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Western Greece is a region where the human spirit has on countless occasions transcended lines of division and united peoples and cultures. A part of Greece that combines the magnificence of its past with the face of the 21st century, it meets all the needs of a holiday destination – perfect for a family or romantic escape as well as activities in the heart of nature.
Along with sandy beaches cooled by azure waters are splendidly defiant peaks, tranquil lakes and lagoons, and healing waters tumbling through tree-filled valleys.
In each of the three prefectures that make up the region (Aitoloakarnania above the Gulf of Patras, and Achaia and Ilia in the northwestern Peloponnese), you will be enchanted by traditional villages flanked by forests and find yourself immersed in the infectious bustle of towns, where the light-hearted banter and bartering at markets happen in the same way they have for centuries. And you will marvel at archaeological treasures, museums, castles and monasteries found throughout a wonderfully diverse part of Greece.
In one of the most important religious and athletic centres of antiquity (the cradle of the Olympic ideal and symbol of the timeless values of bravery, honour, peace and freedom) you will be awestruck as the centuries fall away before your eyes.
“I never saw a place more glorious,” wrote national poet Dionysios Solomos when extolling the patriotic valour of “The free besieged”, the people of Messolongi who broke the Turkish hold on the town at the cost of their lives. Today it is a city with traditional colour and the perpetual buzz of intellectual activity. The lagoon, an area of rare natural beauty, is ideal for romantic boat rides and birdwatching.
The eastern part of Aitoloakarnania features the villages of Mountainous Nafpaktia, where forests of oak, fir, beech, chestnut and plane trees, footpaths along ravines and forest roads attract nature lovers. In Nafpaktos, you will admire a Venetian castle with a beautiful view, while in the island town of Aitoliko, prepare for a romantic sunset. In Agrinio, the largest city of the prefecture as well as its financial and cultural centre, make sure to visit the Papastrateio Archaeological Museum. And don’t miss the opportunity to relax in the sepia-toned atmosphere of traditional Vonitsa, Thermo and Astakos.
Meanwhile, the Rio-Antirio Bridge, a striking feat of modern engineering, makes crossing the Gulf of Patras to the prefecture of Achaia an experience in itself. And the city of Patras, whose university students make it a hub of youth culture, offers numerous opportunities for entertainment. Finally in Katakolo (the picturesque harbour of Pyrgos), you’ll savour a tranquil holiday setting, frequented by cruise liners throughout the year.
Endowed with copious gifts of nature, Western Greece never fails to come up trumps when it comes to outdoor activities. Feel your pulse racing with river rafting, canoeing and kayaking. The Acheloos and the Evinos in Aitoloakarnania, the Ladonas in Achaia and the Alfios in Ilia are all ideal rivers for sports fans.
If you are attracted by the beauty of the mountainside, you’re definitely in the right place. The rich flora of Mountainous Nafpaktia, Mt Arakynthos with the Klisoura Gorge in Aitoloakarnania, and the gorges of Vouraikos in Achaia and Neda in Ilia lend themselves to exploration and hiking in fairy tale landscapes.
And for the snow skiers amongst you, the ski centre of Helmos in Kalavryta is not just well organised but a rare opportunity to ski with a sea view during the winter months.
Finally, there is a remarkable range of outdoor activities around Lake Trihonida, whose ecosystem is protected by the Natura 2000 network.
Western Greece has the privilege of offering a complete holiday experience. Besides the lush vegetation and the many sights of the mainland, it boasts a long coastline with thousands of inlets and coves. You can choose from a vast selection of sandy or pebbly bays and organised or remote beaches, many of which have been awarded blue flags.
Take every opportunity to sample the local produce, famed for its quality and taste. The various types of cheese of Amfilohia, the feta of Kalavryta, the fish roe of Messolongi, the raisins of Aigialia and Ilia, the extra-virgin olive oil of Olympia and the wine of Achaia and Ilia will delight even the most discerning of palates.
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