EVIA | GREEK ISLANDS
Greece’s second largest island after Crete has a very varied green landscape, wonderful beaches and interesting historical monuments from antiquity, the Byzantine era, and the period of Frankish and Venetian domination.
A long, narrow island running parallel to the east coast of Central Greece, it is connected to the mainland near its middle at Halkida, where there is a bridge over the Evripos channel — one of the few places in the Mediterranean which has a notable tide. Evia has had a long history. Its ancient city-states peaked in the 5th c. BC and were destroyed during the Roman conquest. They flourished again during the Byzantine era, after which the island fell to the Franks, Venetians and Turks. It was liberated in 1830. The land‐ scape of Evia is infinitely varied. Barren, stony and mountainous in the south, the north is thickly forested and green. One can explore Evia by following three routes starting out from Halkida, the island’s capital. Of the various sights in Halkida, we suggest a walk to the Kastro district with its Folklore Museum, a visit to the town’s Archaeological Museum, and a walk along the waterfront, next to the Evripos bridge.
Heading north out of Halkida, a detour after Nea Artaki will take you to Politika, where you should take a look at its square shaded with plane trees and its beach. Getting back onto the main road, follow the signs to the lovely seaside town of Limni and the venerable Galataki Convent set amidst superb, lush scenery near a series of sandy beaches. A little way up the coast, between the mountains and the sea, is the village of Rovies, still attractive despite tourist development.
Aidipsos, a spa town, is next on the route. It’s only worthy of a stop if you feel like bathing in its sulphurous hot springs. Otherwise, continue on until you come to the turn-off for Gregolimano with its wonderful beach. To get to it, however, you have to go through the entrance to the Club Med. Returning to the main road again, you can continue your tour of northern Evia, passing through Istiaia and driving as far as Gouves with its 18th c. Drosini Tower, once owned by the Greek poet Georgios Drosinis, the World War II defences and the medieval castle.
Heading south from Gouves, the village of Agia Anna, built on the sides of a hill inhabited since the stone age, features magnificent vistas of the whole area, a folk museum and the most amazing Carnival celebrations.
Agkali, the Agia Anna beach is one of the longest beaches in Europe. This part of Evia will give you the opportunity to enjoy the blue of the Aegean sea, lovely forested scenery, deep canyons and streams ideal for hikes, nature drives, horseback riding and even for extreme sports.
FROM HALKIDA TO KARYSTOS
Taking the road south of Halkida, the first place worth a stop is Eretria, a summer resort. Here you can see the ruins of the ancient city and theatre and the finds displayed in the excellent Archaeological Museum. Driving along the coast will bring you to the industrial town of Aliveri and then to Dystos, once a lake, now a marsh surrounding an overgrown ancient acropolis. After this, the road crosses farming country dotted with little villages, eventually arriving at , where there are some strange ancient stone constructions, known locally as Dragonhouses, on the mountainside.
Karystos, at the end of our tour, is a port town, organized on a grid, with a few neo-classical buildings, some good fish tavernas and pleasant beaches, overlooked by the Venetian fort, Castello Rosso.
CROSSING THE MOUNTAINS FROM HALKIDA TO KYMI
On this route, after you reach Nea Artaki, proceed to the picturesque village of Steni in the foothills of Mt Dirfys, which lends itself to hikes and climbs.
Push on to the mountain village of Stropones with its lovely square and venerable plane tree, kafenions and tavernas. From here you can continue on to the attractive stone houses of Kymi and its port, where the boats leave for Skyros, though the road condition deteriorates.