Village life begins just 10mins from Karpenisi. This small village is full of history and tradition, with a handsome listed former school building (now housing the Museum of National Resistance) dominating the main square. You’ll find cafes and tavernas, where you can enjoy breakfast or a meze with tsipouro. On the adventure side, you can horse ride along the Karpenisiotis riverbank. And nearby is the church of Agios Ioannis, from where you can get an Insta-perfect shot of the village nestled within a blanket of fir trees.
Big Village (as the name translates) is one of the largest settlements in the area, with plenty of life and places to eat or stay. You get here by following the Karpenisiotis River until you reach the village, built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mt Kaliakouda. The traditional architecture, cobbled streets, stone fountains and main square with gorgeous views of the river and valley are everything you could hope for. As for the regional food, you’re in for a treat: Locally sourced meats, simply but deliciously chargrilled or served as traditional dishes (such as slow-cooked lamb in a pot or wild boar) and grilled or oven-baked trout, nowhere better than in the riverside village of Gavros (20mins walk or 5mins drive by car). You’ll likely be offered a homemade liqueur or spoon sweet and look out for the local galaktoboureko (a filo pastry and semolina-based dessert). Before you head home, pick up a local product or two, such as hilopites (handmade pasta), mountain tea, marmalades, cold cuts and locally churned butter.
Mikro Horio (Paleo and Neo)
From one of the biggest villages to two of the smallest. Old and New Small Village live up to their names in every possible way. Located either side of the Karpenisiotis River, they ooze quaintness. It’s worth walking the 1.5km between the villages to feel their connection. In the old village, there is a Folk Museum and a fantastic view from the church of Agios Sostis that will whet your appetite to spend the rest of the afternoon in a taverna. Look out for the wild boar stifado (with stewed onions), cockerel in red sauce and other succulent slow-cooked meat dishes, as well as homemade pies. And leave room for the orange pie (portokalopita). It’s delicious.
Proussos stands out for its nearby monastery and gorge. The Monastery of Panagia Prousiotissa (or Proussos Monastery) isn’t just historically interesting but its location is sublime. Records confirm its existence since at least the 12th century, but local lore says the first monastery here was built in the 9th century to house a hidden icon of the Virgin Mary. Centuries later, it served as a revolutionary refuge in the battle against the Ottomans and Nazis. Built on the side of a ravine, it looks onto a grand-scale landscape of fir trees and mountains. Nearby begins the path up the narrow stretch of the gorge, towards the Black Cave.
Practically hidden within the green hillside, at an altitude of 800m, Tornos is cute-as-can-be in its own right and the starting point for many an adventure. There are well-marked walking paths from here, taking you into the mountains or along riverside paths. You’ll find a number of waterfalls near the village and, a little further away on the Krikeliotis River, the Panta Vrechi (Always Raining) waterfalls, a magical sight for anyone lucky enough to hike there.
A final gem, unknown even to most Greeks, is set apart from the other villages but worth seeking out. Fidakia sits above Lake Kremaston, Greece’s largest artificial lake and a magnet for nature lovers. You can boat or kayak on the lake, but don’t think twice about just settling down in one of the little tavernas for the afternoon. Or perhaps going to Tsangaralona (3km away) for an elevated view of the lake and surrounding countryside. It’s like you’re on your own private balcony with the whole of Evritania spread out before you.