The mountain “diamond” of Central Evia
Built on the outskirts of Dirfyos, the highest mountain of Evia, Steni is one of the most beautiful villages on the island and the starting point of many mountain excursions. The picturesque village of Kefalochori stretches at an altitude of 450 meters and consists of three settlements: Ano and Kato Steni and the now abandoned settlement of Pyrgos, also known as Skounderi. The area is verdant, with a clean atmosphere and springs with gurgling water coming down from the mountain running literally everywhere, creating a refreshing sense of well-being that only mountain villages can offer.
The water wealth of the Strait has inspired many legends about fairies and elves, and, if you are lucky, you will hear the elders of the village telling them in the cafes. The locals have other stories to tell you from the legendary mountain of Dirfyos, while they boast about the fact that their village, which during the Ottoman period was called Kleisoura, was never trampled by the Turks and was a stronghold of boatmen and thieves.
The proximity to the mountain range of Dirfyos has made the village a pole of attraction for nature lovers from all over the world, every season, while the short distance from Chalkida has turned it into a popular destination even for one-day getaways. In the village there are rooms for rent and some elegant guesthouses, as well as cafes and bars in the central paved square with plane trees and mulberries. In terms of food, note that the area is famous for its excellent locally produced meats and mushrooms – so vegetarians will not complain either.
In the kingdom of water and green
The villages around Steni are beautiful, with lush vegetation and lots of water, so it is worth visiting. The Kambia , with its cavernous chapel of Agia Kyriaki, built on the side of Mega Longos and near the canyon Chavou. Although small, the village is tidy. Do not forget to buy local fava beans and visit the abandoned settlement of Kato Kambia with houses dating back up to 300 years ago. Crossing the forest of Steni to Chiliadou you will reach Stropones . The traditional village is amphitheatrically built, while the terraces with the crops make an impression. Continuing on the same road you meet Metochi, which stretches between the mountains Mesovouni and Skotini, and facing the mountain range of Dirfyos. Its inhabitants are mainly cattle breeders, so get excellent cheese products but also the famous cherries in Evia, if it is their season.
Sights not to be missed
Steni Aesthetic Forest: The Steni Aesthetic Forest stretches on the southern slope of Mount Dirfis near Steni. It is one of the 19 aesthetic forests of Greece and is included in the European ecological network Natura. The forest has an area of 500 hectares and is one of the most enchanting areas of the country and a pole of attraction for nature lovers from all over the world every season. The natural environment will take your breath away: streams, gorges, different species of trees and plants, small wild animals and rare birds compose a paradise landscape.
Dirfyos Mountain Refuge: Dirfyos Mountain Refuge (or “Michalis Nikolaou” Refuge) is located in Leiri, at an altitude of 1,120 meters. The shelter has unrestricted views from the Evian Gulf to the Aegean Sea, while on days when the atmosphere is clear you can even see the Sporades. It has relatively modern equipment, 50 beds and can accommodate 45 people. The shelter belongs to the Hellenic Mountaineering Association of Chalkida (EOS), which manages it.
Church of Agia Kyriaki: Built in the village of Kampia, in a beautiful location full of running water and plane trees, the small church will impress you with its unpretentious beauty. The temple rests on a rock located above the cave, in which, according to legend, the locals found the icon of Holy Sunday. Its interior is more reminiscent of a cave than a classic church, creating an all-encompassing and at the same time evocative atmosphere.
Suggestions for activities
The area is a “paradise” for mountain sports enthusiasts, giving opportunities for activities of varying difficulty, ranging from amateurs and beginners to experienced climbers and climbers aiming for 1,743 meters and the top of Dirfyos. So, get ready for mountain excursions, as the Aesthetic Forest of Steni and Mount Dirfis are suitable for walking, hiking, mountaineering and climbing, as there are climbing fields at Karaouli (Dirfis), in Xerovouni and in Karovia. The area is also a favorite of mountain bikers, with the Big Bear route being extremely popular, while trail running enthusiasts can try their hand at the Dirfys Marathon mountain road race.