Karditsa occupies the southwestern part of Thessaly, 300 kilometers away from Athens, close to a tributary of Peneus River. It is the 4th largest city in Thessaly and acts as its commercial, administrative, financial and cultural center.
It is also a pioneer in the promotion of bicycle as a means of transportation within the town, having developed 7,3 kms of urban and 10 kms of suburban cyclist paths. Its citizens are keen cyclists, in an effort to minimize traffic, protect the environment and enhance their health.
Among its verdant parks and quiet surroundings, you will be refreshed and revitalized. Our walk in Karditsa town starts from the main hub, Liberty square, with the fountain and the statues of the Muses Erato, Thaleia, Klio. Nearby is the National Revolution Square (or Square of Justice), with the impressive Court of Justice dominating it. Among the town’s attractions are the Neoclassical Metropolitan Mansion, the Town Hall with Athina Public Library and the Public Market Hall, which is the jewel of the town, an amazing architectural structure of concrete, steel and glass. Also, the Metropolitan Church of St. Konstantine and Helen (1887 - 1910), the Public Historic and Folklore Museum L. & Ν. Sakellariou», Zoodochos Pigi basilica (the oldest in town, from 1842), the Archaeological Museum and of course for fun and recreation, Pafsilipos Park, a verdant haven covering 165 ha, where you will be welcomed by free-roaming peackocks.
From Karditsa you can choose mountainous adventures, active holidays combined with extreme sports, visit a plethora of historical and natural monuments, fortifications, caves, deeps and stone arched bridges. The most notable attraction in the area is undoubtedly Plastiras lake, a place of incredible beauty and serenity on the plateau of Nevropolis, on the western part of the Prefecture of Karditsa.
Karditsa prefecture hosts some quaint traditional settlements, among which Aghios Georgios, Ellinopyrgos, Redina, Kanalia, Fanari and Myrina. There are also amazing monasteries spread along the way (Redina, Petra Monastery at Katafygi, Korona Monastery, Panaghia Pelekitis Monastery in Pindos – a post-Byzantine monument built on a steep and high cliff at 1400m., Aghios Georgios Monastery at Mavromati). A little further to the south, at 105 Km distance, is Karpenissi, a village with unspoilt beauty and popular winter resort, ast there is a Ski center nearby, on the wonderful slopes of mountain Tympfristos (Velouxi). For visitors who have more time, we strongly suggest the unique Meteora Monastic State.
Some ideas for side trips:
Plastiras Lake: One of the most renowned tourist destinations in Central Greece, Lake Plastiras (Tavropos Reservoir), is located 20 kms from Karditsa. It is the highest lake in Greece and the Balkans, at 800 meters above sea level, with maximum length 12 kms, maximum width 4 kms, maximum depth 60 meters and an overall surface of 24 square kilometers, holding up to 400 million cubic meters of fresh water. This magnificent area is characterized by a unique ecosystem and rare flora and fauna (herons, Eurasian coots, gulls, grebes, cormorants, little egrets, griffon vultures, peregrine falcons and golden eagles, foxes, wolves, wild boars, badgers, weasels, deer, and wildcats). There is a very well organized tourism infrastructure and thousands of visitors come here to enjoy nature and activities. There are paths around the lake which are ideal for mountain biking, horse-riding, and hiking. The deep-blue waters of the lake are perfect for relaxation and recreation, while visitors can opt for kayak or canoe rides. To get the best view of the lake, just head for the observation tower.
Smokovos lake & thermal springs: This is the second artificial lake in the area, located on the northeast part of the prefecture, approximately 35 kms from Karditsa. Surrounded by lush forests of oaks, beeches and cedars, the area is renowned for its rich flora and fauna and is a haven for relaxation. The trip is combined with the nearby Smokovos Hydrotherapy Center, which makes use of the waters that gush from 5 sulfur-alkaline hot springs. The waters are known for their curative properties concerning disorders of the respiratory and digestive system, skin diseases, chronic rheumatism-arthritis, endocrine deficiencies, gynecological diseases. Apart from the curing effects, they are also beneficial for relaxation, rejuvenation and wellness. Its facilities include sauna, Turkish bath, swimming pool, fully equipped gym, massage rooms, balneotherapy, 43 individual Jacuzzi tubs, 22 individual inhaling devices and 7 individual nasal cleansing devices (rinoplysis). The facilities are open from June to October.
Meteora: The breathtaking Meteora Monasteries are located 53,1 kms to the north of Karditsa. You will be mesmerized by this amazing and unique phenomenon of cultural heritage, which is characterized by UNESCO as the “columns of the sky”: monasteries built on rock pinnacles which rise 600 m above Peneus valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain, giving the impression that they are “floating in the air” while the access to them was either long ladders lashed together or large nets that hauled up both goods and monks. Six of the monasteries remain today, four inhabited by monks, and two by nuns. Of course, they are now accessible by staircases cut into the rock formations. If you only have time to see only one, visit the Great Meteoron. Also amazing, are Roussanou and Varlaam Monasteries (strict dress code applies to all monasteries). After your visit to the monastic state, why not choose a more active part of the vacations. Here, you can take amazing guided hiking tours through the gigantic rocks of Meteora, along ancient winding paths, or - for the most daring-, do rock climbing, as there are over 170 summits with more than 670 routes. The difficulty varies from II to VIII+ (UIAA). On the way, a stop should be made at Trikala town and Kalambaka town.
Get the Taste
Thessaly is blessed with a fertile land, which produces high quality products (cotton, wheat and products of cattle raising), thus representing 40% of the total agricultural production in Greece. So, one thing is for sure: the local tastes will be more than amazing.
Try the local vegetable pies, such as the delicious "plastos" - with leeks, olive oil and feta- and "batzina", a kind of cheese- pie made with pumpkin feta cheese, corn flour and butter, and tsalafouti and the tasteful roast kid baked in clay pots.
Local recipes include smoked or grilled trout from Karitsiotis River and salmon (from Lake Plastiras), beetroot salad with Katiki cheese (a specialty of Domokos area), pork with celery and leeks, duck kavourma (cured), chicken stifado (with shallots), Woodcocks with onions and tomato juice, tsigarides and sausages, stewed goat, kebab, retzelia (a local treat with petimezi and squash).
In Karditsa Prefecture you can be as active as you want, all year round. There are amazing hiking trails, but also opportunities for river sports, canyoning, rafting, etc., from well experienced travel agencies, that have transformed this area into a highly touristic destination.
Choose from hiking in the village Mavrommati, at the steps of Georgios Karaiskakis, the hero of the Greek War of Independence in1821 or paths around Plastiras lake. You can do climbing, hang gliding, paragliding in Porti (Itamos Mountain, 1200 m) and at Koufologos near Kryoneri, horse- riding, rafting, canoe kayak in Plastiras Lake, horse riding in Loxada Karditsa, snowmobil in Neochori ski center up to Karamanolis shelter at 1.500 meters altitude), off road 4 x 4 adventures in Fylakti, kite flying and parasailing at Kounakia (700 meters altitude), white-water rafting and canoe kayak in Acheloos or Tavropos (Megdovas) rivers, hang gliding and paragliding, from the summits of Tembla or Agonas in the Neraida region, in Ellinopyrgos or Aghios Giorgios and Rappel slide and jump down the rocks and waterfalls into the Mouzaki grand creek canyon.
The area is well noted for the excellent table wine, especially the black mesenikola variety, and tsipouro, a strong, alcoholic drink made from distilled grape marc, with or without anise.
Famous local products are the sausages, Tsalafouti (type of cheese), hilopites and trahanas (sundried pasta-like grains made with flour and milk). Some sweet souvenirs could be the mouthwatering sweet preserves made by the local ladies, the most popular being retselia (from figs).
Also, honey and its by-products, liquors with herbs and the thick soap-like Halvas from Farsala.