Evia island is one of the most beautiful islands 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 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 arrive within an hour.
Chalkida, or Chalkis, is Evia’s main city, and it is connected to the mainland by two bridges, an older one and a newer one. The easy drive from Athens makes it a Greek vacationer’s favorite.
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 where that is possible.
The most famous—and probably most beautiful for many—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 a little over an hour from Chalkida in central Evia, Chiliadou Beach is a must.
The beach is about to become even more famous as Chiliadou will be featured in the upcoming movie Triangle of Sadness by award-winning Swedish director Ruben Östlund.
Filmed 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 only less than a two hour-drive from Chalkida.
It features long stretches of golden sand, and its deep blue waters attract tons of tourists during the summer months.
A campsite which is quite popular among younger folks—since it offers a cheap vacation in a beautiful location—is located in the vicinity of the beach in the middle of a pine tree forest.
Rovies Beach is for those who like to swim for hours. Deep, cool, clear waters invite you to dive right in and enjoy yourself.
Rovies is the ideal choice for anyone interested in a pristine environment.
It is also ideal 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 assist you.
A bit further away and about 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.
There is the added bonus of the village which is full of bars and restaurants—perfect for nightlife—surrounding the beach.
Finally, Mourteri Beach, which many consider to be the best on the entire island stretches nearly five km (3 miles) long and provides a mix of sand and stone on the beach.
Located 10 km (six miles) from Kymi, Evia’s port town, Mourteri’s waters are deep blue in color and neither too warm nor too cold.
Even though it is very popular, the expansive beach allows for tons of privacy where one can get lost in his or her thoughts far removed from the rest of the world.
Limnionas Beach is another hotspot for travelers to Evia. It is quite popular with campers looking for free accommodations, and it is a pebbly beach with small, round stones.
The waters are so transparent, you can see the sea bed and marine life down below; snorkelers will have a blast exploring the rocks.
If you are more into summer comforts, Limnionas Beach provides sunbeds, 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.
Must do’s on Evia island
Most likely, the visitor to Evia 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 Greeks.
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 quite unlike anything else in the world.
There are other things to do aside from watch the channel waters, including 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, a time when almost all Greeks 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 have you thinking 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 considered protected natural habitats.
They are comprised of seven isles and islets, namely Manolia (the largest), Strongyli, Mikri Strongyli, Steno, Vagia, Vorias and Limani.
Enjoy the thermal springs of Aidipsos, a place where luminaries from Winston Churchill and Eleftherios Venizelos to Aristotle Onassis enjoyed their healing powers.
Even earlier on, 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 to 82˚ Celcius, (93 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit).
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, both in the town of Karystos.
The first is the 13th-century castle of Bourtzi within Karystos town right on the seashore. The 11th century Castello Rosso also sits 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 witness 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 while, on weekends, mainlanders flock to Karystos and mingle with locals, providing for an authentic picture of the way Greeks enjoy 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 once again as a modern town following the Greek War of Independence.
Now a popular beachside resort, Eretria maintains 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 boasts an archaeological museum—the most significant in all of Evia—and an ancient theater dating back to the 5th century BC that hosts Ancient Greek tragedies and modern plays.
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, numerous pieces have remained in place at Eretria, notably the terracotta centaur from Lefkandi dating back to the 10th century BC.
The Dimosari Ravine is a must-see 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.
As you go descend 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.
If you are a history buff, Evia island has a very long history dating 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. The war between the two cities was known as the Lelantine War, in which many other Greek city-states also took part.
Athens viewed Evia as a strategic territory and 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. The island was then 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 northern part of the island for their own settlement.
In 410 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, the island succeeded in regaining its independence. However, it was overtaken by Philip II of Macedon after the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.