The coast of Ilia and a side trip to Zakynthos and Kefalonia


Travelling along the Patra - Pyrgow national road, we leave Achaia behind and enter the fertile district of Ilia, ancient Elis. At Lechaina turn towards the sea to see for yourselves if all you've heard about its endless beautiful beaches is true. The coast is almost a continuous band of golden sand from one end to the other.

From Lechaina we turn a little to the north to view lake Kotychi, but it's hard to stay away from the beaches that are so close to it. If we head west, we soon reach Kyllini, an important port in ancient times and again during the Frankish occupation, when it was known as Glarentza (Clarence). A few scattered remains can be seen, among which the Franco-Byzantine monastery of the Virgin of Vlachernai. Far more impressive in the immense fortress of Chlemoutsi (Claimont) at Kastro to the south. With its huge barrel vaulted galleries around its keep, it is the best preserved Frankish monument in the Peloponnese. It commanded a view of all the surrounding countryside. For most people, Greece is represented by ancient columns and Byzantines churches; it's hard for us to envisage a time when knighthood was in flower and jousting tournaments were held on the plains below.

We're brought back to our own day and the age  of tourism when we return to the coast. At Loutra Kyllinis, hotels, campsites and restaurant have sprung up to host the crowds who come to enjoy the lovely beaches or take a cure at its famous health spa. Here and further south at Glyfa the beaches are made even more attractive by their backdrop of shady pine forest. You can also get to this area from Bartholomio, turning off the national road at Gastouni, after Lechaina and Andravida.