Worth a Trip: Mikro Horio & Megalo Horio

Just 14km south of Karpenisi are the twin villages of Mikro Horio (Little Village), with a couple of good tavernas, and scenic Megalo Horio (Big Village). This latter village boasts traditional stone houses, a nice cafe and a charming Folklore Museum.

Megalo Horio is also the starting point for the all-day hike to Mt Kaliakouda (2098m) and back. If you fancy something more level, you can take a satisfying stroll along the banks of the Karpenisiotis River on a footpath that begins opposite the village bus terminal.

Back on the main road, at the foot of Megalo Horio, the riverside Gavros attracts Karpenisi families in search of a good meal in the countryside, such as at Taverna To Spiti tou Psara, or a stroll along the Karpenisiotis River among fir, pine and chestnut trees. You can overnight here at Pension Agrambeli.

With your own transport, you can visit the restored village of Koryshades, reached through a marked turn-off about 4km southwest of Karpenisi.

Without your own transport, getting around is tricky. A single local bus does a morning return circuit between Karpenisi and Megalo Horio, Mikro Horio and Gavros twice a week (€2.25, 25 minutes). The schedule changes by the season, so first check with the Municipality of Karpenisi. From Karpenisi’s central plateia (square), a taxi costs about €15 to Gavros, Megalo Horio or Mikro Horio.

Worth a Trip: Thiva

Thiva, the birthplace of Hercules and Dionysos, was a powerful city-state in 400 BC during Greece's golden age, occupying a strategic position between northern Greece and the Peloponnese. The tragic fate of its royal dynasty, centred on the myth of Oedipus, rivalled that of ancient Mycenae. After the Trojan War in the 12th century BC, Thiva became the dominant city of the Boeotia region. Thiva's glorious run ended in 335 BC, however, when it was sacked by Alexander the Great for siding with the Persians.

Present-day Thiva has few vestiges of its past glory – except for exhibits in a wonderfully restored archaeological museum that reopened in 2016. Greek history fans might head here for posterity, and the town centre, filled with cafes, is worth a wander.

Buses operate to Athens (€8.80, one hour, hourly until 8.30pm) from Thiva’s central bus station, 500m south of Plateia Agios Kalotinis. Trains from Thiva station, 500m north of the museum, depart for Athens (normal/Intercity €7.30/13.70, 70/65 minutes, eight or nine daily) and Thessaloniki (€22.30/37.90, 5½/4½ hours, five or six daily).