile valleys and wooded mountainsides where mountain
climbers can enjoy themselves as much as those opting, instead, for the
attractions of the seashores with their excellent sandy beaches,
organized bathing facilities and charming secluded coves.
Modern life thrives alongside splendidly preserved tradition. There are
picturesque country fairs where genuine, local customs survive. Euboea
can promise and indeed offer its guests all this. By road, Chalkida, the
island’s capital, is accessible from a fork on the main Athens- Lamia
highway. A swing bridge carries traffic across the narrow Evripos
Straits with their tidal current, which Aristotle tried hard to explain
in ancient times. The name Chalkida, taken by the town, which has been
built over the site occupied by a very ancient city, is said to
originate either from the copper which its inhabitants processed in
olden times (Halkos means copper in Greek) or from the word “Halki”,
which means a form of shell, used in antiquity for dying red fabrics.
The ancient city was a renowned trading center, which established
several colonies and contained famous temples dedicated to Zeus, Apollo
and the goddess Hera.
The archaeological museum in the town contains notable exhibits such as
the headless statue of the goddess Athena, the relief of Dionysus, the
abduction of Antiope by Theseus and others. The Byzantine basilica of
Aghia Paraskevi, located within the compound of the mediaeval fortress,
contains coats of arms and inscriptions of the 14th century. The modern
town has several hotels and its restaurants specialise in fish dishes.
Chalkida is the ideal starting point for an exploration of the whole
island. Southward the road leads to Eretria, which, in ancient times,
was the second most important city on the island, after Chalkida. It was
a major maritime power and the standard of its intellectual activities
was high. It was in Eretria that, in the 3rd century B.C., Menedimos,
one of Plato’s pupils, founded the Eretrian School of Philosophy.
Excavations, undertaken in 1891, reveal many monuments and statues.
Interesting objects for the visitor to see are the ancient baths, the
remains of the Temple of Dafniforos Apollo, the Palaestra with its fine
mosaic and the ancient theater, unique in that it had a subterranean
passage for use by the actors. The ancestral homes of several renowned
seafarers still stand in the town. In the museum there are finds dating
back to prehistoric, archaic, classic and Hellenistic times. Eretria is
also accessible by ferryboat from Oropos. The road from Chalkida to
Eretria passes by the fine Malakonta beach which has ample facilities
for tourists and then goes through the village of Vassiliko, which
possesses distinctive local colour and a Venetian tower. Close by are
the seaside settlements of Lefkanti and Kambos. Continuing south along
the coastal road, on the shores of the Gulf of Euboea, one comes upon
the township of Amarinthas, which has a fine beach, tranquil
surroundings and plenty of attractive fish dishes to offer. Nearby are
the Byzantine churches of Metamorfossis and Kimissis Theotokou. At
Vlihas there is a Macedonian grave. Ana Vathia is a quaint village with
its Byzantine church of Zoodochos Pighi and the monastery of Aghios
Nikolaos. Following along the foothills of Mt. Skliro, the road leads
into the town of Aliveri with its spreading plain, its old tower and
church of Aghios Loukas. In the same district stands the church of
Aghios Nikolaos, which contains well-preserved Byzantine frescoes. At
Aliveri there is a major electric power station. Continuing south, the
road comes upon the fork for Lepaurs from which it leads to Karistas.
The area is thick with pinewoods and, in the past, fossils of
pre-historic animals were found there. Inland lies the township of Stira
where lots of streams flow amid spreading plane trees. There is also an
ancient citadel. Nea Stira is on the coast, along a peaceful bay, which
gives on to the Gulf of Euboea. It has well equipped bathing beach
facilities. It is in this area that the “Dragon’s Houses” (“Spilia tou
Drakou”) stand, consisting of huge, ancient blocks of stone. Further
South is the village of Marmari. All around are picturesque sites and
excellent beaches. There is a ferryboat service to Rafina. Offshore is
the islet of Petali. Still further south, the road follows the foothills
of Mt. Ochi, whose summit has an altitude of 1398 M, and leads to
Karistos, a town with a very ancient history, said to have been built by
the Dryopes. The Venetians named it Castel Rosso because of the red
stone with which they built their fortress there. It still stands.
Another site worth visiting is Palaiochora where there are remains of
ancient buildings and the noteworthy Byzantine church of Taxiarchon.
There is also the Aghia Triada grotto with its spacious galleries. If
one goes back to the Lepoura fork and takes the road leading northeast,
it will first skirt the well-wooded Mt. Dirfi (altitude 1,745 m.), which
is the tallest mountain in Euboea. It then leads to the township of Kimi,
which stands high up on the cliff, 250 m. above sea level, like a
balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea. It is a town built with
characteristic island picturesqueness. Many of its houses retain their
pure traditional architecture. Directly opposite is the island of Skyros.
Recently the Educational and Cultural Association of Kimi founded the
town’s Folkloric Museum, which is housed in a typical neo-classic
building. The exhibits cover the period from the year 1800 A.D. to the
period between the two Great World Wars. Kimi has been known since
ancient times and it is said that the town existed even before the
Trojan War. The surrounding district has numerous attractive villages,
beaches, monasteries and plenty of woodland. At Honeftiko, set among
poplar and fir trees, is a well-known medicinal spring. At Ano Patamia
there are remains of an ancient city. The convent of Sotiros is tucked
away on a steep slope. There is also a small, weather-beaten fortress,
built by the Franks. The convent of Aghiou Haralambous Lefkon is also
worth seeing. The Port of Kimi – called Paralia, 4 km from the town – is
the departure point for ships calling at the Sporades islands. If one
sets out north from Chalkida, into the mountainous heart of the island
of Euboea, the road leads to Steni Dirfias which is set in among plane
trees with running streams, fir trees, pine trees and thick scrub which
clings to the slopes of Mt. Dirfys. Both settlements of this village
maintain their strict traditional character. It is the starting point
for the climb to the alpine rest hut. Another very picturesque village
in this area is Stropones. The outlet to the Aegean Sea from here is at
Heiliadou, which has a fine beach and a church of the Kimissis Theotokou.
The main motor highway, which traverses Northern Euboea, goes past Nea
Artaki, dotted with tavernas, which serve fish food as their speciality.
Nearby is the church of Faneromeni. Psahna, an attractive village a
little further on, is the gateway to the hinterland of Northern Euboea.
Politika is next with its Byzantine church of the Theotokou. As the road
begins to climb, the country becomes more wooded with plane trees, pine
trees and firs. It is an astounding trip to the village of Prokopi with
its church of Aghios loannis Rossos that attracts numerous pilgrims. The
large village of Mantoudi, beyond Prokopi, overlooks the plain of
ancient Kirintha from a height. There are plane trees and pine trees
everywhere. The road then descends the mountainside of Kandili and
passes through picturesque villages such as Skepasti and Kehries. The
road leads into Limni a really charming township with a long history and
well preserved traditions whose white houses are reflected in the waters
of the Gulf of Euboea. According to legend, this was the site of ancient
Elimnion where the wedding of Zeus to the goddess Hera was held. The
ancient temple was destroyed by earthquake. Sites worth visiting are the
excellent mosaics of the early Christian church, the chapel of Zoodochos
Pighi and the well known convent of Galataki, built over the site of an
ancient temple of Poseidon amid very impressive scenery and an almost
incredible solitude. The convent is occupied by nuns. There is also the
attractive village of Rovies set in among olivegroves, which stretch
right down to the sea. In this area, in ancient times, there was the
“infallible oracle” of the Selinountios Apollo. In the same area stands
the monastery of Osiou David Geronta, which contains fine 17th century
frescoes. Driving on in the direction of the Aegean seaboard, the road
leads into Aghia Ana, also known as Ayana which is really one of the
most charming parts of all Euboea as it retains its strong traditional
style, its customs and country fairs. The neighbouring Angali beach is
also attractive with its extensive sands. The road then leads to
Artemision, which is a Cape looking across the straits towards Mt.
Pelion. Its ancient history is linked to the goddess Artemis who was
supposed to go there hunting. There are remains of a temple dedicated to
her. Other sites worth seeing are the churches of Aghia Paraskevi and
Aghios Georgios. Slightly further North is the picturesque village or
Pefki set in a pine forest. It has a fine beach. The road then traverses
the peaceful and fertile plain of Istiea, which Homer described as
“polystafyllon” (land of the many vines). According to legend, this is
where the sacred bulls of the goddess Hera grazed. Orei, which is the
port for Istiea, has characteristics entirely peculiar to itself with a
Frankish fortress separating the town into two parts. To the West stand
the ruins of another castle built upon the site of an earlier citadel.
In the township there is the Byzantine church of Aghios Vasilios. Orei
owe its importance to its dominating geographical position where, since
olden times, it has been astride the channel which separates Euboea from
the coast of Fthiotida opposite. Another, nearby pleasant seaside spot
is Agiokambos with tavernas, which specialise in fish dishes. Its port
is the starting point for the ferryboats to Glifa on the opposite coast.
Turning back towards the Gulf of Euboea, the road leads to another
important town on the island. This is the Edipsos spa, known since
ancient times for its medicinal springs, mentioned by both Aristotle and
Strabo and, nowadays one of the best-known Greek holiday resorts. It
flourished in Roman times. On a hill close to Edipsos, lie the remains
of the ancient city. There are remains of Roman baths at Aghii Anargyri
and the Sylla Hot Springs (“Thermai”) near the sea. To the Northwest of
Edipsos there is attractive countryside. Gialtra is a picturesque
village in well-wooded surroundings with a good beach and natural
medicinal springs. Its church of Theotokou has interesting frescoes.
There is also Lihada, which is surrounded by forestland with its seaside
settlement Aghios Georgios close by. At Profitis Elias there is a cave
with stalactites. An excursion to Paleochori is pleasant as the village
is very green amid plane trees and running streams. At the Northwest
point of the island there is the convent of Aghios Georgios with a
woodcarver altar screen and valuable relics. Throughout Euboea,
traditions are preserved, as well as picturesque local customs and all
the year round there are various local country fairs in villages and at
monasteries with folk dancing, folksongs and meals of local specialties.
(41 nautical miles from the town of Volos)
It’s green, soft and idyllic, with some 70 sandy inlets; several bays
and three harbours. Its highest wooded summit rips to 438 meters.
Around the island there are no less than 9 smaller islands. Two of
these, called Tsougries, lie across the main harbor offering safe
anchorage to boats,
with a small marina for yachts. The principal town, also called
Skiathos, was built in 1830 on two low hills. It is the hub of the
tourist summer season, with several hotels, neat villas and rooms to let
for any length of time. Of interest in the town is the home of the Greek
writer, A. Papadiamantis, who immortalized Skiathos in his short
stories. There is a good road in Skiathos, which hugs the southern coast
with its many lovely bays, linking the town with Koukounaries – the
famous pine grove – and the beach of Aghia Eleni. Another road connects
the town with Asselinos. A convenient way to get to know the island is
by motor launch. They run at regular intervals to the more popular
beaches for a moderate fare. Food of all kinds, especially fruit and
vegetables, are plentiful. If you prefer to eat out, there are tavernas
and self-service restaurants.
(58 nautical miles from Volos)
The beauty of this island is apparent even as one approaches it by ship:
picturesque large and small bays, golden sands, slopes covered with
olive trees punctuated with pleasant little huts, churches and
monasteries, dazzling white in the sun.
The chief town named after the island, Skopelos, climbs down daintily
tier-by-tier in a semi-circle till it touches the shore – a beautiful
vision in white. It is a seaport town with a local colour of its own:
cobbled narrow streets courtyards, filled with flowers, and gleaming
rooftops in a fascinating variety of shapes. Many of the women, clinging
faithfully to their island traditions, wear their local costume – a silk
skirt embroidered with tiny flowers, a velvet short coat with wide
flowing sleeves finely embroidered, and a gossamer – fine silk kerchief
over their heads with justifiable pride. A visit to a Skopelos house is
a pleasure in itself, not only for its interior decoration but also for
the owner’s hospitality.
(Area 208 sq. Kms. 25 nautical miles from Kimi, in Evia and 118 nautical
miles from Piraeus)
The island’s main port is Linaria. There are many lovely beaches and low
mountains to explore, caves for some underwater fishing, and even ponies
– the only ones in Greece. At the tavernas you can savour fresh fish,
lobster and the local cheeses.
The town of Skyros, also called “Horio” locally, clambers up a hill in a
white half circle, like an ancient theater. On its top stood an ancient
acropolis, one of the best strongholds in the Aegean. In Byzantine times
it turned into a fortress. There are remains of Byzantine and chiefly
Venetian fortifications to be seen today on the site. According to
legend, it was on this ancient acropolis that Thetis hid her son
Achilles, where, dressed as a girl, he was brought up as one of King
Lycomedes’ daughters in order to escape the Trojan War. Theseus is also
supposed to have met his death here.
Under the castle there is the monastery of Saint George (Ai Giorgis
Skirianos) founded in 962 and dominating the whole island. In Horio,
there are two interesting museums: an archaeological as well as an
historical and folkloric one.
Every skyrian house down to the poorest is a living museum of popular
art, with beautiful hand carved furniture, embroideries, baskets and all
kinds of handicrafts.
Also of great interest is the original architecture of the houses, with
their pebbled entrances, picturesque roofs, hearth and other impressive
features. In the folk art shops you will be able to find beautifully
hand-carved stools, embroidered articles, hand-woven materials, rugs,
original clay and copper utensils, chests and furniture.
(62 nautical miles from
An oblong island with a precipitous northwestern coastline, and a hilly
landscape. The inhabitants work in the fields on the small but fertile
plains, or else are shepherds and seamen. The center of the island has
submerged, leaving two small islets and several smaller ones still. A
rock mass called Psathoura is all that remains of ancient Alonissos.
The sea round Alonissos has been declared as a “Marine conservation
Park” where all human intervention is forbidden. The best way of getting
about is by motorboats. These ply between the islands and the various
beaches and excursion sites.