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Thanks to its close proximity to Athens and abundance of stunning beaches South Evia is the perfect destination for easy, laid back summer getaway. But in reality, it is mostly overlooked by foreign visitors choosing the picturesque yet painfully overcrowded Cycladic islands instead.
To be completely honest, the southernmost part of Greece’s second-largest island didn’t look all that exciting to us either at the beginning of our drive. The windswept hills, covered by nothing but dry, brownish shrubs and monstrous wind turbines, with only a couple of shabby old farms reminding us of civilization didn’t appear particularly holiday-like.
However, once we stumbled upon the first of Evia’s surprisingly lush gorges in Platonistos, with an equally beautiful beach at its estuary, we fell in love! And that’s the thing about South Evia. From hidden beaches to unintentionally retro kafenios, from lush gorges full of streams and waterfalls to picturesque beach caves and mysterious dragon houses there is always something new hiding behind the next turn!
South Evia Road Trip Tips
How to get to Evia: By far the easiest way to get to Evia from Athens is through the city of Chalkida driving across the Euripus Bridge. The drive from Athens to Chalkida (80 km) only takes around one hour making this the perfect gateway to the central parts of the island.
However, if you plan to explore Southern Evia solely or want to take a road trip from south to north it is a much better idea to cross the Petalioi Gulf, separating Southern Evia from Attica, by ferry boat. It feels much more holiday-like, too! From the organized chaos of the port to the sea breeze and beautiful coastal views traveling by the Greek ferries is a not-to-miss adventure.
The ferries leave from the port of Rafina in Attica arriving at Marmari in Evia in about an hour. We paid 9 euros per person and 21 euros for a car one way. For the ferry schedule click HERE.
How much time will you need for your trip to South Evia: Thanks to its close proximity to Athens southern and central Evia can be easily visited in one day or a weekend. However, we spend 4 days exploring Kavodoro without embarking on any longer hikes. On the other hand, we took things easy spending plenty of time on the beaches and stopping at any stream, village or pretty viewpoint we stumbled upon along the way.
Driving around South Evia: South of Karystos, you’ll find only three kinds of roads. Bad asphalt roads, narrow and full of holes, running high on the slopes of Mt. Ochi. Maintained dirt roads, descending down to the most visited beaches through a series of hair-raising turns. And last bad not least, bad broken dirt tracks, leading to orchards, hidden coves and who knows what else.
We managed to get through the southern tip of the island in our tiny old Peugeot 106 with any serious issues but if you are planning on renting a car Its a good idea to get something more appropriate (4×4). You won’t regret it, I promise!
Maps: A paper map is an absolute must for your trip to south Evia especially if you plan on any detours from the main road. The road signs are scarce and hard to read, cell phone coverage unreliable and very few people around to ask for direction.
Strangely, there is no detailed map available for South Evia or the area of Mt.Ochi. However, the general road map of Evia from Anavasi proved to be useful including information about the most popular hikes, bike trails or scenic drives as well.
When to go: During summer, South Evia is perfect for those looking for a quiet time on the beach. Even during the main season, you’ll most probably end up having the beach all to your self or at least be able to find a quiet spot. However, if you are planning on hiking on Mt.Ochi or one of its beautiful canyons, spring is a much better choice due to lower temperatures, greener landscapes and plenty of water rushing through the many streams.
In any case, check the weather forecast beforehand. Cavo D’Oro is notorious for its strong winds complicating the life of passer-by seafarers and holidaymakers alike.
Where to eat in South Evia: South Evia is not a place to search for the best restaurant with the most authentic cuisine or the widest selection. It is about finding anything to eat at all. In Marmari or Karystos, there are plenty of taverns and cafes to choose from but once outside of the town eating opportunities are few and far apart.
When you finally find a place to eat the choices are limited and you may end up munching on a baked lamb for breakfast or homemade cheese as a coffee snack (speaking from experience here). We found the below spots along the way:
- Traditional kafeneio in Platanistos, serving coffee, drinks, and homemade cheese if you are lucky. –
- Two taverns in Potami, the left one is older and very nice.
- 3-in-1 kafeneio, tavern and Mini Market in Agatho with simple yet tasty food and a lovely balcony. Surprisingly, they sell cigarettes and paint killers, too.
- Canteen on Kalianou and Ag.Dimitrios Beach.
Where to stay: Karystos port is a good base for trips to the southern part of Evia. It has a few hotels and rentals to choose from and plenty of taverns, cafes, and shops as well. However, if you wish to stay in anywhere else, free camping will be your only choice.
Free camping is officially illegal in Greece and strictly prohibited or at least frowned upon at some places. South Evia is not the case. There are not many people around who could be bothered by your presence and the few we met looked us with a mix of amusement and admiration. So as long as you don’t leave any garbage behind (including toilet paper) and spend a few bucks in one of the rare local establishments you’ll be just fine.
Things to see at Cavo D’Oro
Kastri, Livadi, Platigialos, Kalamos
The first row of beautiful, wild and unspoiled beaches south of Karystos is scattered around a small coastal settlement called Kastri. To get there, follow the signs for Metochi and Platanistos. After about 10 km you’ll see a rusty sign on the right side of the asphalt road pointing down to Kastri.
A well-maintained dirt road will take you all the way down to the coast passing a couple of wind turbine parks and few shabby farms. Once on the coast, you can choose from four beaches, Livadi, Platigialos, Kastri or Kalamos. None of them has any kind of amenities for travelers, no beach bars or taverns here, so bring enough food and water to survive the day.
We spent the night at Livadi, a quiet beach with a mix of golden sand and small pebbles. In the middle of July, there was nobody around except for a couple of fishermen coming in the evening to dock their small wooden boats for the night.
Platanistos Village and waterfall
Platanistos is a lovely little village hidden in a lush green valley about 22 kilometers away from Karystos. A stream runs through the valley starting from the small Panochori Gorge high up on the slopes of Mount Ochi and ending it’s a short journey to the sea at the Potami Beach bellow.
In Platanistos, right next to the main road, the stream runs through a series of rapids and even a small waterfall. Completed with thick plane groves, a spring and a couple of picnic tables it creates the perfect spot for a refreshing break.
Driving past the waterfall, you’ll see a small kafeneio (coffee shop) on the right side of the road. We loved this little shop with its unintentionally rustic décor, chatty owner, traditional Greek coffee, and homemade cheese as a dessert (as strange as it sounds).
Potami Beach is the most developed beach on the southern coast of Evia. It is the only beach with a tavern (two to be precise) and the only one connected by asphalt road. These “luxuries” don’t take away from its beauty though.
Potami is a long, sandy beach with crystal clear sea and, as the name suggests, a river flowing through the adjoining valley. Thanks to this freshwater source the area behind the beach is covered by plane tree forest, popular among campers.
Archampoli Beach Hike
If you are after a beach with easy access, tavern, and sunbeds, Archampoli is NOT for you. Otherwise, this stunning pebbly beach lying at the entrance of an eponymous gorge is a must! It is without exaggeration the most beautiful beaches in Evia and one of the best I’ve ever been to.
The Archampoli beach lies near a small hamlet called Thimi and is accessible either by boat or on foot. The hike to the beach takes around an hour and is marked very sporadically. It wouldn’t be particularly difficult under normal circumstances but complete it under the strong Greek afternoon sun and suddenly it becomes quite a quest!
To get to Archampoli, drive all the way through Thimi first. Once outside the village, you’ll see a narrow dirt road branching out to the right with a small sign for Archampoli. It is easy to miss, so stay alert. The dirt road descends abruptly passing a tiny chapel until it ends at a large opening in front of a shabby farm. Leave your car here and continue towards the farm searching for another sign with information about the hike.
The beginning of the trail is slightly confusing as it passes through the farm with a gate, obstructing the way. Their official purpose is to keep the livestock at bay but something tells me they are supposed to discourage hikers as well. However, once through the farm, things get much clearer.
First, the path descends to the bottom of a narrow gorge, crosses a dry river bed and climbs back up on the other side. It ascends almost to the top of tall reddish cliffs crowning the gorge at which point you’ll start wondering if this is the correct path. It is, and it’ll get clear once you get to the coast! From here, the trail starts its gentle descend to the beach traversing the coastal cliffs.
Then you pass the last turn and there she is! A mix of white sand and pebbles, lined by tall cliffs on both sides and an impressing gorge in the background. It’s crystal clear emerald sea and a couple of sea caves on the right side of the beach are perfect for snorkeling so don’t forget your mask as I did!
There was a town near the beach as well during ancient times whose purpose is unknown today. Based on the archaeological finds at the site, however, it seems it was abandoned abruptly due to a natural disaster or an attack. If you decide to stay at Archampoli overnight, keep in mind that based on a local tale the souls of Archampoli’s diseased inhabitants still emerge from the sea time to time to visit their homeland.
Thimi to Agathos Drive
Leaving Thimi, the coast becomes even wilder, the villages smaller and the road worse and worse. The barren hills are covered with wind turbine farms making one wonder if the abandonment of this piece of land and it’s locals has something to do with its economic potential. Otherwise, it’s hard to understand why an are of such natural beauty so close to the Greek capital remains road-less and it’s charming villages left to slow decay.
The asphalt road ends after the Kafireas village near a large transformer station (or who knows what these things are properly called). To the right, you’ll see a smaller asphalt road descending to the village of Amigdalia (there is a spring in the village if you need water) and to the left a wide, well-maintained dirt road continues along the hillside. The left one is yours.
The next 10 kilometers until Agathos you’ll be driving on a dirt road of varying quality high on the slopes of the mountain with nothing but the sea, sky and the bushy slopes all around you. Don’t attempt this section if you are not a confident driver or/and in bad weather. Otherwise, its a beautiful coastal drive with amazing sea views and lush, green countryside.
In Agathos, there is a small tavern+café+mini market on the right side of the road. It is a simple place but drinking a coffee and lemonade on their shady balcony was all we needed after the tiring drive.
Kalianou beach and Dimosari Gorge
For hikers, the Dimosari Gorge is probably the most popular spot in South Evia. The descent through the gorge has around 10 kilometers and passes multiple pools and waterfalls before completing its journey at Kalianou Beach. However, its better done as part of an organized tour, otherwise, you would have to arrange for pickup at the end of the hike.
To get a taste of the gorge without completing the whole hike you can take a detour to the abandoned village of Lenosei from where a path leads to the entrance of the gorge (shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes according to locals). The dirt road to Lenosei starts from the left side of the main road about halfway between Agatho and Kalianou. We didn’t test it ourselves, though, as we had enough of the dirt track for the day and decided to head straight to the beach.
Kalianou beach is a large sandy beach with the same clear waters as the rest of South Evia and a river delta on its right side. However, we weren’t impressed with this beach as much as the others and left after a quick swim even though we originally wanted to stay overnight. I’m so glad we did!
Agios Dimitrios beach and gorge
Agios Dimitrios beach was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. We stumbled on it after abandoning our original idea to sleep in Kalianou and searching for an alternative close by. It lies only about 4 km away from Kalianou and is accessible by yet another dusty dirt road. Fortunately, the descent to the beach is not very long.
Agios Dimitrios is a busy beach for South Evia’s standards. It has not only one but two canteens serving drinks and simple food like souvlaki or sausages. Except for that, there were few free campers occupying the right side of the beach, a cat and a bunch of sheep. After two nights of complete solitude, this was quite a crowd.
The sandy beach, even if lovely, wouldn’t stand out if it wasn’t for some pretty impressive caves giving the beach an exotic feel. With a couple of tents squashed inside and a narrow stream running in front of the cave, the whole scene looked more like Costa Rica than central Greece.
The beach is backed up by another striking gorge, with stream and footpath running through its bottom. But you don’t have to embark on a hiking trip to enjoy its beauty, the road back to Karystos runs through the gorge as well and is equally scenic!
Heading north and looking for a hiking adventure? Then check out THIS post about our awesome climb to the summit of Xerovouni in Central Euboea!