Looking on a map of Greece, a lot of people do not realise that Evia (Euboea)
is actually an island. It is, though, the second largest island after
Crete, and has a lot to offer. It is excellent for driving around on,
since there are many villages and interesting places worth visiting. Of
course, there are nice beaches as well, and depending on where you stay,
you can enjoy some real peace and quiet, or a hectic nightlife.
Evia can be visited both in the winter and the summer. It has a ski center which is very popular amongst the Greeks, as well as places for water-sports.
Evia has been inhabited since
pre historic times. Its most important settlement early became today's
Chalkida, since it was the closest to the mainland and had natural
resources of copper, making the city a trading centre of great
importance. The island's name means "rich in cattle".
During the 5th century it was part of the Athenian league against the Persians, and one of its most important centres was Eretria. It helped the colony Miletus during the Ionian revolt in 499BC, but when it failed, war with Persian was unavoidable. Eretria was destroyed by the Persians seven years after the revolt. In the 4th century BC it was an important cultural centre, and the Eretrian School of Philosophy was founded here.
The Romans invaded in the 3rd and 2nd century BC, and Evia became a vassal to the mighty empire, just like the rest of Greece.
During the Byzantine period many churches and monasteries were built o on the island, and it kept its trading status, even though parts of the island was raided by pirates from time to time.
The Venetians came in the 13th century, and Evia was to become a battle ground between them and the Turks, because of its strategic position.
The war of Independence began in 1821, and the people of Evia were to fight hard against their oppressors.
What to see
The capital of Evia,
Chalkida, has been the capital since antiquity. It is a modern town
today, with many shops, banks, bars, restaurants and so on. This is also
where the bridge and ferryboats to and from the mainland are. Here, you
can visit an interesting archaeological museum and see the ruins of
ancient temples, as well as a 15th century fortress.
The second largest town is Eretria, and this was also an important financial and cultural centre in ancient Greece. It also has an archaeological museum, and you can see ancient ruins of a theatre, houses and temples here.
Kimi is situated high above the sea, and here you can visit a folklore museum, as well as ancient ruins and a Byzantine monastery. This is one of the oldest towns on Evia. Limni is another interesting town. Here, you can visit the nunnery of Galataki, and see ancient remains. Note: when visiting a monastery, make sure you are dressed accordingly: longs skirts and covered shoulders for women, long trousers for men.
Edipsos has had healing baths since ancient times, and you can enjoy the spas to this day. You can also visit the site of an ancient town here.
There are hundreds of villages on Evia to visit, and I might do injustice to those I don't mention here. I want to assure you that there are many more to visit than the following.
Paleochora has an interesting cave, as well as several remains from antiquity. In Ano Potamia you can visit a kastro built by the Franks during the Middle Ages. In Rouvies there used to be an oracle dedicated to Apollo, and here you can visit an interesting monastery called Osiou David Geronta. At Orei there is another fortress built by the Franks, and nearby is the lovely plain of Istea. In Gialtra there are springs with curing waters. There are radioactive hot wells in Therma as well.
What to do
:Apart from exploring this amazing island, there are also several places for water sports in Chalcida, Nea Stira and around Kimi, for example, in summer and skiing on Mt. Difris in winter. You can also go trekking or mountaineering and enjoy spas and hot, curing baths in several places.
There are beaches all around the island . Just to mention a few: Artaki, Nea Stira, Heliadou, Kimi, Angali, Agiokambos and Agios Georgis.
:For a wide variety of bar and clubs, Chalkida is the best place for you since it is the biggest town on Evia. Don't expect the wild partying of islands like Kos and Ios though: Evia is very much a Greek holiday resort, and they have a more relaxed attitude to alcohol and clubbing. You'll also find many bars in the different villages around the island.
Evia is very much a traditional island, and you'll find that almost every village has at least one specialty. You can usually walk into the kitchen to see what is available, since few places have menus in English.
In Chalkida and Eretria you'll find everything you need, and in the villages around Evia you'll find many nice shops with traditional things. It is a very good idea to ask what is specific for the village and get that as a souvenir.
There is an extensive network of roads on the island, so start off by going to Chalkida, rent a car there and explore Evia. From Chalkida there are also many buses.
Evia is connected to the mainland with a iron bridge (Chalkida). There are also ferryboats, buses and a railway. Get a direct flight to Athens, and from there it is about 1 hour drive (Athens-Chalkida=88km). Kimi has ferry-boats to and from Volos, Alonissos, Skopelos, Skyros, Kavala, Skiathos and Limnos.
Facts about Evia
EviaSize: 175 km long
International code: 0030
Local code: Eretria: 22990, Chalkis: 22210
Health Center: 22210 21901 (Chalkis hospital)
Internet cafe: Yes
Highest Mountain:Mt. Dirfis, 1745m.
Port Police: 22220/22606 (Kimi)
Price rate: Average
Tourist Information: Edipsos: 22260/23500
Tour Operators: JMC
Buses: 210/8317153 (Athens central)
Trains: 210/5222491 (Athens central)