street art Katakolon
originally born and raised in other countries, we first set foot on Greek soil 20 years ago and haven’t left since…
In the beginning our friends and family couldn’t understand what we liked so much about this “primitive” corner of the eastern Mediterranean. However, when they finally decided to visit, they instantly fell in love with Greece as well. Year after year, the number of people visiting us increased and we became “experts” in providing them with an insider’s view of the area.
These tips are our collection of interesting tidbits.
Welcome to our Greece, welcome to Katakolon!
Other countries may offer you discoveries in manners or lore or landscape; Greece offers you something harder – the discovery of yourself. – Lawrence Durrell
(2 km – approx. 5 mins from Katakolon)
In the same bay, one can find Matzakoura beach with the little island opposite which turns this beach into a natural swimming pool because of its secluded setting. The mud rocks on the beach are perfect for a natural beauty treatment since the mud deposited on them contains sulphur. Have fun rubbing each other with this gift from nature (don’t forget to take funny pictures). It’s the perfect place to read, interrupted by an occasional dip in the sea.
(4.41 km – approx. 8 mins from Katakolon)
Around this natural bay, a lot of Greeks from the area have their summer residences. During the months of July and August, you can enjoy your coffee at the café-restaurant situated right next to the beach.
(5.62 km – approx. 10 mins from Katakolon)
Distinguishing features of both the small and large Leventochori beaches are the coarse, dark sand and the rocks. The waters here are very shallow and that makes this beach ideal for families with young children. During the months of July and August, there is a little canteen, sun beds and umbrellas to enjoy your coffee literally on the beach.
(9.64 km – approx. 13 mins from Katakolon)
The fine sand, shallow blue waters and the green background of the hill that rises above, characterize the beach of Skafidia. This is the beach where a lot of retired Greeks and foreigners alike enjoy themselves in the morning. Close by, there is a bar-restaurant (open July-August) where you can enjoy your coffee or the local delicacies after a swim.
(10.28 km – approx. 13 mins from Katakolon)
A reference point in the area is the luxury resort belonging to the Aldemar hotel chain, which has organized one of the best commercial beaches. Please note that they charge you for using the sun beds and umbrellas even if you order a coffee. On all the other beaches sun beds are usually free of charge (if, of course, you buy consumption).
(11.73 km – approx. 15 mins from Katakolon)
The beach near the village of Agios Ilias, with its exotic beauty, is known to many as the California of Ilia due to its hot white sand and blue sea. During the months of July and August there is a nice little tavern on the beach (Talaiporia tavern). Here you can enjoy your ouzo with a plate of appetizers.
There is even a school for kite surfing. Waters here are quite shallow and, therefore, ideal for beginners. Also working during the winter months, however with more extreme conditions and high wave. Ideal for wave riding; the spot for the winter has been quite well known to surfers for many years.
Estiatorio is the Greek word for restaurant. It’s a recent innovation in the Greek culinary scene. How does it differ from the taverna? Sometimes it’s hard to say. The easiest way to tell the difference is by what’s covering the table. If it’s paper it’s a taverna, if it’s cloth it’s an estiatorio.
The traditional, quintessential public eating house of Greece is the taverna. This is Zorba the Greek, Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell type dining. It is what amounts to an extension of the Greek home table, offered forth to the community.
The place to enjoy the breathtaking sunset while sipping on a cocktail.
A selection of meat, pasta and vegetarian dishes are served here; while the variety of seafood platter is “pentanostimo” (five times tasty)! Don’t forget to order the OUZO!
Undeniably a MUST.
Family run restaurant which serves fresh fish and other traditional Greek dishes. Just ask for the specialty of the day or let them surprise you. Either way, you will definitely not be disappointed.
Quite popular among the local connoisseurs of Greek cuisine.
Perfect choice if you are a pizza lover and have young children. After having enjoyed your dinner, enjoy your drinks at your table while the children play in the public playground right next to the restaurant.
Family run restaurant specializing in sea food. This is literally your Greek mother’s kitchen since mom cooks up her traditional dishes daily.
Enjoy the view of the fishing boats while eating your tzatziki and fried calamari. Don’t forget to try “chorta” wild greens with plenty of olive oil and lemon juice which make a great combination with fish.
Traditonal greek dishes like moussaka and stuffed tomatoes (yemista). Try the grilled octopus on charcoal with Greek salad and a cold beer. A must for everybody who visits Greece. Delicious!
The convenient choice for a night out since it is located in the nearby Korakochori village. Enjoy grilled meat, fresh salads, saganaki (fried cheese) and plenty of house-wine under the pergola of vines.
For grilled meat lovers, Charilis is your guy. Steaks, chops, burgers and intestines… Yes, intestines (gardouba). Don’t be afraid, try them. I’ve eaten them and I’m still alive! Eat a lot, it’s a Greek thing!
To Katoi tou Charili To Katochi tou Charili
Stelios and his wife Niki prepare all kinds of delicacies. Chicken a la crème will tingle your taste buds. As a side dish, try the feta cheese in phyllo dough with sesame and honey, along with the rucola salad with flakes of parmesan and balsamic-vinegar dressing. Divine!
Don’t let the name “Taleporia” (hardship) fool you. It just applies to the hardship the owner has had to go through so that he may serve you better. The dishes are quite limited; Greek salad, little fried fish, grilled octopus and the Greek “meze” (small bite of whatever) with your ouzo. Everything will taste amazing as you sink your feet into the warm sand since the tables are set literally on the beach.
Apart from all the taverns and restaurants, you should try the Greek “take out” food as well. In the nearby villages ( Skourochori,Agios Ioannis, Pyrgos) there are plenty of so called “souvlatzidika” where you can buy gyros and souvlaki (pork or chicken on a little wooden skewer) wrapped in a pita together with tzatziki, fries and tomatoes). A few of my favourites are the one in Pyrgos opposite the marketplace named “Ladokolla” and the one in the village of Agios Ioannis right at the crossroads, named “Stavrodromi”. The latter is very popular among the locals as well.
Eating souvlaki at a souvlatzidiko is really inexpensive since the price per pita with souvlaki is approximately 1.80 euros. Souvlaki is traditionally eaten standing, or walking, or at any rate outdoors.
Another local specialty you should really try is roasted suckling pig (gouronopoula). During the years of the Ottoman yoke, local authorities would often steal foodstuff from the Greek population. To prevent this, the people here, who used to spit roast lambs in the countryside during festivities, would place spits with suckling pigs in front of the lambs to mislead the Muslims who would not eat pork. Usually available (by the kilo) at weekends in the souvlatzidiko Stavrodromi.
Kali oreksi! Enjoy!
(1.98 km – approx. 4 mins from Katakolon)
Behind the picturesque harbor of Katakolo is the beach of Agios Andreas, with its small coves, sharp rocks, blue green waters and pine trees that come right down to the sea making it a unique landscape.
The beach of Agios Andreas charms the visitor and especially divers, since its sea-floor has been described as magical. Watch the locals to see how and where they get into the sea in order to avoid the stones. This beach is nice for families with young children too as the rocks in front of the beach form the boundaries of a natural swimming pool. This was the location of ancient Pheia, the harbor of ancient Olympia. In the past many locals found ancient coins and remains of amphorae attached to the rocks.
At the Kastro beach seafront bar, a sea breeze will accompany you as you enjoy delicious snacks.
Shallow waters, big pebbles and a canteen. The closest beach for cruise ship passengers who prefer not to walk that extra mile.
Within walking distance from Katakolon port, approximately 1 km, you will discover Banana beach-bar.
A summer paradise ideal for the whole family. Shallow waters and golden sand where you can relax, take a tan while having your drink and listening to pleasant music. The ideal beach for those who would like to combine a dip with a nice stroll for a glimpse of the local summer life.
(30 km – approx. 35 mins from Katakolon)
Looking at the Kremasti (hanging) monastery, one can easily see how it got its name. Imposing and impressive, it really seems to be hanging off the rock. The view you will have from here is amazing.
The monastery was founded in 1700, when shepherds of the area found an icon of the Virgin Mary hanging in a cave, high up in the mountain. They couldn’t explain the presence of the icon there, so it was considered to be a sign from God that a monastery should be founded here. The first monks settled near the cave and build a small chapel. From the chronicles we learn that they were specialized in treating people who were “possessed”. (Today one can still see the chains which were once used for this macabre purpose…)
photo by Vassilis Hadjizacharias
In 1930 the monastery was converted into a nunnery. Many people visit this monastery for the miraculous icon it possesses. It is said that the wicks of the oil lamp burning in front of the icon help couples who have fertility problems …
If you decide to visit this nunnery make sure to be dressed appropriately. If not, there are a few (not so fashionable and worn at least a hundred times by all kinds of people, without having been washed) skirts and trousers at the entrance. These appropriate cover ups make some interesting outfits!
The nuns living here are sweethearts and usually very hospitable and chatty. There is also a little souvenir stand where they sell little icons, handmade bracelets, etc.
This nunnery can be visited during the morning hours (10.00 – 12.30). Please note that you are supposed to ring the bell so the nuns can open the gate. Nice to combine with a visit to Olympia since it is on your way. On your way to Olympia (11 km before you arrive) there is a sign which says “Kremasti nunnery”. It’s really worthy to leave the highway and get off the beaten track. Turn left and just follow the signs. After a minute or 10 you will arrive at the monastery. After your visit, don’t go back to the highway but take the secondary road through the villages of Pelopion and Platanos in order to see some of the authentic Greek village life. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have a real Greek coffee in one of the authentic kafeneia among the locals. In Olympia all the cafeterias are much more touristy……
(9.64 km – approx. 13 mins from Katakolon)
The beautiful medieval monastery of Skafidia is now actually a nunnery. Rumour has it that members of the church hierarchy had their differences about “earthy issues” thus, eventually resulting in the monastery being converted.
From the outside, this monastery looks like a fortress. Once you are inside, wander around in the open courtyard and admire the old katholikon (main church) where you can see frescos in the narthex dating back to the 10th century AD.
This monastery can be visited in the morning hours (10.00 – 13.00). As in other monasteries, there is a dress code here as well; for the ladies, it is appreciated if you wear a skirt and have your shoulders covered up; for the men, please no shorts or shirts without sleeves.
Unfortunately, the nuns living here are a little grumpy. They get friendlier once you make a little donation to the church where you can light a candle. Just leave a euro or 2 and light a candle for your beloved persons.
Apart from its remarkable architecture, it houses many treasures, such as sacred vessels, vestments, reliquaries, uniforms, weapons, photographs, coins, votive offerings including the banner of the Monastery, the image of the Virgin Mary hand sewn in fine needlework.
Important is the archive of the monastery and library with many manuscripts, referring to liturgy, music, icon painting and other subjects.
A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN
(7.38 Km – approx. 9 mins from Katakolon)
On your way to Olympia just before entering the village of Agios Ioannis you will notice a huge yellowish building with arches hidden behind the trees to your left hand side. The monastery hosts the Faculty of Hagiogrphy and Byzantine Music. One can order any icon they wish or purchase from those that are readily available. You won’t have any trouble finding it since a shrine (iconostasis) before the crossroads indicates that the monastery is to the left. Today the cells of the monks function as a youth shelter for young adolescents.
Further to the left there is a big rock with a hole in the middle which is considered miraculous. According to poplar tradition people who are either psychologically or physically ill pass their clothes through the hole in order to be cured.
This monastery, like many other churches and monasteries, has been built on the ancient site of the temple dedicated to the Goddess Artemis Alphaea. According to Greek mythology, it was here that she managed to escape from the fate of being abducted by her stalker Alpheus (the river god of Ancient Olympia), who was madly in love with her. It all happened one night as she was celebrating with the nymphs. In order to confuse him, she came up with a trick and covered the nymphs’ faces, as well as her own, with mud. Unable to distinguish “his victim”, he left the party early…
The ideal beach for those who would like to combine a nice stroll, a glimpse of local summer life and a nice view of Katakolo from afar.
If you need to catch your breath, take a break at one of the café-bars or restaurants and imagine being on one of the Greek islands because of its beautiful island decor. Order a fresh juice or a frappé while listening to lounge music.