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Steni Dirfyos in central Euboea is the perfect destination for any mountain lover or nature enthusiast looking for an easy escape from Athens! This pretty mountain village sits in the middle of a beautiful forest at an altitude of 440 meters overlooked by two mountain giants, Dirfys and Xerovouni.
It is a popular stop for travelers heading towards the stunning beaches on the east coast of the island as well as the meat-loving foodies looking to enjoy an opulent traditional lunch in one of Steni’s lovely taverns.
More importantly, Steni is the starting point to multiple amazing hiking trails winding through the forest of Steni and towards the summits of Dirfys and Xerovouni.
I have visited Steni and the surrounding mountains many times before but only on our recent climb to the summit of Xerovouni, I got to truly appreciate how rich and diverse this area really is.
From chestnuts, planetrees, and fir-covered river banks near the village to the sweet-scented coniferous forest and rocky, almost alien-looking moonscape near the top of Xerovouni, this place has a lot to offer. On top of it, the views from the summit across the mountainous landscapes and towards the sea are truly breathtaking!
Driving to Steni from Athens
The drive to Steni from Athens is relatively fast and straightforward, it took us only around one hour and forty-five minutes to complete. We left Athens following the Lamia highway until we spotted a sign for Chalkida. We crossed the Evripos Straight and drove through the city of Chalkida until we reached the coast.
We roughly followed the coast until Nea Artaki where we turned right following a sign for Steni. The sign was extremely dirty and hard to spot on the busy main street of Artaki so keep your eyes peeled for it. The rest of our drive to Steni was quite uneventful and we had plenty of time to enjoy the stunning mountain views opening up in front of us.
Once at Steni, we drove through the village and continued uphill until we spotted a small church on the left side of the road. We stopped here and parked our car at a small car park on the opposite side of the road. If you need to buy snacks or water, there is a bakery next to the road just before the village and a kiosk on the main square.
Check out the directions to the beginning of the trail on Google Maps HERE.
Maps, signposting & difficulty
With 15 kilometers in length, over 1000 meters of elevation gain, and some light scrambling at the top, this hike was quite challenging! However, it can be made much easier (but still awesome) by omitting the final ascent to the summit of Xerovouni.
Leaving out the summit would be a good idea in low visibility, too. The trail was hard to find at the scree fields near the top and the final scramble could be potentially dangerous in bad weather.
That being said, the rest of the trail was well marked by red signs pinned to the trees and easy to follow. The area around Steni and Xerovouni is covered by the Anavasi map of Mount Dirfys & Xerovouni which proved useful especially on the descent. You can also check the Wikilock recording of our hike HERE.
The forest of Steni
We started our hike near a small church called Agios Kirykos at the upper end of Steni. This is the starting point of three hiking trails marked S1, S2, and S3, the first two leading to the Refuge of Dirfys and the last one climbing to the summit of Xerovouni.
We followed trail number S3 starting at the right side of the road about one hundred meters above the car park. We crossed a stream running parallel to the road and embarked on a steady climb through the forested slopes on the opposite side.
The trail was clear and well marked and the uphill walk relatively easy. After a while, we reached a dirt road running in the same direction as our path. We crossed it multiple times during our climb but for the most part, it run parallel to our path on the side of a small stream.
It may be tempting to follow the road in some sections as it looks much more comfortable than the narrow trail but don’t, you would miss out! The path itself, lined by lush, jungle-like vegetation and bright green ferns as far as we could see, was beautiful on its own. But by sticking to its course wherever possible, we also discovered a lovely and totally unexpected waterfall, which has become one of the highlights of this hike.
About two hours into our hike at a spot called Kalovrisi we left the stream and climbed up to a gentle ridge. The chestnuts and plane trees were slowly replaced by fir forest and we caught the first glimpses of the rugged ridge of Xerovouni towering in the distance.
On the top of the ridge, we joined a dirt road once again, turn left, and followed it for about 400 meters until we spotted a trail diving to the beautiful coniferous forests on the right side. About halfway through the forest, we were joined by another trail coming from Rachi Syka and the refuge of Dirfys. Make a mental note here as this is our return route.
After a while, we passed another junction with a trail running to the left towards that highest peak of Xerovouni, Portaris. We continued straight and soon we emerged from the forest right in front of the imposing cliffs of Xserovouni.
Climbing to the summit of Xerovouni (1.413 meters)
Once out of the forest, we followed a faint trail marked by small cairns, winding through the grassy slopes. The higher we got the harder it was to find the trail and once we reached a large scree field right beneath the summit cliffs we lost it altogether.
But once we climbed through the slippery scree, wandering if this adventure may not be such a good idea, after all, we found red markings pained on the rock face and an arrow pointing to the right. They led us safely through the final scramble to the top of the Xerovouni ridge.
The scramble wasn’t too difficult or scary and this is coming from someone with modered fear of highs. That being said, it does require caution and some level of experience. If you don’t feel confident you can safely navigate through the difficult terrain, it is better to call it a day lower down and just enjoy the beautiful mountain views.
Once we reached the ridge we turned left and continued to the small concrete pillar marking the second highest peak of Xerovouni (1.413 meters). From here, we were treated to stunning panoramic views across the impressive ridge of Xerovouni, Mount Dirfys, the forest of Steni, and the sea as far as we could see!
Return back to Steni via Rachi Syka
To return back to Steni, we retraced our steps back to the crossroad with a trail coming from the refuge of Dirfys. There is a sign pointing towards the refuge pinned to a tree. We followed this trail through the forest until we reached a dirt road, turned right here, and continued all the way to the asphalt road connecting Steni with Stropones and Chiliadou.
Once on the asphalt road, we turn left and continued for about 150 meters until we saw another dirt road branching off to the right with a large sign pointing towards the refuge. We followed the road for another 600 meters looking for a trail running to the left towards Steni.
There is a pile of rocks marking the trailhead but it could be easily overlooked so pay attention here. This trail took us all the way back to Steni without any complications, exhausted but full of new experiences and beautiful memories.
Update: Refuge of Dirfys, Pirgakia and the S1 trail down to Steni
During our second trip to the lovely forest of Steni, we decided to omit the ascent to Xerovouni and instead continued all the way to the refuge of Dirfys. From here, we followed path no. S1 down to Steni after visiting a small peak nearby called Pirgakia.
The detour to Pirgakia (1.172 m) took us around one hour but it was well worth the time and effort. An unmarked trail to the top starts on the right side of the road running from the refuge towards Dirfys with its beginning marked by a small cairn. It passes through the forest at first and later follows a rocky ridge all the way to the top.
The panoramic views from the top were truly breathtaking! Apart from Xerovouni and Dirfys towering above us and the charming village of Stropones nested in the green valley underneath our feet we could see as far as the eastern coast of Evia and the Sporades islands!
The trail S1 to Steni starts right at the refuge and is marked by red signs. The path runs through beautiful fir forest at first and later joins a forest road. We followed the road for about one kilometer until we found a path branching to the left.
The next section of the trail run horizontally across the bare, rocky slopes of a peak called Tourla and offered amazing views across the Steni forest and towards Xerovouni. Once above Steni, the trail turned downwards and started its final descent to the village.
This hike was equally amazing as our first excursion to the forest of Steni and perfect for a hot, late-summer day due to the abundance of shade along the way.
More from Central Euboea: Agali Gorge Hike at Mount Dirfys
2 thoughts on “Forest of Steni & Xerovouni Hike at Central Euboea”
Thanks for this post. Planning to visit Greece again in September. BUt mostly Greek islands. Not super familiar with places on the mainland outside of Athens. Only been to Nafplio/Epidaurus and briefly Patras.
So I have 1 full day to visit a forest type place from Athens, self-drive. The place you write about here is one place I will consider.
ALso thinking about Temple of Apollo – 2 hours / way driving. Any other places you can recommend?
Hi! The mainland is full of amazing places to visit. Steni is a great place for day trip from Athens if you like mountains and nature! And you can drive all the way down to Chiliadou beach if you want to go for swim as well, it’s very beautiful. Other great places for hiking and nature close to Athens are Ziria and the gorge of Flampouritsa, Kalavrita or even Parnassos. I love Tithorea and the Velitsa gorge on Parnassos, it’s not very touristy but the landscape is really amazing. Have fun!