Our final destination in the Peloponnese was a 4-star bed and breakfast called Villa Vager, which is run by the kind and generous Nikolaos and Marina Vager. This exclusive bed and breakfast (popular with skiers and Polaris ATV fanatics) is positioned in the heart of the mountains in a small village called Levidi, some two hours south of Athens and just one and a half hours up the toll highway from Kalamata Airport. This is wild country where freedom rules within a spectacular landscape of breathtaking mountain ranges and wide spreading black pine forests. Come wintertime this area turns into an idyllic ski resort, and in the summer it’s a hikers dream.
Levidi village is pretty and quaint with impossible views of distant peaks above impressive mountain basins. There are a handful of restaurants gathered round the central square serving traditional Greek country cuisine (roast chicken, pork, wild boar etc.) as well as a few bars and cafes to enjoy a few drinks in whilst the sun goes down. The square is the hub of the village and seems very popular with large families and friends wanting to congregate for a tasty lunch.
There are a number of other attractions the intrepid explorer will discover here. You won’t fail but notice the cleanliness of the air all around you, incredible spring water quality, away from the tourist trail, long (and sometimes petrifying) winding roads with breath-taking views around every corner, old and stunning architecture and finally, the unbelievable amount of historical monuments to indulge in. Villa Vager and its locality is right off the beaten track for tourism, but should be on every adventurer’s bucket list.
We feel Villa Vager is an established and very well renovated 4-star bed and breakfast with nine very different rooms that really do cater for each guest’s accommodation requirements. The rooms can be found within different parts and levels of the villa, each with a stunning view of the mountainous scenery to enjoy – the use of space here has been thought about, as you rarely come across other guests and you probably will only encounter them at breakfast time. Seclusion, freedom and relaxation is what you will find at Villa Vager! In 2011, Nikolaos and Marina took on this challenging renovation project and have clearly put their hearts and soul into the property, making it not only their home but also a welcoming place for guests to stay. The building maintains many of its original features including impressive original stone walls and comfortable accommodation. Our room was part of the original building and featured an arched ceiling with an incredibly comfortable bed that made for a perfect night’s sleep every night!
Villa Vager is in a fantastic location to allow you easy access to the beautiful surrounds in all directions. With just one full day to properly explore we decided to visit the archaeological site of the Orchomenos, which is literally just 5 minutes drive from the Villa Vager and boasts an impressive amphitheatre and ancient ruins. We then drove 25km to Elati, where you’ll be absolutely stunned by the tour that takes you into the black pine forests and far reaching mountain views. Be careful not to take your eye off the road to take in the views, as these narrow winding roads are trechurous. To have a break, we would recommend stopping off in the picturesque village of Stemnitsa for a coffee. Sit in one of the pretty roadside cafes and catch a glimpse of what the locals get up to. Just 15 minutes up the road on this fascinating tour there are two ancient monasteries worth visiting. We would recommend visiting just one, as you could take up to three hours at each sight if you want to endure the walk. We opted for the Monastery of Philosophous, which entailed a 4km round trip through the stunning mountain gorge – be prepared for steep and stony trails! Once you reach the monastery you will not fail to be overwhelmed by the original 17th Century paintings and architecture. Two Orthodox monks and a priest are responsible for the monasteries’ upkeep and we were lucky enough to meet one of the monks called Peter, who gave us a drink of water and some traditional Greek sweets that gave us much needed energy for the trek back to the car park.
If after your trek you’ve worked up an appetite and fancy some lunch or a coffee break, the village of Dimitsana was a fantastic place to stop. There are numerous traditional restaurants with fantastic views of the gorge. You’ll find delicious cakes to traditional wild boar or moussaka dishes that will satisfy any hunger pangs, or this place is well worth stopping in for a drink at least. Another village worth mentioning is Vytina, which you will pass on the way back to the villa and possibly has the best selection of restaurants, bars and cafes, and is just 15km away.
Our delightful stay at Villa Vager came to an end in true style with Nikolaos taking us on a quad bike taster up the mountains and into the forest. Nikolaos has a huge passion for this past time and is the only operator in Greece and one of a handful in Europe lucky enough to specialise in offering Polaris ATV quad bike tours – in fact he has a relentless group of followers that come back time and time again to experience the thrill each year. These quad bikes are arguably the best in the world and can cope with most (if not all) terrains; therefore they are perfect for mountain, snow, lake and forest tours alike as well as seeing some interesting wildlife along the way including tortoises, foxes, wild boars, rabbits and so much more! Nikolaos offers one to three hours, half day and full day tours, where he will take guests on some fascinating and challenging tours depending on the season. There are over 500km of trails and Nikolaos knows them all. This really is an exciting opportunity and we would heavily recommend you experience the area from a different perspective. The quad bikes work out at around €70 per bike per hour and come highly recommended!
Finally, to sum up Villa Vager… it’s the perfect homestay for the avid adventurer. With so much to see you will never be bored and it’s quite likely you’ll go home fitter! Remember to pack some good hiking shoes, or trainers at the least and be prepared to immerse yourself in total freedom away from civilisation. Nikolaos and Marina are fine hosts and are full of knowledge of the local area. This particular area of the Peloponnese is awe inspiring (definitely up there with the Atlas Mountains), and offers something different all year round.
Villa Vager costs from 110 euros per room per night to 200 euros for a suite. The rate includes homemade breakfast and taxes.
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