A mountain paradise rises just north of the Gulf of Corinth. A favorite weekend destination of the Athenians, the Mt. Parnassos Region is blessed with a unique character and breathtaking natural beauty. Here are the pleasures of the Mt. Parnassos Region which we believe you absolutely must experience.
The Pleasures of the Mt. Parnassos Region: What to See and Do
Gorgeous Mt. Parnassos’ natural splendor and biodiversity made it a national park in 1938. Special among the region’s flora are the Parnassian Peony and the Cephalonian fir. Fauna are represented by wolves, wild boar, badgers, weasels, and birds of prey.
Many organized trails make this a wonderful hiking destination. Among the treasures to discover, outside of Vargianni, is the Fairy Cave — filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and lakes to reflect their beauty. The hike to the lake is lush and offers splendid views. The Corycian Cave- or Pan’s Cave- is the mountains most famous — Aeschylus said it was visited by divine spirits, and archaeological findings reveal it was a place of worship of the ancient gods. It’s also spectacularly beautiful- the 3.5 km hike from Livadi to reach it is considered one of the world’s loveliest.
You don’t need to be a hiker to experience the beauty of the region. Accessible to all- a 20 minute walk or just 5 minutes by car- is the Voiotikos Kifisos Springs, surrounded by plane trees, with the ruins of a 7th C Byzantine Church nearby.
Winter-Wonderland, all year round
In the Gulf-Cave Eptastomo (the name means “7 mouths”) at an elevation of 1,300m, the snow never melts, and the temperature never rises above zero degrees. This crystalline beauty is best reached by experts — trained hikers and speleologists.
Speaking of winter, at an elevation of 2,457m (Greece’s 8th highest mountain, but it’s a close call-there are several at about 2,500 m), Mt. Parnassos hosts Greece’s largest ski resort, with Kellaria and Fterolakka the main centers, and the smaller Gerontovrahos across from Kellaria. For more skiing destinations in Greece, check out our post on Skiing in Greece: Must-Visit Greek Winter Ski Resorts.
The mountain is named after the son of the nymph Kleodora and a mortal man, Kleopompus. Parnassos was the leader of a city that was flooded by torrential rains. Following the call of the wolves, the people fled up the mountain to find the city “Lykoreia” (which means “the Howling of the Wolves”). The mountain has always been the sacred province of Apollo.
On the slopes of Mt. Parnassos at 590m is the UNESCO world heritage site, one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, and surely one of the most photogenic of antiquities, splendid Delphi is a destination in itself.
This 6th c BC Sanctuary of Apollo was the “navel of the world”- a religious center and a symbol of unity of the Greek World. It’s best known of course as being the site of the Oracle of Delphi. The oracle herself was a woman chosen for her blameless character. She would achieve a trance-like state, intoxicated by fumes coming from the chasm over which she sat. She was consulted on important occasions, as Apollo would speak through her. This was also the site of the Pythian games, held, like the Olympics, every four years. Among the many things to see at Delphi are the Athenian Treasury, the Temple of Apollo, and beautiful round Temple of Athena Pronaia– comprising the dome of Delphi- is its most recognizable site. An archaeological museum on site exhibits the marvelous findings.
Below Mt. Parnassos on the shores of the Gulf of Corinth is lovely Itea, the perfect base from which to explore the wonders of Delphi. Enjoy a sweet taste of local culture by visiting a local beekeeper to learn all about the secret life of bees on a tour, then try the delicious honey from the sacred mountain. Itea also has a lovely beach, and a beautiful spiritual sanctuary, the Church of Metamorphosis tou Sotiriou.
With such exceptionally high quality attractions in both Nature and Archaeology, it’s only natural there are accommodations to match.
Imagine luxury chalets- like log cabins with all the extras-, and a heated indoor swimming pool. Or try modern luxury in a restored historic building, enjoying your breakfast with breathtaking views. Perhaps you like your luxury classic- in which case, a beautifully restored elite mansion with a crackling fireplace in the lounge would be just the thing. If you’re looking for total pampering, rustic elegance and high style décor with full spa facilities and gastronomic pleasures can make the perfect retreat after hitting the ski slopes.
Are you ready to experience the pleasures of the Mt. Parnassos Region? Get in touch to plan your perfect itinerary today.