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Travel to Greece’s Majestic Evia Island

Evia island
View of the sea at the village of Agiokampos in Northern Evia. Credit: Greek Reporter

Evia island is one of the most beautiful in Greece, yet it is not advertised nearly as often as its more glamorous siblings in the Aegean.

Evia, or Euboea, is the second largest island in Greece after Crete. Along with Lefkada in the Ionian, it is one of the two islands connected to the mainland by a bridge.

There are many elements of Evia that would remind one of Crete. Tall mountains, lots of greenery, traditional villages, sandy beaches and a hopping night life in its bars all along the seashore.

One can visit Evia island without having to spend hours on a boat. But if you want to enjoy the feeling of sailing to Evia, you can take the ferry from the Athens suburb of Rafina and get there in one hour.

Chalkida, or Chalkis, is Evia’s main city, and it is connected to the mainland by two bridges, one old and one new. The easy drive from Athens makes it a Greek vacationer’s favorite.

Beautiful beaches

When you travel to a Greek island, the first thing, of course, is to enjoy the sea and sun, and Evia has plenty of places in which to do just that.

The most famous – and probably most beautiful, for many at least – is Chiliadou Beach. Crystal clear waters, sand and rocks and idyllic surroundings make it an Evia favorite.

Reminding one of a beach in the Caribbean, Chiliadou is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Greek summertime.

Located only one hour and 15 minutes from Chalkida, in central Evia, Chiliadou Beach is a must.

The beach is about to become even more famous as Chiliadou will be a “guest star” in the upcoming movie “Triangle of Sadness,” by award-winning Swedish director Ruben Östlund.

Shot in both Greece and Sweden, the film stars a great philhellene and a regular visitor to the Greek islands, the American actor Woody Harrelson.

Agia Anna is another wonderful beach situated in northern Evia, less than a two hour-drive away from Chalkida.

It features long stretches of golden sand, and its deep blue waters attract many tourists during the summer.

A campsite located close to the beach, in the middle of a pine tree forest, is very popular among young people since it offers a cheap vacation in a beautiful location.

Rovies Beach is for those who like to swim for hours. Deep, cool, clear waters invite people to dive and enjoy.

Rovies is the ideal choice for anyone interested in a pristine environment.

It is also iseal for those who seek peace and quiet. It is not easy to see from the road, but the friendly locals from the village of the same name will direct you there.

A bit further away, two hours from Chalkida, is Agiocampos Beach. The longer drive is worth it, though, as the beach is a hidden treasure.

In the clear waters of Agiocampos, you can see the wide variety of fish swimming under the waves.

Then there is the added bonus of the village surrounding the beach. It is full of bars and restaurants and you can enjoy the nightlife there.

Finally, there is Mourteri Beach, which many consider to be the best on the entire island. It stretches nearly five km (3 miles) long and has a mix of stones and sand.

Located 10 km (six miles) from Kymi, Evia’s port town, Mourteri Beach has deep, rich blue waters with the perfect temperature: Not too warm, nor too cold.

Even though it is very popular, the length of the beach gives you the idea that you are secluded, far away from the world.

Limnionas Beach is another hotspot for travelers to Evia Island. Very popular with free campers, it is a pebbly beach with small, round stones.

The waters are so clear, you can see the sea bed as if through a crystal. The marine life is right in your eyes and those who like snorkelling will have a blast exploring the rocks.

If you are more into summer comforts, Limnionas Beach has sunbeds and umbrellas and a couple of tavernas where you can enjoy some wonderful Greek seafood.

Naturally, given the length of the island, there are many more beaches to explore and enjoy. Around Chalkida alone there are eight beaches for all tastes. Maybe you can find your own favorite.

Evia island
Beach in Chalkida. Credit: Greek Reporter

Must do’s on Evia island

Most likely, the visitor to Evia island will get there by land, crossing the narrow Evripus Channel that separates it from the mainland of Greece, and reaching Chalkida.

Chalkida is the capital of the Evian regional unit and the island’s chief town. An important city-state in Ancient Greece, today it is a popular tourist spot, mostly for Greek people.

The most unique thing about Chalkida is the crazy tidal rips in the Evripus Channel. The water in the strait moves in a northerly direction for six hours at a time.

Visitors stand and watch this extraordinary natural phenomenon, unlike anything quite like it in the world.

There are other things to do than watch the channel waters doing itsdaily thing Things like visiting Arethousa, the new Archaeological Museum of Chalkida, which opened its doors in May.

If you are into partying, the nightlife in Chalkida is famous and if you find yourself there in August, when almost all Greek people are on vacation, you may feel as if you’re on Mykonos.

After Chalkida you can take a trip to Lichadonisia, the little cluster of islets that will make you think you’re in a secluded Caribbean paradise.

The islets do not belong to Evia, but they are about 20 minutes away northeast of Evia. You can take one of the three boats from Kavos that make daily trips to Lichadonisia.

These majestic islets are often compared to the Maldives and Seychelles. They are currently uninhabited and protected natural habitats.

They are comprised of seven isles and islets: Manolia (the largest), Strongyli, Mikri Strongyli, Steno, Vagia, Vorias and Limani.

Enjoy the thermal springs of Aidipsos, a place where luminaries like Winston Churchill, Eleftherios Venizelos and Aristotle Onassis enjoyed their healing powers.

Before them, the ancient Greek hero Hercules used to bathe in the thermal waters there, according to Greek mythology.

The water from the springs travels over 2.5 km up from the depths of the Earth, with temperatures between 34 – 82˚C, (93 degrees to 180 degrees F).

The popular spas date back to more than 20,000 years. Once there, you can visit the well-preserved Venetian Castle that was built in the 14th century.

There are two more Venetian fortresses worth visiting on Evia Island, both in the town of Karystos.

Evia island
Castello Rosso near Karystos. Credit: Jebulon/Wikipedia CC0

The first is the 13th-century castle of Bourtzi within Karystos town, right on the seashore. Then there is the 11th century Castello Rosso, sitting imposingly against the Ochi mountain range nearby.

Karystos is also a must-visit place on Evia island. A small coastal town on the southern shore of the island, it is where ferries from Athens’ coastal suburb of Rafina come and go all day long.

Karystos is alive with activity 24/7. In the morning you’ll see locals and visitors alike shopping for groceries in their their swimsuits.

At night, traditional tavernas, restaurants and waterfront bars and cafes brim with well-dressed throngs of people. On the weekends, mainlanders flock to Karystos and mingle with the locals, giving an authentic picture of Greeks enjoying the summertime.

Walk down the promenade and people-watch, explore the town’s alleys and little shops and enjoy the laid-back vibe.

You must also spend some time in Eretria. This was of course an ancient city, but it was reestablished again, this time as a modern town, after the Greek War of independence.

Now a popular beachside resort, it still keeps its ties to the past. Excavations of ancient Eretria began in the 1890s and have been conducted since 1964 by the Greek Archaeological Service.

Today it is the home of the Evia Ephorate of Antiquities, and it boasts an archaeological museum – the most significant in Evia – and an ancient theater dating back to the 5th century BC that hosts Ancient Greek tragedies and modern plays.

Evia island
The ancient theater of Eretria, dating back to 5th century BC. Credit: Bdubosso/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

The most important site excavated there is the Temple of Apollo Daphnephoros. Artifacts found at this ancient site are displayed at both the Louvre and National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

However some pieces have remained in place at Eretria, notably the terracotta centaur from Lefkandi, dating back to the 10th century BC.

Evia island
Dimosari Ravine. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Dimosari Ravine is must for hikers. A beautiful gorge in the Ochi mountain range makes this one of the best trails in Greece. Start at the top of the gorge and pass by the impressive megalithic slate “dragon houses.”

The trail is 10 km (six miles) long and is more than rewarding. You will walk through small traditional villages and places with gorgeous flora.

Evia island
The “Dragon houses” of Ochi Mountain. Credit: Klaus Norbert/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

As you go down the mountain, you will end up at Kallianou Beach where you can reward yourself by dipping in the cool waters of the Aegean, carrying with you all the beautiful images along the way.

Ancient Evia

If you are a history buff, Evia island has a very long one, going back to early antiquity. Eretria was listed by Homer as one of the Greek city-states which sent ships to the Trojan War.

In ancient times, Chalcis (Chalkida) and Eretria were settled by Ionian Greeks from Attica, both city-states being important trade posts.

Their commercial influence was such that the Euboic scale of weights and measures was used among the Ionic cities and Athens until the end of the 7th century BC.

Chalcis and Eretria were rival cities, with one of the earliest major military conflicts recorded in Greek history being between them. It was known as the Lelantine War, in which many other Greek city-states also took part.

Evia island
Remains of the ancient city of Eritrea. Credit: Reda Rauchaia/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Athens saw Evia as a strategic territory, and an important source of grain and cattle, and controlling the island meant Athens could prevent invasion and better protect its trade routes from piracy.

In 506 BC, Athens invaded Chalkis and settled 4,000 Attic Greeks on their lands. After this, the island was gradually reduced to an Athenian dependency.

In 446 BC, the islanders revolted, but the Athenians, led by Pericles subdued the revolt, and captured Histiaea in the north of the island for their own settlement.

In 410 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, the island succeeded in regaining its independence. However, it was taken over by Philip II of Macedon after the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.

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