Peloponnese in Greece is the best place in Europe to visit in 2016, says Lonely Planet


Paralio Astros, Arcadia
Travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has released its annual list of the best places to visit in Europe, this year opting for a mix of the usual suspects (Venice, the Dordogne) and a scattering of off-the-beaten track places such as the Dutch island of Texel.
Topping the list is the the Peloponnese, a region often overlooked by travellers to Greece, who tend to visit the islands or build a sightseeing trip around Athens'  iconic Acropolis.
The region is described as “an affordable enclave of magnificent ancient sights like Olympia, Mycenae, Mystra, Epidavros and many more”. The recently opened Menalon trail, in Arcadia, provides a new way to explore the region, which is popular with hikers.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2016
1. Peloponnese, Greece
2. Aarhus, Denmark
3. Venice, Italy
4. The Dordogne, France
5. Lviv, Ukraine
6. Warwickshire, England
7. Extremadura, Spain
8. East Coast Tenerife, Canary Islands
9. Texel, the Netherlands
10. Northern Dalmatia, Croatia


One day cruises from Paralio Astros to Hydra & Spetses

One day cruises from Paralio Astros to Hydra and Spetses every Wednesday at 8:00 and time of arrival back to Paralio Astros at 20:00. The ticket costs 34€ and for children from 5-12 years old is 17€.


Saint John or Agiannis in Kynouria

A view of the village

Saint John or Agiannis (Agios Ioannis) is one of the most beautiful, mountain villages in Kynouria and it is located on altitude of 750 metres. You should take the countryside road from Astros to Saint John and Saint Peter. It is about 30' from Paralio Astros and it is a popular place for day trips during summer or winter.

Driving up the winding road to the village, the visitor can have glorious view of the whole plain up to Argolic bay. The Monastery of Paleopanagia (Old Virgin's) is a few km after Astros, which was built in the 13th century.

Agiannis is 5 km after meeting the village Orini Meligou. The small hill on the right is called Koutri where Karitsiotis College used to be which got burnt by Ibraem in 1826. You can still see the marble sign with the inscription of the College which was found in 1874. The locals made huge efforts for the College to be built again to the authorities but they were fruitless. So the marbles and stones of the College were used by the locals to build new houses. Agiannis is first mentioned in 1453 in George's Fratzis chronicle the Fall of Constatinople.

Sunset in Agiannis

In the main square there is the church of Saint George which is a post-byzantine temple with wall painting. In these paintings there are signs of Ibraem's brutalities and atrocities.
Going down from the square you will see an old tap with an arabic inscription and then the church of Saint John, which is also post-byzantine.

Local delicacies

Agiannis has been under intense contsruction since the 1980s with remodeled houses and mansions. There are nice taverns which offer a great variety of meat from the local farmers and hostels for accommodation. You should definitely try the local red wine and the variety of cheeses.


Platanos, a picturesque village near Paralio Astros

Small waterfall at the entrance of the village
Ιn a lush ravine on 440 metres altitude, you will find hidden the picturesque village of Platanos. Located 25 km away from Paralio Astros on the road to Agiannis, Platanos has been declared a traditional settlement and the visitors realise very soon why!
The first written historical record of Platanos appears in 1467 and according to other reports, the residents are descendants of ancient Aegina.
The walks in the village streets will surprise you pleasantly as you will see stone houses, the old mill and the old stone fountain. You will also find the Tower of Mira, a special tower with angular shape, which was built for defensive purposes. At the entrance of the village there are running waters that form a waterfall and gives a feeling of freshness to the visitor, especially in summer. 
In the centre of the village there is the church of St. Anne and two post-Byzantine churches of St. George and St. Theodore with frescoes.
The springs, the waterfalls and the lush vegetation of the village make it really special. There is a great variety of trees such as chestnuts, cherry trees, walnut trees, vines trees and other. Southeast of the village there is the gorge of Spilakia, with the cave of Christ where the residents found refuge against the army of Ibrahem.
During the summer the village attracts many visitors and ​​many events and festivals are organised such as the celebration of cherry and chestnut later in October. In August there are the celebrations of the Waters, the Moon and Love with various events that have been established.
The locals are very hospitable and always willing to help and show the visitors around. It is a lovely place where you can start your explorations on the tracks of Parnona. Also in the few taverns you can taste traditional delicacies or enjoy your coffee and home-made sweets in the cafe or at the guesthouse of the village.