Diakofto is a small seaside town with a magnificent view of the Corinthian Gulf. The town is mainly known for the train “Odontotos” which crosses the Vouraikos Gorge on a beautiful route until Kalavrita. In the summer period the visitor has the opportunity to visit the coasts of Diakofto and during the winter visitors of the area visit the magnificent ski center of Kalavrita.
Diakofto offers a lot of options for your accommodation and in the centre of the town you will find a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops. There are beautiful hiking routes alongside the railway of Odontotos. Mountain biking or horse riding in special routes around the mountains of Diakofto is also possible.
Like Aigio, Diakofto belongs to the wider area of Aigialeia. During the ancient times around Diakofto there were three ancient cities of great importance, Ancient Voura, Ancient Helike and Ancient Keryneia. The area of Diakofto as well as the rest of Peloponnese was under the Ottoman occupancy from 1460 until the Greek War of Independence in 1821. There was a short period 1687-1715 when the Venetians occupied the area. In 1821 Diakofto was liberated and became part of the new state of Greece.
The spectacular mountain railway “Odontotos” Diakofto – Kalavrita
The route from Diakofto to Kalavrita with the famous train “Odontotos” is an amazing experience. The distance is 22km and about an hour with the train. The route starts from Diakofto and the train crosses the Vouraikos Gorge until it ends up to Kalavrita. The train makes a stop at Mega Spilaion (Big Cave) where is the homonym historical monastery of Mega Spilaion. During this amazing route you have the opportunity to admire the natural beauty of this gorge and the waterfalls which are formed by Vouraikos River.
The route is also a great hiking opportunity. Travelers can take the train from Diakofto and stop at “Zachlorou” about half an hour later. From Zachlorou starts a hiking path alongside with the railway line until Diakofto. The route Zachlorou –Diakofto lasts about 4 hours. The hiking route Kalavrika –Diakofto lasts about 6 hours. You can adjust the time of your hiking by stopping at a different stop depending on your mood and physical condition.
The name Kalavrita means “Good waters” in Greek. The natural beauty of this historical village amazes the visitor. Here you will find the Monastery of Agia Lavra which is considered to be the place where the Greek War of Independence started in 1821. Kalavrita is also known due to the German occupancy in 1943. Specifically in 13th December of 1943 the German army executed all the men of the village and completely destroyed the village afterwards. This historical event is known as one of the biggest atrocities of the German army during the World War II and the visitor can still see the location of the sad event. Today Kalavrita is a popular destination especially during the winter as it has one of the largest ski centers of Greece. Don’t miss some of the local products of Kalavrita, like the famous feta cheese of Kalavrita, handmade pasta, legumes and wild herbs.
The Monastery of Mega Spilaion
During the route Diakofto-Kalavrita the train makes a stop at Mega Spilaion (Big Cave). Here is one of the most important pilgrimage churches of Greece, the Monastery of Mega Spilaion (Big Cave). It is an eight-storey monastery built in the natural opening of a cave upon the gorge of Vouraikos River. The location of this monastery is amazing and inside the monastery you will see wall paintings from 1653 and the wood carved iconostasis. The most important treasure of the monastery is the holy image which was created, according to belief, by the Evangelist Luck. The monastery is probably the oldest of Greece and was built in 362AD by two brothers from Thessaloniki, Simeon and Theodoros. Historically it was destroyed many times during the hostile invasions. The monastery of Mega Spilaion played an important part regarding the battles against the Ottoman Empire especially during the Greek War of Independence in 1821. In 1943 the monastery was plundered and 16 people were executed by Nazi armies.
In the wider area of Diakofto there were three important ancient cities of Greece, Ancient Voura, Ancient Helike and Ancient Keryneia. Ancient Helike was destroyed by a powerful earthquake around 373-372BC. The whole classical city disappeared since then and the excavations of the area haven’t revealed yet findings that could be related with this ancient city. Pausanias, the Greek geographer and traveler, visited the area in the 2nd century AD and mentioned in his works that the remains of this city were inside the sea and were visible during this period.
Ancient Voura was also destroyed by the same earthquake that destroyed Ancient Helike. The remains of Ancient Voura can be seen near Mamousia village. Vouraikos gorge took its name from this ancient city.
The most important archaeological site of the area is the remains of the Ancient Keryneia in Mamousia village (about 12,5km away from Diakofto). In the site the visitor can still see a graveyard from the Hellenistic Period, wall remains and a part of the ancient theater. The city, according to Pausanias, took its name either from a governor of the city or from the Keryniti River. Achaeans settled in this city after they had driven off the former residents who were Ionians. According to mythology, in ancient Keryneia lived the deer Kerynitis of the Greek goddess Artemis. Hercules, according to his 3rd labor, had to deliver this deer untouched to Evristheas. Ancient Keryneia was one of the 12 most important cities of Achaea and was developed especially during the Mycenaean Period. Many of the findings of this site are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Aigio.
If you decide to visit this archaeological site you shouldn’t miss a beautiful hiking route which starts from the village Mamousia and ends up to Diakofto. Follow the path from the archaeological site of Ancient Keryneia which leads to the plateau “Agioi Asomatoi”. Here you could take a breath and enjoy the most amazing view of the Corinthian Gulf. Afterwards you could continue the route towards the Cave of the Bouraic Hercules. If you want to visit this cave you have to climb the 170 stairs (about 10 minutes) and you will see the path that leads to the gap of the cave. After the end of your visit at the cave you could continue the path towards Diakofto.
Near Aiges village, about 31km away from Diakofto, there was the acropolis of the Mycenaean city Ypiresia. The residents of this city participated in the Trojan War. Near this area there is the archaeological site of Aigeira, where today are the remains of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman city of Aigeira. The most important monuments in this archaeological site are the ancient theatre, two temples and the “Gymnasio”. The city was developed until the 4th century AD and it was destroyed by a natural disaster.
Egkalia beach is a sandy beach of Diakofto surrounded by trees. Above the beach there are many beach bars offering umbrellas with sun beds.
About 5km west of Diakofto you could swim at Elaionas beach. The beach is covered by sand and pebbles and is one of the most beautiful in the area. It is organized with umbrellas, sun beds, a playground and a beach volley. Across the seaside street you will find traditional taverns and popular café-bars.
Pounta beach (or Trapeza beach) is probably the best beach in the Corinthian Gulf. It is a long beach close to Diakofto. It is covered with large white pebbles and is known for its crystal clear water. Close to the beach you will find a beach bar and a few taverns.
Places to visit
Akrata is a seaside small town, only 18km away from Diakofto. The natural beauty and the beautiful beaches of the area are enough reasons to visit this place. Some of the most known beaches of the area are the following:
Akrata beach is a long organized beach covered by pebbles with plenty of taverns and shops around the area.
Alternatively you could visit Krioneri beach, an unorganized beach covered by pebbles and sand.
Porovitsis beach is a peaceful pebble beach with a camping near the beach.
The long Aigeira beach is covered by sand and pebbles. On the seaside street above the beach you will find a lot of cafes and taverns to enjoy a meal or a coffee.
Aigio is about 15km west of Diakofto. It is a historical seaside town, ideal for walking, with plenty of monuments and beaches to visit.