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Artemisio has been on my hiking wish list for many years mainly thanks to its close proximity to the Athens – Kalamata highway. We drove past the mountain on our way to central and southern Peloponnese many times and I often wondered what it would be like to climb Artemisio’s rocky cone.
Not long ago we finally managed to complete the climb and let me tell you, it was one of the most fun hikes I’ve recently done. It was not too long or too exhausting but at the upper part of the mountain, it involved easy scrambling accompanied by some truly amazing views.
Getting to the beginning of the trail near Karia from Athens
As I mentioned before, Artemisio lies near the Athens – Kalamata highway near Nestani. This makes it the perfect destination for an easy day trip from Athens. The drive to the beginning of the trail near a village called Karia took us less than two hours and cost us around 45 euros combining petrol and tolls.
We followed the highway from Athens until the exit at Sterna. From here, we followed signs from Karia through a network of regional roads. Right before the village of Karia we turned left towards the picturesque church of Panagia and the ruin of a small Byzantine fortress (Phryktōrio). We drove past the church and continued uphill until we reached a small farm on the right side of the road about one kilometer away. We parked our car here and continued on foot. You can check out the driving directions on Google Maps HERE.
Difficulty, maps & signposting
At 10 kilometers in length and 700 meters of elevation gain, the climb to Artemisio wasn’t physically too challenging. It only took us about 5 hours to complete with a couple of long breaks along the way. However, climbing to the summit of Artemisio through the northern ridge called Chtenia involved some scrambling through exposed terrain.
The scrambling wasn’t too difficult or scary but definitely required caution as there were spots where a slip could have serious consequences. I would not recommend this hike to a novice hiker without any scrambling experience. But for anyone with some hiking experience and a manageable fear of heights (like me), it is most definitely an enjoyable climb!
The path to the summit is covered in the new edition of the Anavasi Map of Mainalo and the trail was marked by red paint all the way up to the top. However, there were few places where the markings were confusing and the path hard to find and we have to pay a lot of attention to the Wikiloc recording we were following (you can find our Wikiloc recording HERE).
The trail was partially circular, we climbed to the top following the northern ridge of the mountain and descended through the southern face. While the descent trail wasn’t as exposed and didn’t involve any scrambling it was still very steep and quite challenging.
Climbing to the summit of Artemisio via Chtenia
We started our hike near a small church called Panagia sitting in a pretty location above the village of Karia. We drove past the church and parked our car about 850 meters higher up near a small farm. In retrospect, the church may be a better starting point not only because it is very picturesque but also because there is a spring nearby. There is another spring at the foot of Artemisio but at the beginning of October, it was completely dry.
We parked our car on the right side of the road and walked back until we found a trail running uphill from the right side of the road. It was clear at first but after about 100 meters it split into two. The more obvious path run to the right and we followed it for a bit but it was a mistake. Instead, keep to the left at the fork following red paint and cairns across the grassy meadows.
Once we reached the forest, the path become clearer and even joined a forest track for a bit. After about two kilometers of uphill walking, we arrived at a dirt road and turned left. At this point, we got the first clear view of the summit of Artemissio towering in front of us and started wondering how are we going to be able to ascent its steep rocky slopes.
After another 800 meters, the road turned into a trail and soon enough we arrived at a crossroad of pats at the foot of the mountain. The left path ascents Artemision through the south face, we used it for our descent, while the right trail runs to the north towards Chtenia. We turned right here and followed the path across the treeless slopes until we reached the top of a rocky ridge.
From here, the path become steeper and steeper and we had to start using our hands more and more. We followed the red markings painted on the stones up through the rocky slope enjoying the incredible views opening up all around us. The climb was not particularly difficult but it did require a lot of caution due to its exposure.
The final meters before the summit were the most dangerous in my opinion and we passed a few metal bolts along the way that could be used for protection in case you carry a rope. We didn’t need it though and soon arrived at the summit without any issues. We enjoyed a long lunch break at the summing while taking in the incredible views.
On a sunny autumn day, we could see almost all the mountains of the Peloponnese from Ziria and Chelmos in the north to Mainalo and Parnonas and even Taygetos in the south. The neighboring summits of Ktenias and Lirkio and the Argolic Gulf glistening to the east only added to the already perfect picture.
Descending from the summit of Artemisio Back to Karia
To return back to our car we choose to follow another path running down through the southern side of the mountain. It was very steep at the upper section of the mountain but didn’t require any scrambling. After about one kilometer we reached a slightly confusing crossroads of pats. The right path, which seems much clearer and better marked, runs towards Nestani.
We turned left here and followed the sign for Karia. The path become less steep at this point and hiking through the beautiful fir forest under the impressive cliffs of Artemisio was pure joy. After another kilometer or so we reached the crossroad of paths with the trail running to Chtenia. From here, we returned back to our car the same way as we come.
On our way back to Athens we stopped for a quick meal and an after-hike beer in Karia and it is something I would definitely recommend. There is a lovely tavern on the main square of the village called Artemision shaded by lofty trees as well as a couple of cafes.
As in any other Greek mountain village, the tavern is better suited for the carnivore eaters, not much to choose from for us vegetarians. But it was still a great place to rest after the hike and to enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful countryside before returning back to the city.