Once known as Patra, this “real” Greek city is still concerned with its wine industry, agriculture and catering for tourists. The third largest city in the country, Patras is best known for its Carnival. It’s also linked to Saint Andrew, the patron Saint of the city, who was crucified at the age of 80.
Patras is located in the northern part of the Peloponnese, at 215 km (133.6 miles) west of Athens, not far from the Rio-Antirio Bridge, which links the peninsula to the main land.
How to get there
Patras has its own airport but doesn’t receive regular flights. It only receives some charter flights from Europe. The closest airport to Patras is Athens Airport, which is served regularly both by domestic and international flights.
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You can also get to Patras either by car or by train. The national roads connect Patras both to the south and north of the mainland and the trains link Patras to the capital (for about €5 one way).
What to Do
The modern city of Patras was built right on his ancient remains. The city is located at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, offering a great view of the Gulf of Patras.
On the mountain side stands the Castle. It was built on the ruins on the ancient Acropolis, in the second half of the 6th century A.D. The castle comprises a out triangular enclosure, enforced with bastions and towers. Once, the castle was protected by a moat. The inner enclosure was also protected by a moat. Take the famous 193 stairs which start at the top of Saint Nicolas square to get to the Castle.
The Ancient Theatre is located right near the Saint George’s square. It’s one of the most beautiful in Greece and was built right after the “Herodeion”, in Athens. The site has been uncovered in 1889 and was rebuilt after the Second World War. During summer, it’s used for concerts and theatrical performances.
Saint Andreas Cathedral (Aghios Andreas) is the most important church in the town. It’s dedicated to the patron Saint of the City, Saint Andrew. Near the new church, there still stands the old church which was built on the exact spot where Apostle Andrew was crucified.
If you want to taste some of the famous Greek wines, take a journey outside the city to visit the Achaia Clauss cellar. The most well known wine produced here is Mavrodafne. The cellar can be visited from 9 AM to 7 PM and guided tours are offered in English.
The Rio-Antirio Bridge connects the Peloponnese peninsula to the main land. Before the bridge was built, tourists were face to take either very long drives or the tedious ferry to get from Athens to the peninsula. Now it’s possible to drive from Athens to Delphi and then over the new bridge to the northern tip of the peninsula. Corinth, Mycenae, Epidaurus and Tiryns are at close reach as well due to the new bridge. Although it’s situated in an area of high seismic risk, the bridge is the perfect safest place to be in a major earthquake.
Every year in spring, Patras is home to The Patras Carnival, unique in Greece and the biggest in Europe. The events start on January 17 and last until Clean Monday (the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Great Lent) and include a variety of fun things to do, such as balls, parades and even a children’s carnival. If you want to visit Patras during the festival, make sure to read the details on the official website.