Stemnitsa, Arkadia: Hiking along the Lousios River up to the Monastery of John the Baptist

by | Nov 25, 2017 | Beyond the Coast | 0 comments

Monastery of John the Baptist | Arcadia, Greece
Fall is a wonderful time to travel around mainland Greece.  By October you are over the islands and ready to feel the clean, mountain breeze.

Fall can sneak by you in Athens because the weather can stay really nice until all of the sudden it is winter.  As I write this, it is the middle of October and 27C/80F outside.

We decided to hit the road and head to the Peloponnese region of Greece to really get into ‘fall mode’.  The pumpkin spiced lattes in Glyfada weren’t quite  doing the job.


We were going back and forth between whether to stay in Stemnitsa and Dimitsana.  We chose Stemnitsa because it had a guest house that fit our criteria of having an amazing view and was pet friendly.  (more on that below)

The drive from Athens down to the Peloponnese is a fun one.  You go from a massive city to driving on a highway along the Saronic Gulf, over the Corinth canal and then into the mountainous, agricultural Peloponnese.

Once off the highway, the exciting mountain driving starts!  We rolled into Stemnitsa and right away I knew that we had made a good choice.

 Mpelleiko Guest House Stemnitsa

View from Mpelleiko Guest House in Stemnitsa

We checked into our room and walked down the hill into the town for lunch.  There was one restaurant open, so that is where we went.  We enjoyed our lunch (and dinner) thoroughly at Stemnitsa Taverna. (read my review here)

Stemnitsa, Greece

Charming, even in the rain

We strolled through the town after lunch and there were a few jewelry shops that we peeked into.  Besides the artisan workshops and a few shops selling local goods such as honey and fruit preserves, there wasn’t much going on in the town.

We found our own entertainment by coaxing a mama cat to follow us back into town, past her babies, where we then bought her a big ol’ can of cat food to fatten her up.

There are a few cafes on the main square, so we chilled at one and watched the rain fall before heading back up to our mountain side sanctuary.

Mpelleiko Guest House

We chose our accommodation based on reviews and Mpelleiko definitely lived up to the hype.

Nena, the owner, was great!  She was genuinely friendly and welcoming.  She didn’t even flinch when we showed up with a cat.

Our rooms were very clean and had a warm mountain house vibe.  I kept trying to talk my husband into starting a fire in the fireplace in our room, but he wasn’t having it.  “It’ll be too hot.”  Lame.

The house and the surroundings were very peaceful.  I just kept taking deep breaths to really take it all in (no pun intended).

Breakfast in the common area was a highlight of our stay.  Nena had asked what time we wanted out breakfast when we checked-in and there were places set at the table for us when we made our way up to the breakfast room on  Sunday morning.

The combination of the amazing food (made with local ingredients) and the view overlooking the quaint town, really set a great tone for the day.  Let’s get out there and explore!

 Mpelleiko Guesthouse Breakfast

Lousios River and Moni Timiou Prodromou (Monastery of John the Baptist)

Just long enough to be worthwhile but not so long that it dominated an entire day.

map of the hike Lousios Gorge Hike with Animals

We parked the car near Ancient Gortys and started out on our trek.  We were accompanied by two furry companions (and I’m not talking about Greek men) so we had plenty of water for ourselves as well as them.

It started out pretty flat and grassy, but once we got into the forest there were some ups and downs.  Nothing dramatic though.

The hike was running along the river, but at no point were we very close to the river. Once we crossed over the river on a rickety old bridge (yikes!), things started to go up hill quickly.

We zig-zagged up to the monastery and the sweatshirts came off, as this part was a bit of a work-out.

Mule Moni Timiou Prodromou, Arkadias, Tripoli

Once at the top, we marveled at how high we actually were.  We could see the parking lot in the distance and were patting ourselves on the back for our Sunday effort.

There were cats galore and a few mules (not full donkey, not full horse??) chilling outside the monastery gates.

The monastery was closed when we were there, but we had no intentions of going inside anyway.

There were people showing up from a different path than we had used and we discovered there was a quicker way to get there.  For us, the actual hike was our highlight, not just seeing the monastery.

If you want to avoid the hike, you can park here> Μεταμόρφωση του Σωτήρος

This was a great hike and I am so glad that we did it in the fall with perfect weather.  Not sure how it would be in August with the heat.  It was mostly shaded, but I wouldn’t want to try it in the peak summer months.

Arkadia Weekend Break

Greece is full of wonderful little villages that are within a few hours drive away from Athens.  I would highly suggest Stemnitsa and Mpelleiko Guest House for a mountain getaway- especially if you are into hiking.

It’s a place to go and truly enjoy the natural surroundings.  You won’t have to stress and deal with modern day problems like which restaurant to go to, because there is only one!


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Americana chica enjoying the sunshine on the Athens Coast.


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