Paddle through rapids, hike, kayak and mountain bike through forests and ski your way through the snowy peaks. Here’s the best outdoor adventures to be had in Karpenisi, Greece...
On the surface of it, Karpenisi – an unassuming town in the heart of mainland Greece – is much like its neighbours. It boasts a mesmerising mix of sunshine, history and that warm hospitality the nation is lauded for. What sets it apart, though, is its appetite for adventure. Outdoorsy types can paddle grade III rapids, hike or kayak through forest and mountains, and even soar through the skies like a bird – lush natural scenery rushing past below. The opportunities here are endless, with plenty to pack your holiday with excitement. Here's just nine to get you started...
Want to really get your blood pumping? Between November and May, thrilling rafting opportunities abounds in Karpenisi, especially on the Tavropos and Trikeriotos rivers. Newbies should head for the former, where you’ll tackle grade I and II rapids over two hours and six miles, passing hills, trees and rocky bays as water flies all around you. The route ends at the Viniani Gorge, a picturesque, tranquil spot where five waterfalls cascade over the rocks. For more of an adrenaline rush, Trikerioti should be your river of choice. Prepare to get soaked as you navigate clear-blue, grade III rapids for around five miles.
Kremaston may be a manmade lake, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful than the natural ones. Flanked by the Agrafa mountains, it stretches for 80,000 acres, making it the largest of its kind in Greece. That, and its blissfully calm waters, mean it’s one of the best places in Karpenisi for year-round kayaking. Head out on a one or two-person vessel, and you can paddle out to discover the small islands and bridges dotted across the lake, admire the surrounding cliffs, mountains and forests, or even jump in for a refreshing swim.
With its trees, mountains, plateaus and valleys, Karpenisi is a haven for mountain bikers. The trick to making the most of your time on two wheels here is to head into the forest, where you can cycle past thousands of fir and chestnut trees and summit leafy mountains. It’s a dream combo of impressive views and varied challenges. And, as this is one of the least populated regions in Greece, you won’t have to worry about the trails getting too busy either!
The Karpenisiotis River is the best starting point for discovering Karpenisi on horseback. The terrain is flat and even – ideal for horse-riding – while being suitably picturesque too. Indeed, with trees on one side and the gurgling river on the other, you’ll feel immersed in nature as you trot bankside, finishing at the pretty Koryschades village and its historic stone bridge.
Thanks to its postcard-worthy topography, hiking in Karpenisi is an absolute joy. The 10.5-mile road from Karpenisi through the villages of Stefani, Milia and Sella, finishing in Fidakia, is undeniably one of the best routes – not only because of the Greek firs that slope along the hillsides of the winding trail, but also because each village has so few inhabitants. In fact, each one is a stone-paved gem, just the right amount of ‘off the beaten track’ and great for getting a taste of true Greek culture. Also not to be missed is the Karpenisi-Stenoma-Pavlopoulo-Pappadia-Domianoi route. It passes through some of the region’s wildest scenery, and the villages that intersperse it, to reach the post-Byzantine Monastery of Domianoi – one of Karpenisi’s most important historic monuments.
Another significant monastery worth hiking to is Proussos Monastery. Thought to have been built as early as the 12th century, this incredible religious building– perched precariously on a rock – is well worth exploring. The monastery has managed to keep hold of its beauty throughout tumultuous years. Step inside to find ancient religious relics and a library holding many wonderful artefacts.
The waterfalls here are for more than just snapping great photos of. For a real thrill (and a bit of a wake-up call!), grab your swimwear and brave the bracingly cold waters. We recommend taking a dip in the ravine of Panta-Vrechei – a heavenly mix of towering rocks, cascades and pools – just the ticket for reinvigorating both body and mind.
As one of the most mountainous places in Greece, it’s no surprise that caving is pretty great in Karpenisi. Particularly scenic is the Black Cave – locally known as Mavri Spilia – and its surrounds, where beginners can hike through narrow ravines and thrillseekers can do some climbing around the gorge. You can even combine the two with via ferrata. These iron roads signify a mountain route that’s been fitted with iron fixtures, cables and supports so you can climb along the rock safely.
Did you know that Karpenisi isn’t just a summer destination? In fact, come winter, you can actually hit the slopes here – so have your skis, snowboard and snowshoes at the ready!
12km away from Karpenisi, at 1840m-high you’ll find Karpenisi ski resort in Velouchi. Built on the Timfristos mountain, the area is dubbed Diavolotopos (Devi’ls place) and is certainly for the daring. The popular resort boasts nine pistes, three off-piste runs and two snowboard pistes.
And there’s plenty to do here when you unclip your skis, too, with restaurants, bars and shops dotted around the centre.
Speaking of Velouchi, there’s more to do atop this mountain resort than skiing. In fact, you can actually paraglide skies here – adventure lovers, eat your heart out. Thanks to Karpenisi’s temperate climate and undulating landscapes, you’ll get some incredible bird’s-eye views as you free-fly, with the town, mountains and forestry speckled beneath your feet.
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