The hidden treasure of western Greece
Patras is Greece’s third largest city and is located in the northern Peloponnese. It’s just 10 kilometers on the west from the famous Rio-Antirrio bridge (officially named “Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge”), one of the worlds’ longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges. Close to Rio-Antirrio bridge is Patras university, famous both in Greece and abroad, which hosts more than thirty thousand students who bring a source of youthfulness in the city. So, if you want to relive your college years why not take a look at this beautiful coastal town?
How to get there
Unfortunately, there is no airport nearby Patras, so you can’t reach this beautiful place by plane. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t easily accessible by other transport! After you land in Athens, the country’s capital, you are only 176 kilometers (109 miles) away! You can take the bus and be there in two and a half hours. Don’t worry if you haven’t considered booking your tickets in advance, there is a bus departing every thirty minutes. Or, if you are more of a train type and want a cheaper way to come to the city, there is a train every two hours that will bring you in Patras in safety within three hours. Of course, there is always the option to rent a car and drive for two hours or less if you aren’t a fan of public transportation.
What’s worth visiting?
Well, the whole city has hidden gems waiting to be discovered by you. But let’s assume for a second that you only have one day to spend here. What should be your first steps? Of course, there are dozens of things to see and places to go, but I narrowed down to the five must-visit places in Patras. So, sit down, relax and enjoy the virtual tour to one of my favorite cities in Greece.
Let’s start our day with a visit to Patras famous lighthouse (called “Faros” in greek), which is located in the south part of the city within walking distance from the city center. Today it doesn’t have maritime usage but it appears to be the symbol of the city. If the weather is good (and it usually is) take your time to walk along the beach in the leafy park around the lighthouse. You may meet some locals too, as they usually jog or walk their dogs there. In the basement of the lighthouse, you will find an amazing café-bar-restaurant where you can relax and just enjoy the view of the sea!
Saint Andrew’s church
Only a few meters away from the lighthouse, lies the impressive church of Saint Andrew. It is the largest Orthodox church in Greece and third-largest in the Balkans. After admiring the exterior, don’t hesitate to take a look inside. I guarantee you will be shocked by the mystic atmosphere this temple creates. If you are lucky enough to visit it on a Sunday morning you might even have the chance to attend Orthodox mass.
Continuing our tour, we visit Patras’ castle, which is located two kilometers away from the city center. Most people would go there by car, as the path is uphill but I strongly recommend you to try to walk the distance. That way you will be able to take a look at the old town and its small, cute houses and narrow alleys. If you get lost, ask the locals for directions, they’ll be more than happy to help you! Of course, the route isn’t the only thing that matters, as the castle itself is fascinating. Take a moment and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of the city. While you’re there, search for the Roman statue of “Patrinella”, a male body built-in a niche on the south side of the castle. Legend has it, that “Patrinella” is actually a woman transformed into a man, who protected the people of Patras from epidemic diseases during the Turkish domination and also lamented when a high profile citizen died. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the entrance to the castle is free of charge for anyone who wants to visit it!
Saint Nicholas street
Back to the city center for a quick walk among the cafes and the stores! Saint Nicholas street is well-known between Patra’s students, so don’t be surprised if it is very crowded. Half of the street isn’t accessible by cars, which makes it a perfect meeting point. It ends up at the famous Saint Nicholas stares, 193 stares that lead to the upper town, one of the most beautiful places in the city. So take a deep breath and start climbing those stairs! You will be more than rewarded by the amazing view!
What better way to end your day than with a cup of coffee or a cocktail by the sea? Patras’ marina is a small port with private boats away from the road. To be honest, taking a walk there always calms me down after a long day. An open theater was built there and it often hosts plays or concerts. Around that, there are many cafes and bars, famous among the university students. There is no doubt you will find yourself surrounded by lovely people and good music that create the best environment for you to enjoy an idyllic sunset right next to the sea.
Patras is a big city with all the benefits of a small one. Nice, kind people, places full of green, cozy cafes and almost everything is within walking distance! It is actually a place you can enjoy at any time of the year, but personally, I recommend you to visit it during spring or autumn, when the weather is not too hot but it is still sunny, which makes it perfect for long walks and sightseeing. So, take notes from all the above and prepare yourself for a magical trip, or feel free to forget all I said and make your own plan! No matter what you choose, I guarantee you will have an amazing time!