Right next to the incredible ancient archaeological site of Delphi is the town of Arachova, a destination worth visiting on its own merits which is loaded with charm and culture. In winter it is also one of Greece’s premier ski resort towns. This Complete Guide to Arachova will help you plan your trip and make the most of your visit to this charming mountain town.
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When to visit Arachova
Arachova is a year-round destination. While particularly popular in the winter when it is one of Greece’s most popular ski resorts its proximity to the ancient site of Delphi means that people visit and enjoy this charming town throughout the year.
data courtesy of en.climate-data.org
Where is Arachova?
Arachova is a gorgeous mountainous village at the foot of Mount Parnassos in Viotia, Southern Greece. The town is nestled on the southern side of Mt. Parnassus, at an altitude of 1000 meters.
Arahova has a rich history that traces back to the Greek revolution of 1821, which is why several monuments around the town commemorate this historical event. It’s a colorful resort town and one of the oldest Greek settlements that retain its traditional architectural style.
Why is Arachova so special?
Arachova is one of the most famous winter destinations in Greece. Its modern ski resort, breathtaking mountainous landscape, and proximity to Athens make it a favorite spot for ski lovers and celebrities.
Besides practicing winter sports, Arachova is popular for its nightlife, so much so that it is called “the winter Mykonos”! Another thing that makes Arachova special is that it is a perfect base for visiting the ancient archaeological site of Delphi, only a 15-minute drive away.
How to get to Arachova
There are several ways to arrive at Arachova, which is easily accessible from Athens.
If you have a rental car, you need to drive through the National Greek Road Athens – Lamia. At the junction of Thebes, follow the direction to Levadia and then take the road towards Arachova and Delphi. The car ride from Athens to Arachova is just over two hours long.
If you don’t have a car, you can take the train or bus to Arachova. To travel from Athens to Arachova by train, you need to take the train to Livadia – note that there is no direct train connection between Athens and Arachova.
The other option is the bus. The intercity KTEL bus service carries out the Athens- Arachova route. Catch the bus directed to Delphi or Amfissa; both will make a stop in Arachova before reaching their final destination. The bus trip from Athens to Arachova is about three hours long.
We also recommend hiring a private driver if coming from Athens. You can do that either combined with a tour of Delphi or as just a visit to Arachova and surrounds.
There are a number of excellent places to stay in Arachova and they are usually quite affordable too.
If you are looking for a splurge the views from Clock Tower Luxury Suites and Villas are simply breathtaking.
Hotel Parnassos Arachova
Arachova restaurants and food
You can taste many local products and dishes in the many taverns and restaurants in Arachova.
Arachova is famous for its meats, especially kontosoúvli and kokoretsi. Kontosoúvli is pork skewered, put on a rotisserie with onions, tomatoes, and peppers, and seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic, and oregano. Kokorétsi is lamb’s intestines stuffed with offal.
Other traditional dishes are sarmades (stuffed grape leaves), trahanas (a pasta soup that can be sweet or sour), and hilopites (egg noodles made in linguine-sized strips and then cut into small pieces).
While in Arachova, make sure to taste the delicious cheese formula and drink the local brousko wine. Another must-try is tsipouro, a locally distilled pomace brandy.
Fterolaka is a tavern in the center of Arachova. The top-quality dishes are prepared following traditional recipes and using local ingredients. The tavern has stunning indoor and outdoor decorations, which create an idyllic atmosphere.
Dasargyris is one of the most ancient taverns in Arachova. As such, it is famous for its delicious traditional food. The tavern uses local ingredients and serves vegetables grown in the owner’s family garden. The food is prepared in an open kitchen and is famous for its grilled spicy meat.
Archontiko is a family-run restaurant on the main road of Arachova. The menu mixes Greek cuisine with creative dishes. This restaurant is perfect if you follow a plant-based diet: there are vegetables made in every possible version, and they are served with cheese plates alongside the wine produced by Archontiko.
The traditional tavern Christos has a magnificent view of Livadi. Opened in 1989, the tavern serves selected roasts and a special cheese bread made by the head chef.
Bar and Cafes
Sehre is an all-day cafe & bar located in the central Lakka square. With a distinct wintery vibe to it thanks to the interior decor, the menu is focused on brunch and finger food during the day, making it the perfect spot for a break. At night, Sehre turns into a club with premium cocktails and a constantly updated wine list.
Barile Espresso-Wine bar is one of the best places in Arachova to enjoy delicious dishes and selected labels of wines. The cozy indoor space with modern decoration makes Barile a great spot for brunch!
Things to do in Arachova
Hiking and mountain-biking
Arachova gives you easy access to the hiking trails in The National Park of Mount Parnassos. It is the second largest Greek national park in Greece and constitutes an unusual ecosystem with Mediterranean vegetation and pine forests.
Once inside the park, two available routes start with the ‘Ancient Footpath’ road. One trail goes to the west of the mountain and the other to the south, until they both connect to the European-wide E4 trail.
The E4 trail is one of Europe’s long-distance paths, starting from Spain and crossing many countries, including Morocco, France, and Hungary, and it ends in Cyprus, Greece. The E4 trail is more than 10,000 kilometers long, and the part of the trail that goes through Mount Parnassus is one of the best ones for hiking and mountain biking.
Arachova is a popular winter destination located a 15-minute drive from the Parnassus Ski Center.
The Parnassus Ski Center is Greece’s largest ski resort, which spreads across three main areas, and it counts 23 incredible slopes. it is open between December and May, it is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. The center operates around 13 lifts, including six airlifts and seven sliding lifts, and slopes are suited for amateur and advanced skiers and snowboarders.
The church of Agios Georgios is dedicated to the protector of Arachova. To reach the church, you will need to climb 250 marble steps from the town’s central street to the top of the hill. The church was built in 1676, while the four marble columns at the entrance of the church date from the paleo-Christian times.
In the yard is a monument with a bust of Karaiskakis, the leader who helped the Greeks win the battle against the Ottoman Turks. From the yard, you will enjoy the breathtaking slopes of Mount Parnassus, the landscape of Delphi, and the northern coast of Peloponnese.
Church of Agios Ioannis is a small church with a traditional style, and it has many interesting frescoes on the inside that make it worth visiting.
The Monastery of Osios Loukas is an 11th-century monastery located about 30 km from Arachova, in the area of Distomo. The monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. The architectural design of the church follows the “cross-in-square” Byzantine type, and on the walls, there are peculiar designs that resemble cursive Arabic script writings.
The various churches of the monastery complex include valuable relics, altar cloths, beautiful frescoes, and mosaics.
The Ethnographic Museum of Arachova is the perfect place to learn all about local arts and crafts. Inside, you can see local costumes, traditional looms, and examples of weaving and goldwork embroidery. The museum is housed in a neoclassical building in the town’s center. Next to the museum, there is the impressive clock tower, towering on the Tiria rock.
Located 10 km from Arachova, the Corycian Cave is filled with gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites. Also known as Sarantavli, it seems that the cave was used as a temple to worship the god Pan and the Nymphs.
The Corycian Cave is at the end of an uphill hike of about 3.5 km.
Visit the Oracle of Delphi
One of the top things to do while in Arachova is to visit the nearby Delphi, with the famous Sanctuary dedicated to the oracles of the god Apollo. The Sanctuary of Delphi had a great influence on the politics of classical Greece, and for the ancient Greeks, it was mandatory to consult the oracle of Delphi before beginning or ending wars.
The Temple of Apollo is located on a hill at the foot of Mount Parnassus and not far from the Gulf of Corinth: the view from the temple is truly stunning!
Arachova is only a 15-minute drive away from Delphi. You can also take the local bus that connects Delphi and Arachova a few times a day.
Arachova has a vivid nightlife since it is frequented by many young people, especially during Christmas Break and on the winter weekends. There are many bars and clubs that play dance music and stay open till the early hours. One of the best places to party is Red Six Bar. Even the taverns stay open till after midnight, contributing to creating a lively atmosphere!
Daytrips from Arachova
Itea is a lovely town around 30 minutes from Arachova by bus or car. It’s perfect for a day trip: combining mountain and sea, you can hike the various trails or relax at the blue flag beaches.
Galaxidi is another great one-day trip destination. If you have a car, you can travel from Arachova to Galaxidi in 45 minutes. Otherwise, you can catch the KTEL bus leading you to Galaxidi in about one and a half hours. Apart from learning about its maritime history, in Galaxidi, you will admire beautiful neoclassical houses, old captains’ mansions, picturesque ports, and crystal-clear beaches.
Corinth is another option for a day trip from Arachova. You will need a car to get there since no public service is available that connects Arachova to Corinth.
The road trip by car will last a little under three. Corinth is well-known for its impressive archaeological site, with magnificent landmarks such as the Apollo Temple, erected in 550 BC. Visiting the ancient town is one of the best things to do while in Corinth!
Events in Arachova
Greek Easter, called Pascha, is one of Greece’s most important religious holidays. For the Greeks, Easter is a sacred holiday filled with religious ceremonies and traditional festivities enjoyed with family and friends.
In Arachova, it is particularly interesting the Sunday of Easter. The locals gather before dawn to prepare the traditional pit and later cook the lamb.
Usually, more than 10 lambs are cooked over each pit for the communal lunch. The cooking takes about 4-5 hours, and nobody leaves the cooking ground without the permission of the oldest and most expert pit cook. The person leaving the pit has to sing the hymn “Christ has Risen” before being excused!
May 1st is Labor Day. In Greece, it is called protomagia, which literally means ‘the first day of May’. On Labor Day, everything is closed, except food venues and cafes. The locals celebrate May Day by going to the countryside for picnics, fly kites, and hiking, while spending time with family and friends.
Panagias, or The day of the Virgin Mary, is a Christian holiday celebrated in many countries across Europe and South America. In Greek, dekapentavgoustos (which translates to ‘August 15th’) is among the top three most celebrated holidays in Greece.
During the day, almost everything is closed or run at reduced hours (as for grocery stores). The Panagias festivity is celebrated by the whole town, with the locals meeting up to share food and playing traditional music while singing and dancing.
Festival of Saint George
One of the best times to visit Arachova is during the Festival of Agios Georgios, the saint protector of the town. The festival of Saint George takes place on April 23rd or on the first Monday after Easter if April 23rd is on Holy Week.
The festival’s main hub is the Church of Agios Georgios, and the celebration lasts for three days. The festivity is also called panigiraki and is the largest religious celebration in Arachova.
The morning service in the church of Agios Georgios, is followed by horse racing, wrestling competitions, traditional dances (such as ‘the dance of elders’), communal lunches, and religious processions around the town.
The locals attend panigiraki wearing a mix of traditional clothes from the Byzantine era and ancient Greece.