It is the “green coast of my home land”, as one of our Greek poets, Costas Kariotakis, used to call this seaside resort, which is one of the first seaside resorts that started developing in Greece when travelling was still a hobby for few. Nowadays, Xylokastro is a small coastal town of five and a half thousand residents that keeps intact that feeling of family vacations, the so familiar from trips of older times.
Although the aesthetics of that era have many negative sides, such as the coastal block of flats that take a lot out of the picturesqueness of the dock, there are also hidden around some interesting corners, nice beaches, the wonderful seaside pine forest that inspired Kariotakis, plenty of sights and many mountainous routes to book for more than two summer weekends.
The Venetians had built on the side of the hill, above Xylokastro, a small wooden barrack that was used as an observatory of the Corinthian Gulf and the surrounding area. It was the barrack that eventually “baptized” the city, which until the 18th century it was called Oxokampos.
The “zero point” of every strolling in Xylokastro is the coastal route that in the summer evenings everybody meets, locals and visitors, among the necessary stops for coffee, food and drinks.
What definitely steals the show is the seaside Pefkia forest, our “green coast”, which is all that is left from the enormous pine forest that was deforested at some point to become arable lands. The part that was saved, which is the part we enjoy today when strolling in Xylokastro, was – and still is- on a sandy ground, unsuitable for cultivation.
The forest, in which herbalists have recorded more than 80 different species of plants, spreads over an area that reaches the two kilometers, hugging the beach. Its dirt paths that almost all end up in the sea, are offered for hiking and cycling under the cool shade of pine trees.
Talking about cycling, the great coastal cycle path of Xylokastro is one of the most beautiful paths we have in Greece- and a reason enough to bring your bike with you or ask for one from the hotels that provide bicycles to their customers. Especially around sunset, the coastal cycle path is a true experience.
In the sights that you should not miss are included the metropolis of Xylokastro, the church of Agios Vlasios, which is adorned with authentic works of art of great hagiographers, such as Fotis Kontoglou, Aginor Asteriadis and Spiros Vasileiou, and the church of Agios Gerasimos, next to which there is a small ecclesiastical museum that hosts interesting relics.
The monastery of Panagia Korfiotissa also worth a visit not only for the impressive wooden screen that dates back in the 17th century, but also for the fantastic route up here that behind every turn reveals another impressive view to the city and the Corinthian Gulf. The lovers of mountain destinations should not forget that Xylokastro is one of the three “gates” of mountain Ziria: it is just 20 kilometers away from the covered in fir trees Trikala Korinthias.
First and most popular is the beach of Pefkia, as the so-called forest, with the big pebbles and the transparent waters. Another good option is the beach of Sikia, in the neighboring seaside settlement, where the pine forest ends. Here, right next to the edge of the forest, there is the impressive villa of Angelos Sikelianos, a Greek lyric poet and playwright that combines three architectural rhythms: the columns at the front are ancient Greek, the balconies are Venetian and the windows are inspired by the Byzantine style.On the way to Corinth, the beaches in Kiato and Vrachati are organized and ideal for families with young children as they have shallow waters and fine pebbles- in Vrachati you will also find a small but nice Luna Park by the sea.