Admittedly, Greece is a beautiful country, endowed by nature. An exception to this is Plastiras Lake, the artificial jewel of Thessaly. Of course it is an amazing place surrounded by glorious natural beauty. Yet, at the same time, it is a place created by human intervention, one of the rare cases where human activity contributes to the creation of a natural environment of unparalleled beauty.
It was formed in 1959 with the completion of the dam at its southern end, at the headwaters of the river Tavropos, also known as Megdovas. The idea for its construction belonged to Nikolaos Plastiras, who, from the moment he conceived the idea until his death, supported and promoted its construction with zeal. However, he passed away before he could see it.
The 220 m long dam held back the Tavropos waters, which covered the plateau of Nevropolis and created Lake Plastiras (Tavropou). The waters of the lake supply the hydroelectric power station of PPC SA (the leading company in the production and supply of electricity in Greece), irrigate the Thessalian plain and also supply water to the city of Karditsa along with 38 smaller towns and villages within the prefecture and the wider region of Thessaly.
Since the early 1980s, thousands of nature and folk culture lovers have explored the beauty and unique nature of the area. Numerous investments over the last decade have turned the lake area into a sought-after tourist destination and an attraction for thousands of visitors throughout the year. The northwest side of the lake offers by far the best view and is therefore more developed. More specifically, the villages of Neochori and Kalivia Pezoulas are the main tourist destinations of the area. The area is ideal for weekend excursions, but if you decide to stay longer, be sure to visit Meteora, which is about an hour away.
When to go
Plastiras Lake has a unique flair all year round. But if you plan to visit, it is advisable to do so relatively soon, as the lake is at its best in autumn and spring.
What to see
The dam: an impressive concrete structure, an elegant arch that seems to embrace the huge water volume of the impoundment. Today it is a beautiful spot to admire the lake, but also the dam abutment that goes down to a depth of 83 meters, right between the rocks. Even from the village of Moucha, one can admire the lake fjords and the small island within the lake called Niaga. Here you may also find local products and mementos to take back home. You may also visit the hydroelectric power plant, a very innovative project in its day.
The famous lookout: From here you will undoubtedly enjoy the most amazing view of the lake. Let your gaze skim its glassy surface; linger on its fjords and lush green island, spot rare birds swishing by, marvel at the alpine forest as well as the bare high mountain peaks in the background.
The forested slopes and the imposing peaks of the Agrafa mountain range in the distance complete this stunning landscape. At an altitude of 1,350 meters, if the atmosphere is clear, the view reaches all the way to Mount Olympus.
The monastery of “Panagia Pelekiti”: Perched on the edge of the steep slopes of Agrafa, about 1400 meters high, about one kilometre northwest of the village of Karitsa, located in the municipality of Lake Plastiras, the monastery of Panagia Pelekiti is a magnificent architectural work of the 15th century.
The monastery boasts rare frescoes, but the most impressive thing about it is its elaborate construction – a true work of art carved into the rock with great skill and plenty of zeal.
What to do
Explore all 55 km of the lake shores, especially if you are visiting during autumn. Walk through the streets of the traditional village of Mesenikolas, the so-called balcony of Thessaly overlooking Mount Olympus and Pelion.
You can simply sit in the scenic main square of the village, under the century-old plane trees and enjoy the cool mountain breeze or indulge in sports and physical activities.
From hiking and cycling to horseback riding, which –thanks to the organized farms located between the villages of Morfovouni and Kalivia Pezoulas- is widely practiced by visitors. When combined with horseback riding, the exploration of the lake turns into a unique experience for every visitor.
At the foot of Agrafa, next to the lake you will find the “Saloon- Zambetas Farm”. Here, apart from horse riding, you can have fun with archery and take a ride on the lake with water bikes.
Where to stay
Kazarma Lake Resort & Spa: Built of stone and wood, the Kazarma Hotel offers comfortable and luxurious rooms, beautifully decorated, and generating a welcoming atmosphere. Enjoy delicious traditional cuisine at the resort’s restaurant, admire the magnificent view of the lake from the bar or relax in one of the pools. The resort offers 24-hour service to ensure that your stay is as pleasant as possible.
Aeolides Hotel: The stone-built Hotel Aeolides is located in the village of Kalivia Pezoulas, at an altitude of 836 metres, overlooking Lake Plastiras and the Agrafa Mountains. A touch of romance runs through the spacious rooms. Stone and wood dominate everywhere, while the decoration and choice of colours in each room varies.
Chrisopelia: Located in Neochori, namely the most developed village around Plastiras Lake in terms of tourism, this beautiful stone-built guesthouse offers panoramic views of the lake and features charming rooms with traditional décor, each with a large fireplace and a king-sized bed.
Nevros Hotel Resort & Spa: Overlooking Plastiras Lake, this relaxing spa hotel is located within 2 km from the lake shores and the Botanical Gardens. Nevros Hotel Resort & Spa offers rooms with a rather classic décor and a fireplace. All rooms feature a TV, a safe and a private bathroom. Guests at Nevros Hotel Resort & Spa can pamper themselves at the Aloe Spa Centre, which includes a gym and hot tub.
Where to eat
Fagopoti: Housed on a stone building of magnificent architecture, Fagopoti combines traditional and Modern Greek cuisine. Try the smoked trout salad, wild boar with chestnuts and plums, stuffed onions with minced meat, nuts and raisins, and Balkan-style goulash. Info: Fagopoti, Kalivia Pezoulas, +30 24410 92988
Manitari (Mushroom): Located just a few metres from the lake shore, this cosy restaurant overlooking the lake serves numerous wild mushroom dishes, especially in autumn and spring. Info: Manitari, Neochori, +30 24410 93322
Chrisopelia: Delicious traditional cuisine, in a beautiful setting, with scenic views of the lake. You should definitely try the pan-fried pork with leek. Info: Chrisopelia, Neochori, +30 24410 22651
Zarnavalos: Traditional Greek chophouse sourcing all meats from the family-run butcher shop right next door. Try “the shepherd’s pouch”, namely lamp roasted in oil paper, or “the peasant’s pitcher”, that is slow roasted beef in a clay pot. Also, their handmade sausages, the slow roasted sank and tender lamp chops are simply delicious. Info: Zarnavalos, Kalivia Pezoulas, +30 24410 92008
Info/ Emergency phone number you should know:
Police Department of the Municipality of Lake Plastiras: +30 24410 95208
Mouzaki Health Centre: +30 24450 49100
Karditsa Hospital: +30 24413 51555
Taxi in Karditsa: +30 24410 73001
Karditsa Traffic Police: +30 24410 80243