Kynouria: Journey to spectacular Arcadia

Leonidio/Photo: Shutterstock

A necessary route for anyone who steps on Arcadian soil is the one that runs through the ancient province of Kynouria (Cynuria)

A mountainous, stony and heroic place, Arcadia constantly gives reasons, summer and winter, to visit it on a small and large scale, passing through the proud mountains and facing the Aegean through the Argolic Gulf. In the crown of the queen of mountainous Peloponnesian destinations are spread many surprises and special places, able to be experienced in a few days.

One such route, essential for anyone who sets foot on Arcadian soil, is the one that runs through the ancient province of Kynouria.

In the present time, Kynouria, divided into North and South, sees two faces in her mirror, amazing twins in their own way. Faces that are joined by Mount Parnonas and the coastline that bathes eastern Arcadia to compose a palette of options that combine unparalleled natural beauty and history, stone and sea, peace and life.

Bowing in awe over the countless beauties of the region, Travel has chosen for you some of the most famous and beloved villages in Greece that legend says were first inhabited by the Dorians but honoured by many successive civilisations over the centuries.

Larger and smaller villages, which, although you can enjoy them independently, are suitable as part of a single tourist experience or as starting points for secondary small wanderings in the context of a long weekend.

Agios Petros

Agios Petros
Agios Petros

Agios Petros is one of the largest villages of Kynouria that is still largely inhabited and is the definition of alternative mountain tourism with the local delicacies and the special landmarks that make it up.

So, among the attractions of the village are the Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul in the square, the Trikalitis Tower, the old carpet factory, and the stone bridge at "Vythula tis Anna".

Lovers of mountain climbing and hiking escapes in nature will not be left complaining since the village starts with paths that lead to Mikri Tourla and Megali Tourla, the highest peak of Parnon, at 1936 metres.

Paralio Astros

Paralio Astros/Photo: Shutterstock
Paralio Astros/Photo: Shutterstock

Built on the western side of the Argolic Gulf, Paralio Astros, 4 km from the homonymous headquarters of the Municipality of North Kynouria, combines the medieval pre-revolutionary past with the taste of olives, vines and the view of the blue sea.

The Church of the Evangelistria with cypress trees at the entrance is the first image one sees from the village, but the sight that dominates is none other than the Castello della Estella, i.e. Castle of the Star, due to the star shape of the area on which it was built.

The castle has a special historical significance since it played a very important role in the revolution of 1821, while in 1826, the fortified soldiers defeated the numerous army of Ibrahim.

After you have finished visiting Paralio Astros and its castle, you are offered the option of flying to a number of the remaining nearby villages of Kynouria. Astros, with its Archaeological Museum and the Mansion of Herod Atticus in Kato Doliana, are two targeted options that many visitors choose. However, stopping at the village of Agios Petros will not disappoint you.

Ano Doliana

Ano Doliana/Photo: Shutterstock
Ano Doliana/Photo: Shutterstock

At an altitude of 1,000 metres, "tucked" into the arms of Mount Parnon, Ano Doliana is a wonderful, traditional settlement that, over time, has managed to maintain its mild colour while "challenging" the visitor with its view and beauty.

The main advantage of Doliani is that it provides all the advantages of the Greek mountainous nature without having to spend special effort, time and money to enjoy them up close.

The fact that the chronic weakening of animal husbandry has given way to mild touristic interventions forms precisely a strange balance between a sense of isolation on the one hand and, on the other hand, their almost intact picturesque character.

When you find yourself in Ano Doliana, you will see a place full of stone bridges, springs, plane trees, walnut trees, and oak trees.

It is worth taking the beautiful hiking route through the chestnut forest and seeing the small waterfall in the small church of Ai Giannis, while a stop at the Historical and Folklore Museum of Doliano is highly recommended.



Any transition to the southern side of Kynouria could not exclude Leonidio, the town preeminently associated with Arcadia's water aspect. Leonidio was built on an impressive vertical slope of 250 metres. The famous Red Rock offers one of the best climbing experiences in the Peloponnese and Europe.

Leonidio, with the impressive Kokkinobrachos towering above it/Photo: Shutterstock
Leonidio, with the impressive Kokkinobrachos towering above it/Photo: Shutterstock

But beyond the climbing experience, the architectural charm of the settlement itself, which includes some of the most beautiful mansions of the Peloponnese, will attract your attention. For example, the Tower of Tsikaliotis, built in 1808, the Mansion of Polytimos of 1816 and the Mansion of Katsikogiannis, on the northern edge of the settlement, keep alive the world of the past. But the sight is not limited to these iconic buildings since the place is full of two- and even three-story houses with paved courtyards.

A pleasant surprise from your stay in Leonidio will be your contact with the Doric Tsakonian dialect, both on signs and in conversations in cafes and squares.


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The few permanent residents in the village are mainly livestock breeders/Photo: Periklis Merakos.

The Tsakonian village of Vaskina, also divided geographically into two settlements (Ano and Kato), is also unique. This is not only because it houses two vaulted Mycenaean tombs and pottery from the same era but also because it has signs of extensive settlement and testimony to the habitation of the area since ancient times.

Vaskina is a typical village of Tsakonia/Photo: Periklis Merakos

But also perched at 500 metres above sea level and in an inaccessible area of ​​Mount Parnon, Monastery of Sintza, which seems to extend its "head" outside the natural cave in which it has been carved and shaped before generously offering the wonderful view that begins from the monastery and reaches the sea.

Monastery of Sintza
The Monastery of Sintza at Arcadia looks like it is emerging from the imposing cave where it was formed. Photo: Pericles Merakos

The value of Vaskina also lies in its status as a springboard, as at a distance of about 25 kilometres or 45 minutes by car from the village, there is a religious monument that is definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.

READ MORE: From Samarina to Florina – A mountainous weekend in Western Macedonia.

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