Walking the paths in Karyes and Vamvakou

Trails, hiking and trekking in recent years have gained loyal fans who, from various starting points (excursion, love for nature, fitness), choose to put on the right shoes and swallow miles of forests, canyons and mountain peaks. Two destinations in Laconia have swiftly won the preference of walkers/travellers: Karyes and Vamvakou.

Karyes is a traditional village, built at the foothills of Parnonas at an altitude of 950 meters, flooded with chestnut and walnut trees and a little over 2 hours from Athens. Karyes is the ideal base for activities and mountain escapes and more. Lovers of nature, mountaineering and walking can explore the natural paths of the wider area and relax in the special village itself.
A few minutes away from Karyes is Vamvakou, a village which has been revived in recent years. The village has already gained fanatic friends who choose to visit it either for a day trip, or by staying overnight in its guesthouses. In Vamvakou you can relax, watch and take part in various events, go hiking, cycling, yoga and children can also participate in creative activities.
Are you ready to walk and get to know the areas?

Karyes: Hiking in the footsteps of the Karyatids

Karyes is the place where the connection of man and his activities with nature are in perfect harmony. The forest that is so close to the traditional houses and “encircles” the settlement, the changing colors, the picturesque square with the century-old plane tree, the hospitality of the inhabitants are some of the elements that make the area irresistible.

Hiking on the paths of Karyes is a must activity. The village is an ideal base for nature activities and excursions to Parnonas. Around Karyes, in 2020, the “Caryatides Trails’ ‘ was created, a network of 7 hiking trails organized and signposted, with a total length of 57 km. The first is that of the Village, 4.7 km long, which passes by the sights of Karyes. The Shepherd’s Path is the second route, 7,4 km long, which crosses hundreds of gorces (wild pear trees), meadows and fountains. The next is the Ancient Path, 11.1 km long, carved on ancient roads that connected Karyes with other settlements, while the Water Path, 4.4 km long, passes by a reservoir that locals call the Lake.

If you want to cross wild boar habitats then you will follow the Forest Trail which is 9.5 km long and reaches an altitude of 1,250 m. Then we go to the routes for the more advanced travelers. The Chestnut Tree Trail is a challenging 9.7 km long route that runs through old farms, past streams and chestnut trees; the Oak Tree Trail, 5.8 km long, crosses the densest parts of the forest, dominated by, what else? The oaks. Around Karyes, four cycling routes of 5, 9, 16 and 21 km have been marked and marked.

Stop for coffee (before or after the hikes) at “Skiritis“, at the 20th km of Tripoli-Sparta. On the main road, you will drink the best coffee in the area and you can also taste selected dishes of the day and local traditional products. But a fasting bear… it doesn’t walk and you can stop for food at «Platanos», a classic rustic tavern with traditional dishes such as rooster with noodles, roast lamb in the oven, pork fricassee. You can also visit “Chrystaina” the tavern that has been operating continuously in the area since 1880. Here you will come for pork souvlaki and seasonal vegetables.

Vamvakou: The project of regeneration of a place

Just 12 km from Karyes you will find the special case of Vamvakou. Until a few years ago, Vamvakou was a small village with few inhabitants and few visitors in the summer.

Today, thanks to the Vamvakou Revival organization, an initiative of a group of locals, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the place has been reborn. Hiking and cycling trails have been planned, while a guesthouse and a café-tavern operate in the village.

The center of the village has now become the old primary school which has been transformed into a modern technological center that provides creative activities and educational activities for the young visitors of Vamvakos, but also for children from the wider region of Laconia. We are talking about a small cultural multi-purpose place to visit: The renovated school has a lending library and hosts cultural activities on its premises; talks, discussions and lectures, film screenings, theater performances, concerts, etc.

For coffee and food you can stop at «Voureiko» where you can taste both Greek and Mediterranean flavors. In the village square you can enjoy your coffee at the traditional café “Parnonas” and who knows, you might meet a local who will share with you a memorable story.