By Ioannis Ath. Sarakiotis*
As most of countries worldwide trying to the so-called “opening” out of the Corona-crisis first wave, Greece prides itself not only as a traditional tourism destination, but also amidst top-performers in the fight against Coronavirus.
Domestic scientific and healthcare human capital’s efficiency in tackling the virus’s spread has made Greece as one of the safest destinations in which someone can spend his/her vacation. A vacation time that will not be deployed under usual norms. The imminent tourism season may facilitate the promotion of an array of forms of tourism, Central Greece and especially its heartland Fthiotida (regional unity) certainly can provide. Close to Athens, Fthiotida renders itself not just as an alternative, but a first choice for anyone desiring to enjoy Greece but not having the opportunity to visit remote areas of the country due to flight or any other transportation limitations.
Fthiotida is almost like a small-scale example of the rest of Greece, full of places barely touched by mass tourism, condensed and filled with all kinds of natural beauty, historic, religious, and archaeological sites, as well as a multitude of local customs and traditions. Situated in the heart of mainland Greece, vacationers can easily travel to both mountain or seaside resorts, whether it be on the mainland or the nearby archipelago, the Sporades. Offering a variety of high-quality accommodation and amenities for your vacation, Fthiotida is an ideal destination even for the most discerning travellers. At the same time, the range of varying sights the area offers, leaves visitors feeling like they have travelled throughout the whole of Greece. Whether you are drawn to the coast, for a sea-side vacation, or whether a mountain-side retreat is more to your liking, Fthiotida is undoubtedly the region of all seasons.
- The Oeta and Parnassos Natural Parks offer an excellent setting for anyone looking to hike and enjoy unspoiled natural picturesque landscapes, as well as many educational activities for both children and adults.
- The hot springs in Kamena Vourla, Koniavitis, Thermopylae, Ypatis, Kallidromos, Platistomos, Palaiovracha, Dranistas – Kaitsas are some of the most famous in the area, visited by thousands each year.
- The Archaeological Museums in Lamia and Atalanti, along with Byzantine Museum in Ypatis, display exhibits from all over Central Greece, making them the most important cultural heritage reliquaries in the area.
- The Castle of Lamia, another compelling cultural site of the capital of Central Greece, overlooks the valley of the Spercheios river, all the way to the Malian sea.
- At the foothills of Mount Oeta, the Agathonos Monastery is a remarkable landmark of great historical and religious importance, giving visitors a chance to admire all kinds of protected local wildlife and fauna that surround the Monastery.
- The village of Gorgopotamos, along with its famous bridge, is a standing symbol of national unity, located just a few kilometres away from the capital, Lamia, amidst a magnificent lush landscape.
- Thermopylae, the perennial passage between North and South Greece and a perpetual symbol for fighting for freedom against all odds, warrants a visit both for the statue of Leonidas and the Museum located there.
- The villages of Pavliani and Velitsa, two majestic mountain resorts near Lamia, along with Amfikleia – Elateia, not only seem ideal for winter vacations, but also for summer ones.
- A fishing-village, having an Aegean island sense, Achladi, located to the Eastern part of Fthiotida, is an ideal destination for those seeking to indulge in a unique gastronomic delight.
- To the west of Fthiotida, the alpine village of Mavrilos, attracts tourists all year around and is famous for the Chestnut Festival, held there every year and organized by hundreds of inhabitants.
- Finally, this listing would not be complete without mentioning Agios Konstantinos, Kamena Vourla, Skala of Atalanti, Theologos, Raches and Glyfa – seaside blue-flaggers and broadly known as high quality holiday destinations for vacationers from all over Greece.
- Towns like Lamia, Amfikleia, Elateia, Atalanti, Agios Konstantinos, Stylida, Domokos, Tymfristos, Makrakomi, Sperchiada and the whole of Fthiotida await travellers of all tastes and interests. See you in Fthiotida!
* Ioannis Ath. Sarakiotis is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament (SYRIZA)