Livadia or often spelled Livadeia is a small town in Central Greece, a few hours by car from Athens and most notably for visitors unfamiliar with the area, close to the oracle of Delphi. Livadia is not a popular spot and while it previously was an important and historical location, in recent years, Livadia has remained a small agricultural community with a population of 30,000 people. Historically the area was known for cotton, tobacco, grain and livestock and it is still has an active metal construction industry that employs a large part of the nearby population.
How to get to Livadia?
If you are starting from Athens, Livadia is only 150 km away (or about 2 hours) and you will be mostly following the national road which is in good condition and well sign posted. The spelling of Livadia has changed quite a lot in recent years, so keep an eye out for Livadeia or Levadia as well.
After you pass Thebes, the scenery becomes a lot more rural, with fields of cotton, olive trees and the backdrop of the mountains on the horizon.
You can also get to Livadia by bus or train from Athens.
The bus schedule from Athens usually has more than 20 available departures throughout the day. The local KTEL (Greek bus service) for Livadia is unfortunately not in English but can be found here. Look for where it says “AΘΗΝΑ – ΛΙΒΑΔΕΙΑ’ (Athens – Livadia) or the opposite.
Of course, you also get the train, which is easier and faster. You can book tickets online here and there is also an app you can download. Look for “TRAINOSE”.
Things To Do in Livadia – Central Greece
These are just a few ideas for things to do in and around the area of Livadia in Greece. As always, I have included a wide range of activities and suggestions to suit different preferences and desires. When exploring a new city, it is best not to get overwhelmed with ticking off items from a list.
Start with aimlessly wandering around the town to get a feel for it and have a few things in mind that you want to do if possible. Here are some options:
Enjoy a walk around Krya’s Springs
If there is one thing you need to do when you are in Livadia is to explore this area known as Krya. Krya means “cold” and this area in the heart of the city is where locals go to relax, walk around, eat or catch up with friends. Plane trees, countless small waterfalls, watermills, cobblestone pathways, wooden structures, and the sound of running water dominate the landscape.
The river that runs through the city is called Herkyna. In Greek mythology Herkyna was the daughter of Trophonius, a beautiful nymph and friend of Persephone. This is one of the few rivers in Greece with a female name.
The river has served the city of Livadia well, as it provided the necessary energy required for the production of many material goods, including clothing manufacturing.
In the area, you will find some great coffee spots, tavernas and a few other areas of notable interest like the Oracle of Trophonius, the medieval Castle and the church of Jerusalem.
Learn about the Oracle of Trophonius
All the remains from the oracle of Trophonius nowadays, is the entrance to the cave which might appear uninteresting at first. However, the mythological tales would be of interest to history lovers. Trophonius was hero/daimon of ancient Greek mythology that built the oracle for his divine father Apollo. To get a prophecy from the oracle you would have to follow strict rules for six days, including drinking and bathing in the river of Herkyna, descending into caves during the night and eating sacrificial meat. Most people went insane or died and the few that survived were too terrified to remember the experience or the prophecy delivered to them at the end.
Visit the Medieval Castle
While you are in the area you can also visit the Medieval Castle of Livadia. The hisotyr of the castle dates back to the 5th century and was also used by the Byzantines and Francs. The current structure that still stands is from when the Catalans occupied the region between 1309 and 1380.
After a short walk you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the area and there is also a little church at the top. Entrance is free.
Taste the meat: famous souvlaki of Livadia
Livadia is most famous for its meat and especially its souvlaki. There are plenty of spots in the center of the town to enjoy this local delicacy but the most famous are To Steki ton Skier, 1900 Souvlaki and the KTEL or bus station canteen that does their famous mutton souvlaki.
Check out the Historical and Ethnological Museum of Livadia
A lovely ethnological museum with a large collection of traditional household objects and equipment for farming and weaving in the area. The building is located in a renovated part of an old stone building.
Take a drive to the mountain of the Muses
There are two mountains with links to the muses in the area. The first and most well known is Mt Parnassus, that is also a popular skiing spot. The other is mount Helicon, just half an hour drive from Livadia and with an altitude of 1,749 metres. In Greek mythology, mount Helicon was an important spot for the muses, with two springs ‘Aganippe’ and ‘Hippocrene’ located there. The latter was created when Pegasus, the winged horse of Hercules, hit a rock with his hoof.
Go Wine Tasting
In the slopes of mount Helicon you will also find Samartzis Estate Wines. Here you will get the chance to taste local wines and learn more about Greek varieties like Kontoura and Mouhtaro. Samartzis Estate Wines produces 8 different bottles, that includes 4 reds, 3 whites and 1 rose. Their rose, ” δύο ποτάμια, Grenache Rouge 2018, walked away with the gold metal in the Balkans International Wine Competition in 2019.
Have chocolate croissants at “Croissant Petrou”
An unassuming little shop that goes back to 1993, “Croissant Petrou” is a local favourite and their distinctive packaging will be hard to miss. In addition to their chocolate praline croissant, that is available both at their shop and in select bakeries around town, they also make delicious apricot and butter croissants.
*In 2019, the original owner retired but these delicious croissants are still available under the new local owners.
Explore the area with True Wheels Explore MTB Parnassos
The team of True Wheels MTB offers guided mountain biking tours in nearby Arahova, in the beautiful mountain Parnassos and general area. Just let them know how much time you have, the type of challenge and your experience, and they will suggest the best route for you and your friends or family. Downhill and uplift services, as well as lessons for kids and adults to discover the world of mountain biking are also available.
Athens Sky Dive
Ever wanted to jump off a plane? There is no better way to take in the view of the Corinth Gulf on one side, and the endless hills of Boeotia. Just a 30min away from Livadia you will come across Athens SkyDive, a modern skydiving centre that is open year-round with friendly and professional instructors that will guide you through your first or 10th jump.
Go skiing in Mt Parnassus
The mountain of Paranassus stands at an altitude of 2,457m and is one of the tallest in Greece. It is also one of the oldest, as it has been operating since 1976. Livadia and the villages closer to Parnassus like Agoriani and Arachova, are popular winter destinations due to the influx of skiers and snowboarders during the snowy months. You will be able to choose from more than 21 pistes and half a dozen ski routes.
Explore nearby Arachova
Arachova is often described as the “Winter Mykonos” in Greece and with good reason. Athenians have always come here to this small charming village during the cold months, to feast on local meat tavernas and enjoy the view of the Gulf below while the more adventurous take to the mountains. Arachova is a great spot all year-round, with cobblestone streets, stone houses, great food and shopping options.
Visit the Ancient Theatre of Orchomenus
Most people will pass by the city of Orchomenus without a second glance but not you! You will know about the theatre of Orchomenus and the Mycenaean tomb that you can visit that is almost as big as the one at Mycenae. The area was excavated by Heinrich Sclieman who also completed excavations in Mycenae and Troy.
* The area is currently under development so certain parts might not be open to the public.
Take a drive to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas
The monastery of Hosios Loukas is tucked between mount Helicon and the city of Livadia and has a stunning view covering olive and almond tree fields. It is one of the most important monuments of the Byzantine period and also included in the list of World Heritage monuments by UNESCO. The monastery was built in the 10th century and the oldest example of a cross-in-square architectural form in the country. A beautiful spot that will transport you back in time. Make sure to head to the crypt and explore the grounds.
Take a look at the Lion of Chaeronea
Chaironea or Chaeronea is mostly known as the location of the battle between Phillip II of Macedon and an alliance of some Greek city-states led by Athens. The Macedons defeated the Athenians and Thebans, including, according to some historians the invincible and brave soldiers of the “Sacred Band of Thebes”. The monument of the “Lion of Chaeronea” marks the spot where 254 skeletons where found buried beneath, that are believed to be the members of the Sacred Band of Thebes.
Go to Distomo Massacre Memorial and Nazi Victims Museum
This massive memorial that rests on a hill overlooking the city of Distomo has the names of 218 men, women and children that were massacred by Nazi soldiers in 1994. The inscriptions are in Greek but it is worth stopping for a few moments.
The Nazi victims’ museum is inside the village and is a haunting place documenting the atrocious act that took place on June 10th, 1994. In just a few hours, the Waffen-SS troops slaughtered every single person alive, mostly women and children. According to the accounts of the survivors, the soldiers “bayoneted babies in their cribs, stabbed pregnant women, and beheaded the village priest.”
Food and drink in Livadia
Where to Eat in Livadia
Livadia is a meat-lovers paradise. In addition to standard meat cuts, here is the spot to try some local delicacies like souvlaki from mutton and kontosouvli.
Kalligefston – You will run into Kalligefston on the way to Krya in a small stone building semi-hidden from view. The interior is warm and welcoming, with hearty dishes and large portions.
To Taximi – A small traditional taverna on a great spot overlooking the river Herkyna in Krya. Try to have a seat in the outdoor balcony if possible.
Steki ton Skier– Another local favourite that was also the in place to be in town and where people would stop after heading to nearby ski resort of mount Parnassus. Here you get “kalamaki” just the meat skewer on bread. Simple and filling!
Ktel Souvlaki – The local bus stop is considered one of the best spots for a souvlaki nowadays. While you won’t be able to sit and dine, the friendly owners and juicy meat bites are worth it!
Where to have coffee in Livadia
If you are just after a quiet coffee or beverage under the plane trees and with the sound of the running waters in Krya around you, there are lots of great options in Livadia.
Xenia cafe bar – The jewel of Krya, Xenia Cafe bar has been a classic hang out spot for years, before it burned down and was rebuilt in 2014. Now, the new and improved version, right on the river, offers a refreshing spot to cool down during the summer with great coffee, a wide selection of beverages, snacks and light meals.
Pantheon cafe bar – A great spot with a view of the river below is Patheon cafe bar. The three levels with their outdoor balconies offer plenty of seating options. Good quality coffee, excellent waffles and tasty snacks together with tasteful music, that create a relaxing all day spot.
PRessTeaze – On the town’s main square, opposite the old City Hall you will find PRessTeaze. A modern and elegant establishment that can be visited from morning till night, for brunch, coffee, and then cocktails and evening of music and partying. Their attention to detail is evident from the high quality products in the breakfast menu to the extensive drinks list.
Have you ever visited Livadia?