The northeast coast of Attica has none of the industrial pollution encountered earlier, but it has witnessd rapid residential development over the part thirty years as Greeks grew more prosperous and rushed to build summer homes. The result is a series of lively coastal settlements, abounding in taverns, nightlife and cafes, conveniently placed near an attractive stretch of beach. The ones further to the north are set among pine woods, and an added attraction at several points is the presence of antiquities.
At Porto Rafti, misleadingly signposted "Limin Mesogaias", the port is always filled with pleasure boats and the road to the beach filled with cars. One of the islets in the superb natural harbour boasts a colossal seated Roman statue, popularly known as the Raftis (tailor). At Vravrona, a bit inland, is a ruined sanctuary of Artemis, where Iphigenia was also worshipped, and a charming museum, know for its unusual collection of children's toys.
Further north lie Loutsa with its wide beach and the ever - growing port of Rafina. Windsurfers test their skills here not far from the jetties where ferries and caciques are docked. Clustered to one side are colourful fish markets and taverns to help wile away the time till your ship departs. This is Attica's second port. Taking the ferry from her rather than Piraeus will shorten the trip to the Cyclades by a couple of hours. It is also the only place to catch the boats for Karystos in southern Euboea and for Andros and Tinos.
The coast from Rafina north is almost a solid stretch of summer homes, nestled among pine trees, little ports, hotel, taverns and beaches. You'll find it hard to choose between Mati, Agios Andreas, Nea Makri, Marathon and Schinia, though the longest beach is the last named.
History has also left its mark here. The Tomb of Marathon reminds us of the battle in 490 B.C. where the Athenians defeated the Persians. Another tumulus is thought to be where their Plataian allies are buried. Be sure to visit the museum nearby. The archaeological site of Rhamnous, with its undiminished temple of Nemesis and overgrown city wall, is a romantic spot for a secluded walk. (Most of its off links now because of excavations).
Between Schinia and Rhamnous is a small port where you can catch a ferry to Euboea. Boats from Agia Marina land at Nea Styra and Almyropotamos opposite. Heading inland to the northwest, you'll come to Lake Marathon, where Athen's water supply is stored. The dam and lake used to be the main source of the city's water. The villages in the area - Grammatiko, Varnava, Kapandriti - have kept a good deal of their traditional atmosphere. At this point you can choose between joining the national road to the north or going back down to the sea, to the resort areas of Agii Apostoli and Kalamos and the delightful site of Amphiaraeion, a miniature replica of Epidavros, with its own healing stoa and theatre. On the coast at Oropos, the ferries continuously leave for Eretria, just a hall hour's trip away.
At Scala Oropos, you can also meet up with the national road, at Malakassa in the hills adove. You can get to Oropos by cutting thgough Athens' sophisticated northern suburbs - Kifissia, Ereythraia, Ekali, Drossia on the right of the highway and Varybobi and Kryoneri on the left. Nea Kifissia, where the camp sites are, straddles the road.
Don't be put off by the straggly port of Eretria; Euboea has much better things in store. The ancient site outside town is worth a visit though; this was one of the earliest and most important city - states of the Hellinic world. You can see the remains of houses, temples, sanctuaries, the gymnasium and the theatre, while there is a fine view from the acropolis above. Many of the finds are housed in the museum.
All the coast on both sides of Eretria attracts numbers of vacationers, both Greeks and foreigners, and hotels, restaurants and other types of tourist facilities are in abundance.
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