The Arcadian Coast – Kynouria and the Tsakonians

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/42415569

The route from the border between Argolis and Arcadia along the coastal road to Leonidio has become one of my favourite rides. It is a truly epic ride, not because it is particularly long or difficult, nor because of the sheer amount of climbing or suffering. This one is epic because of its beauty.

Starting out the ride with a view of what’s ahead

The coastal road has astonishingly little traffic outside the peak summer months, the road is almost always going up and down and cyclists tend to be astonished by the positive elevation racked up at the end of the ride. The combination of the deep blue of the sea on the left side of the road and the green mountains on the right constitutes the background for this beautiful day in the saddle.

Cut off from the rest of Arcadia by the wild Sierra of Mount Parnon, coastal Arcadia (Kynouria) was an isolated piece of land accessible only by mule path or by sea. The coastal road ending this isolation was built only after WWII.

The Kynourians are believed to be a race slightly apart. Their language, Tsakonika, is still spoken fluently by a number of older people and the political will to preserve this heritage is evident in both North and South Kynouria.

Bilingual road sign at Agios Andreas

After 10km on the corniche road winding through the cliffs overlooking the sea and passing the village of Xiropigado, we are descending to the olive groves of the Thyreatic Plain with the lovely village of Paralio Astros and its Frankish castle to our left and the larger town of Astros to our right.

View from the coastal road into the Thyreatic Plain with Paralio Astros to the left

A couple of kilometres after Astros the Moustos lagoon divides the Thyreatic Plain into two parts, the plain of Astros which we are leaving behind us and the plain of Agios Andreas that we are about to enter. The Moustos wetland is a protected area, part of the Natura 2000 European Network and serves as refuge for a large number of migratory birds.

Moustos Lagoon
Olive Grove in the Plain of Agios Andreas

Right before Agios Andreas the small village of Korakovouni calls for a small detour through its picturesque plateia.

Plateia of Korakvouni
Megali Tourla (highest peak of Parnon mountain range) seen from Agios Andreas
A last look back to Agios Andreas

After Agios Andreas we say Good-Bye to the Thyreatic Plain and start a 3.5km climb averaging 4.5% back towards the coastline. Here the road is carved into the flanks of the mountains close to the sea.

Decent with Arkadiko Chorio on the left

We are remunerated for our climbing effort with a fast descent and a stunning view of the small peninsula of Arkadiko Chorio and its settlement of vacation homes.

Arkadiko Chorio

Another 4km on the coastal road take us to popular beach of Kryoneri which marks the border between North and South Kynouria. During the summer months a lovely taverna and a beach bar cater to the beach crowd.

Kryoneri translates to “cold water” and the name was derived from the springs further inland. A tanker ship feeds the nearby island of Spetses with fresh water from Kryoneri.

Kryoneri and tanker ship

After another 10km the coastal cliffs give way briefly at Tyros to terraces of olives and some low-key tourist development around its port and beach.

Tyros

Tyros is also the home of the Tyros Triathlon taking place in September which I highly recommend for first timers and seasoned athletes alike. Its family style atmosphere is a welcome contrast to large international events.

Bike leg Tyros-Kryoneri and back at the Tyros Triathlon

Further south a small road leads up to Melana, which claims to be a typical Dorian village.

View from Melana

The coastal road then passes the sandy coves at Livadi and at Sambatiki with its small picturesque port, before the road winds down to a dramatic change of scenery at Leonidio.

Sambatiki port

After a small coffee stop at my favourite bakery in Leonidio and riding through the small roads of the centre, I am taking the road heading right towards Voskina to start a spectacular climb (5.5km at 8%) taking us right into the famous red rocks of Leonidio.

Coffee stop
in Leonidio
Voskina climb – switchbacks
View from Voskina climb towards Parnon
View from Voskina Climb

Climbing makes hungry and I am already looking forward to a late lunch by the sea. The remaining 10km are essentially rolling down through Leonidio to the picturesque port of Plaka.

Plaka port
A local showing off his 40 year old steel bike
Food !!!

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2 thoughts on “The Arcadian Coast – Kynouria and the Tsakonians

  1. Cool beans Frank! Congratulations, you have made me both hungry and extremely envious. 🙂
    Keep the posts coming.

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