The Acheron is a 58-km-long river in northwestern Greece. It flows through the historical region of Epirus and is also a place of Greek mythology. The beautiful valley is one of the main scenic attractions on the west coast.
In Greek mythology the Acheron is one of the five rivers of the underworld, into which the others, Styx, Kokytos, Phlegethon and Lethe flow. Along with the Styx, it is considered to be the dead river, over which the ferryman Charon brought the dead souls to Hades with his ferry.
Most visit the area as a day trip from the coast. You can also visit the area as a detour on the way from Iguminiza to the Peloponnese, which means a detour of about 30 km.
Most tourists come with their own or a rental car. But there are also many guided excursions from the coastal towns.
See and do
- 1 Gates of Hell. About 40 km from the coastal road. This is where the Acheron gorge begins. The street is narrow, but it's worth it. The landscape makes up for the effort. The river can be reached in 2 ways. One is very short, paved and the other is a dirt path that starts next to the paved road and leads to the river. In summer a nice place with warm water for swimming in the river. If you want a wonderful view from above of the river valley and the mountains, a 5-km detour to the chapel 2 chapel Prophet Elias.
- 3 Dala Bridge. The old narrow concrete bridge of Dala is about 2 km east of Glyki. Nice place with a beautiful view of the Acheron river. The bridge is only the goal of the hike, the landscape is what makes the path worthwhile.
- 4 Skala of Tzavelaina. Skala is a stepped path carved into the rock that leads to the bank of the river. The water here is exceptional, crystal clear and very, very cold, which is nice to freshen up in summer. There are many sporting activities nearby, such as rafting and zipline. It's crowded as it is one of the main attractions on the river.
- 5 Acheron sources. This is the highlight of the river and accordingly well attended. You walk in swimwear in the very cold water of the river and admire the nature and the view. You should wear bathing shoes as there are many sharp stones in the river. There are some areas where you have to swim and you should have a waterproof bag ready for your personal belongings. Rafting and zipline highly recommended.
- 6 Ruined Church of the Assumption. quite photogenic ruin in Glyki.
- 7 Souli watermills. A nice place for a hot day, albeit very small. You can walk in the stream under the trees in the cold water and look at the old mills.
- 8 Kiafa castle ruins. A strong fortress in the Kiafas area of Souli, built by Ali Pasha to prevent the people of Souli from returning to their place after their heroic struggle against the Turks. Remote, not that easy to get to and with a great view.
- 9 Kougki. The remains of a fortress built on a hill in the Souli area and above the village of Samoniva (or Samonida) in Thesprotia, opposite the fortress of Souli (or Kiafa). It is known in Greece for the heroic resistance and sacrifice of the monk Samuel and the five Souliots who stayed in the fortress while the others left Souli after the surrender to Ali Pasha. According to the official story, Samuel and five other Soulioten set fire to the fortress' powder magazine on December 16, 1803 to avoid falling into the hands of Ali Pasha's army. The fortress of the monastery was built by Samuel himself in 1793 after Ali Pasha's first unsuccessful campaigns against Souli.
- 10 Elea. Daily 08:30-15:30. Interesting ancient settlement. €3 for adults, €2 for children.
- 11 Pandosia. Only the foundation walls are preserved, but the view from the hill is quite nice. In ancient times, Pandosia was an important city with a strong acropolis. It was a colony of elis. Later, in Roman times, it was the capital of the Epirotian League (around 168 BC). After 31 BC It declined because the population was forced to move to the new Roman city of Nicopolis. It was abandoned for a century and a half, but recovered during the Roman Empire. The city and its acropolis continued to exist for centuries. The fortress was strengthened in the 6th century as part of Emperor Justinian's fortress construction / rebuilding project. Between 1401 and 1797, the Parga region was occupied by the Venetians, who repaired the fortifications of Pandosia and converted it into a fortress in the 15th century. The Venetians had good reasons for this, as the hill is only 200 m from the Acheron River, which formed the border with Ottoman territory. Most of the remains of today's Acropolis date from this Venetian period.
- 12 Nekromanteion. Beautifully preserved place with a majestic view over the Acheron valley. The parking lot is at the foot of the hill, so there is some walking distance. The most famous necromanteion or oracle of the dead of the ancient Greek world is located near the northwestern shore of the former Acherousian Lake, where Acheron and Cocytos, the rivers of Hades, flow together. Ancient literary sources describe Lake Acherousian as the place where the dead began their descent into Hades and link Ephyra, the city further north, to the ancient cult of the god of death. The necromancy attracted people who wanted to meet the souls of the dead as they could foresee the future after they left their bodies.
- 13 Ephyra. Only a few foundations of the ancient city remain. In ancient times, the Acherousia lake was found in the immediate vicinity of Ephyra, which was fed by the Acheron and was located in its current estuary. The lake has now silted up and integrated into the Acheron estuary. This also silted up the Glykys Limen bay (Bay of Ammoudia), which protruded far into the interior of the country, and made it smaller accordingly. In the vicinity of the city of Ephyra the following other ancient settlements and cities were found: Pandosia, Elaia and Buchetion.