Overnight

Camping spot near Ancient Gortys in the Lousios Valley, Greece

One of the delights of walking was the excitement of finding a good place to stay overnight. We carried a tent, so we always knew we’d have shelter of some sort, though it could be hard to find somewhere flat. We camped in some lovely remote spots: beside the ruins of Camping by the church, PetrotoAncient Gortys, on the shores of Lake Prespa, and looking out towards the crags of Vardhousia, tinged pink in the setting sun. In theory, wild camping in Greece is illegal, but beyond the more popular tourist beaches, it’s not a problem.

Sometimes rain threatened and we found a church porch where we could shelter if needed. Once we stayed in the porch of an ossuary, perched above a graveyard with twinkling red memorial lights; the door was open and I peeked in to see shelves piled high with boxes of bones, all neatly labelled. Once a shepherd invited us in out of the rain to stay in his dairy, and once we retreated from hail, thunder and lightning to sleep in a sheep shelter, on an earthen floor covered in a carpet of ancient droppings.

Sheep shed - welcome shelter overnight

If we managed to reach a village, we stayed in a guest house if there was one. Usually, these were very simple, perhaps tacked onto the village cafe with the help of an EU loan. Occasionally in the more touristy areas they were furnished in traditional style, with beautiful wooden ceilings and local handicrafts. They rarely cost more than 30-40 euros for a double room, often with breakfast, though the more upmarket places within easy reach of Athens  were more expensive. As for the refuges, apart from the Astrakas refuge on the edge of the Zagoria, they only open for advance group bookings.

Guesthouse, Monodendri

If there was a good cafe,  we sometimes stayed in a village even if there was no guest house. “Where can we pitch our tent? we’d ask. An expansive wave towards the village square was the usual answer – anywhere we liked.

Guides like Lonely Planet cover the more popular places such as the Zagoria. In the more remote mountain areas, both the Anavasi maps and the Mountains of Greece guide show accommodation. Neither are completely reliable: places close down or the proprietor may be away for a few days. Some hotels have websites, but it was almost impossible to find information about the most remote places. I have given some information under the individual Way to Go posts. We hardly ever bothered to phone ahead though. Places to stay were never full, though this may be different in high summer or on major holidays.

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