Hiking on mountainous walking trails in Athens? And yet it is possible!
Located only 20 minutes away from the center of Athens, and at a distance of 31 kms is Parnitha, the largest and most significant source of oxygen and greenery within the Attica region.
With an altitude of 1413 meters above sea level [from the peak Karabola], it is the recipient of the first snowfall in the entire area of Athens, as its climate and altitude level clearly differentiate from the equivalent in the remaining area of the Attica region.
Moreover, in the pre-electricity era, Parnitha supplied the upper levels of the urban class of the capital with ice. Laborers maintained compressed snow in snow pits, which were dug specifically for this purpose and then covered with branches. In this way, they were able to preserve the ice until August and then crush it, transporting it to Athens for consumption. The name “Parnitha” originates from the word Parnes and takes its origins from the ancient pelagic language. It is believed to mean wooded mountain. In fact, Parnitha is a lush green mountain with unrivalled beauty, offering its visitors moments of peace and tranquility, “soothing” quite significantly the stress of modern day life.
For most Athenians, Parnitha comprises the first field encounter and familiarization with the rural element, foremost testing their first steps on the country hiking trails of the mountain. For them, first contacts are not usually the result of the knowledge they have acquired for the environment, but rather that of a friend’s proposal, who suggests an outing and hot coffee in an environment which creates illusionary winter holidays. However, the beauty of the landscape, one’s contact with nature, and the influence of true nature-lovers who visit it regularly, transform even the most indifferent visitors to ardent enthusiasts of nature.
The climate is more “humane” on the mountain than in the city. One understands this from the very first visit. Strangers become acquainted, and altogether they amuse themselves, as if one large group of friends.
How to get there:
By private car: From the national highway Athens-Lamia, in the direction towards Lamia, pass the Attica highway intersection, and at the next junction [Metamorphosis by-pass], exit the national highway and continue left in the direction of Parnitha.
By public Transportation (bus): From Vathis Square [a little further up from Karaiskaki square at Metaxourgeio] with bus number 714. Morning timetables commence at 06.40 am and 08.00 am, whilst for return schedules on weekdays, the last bus departs at 15.35h and on Sundays at 17.10h. On weekends, the buses reach as far as Mount Parnes, whilst on weekdays, they terminate at the teleferique [cable car].
With the teleferique, which its facilities are situated at the foot of Parnitha, one can quickly and easily reach Mavrovouni, where the Mount Parnes casino is located. For those who make a stop here, you may win, you may lose. It is certain though, that those who continue, by passing the casino, will be the fortunate ones in the end!
Mount Parnes casino
If you ascend by car, a little before the peak, you will encounter the chapel of Ayia Triada, which welcomes you to the forested environment of Parnitha. Full of fir trees and running water, here you will come upon a hotel, a tavern, a spring, the chapel of Ayia Triada, and the last kiosk where you can buy any supplies you may have forgotten.
To the left of the chapel of Ayia Triada, there is an unpaved downhill road, which if you follow will lead you to Yiannoula’s stream. From there commences a small walking trail with red markings [which passes through and parallel to the torrent] and leads to the cave of Pan, which is situated in Goura’s ravine, at an altitude of 750 meters. The cave of Pan [Nymphs], once comprised of a place of worship of this goat footed God of the forests and gorges. The excavations uncovered prehistoric pots and small statues of Pan and Hermes. Those who wish to visit the cave from this particular walking trail must take their car to Yiannoula’s stream.
Continuing uphill from Ayia Triada, a little before Mount Parnes, you arrive at a Y junction on the road, where you choose… your fate! By going straight, you set off for the casino and by going left you follow the road which winds up at the shelters and the lush natural environment, which Parnitha so generously offers you.
If you use the teleferique, you will have to follow the walking path to the crossroads and then turn right for the shelters.
The hiking route from the teleferique [Mount Parnes] to Bafi shelter [3.5 kms] lasts approximately 50 minutes. The shelter is situated at an altitude of 1,115 meters, south of Ornio’s peak.
*** Bafi Shelter
|Information:||It provides 100 beds, two dining-rooms for meals, a fireplace and shower. For more information or bookings: O.S. Athinon, tel 210-3212429, Tel of shelter: 210 -2469050|
|Accommodation:||Rooms for 20-30 persons 11 euro / per person, Rooms for 10 persons 13 euro/ per person, Quadruple rooms 15 euro/ per person|
|Please note:||It is necessary to bring your own sheets and pillow case [also bring a sleeping bag]|
|To hire a bike:||3 euro per hour and 10 euro per day.|
From this point onwards, the adventure begins…
For those with a car, leave it at the parking lot of the Bafi shelter and continue on foot to enjoy the nature. Show respect to the other hikers, and do not use your car on the walking paths, hindering the excursion for others. For those who wish to take delight in their 4 wheel drive, prefer the specialized circuits which are available in various areas of the country.
After the Bafi shelter, there are two easy routes which one must, most definitely, try to attempt. Continuing uphill from Bafi, [from the asphalt road] you will arrive at a dirt road which ends up at the Flambouri shelter [at an altitude of 1158 m]. The distance from Bafi is 2.5 kms and approximately a 30 minute hike.
The main road which leads to the shelter is enjoyable. The walking trails to the left and right of the road are heavenly. The length of the route is aligned with fir trees and rich vegetation. From this road, amongst other things, you have the opportunity to follow the walking trail to the Houni gorge and the path which leads to Katara spring.
Arriving at the shelter, you will take delight in the unique images from Lake Marathona, as well as the snowcapped mountains of Evia.
*** Flambouri Shelter
|Information:||Flambouri shelter is well organized and provides accommodation whilst offering a variety of meals and beverages|
|Accommodation:||To stay overnight, there is a space available to accommodate 45 persons [floor bedding] where the cost is 10 euro per person. You will have to bring your own pillow case, sheets or sleeping bag. Tel: 210-2461528|
|Private Lodging:||Furthermore, it offers a private lodge for 10 persons, which can be booked for 100 euro per night. Tel: 210-2461528|
|Services provided:||In addition, Flambouri shelter organizes [subject to agreement] various nature activities such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain bike, archery, gorge descent and crossing, orientation games etc., whilst for every activity there is trained personnel available and guides which participate, and if necessary, provide specialized lessons.|
The shelters operate on weekends, and are able to, upon agreement, to provide their services during the remaining days of the week.
Another area which one must definitely visit is the forest at Mola, a beautiful clearing enclosed with exceedingly tall fir and cedar trees.
Following the road on your return from Flambouri, at the end of the dirt road turn right on the asphalt road.
On your passage you will encounter beautiful landscapes and the splendid beauty of the chapel of Ayio Petrou.
There you may have a rest and refill your water bottle with chilled water from the spring.
Also, you can follow the path which leads to Messiano Nero, Koromilia and Kiousi cave. It is suitable for mountain biking as there are certain routes specifically for bikes.
At Mola, apart from the fact that you will be impressed by the magnificent scenery, you may spot deer footprints, and if you are lucky enough, may even come across one on your way. From Mola, there are walking paths which lead to the wonderful forests of Saloniki and Limiko.
In general, Parnitha comprises of a paradise within the city, with hundreds of walking paths, springs, ravines and gorges, rich vegetation and fauna: 29 species of mammals such as deer, roe deer, jackal, squirrel and fox roam freely in the woodland, and 120 species of birds such as eagle and hawk fly proudly in an area which comprises the natural boundary between Attica and Viotia.
In Parnitha, a large number of alternative sports are carried out, such as rock climbing, sky diving, gorge crossing, mountain biking, and one may study the 818 species of plant life which flourish in the region or enjoy activities such as bird and animal watching.
The wealth of activities which are developing in Parnitha, not to mention the environmental importance it has regarding the quality of life in the capital, comprises a unique heritage for the Athenians and the visitors to the city.
All this, and at only a distance of 20 minutes away from the center of Athens.
Click on the photo to see the map of Parnitha>>