The 25th island of Greece is a remote lake called Kastraki, found in the far north-west of Thessaly. With a population of just 50 people, it’s also one of the smallest islands in the world. Kastraki (or Kastrakion) is an artificial lake that was formed after the original Kastraki Lake was drained and then replaced with an artificial basin to prevent future flooding. It sits at an altitude of 1,350 meters above sea level and gets as chilly as -5 degrees Celsius in winter. There are no public transport links from anywhere else, so visitors must drive up on their own or arrange for someone to pick them up again later.
Why go to Kastraki?
Kastraki is a true escape from the modern world: a remote, unspoiled wilderness with the most remarkable views that you’ll find anywhere near Greece’s more popular tourist destinations. Where else can you walk up a mountain, cross a fast-moving river and then climb down into an enchanted land filled with caves and waterfalls? Kastraki is in many senses the ultimate Greek experience.
It’s a hidden gem that has yet to become overrun with tourists, and it’s a place where you can really get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Kastraki is located in a remote part of Greece and is not easily accessible. But once you are there, you will find yourself in a different world – away from the tourist crowds, traffic noise, and modern pollution. With its rich flora and fauna, and breathtaking views, Kastraki can be described as a true gem that is not easily found.
When to visit
The best season to visit Kastraki is from May to September. This is when the weather is warm and pleasant, and when the waterfalls are at their most spectacular. The island’s winter months can be extremely chilly, with temperatures between November and February often dropping below 10 °C. So if you’re planning to visit Kastraki in winter, be sure to bring warm clothing! If you’re planning on visiting Kastraki in summer, be aware of the high temperatures (30-35 °C) and the fact that the island is not very well-equipped to accommodate large numbers of visitors.
Activities in and around Kastraki
Hiking: Kastraki is a great place to go hiking, with trails leading through lush woodland, across meadows, alongside gorges, and up to the summit of Mount Voras (1,834 ft).
Swimming: Kastraki is a great place to go swimming, with the waters of the island’s two lakes being surprisingly warm given the island’s altitude and northerly latitude.
Cycling: There are many trails that are suitable for cycling, but only if you’re fit enough to handle the steep gradients.
Photography: Kastraki is a photographer’s paradise, with its striking landscapes and abundant flora.
Birdwatching: Kastraki is a great place to go birdwatching, with a wide variety of species to spot.
Where to stay in Kastraki
There are no hotels on Kastraki and only one guesthouse. This is called Kastro and offers rustic accommodation in the form of basic. But clean rooms and dormitories, with shared or private facilities. There are also a few rooms that can be rented through Airbnb. You can also camp at the beach on the island’s western side, but be prepared for very cold nights!
Tips for Visiting Kastraki
- Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, and take a waterproof jacket, as there is a long list of things that can go wrong on a trip to Kastraki.
- Bring lots of insect repellent. Kastraki is covered in dense forests, and mosquitoes come out in full force after sunset.
- Bring lots of water. The hike up Mount Voras is a long and arduous one, and you’ll lose a lot of liquid by sweating.
- Bring snacks and food. There is a small shop at the beach, but it closes early. While there is a small cafe on the beach that serves a few simple snacks and drinks. You may want to eat more substantial food at night.
- Wear good sun protection. The sun can be very strong in the summer months, and there is little shade on the island.
- You may want to consider bringing your swimsuit and a towel. Even if you’re not planning to visit the beach, as the water in the lakes is very warm.
- Be prepared for the weather. The temperatures at the height of summer can be incredibly high, and the island is prone to sudden downpours.
- Be careful when you’re crossing the river. The water is rapids and very cold. In addition, there are no barriers, so you have to be careful not to fall in.
- Remember that you are in a rural area. There is no mobile reception and the island’s electricity supply is not constant.
This is a very quiet and remote island. If you’re looking for parties and nightlife, then Kastraki is not the place for you. The journey to get to Kastraki is a unique experience in itself. As it requires driving over a small mountain pass with a very steep gradient.
To sum up
Kastraki is in many senses the ultimate Greek experience. It’s a hidden gem that has yet to become overrun with tourists. And it’s a place where you can really get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Kastraki is a true escape from the modern world, with a remote, unspoiled wilderness with the most remarkable views that you’ll find anywhere near Greece’s more popular tourist destinations. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, unwind, or experience the wild side of nature, then Kastraki is the perfect place for you