Your Guide To Patra, Greece – Gate To The West

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Post author Gabi

Written by our local expert Gabi

Gabi is an award-winning writer who lives on the Island of Crete in Greece. She is an expert in Greek travel and writes guides for the everyday traveler.

Here is all the Patra travel advice that you need. We’ve got a list of things to do in Patra, as well as top sites and tips for traveling with kids in Patras, Greece.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra Greece

The third-most important city in the country, also known as Patras, is a delightful destination all year round, with a fantastic coast and dozens of cultural experiences to enjoy.

Known as the Gate to the West, Patra hosts the main Greek port that connects the country to Western Europe. However, Patra is actually a lot more than just a port town.

In this guide, I’ll be happy to tell you about the places to visit and the things to do in Patras city, a culturally rich place to see in mainland Greece. If you’re planning a trip around the Peloponnese region, then Patra should undoubtedly be among the places you’ll visit. Are you ready? Let’s get going on our Patras guide!

Where Is Patra In Greece

Patras city is one of the most important in the Peloponnese and the third most important in Greece; Patra sits facing the wide gulf of Patra, in the northern part of the Peloponnese, about 215 kilometers from Athens.

Patra is home to a very active port on the western coast of Greece, from where it’s easy to reach some of the most beautiful islands in the Ionian, including Lefkada, Zakynthos, Paxos, and Kefalonia. However, Patra is also the gateway to the Adriatic, from where you can reach, by ferry, the Italian ports of Bari and Ancona.

How To Get To Patra Greece

Patras Greece

By Car

If you are arriving at the airport in Athens, you can travel to Patra by car along a relatively modern highway. The journey is about two hours, and it’s quite a pleasant drive.

By Bus

Different buses reach Patra from Athens, too; however, if you’ve arrived at Athens’ airport or the main port of Piraeus, you will first need to reach Kifisos Bus Station via public transport to board the long-distance bus. The trip is a bit less than three hours. 

By Ferry

If you’re traveling from Italy by ferry, you will arrive at Patras port, not far from the center of town.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Patra

Like the rest of the country, the city enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, with long hot summers and short, often rainy winters. 

Suppose you’re visiting the Peloponnese to enjoy its pristine beaches. In that case, traveling around the region from late May until September will guarantee excellent weather and tons of sunny days by the sea. 

July and August are the months that receive the most tourists, so you’ll be better off avoiding them if you don’t enjoy the crowds. June and September still have summery-like weather minus the crowds.  Accommodation prices also go down during the shoulder season.

Winters are fine if you’re just interested in exploring the cities and the mountains, but the temperature of the sea in winter in the Peloponnese might feel quite chilly.

Top Things To Do In Patra

Known for its huge port, popular carnival, and impressive Rio-Antirio Bridge, you’ll be surprised to discover that there’s more to Patra than that. 

In 2006, the city was declared a European City of Culture, so you should expect to experience quite a lot more than just a few museums.

Divided into an upper town rich in archaeological remains and a lower town, where most nightlife and cultural events take place, the city offers a unique variety of activities, ideal for those who love a vacation packed with varied and surprising experiences. 

For those interested in moving around, Patra is a great starting point to visit one the most significant archaeological sites in the country, the Ancient Site of Olympia, just a short drive from town.

So, without further ado, let’s see what the best things you can do in Patra are and which attractions you shouldn’t miss.

Discover The Medieval Castle Of Patra

Medieval Castle Of Patra - Patras, Greece

Arguably the most remarkable spot in Patra, the city’s medieval castle, stands on a soft hill overlooking Patra’s Old Town. 

Designed and constructed during the Byzantine era, the castle’s building was ordered by Emperor Justinian in the year 550 AD. It stands on a high position on top of the former ancient Acropolis to offer an unobstructed view of the gulf and to protect the city against foreign attacks.

However, despite its strategic location, throughout the centuries, Patra’s castle was conquered by the Franks and, later on, by the Turkish during the long years of Ottoman domination in the country. This fortress was continuously used for defensive purposes until relatively recent years, being used as shelter even during WWII.

Currently open to visits, the Castle of Patra is an excellent observation point with breathtaking views of the city and the sea. In summer, locals and visitors alike can enjoy several musical and artistic events in its small theater.

Explore The Church Of Agios Andreas

Patras Greece Guide - Church Of Agios Andreas

Patra’s Saint Andrew’s Cathedral is the most important church in town, the biggest in Greece, and the third-largest in the Balkans. It is dedicated to the city’s patron saint and protector, often worshiped as a miracle worker since locals believed him to be the saint that protected the citizens of Patra from the many sieges and constant pirate attacks that the area underwent all through the centuries.

Besides, according to Catholic tradition, Apostle Andrew was crucified near the port of Patra, where this impressive cathedral stands today. 

Its imposing arches and unique green domes somewhat remind visitors of the cupolas in Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria, and for a reason: Saint Andrew’s features an imposing green dome which is also the largest dome in the Balkans.

Built in relatively recent years, the church dates from 1974, and there is a small spring only steps from the church that, according to the legend, is the exact post where Saint Andrew was killed.

Check Out The Roman Odeon

Roman Odeon, Patras, Greece

One more impressive site to discover is the incredible Roman Amphitheater or Odeon of Patra. The site, which remained buried for centuries, was found by accident in 1889 when the port of Patra was being built. Restoration works took more than fifty years since, all around the area, continuous archaeological sites came to light as reconstruction took place.

The Odeum is currently the place where different festivals take place throughout the year, including the popular Patra International Festival, and it can seat up to 2300 spectators. The best way to experience the site is to visit during a musical event to appreciate the incredible acoustics of the theaters and the magical atmosphere of this ancient wonder.

Visit The Archaeological Museum

This newly inaugurated museum is Greece’s second-largest, with an exhibition area expanding over 8000 square meters. 

The Archaeological Museum of Patra is worth a visit not just for the historical exhibits and ancient objects unearthed in different excavations around the Peloponnese but also to admire the impressive metallic dome and to appreciate the gardens spreading over 20.000 square meters of land. 

Inside the premises, the exhibitions are organized into different categories, showcasing objects related to public and private life and life after death and covering various historical periods, from the Mycenaean times to the Roman era.

Spend A Few Hours At The Folk Art Museum Of Patra

Known as a heritage museum, the Folk Art Museum of Patra is one exciting place to visit. The space was established to preserve the local traditions and showcase numerous artifacts and other folklore items related to ancient local costumes and activities.

On display, dozens of work instruments and agricultural tools were used in the region, many of which related to olive oil production. There are also old pieces of furniture as well as handmade fabrics or utensils collected in Patra and several other small villages around the town.

Researchers and anthropology students from all over the world reach the museum to use the impressive library and photo archives and visit different traditional workrooms built to preserve ancient crafts and artisan work such as wax, shoe, and even hat making.

Don’t Skip The Municipal Theater

Usually described as a modern architectural wonder, Patra’s Apollo Municipal Theatre was built back in 1972. It’s a remarkable replica of the famous Milanese opera house, Teatro Alla Scala, and it can host up to 200 people. The theater is located in Patra’s main square, and it has a unique role in Patra’s cultural life. 

Spend A Relaxing Time At The Hammam

Turkish Hammam - Options and Details

Patra is another city in Greece where the influence of hundreds of years of Turkish domination is still part of society and everyday life. And the Turkish Baths of Patra are one more ingredient of the Ottoman heritage. 

However, it is pretty surprising to learn that construction works started even before the total domination of the city by the Turkish, dating back to the fifteenth century, the last years of Venetian domination. Patra’s hot baths are the oldest hammams in Greece and are still in use. 

Patra’s hammam is located at 29 Mpoukaouri Street. The place offers an excellent opportunity to relax and rest after a whole day visiting the city. Men and women have different days and hours, and the entrance fee is only 7 euro. You can check their Facebook page for more details. 

Learn About The Prestigious Peloponnese Wines

One of the most visited places in the nearby area is Achaia Clauss Winery, located a very short ride from the center in the region of Achaia. The winery was founded in the nineteenth century by a Bavarian trader who became a winemaker after discovering Patra’s verdant hills, which are ideal for grape cultivation.

Despite being new to the winemaking industry, his passion for the quality of local grapes and resulting wines quickly turned his company into the most important winery in the region, specializing in the trademark grape of Patra, mavrodafni.

The winery’s interesting history is closely related to WWII when, according to an urban legend, German soldiers decided not to bomb the premises after falling in love with its wines. 

The winery is one of the most visited places in the region, attracting wine connoisseurs from all over the world interested in witnessing traditional winemaking methods that have not changed through the years. 

Go Scuba Diving In Patra

Another key thing to do in Patra is to try your scuba diving skills. All over the area, there are diving sites where it is possible to observe a few interesting wrecks. Some of the sites are perfect for people just beginning their diving adventures, while other wrecks are for more experienced divers. 

In town and on the coast, you’ll easily find several diving centers that organize excursions, boat trips, night diving, diving for beginners, courses, and group diving to the different sites along the coast.

Admire The Rio-Antiro Bridge

Only eight kilometers east of Patra, don’t skip a visit to the village of Rio. The place is quite visited for its gorgeous beach with tourist amenities, lounges, umbrellas, and a few bars and tavernas. Besides, not far from the area, there is a seat of the important University of Patra.

However, the main reason to visit is to marvel at the incredible engineering wonder that is the Rio-Antiro Bridge. 

The structure is the world’s second-largest cable bridge and connects the Peloponnese peninsula to the region of Sterea. Those travelers interested in photography will have a blast shooting in the area and discovering all the photogenic sights that this place offers.

Take A Day Trip To Ancient Olympia

Ancient Sites In Greece - The Philippeion at Olympia in Greece
Ancient Sites In Greece – The Philippeion at Olympia in Greece

Visiting Olympia could easily be a day trip or a weekend away from Patra. Archaia Olympia, or Ancient Olympia, is located about 2 hours from Patra. It is one of Greece’s most impressive archaeological sites, known as the place where the ancient Olympic Games took place.

Other than discovering the interesting findings related to athletic installations for the Olympic games, there is also a magnificent Zeus sanctuary. When visiting, don’t skip a stop at the Ancient Stadium, the Temple of Zeus and Hera, as well as the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

The surrounding green scenery offers incredible hiking or biking opportunities, fantastic hotel facilities, and several excellent Greek tavernas, all the ingredients you need for a great day away from Patra.

The Carnival Of Patra

Locally called Patrino Karnavali, Patra hosts the second most important carnival in Europe, coming third only after the Carnival in Rio (Brazil). The carnival season begins at the end of January and extends into Clean Monday, an important day all over the country that not only marks the start of Lent and the countdown to Easter

A Patra Carnival tradition features satirical parades often related to current political events. The opening ceremony on the first day of the carnival starts with a satirical message that sets the tone and theme of the year. 

Since many details are kept secret until the official celebrations kick off, carnivals in Patra often come with plenty of surprising events and celebrations, such as a carnival for children, a treasure hunt, night parades, and a magnificent closing ceremony with fireworks and the burning down of the Carnival King, a figure specially created for that purpose. The whole city is a feast during the carnival, offering activities, music, dances, and entertainment everywhere.

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Best Beaches In Patra

There are just a few beautiful beaches to visit near Patra, as most of the best shores in the area need you to get in a car and drive for at least 40 minutes. However, three shores near town can have all the things you need to spend a glorious day sunbathing in the Peloponnese.

These are the beaches closest to Patra that you should not miss.

Rio Beach

Already mentioned above, this is one of Patra’s most visited seaside areas. It’s located about eight kilometers from Patra and is a well-organized beach. The area features many restaurants, hotels, and vacation homes to rent.

Paralia Patras Or Town Beach

Easy to reach and family-friendly, this beach is the most visited in Patra as it is only one kilometer from the city center. For that reason, it tends to get quite overcrowded at times. The beach has good organization, including beach bars and several water sports facilities. In the area, there are also some good hotels, and it is the place chosen by locals to seek relief in summer during the hottest hours of the day.

Psathopyrgos Beach

Psathopyrgos is a small fishing village about 15 kilometers from Patra. The quiet settlement gets busy in summer as it is one of the closest beaches to town, and it features pristine, shallow waters, perfect for families with kids

The overall atmosphere surrounding the village is quiet and relaxing; even when there are no water sports facilities or fancy beach bars, the place can be incredibly attractive. Some good fish taverns by the sea are known for serving the day’s catch. This is the right place to be if you enjoy a cold beer and a dish of grilled octopus by the sea after a long, relaxing swim.

Patra With Children

Fortress and bridge of Rio Antirio, Patra, Greece

The city of Patra can be an exciting place for family holidays, especially for children interested in history and impressive sights. No kid remains indifferent to the imposing views of the Rio-Antirio Bridge, while most kids enjoy the unique activities showcased in the Folk Art Museums.

A visit to the Archaeological Museum or venturing on a road trip to Ancient Olympia are also two of the things that families enjoy the most near Patra. 

Patra is a hospitable city with the same welcoming traits that most Greek cities have, especially for families with kids. Pair that with delicious food and sunny days, and all the family will undoubtedly have a magnificent vacation. 

Patra At Night

Being the third-most important city in Greece does not come without intense nightlife. The center of Patra houses several music lounges, bars, pubs, and a few discos for young travelers. 

There are fantastic restaurants and tavernas in the center and near Patras port, serving delicious cuisine until late in the evening. At the same time, there is also an exhilarating cultural life that includes theaters, cinemas, exhibitions, and more.

Best Places To Eat In Patra

These are some of the most popular places to eat in Patra.

  • Mr. Burger is a favorite among families serving succulent patty sandwiches with cheese and fresh veggies, delicious fries, and a rich variety of desserts.
  • Rooster is a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant with top reviews for its affordable prices and top-quality, very abundant dishes.
  • Troufa is the place to visit in order to discover local delicacies and authentic homemade Peloponnesian cuisine.

Top Accommodation In Patra

Being such a populous city, it is not difficult to find accommodation in Patra; these are the best places to choose to stay very near the city center.

Budget Places To Stay In Patra

Galaxy City Center Hotel
Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Galaxy City Center Hotel 2
Photo Credit: Galaxy City Center Hotel

This place which has been recently renovated, is an affordable place to stay in the center of Patra, with well-equipped suites featuring hypoallergenic pillows, an electronic safe, and a minibar. There is an atmospheric lobby with comfortable seating areas and a fireplace. The hotel is close to Patra port and the intercity bus station.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Galaxy City Center Hotel
Photo Credit: Galaxy City Center Hotel

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Astir 2
Photo Credit: Astir

This hotel is located in the center of Patras, a short walk from the old harbor. It offers affordable but luxurious accommodation right next to the train and bus station. It boasts an underground garage and a rooftop restaurant that is open in summer, with panoramic views of the Gulf of Patras and an outdoor pool.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Astir
Photo Credit: Astir

Mid-Range Places To Stay In Patra

Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire
Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire
Photo Credit: Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire

This is a 4-star hotel located in a historical building of the city of Patras, within 600 meters from the center. It offers homemade breakfast and stylish rooms, only a short distance from the Patra port.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire 2
Photo Credit: Maison Grecque Hotel Extraordinaire

Porto Rio Hotel
Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Yayaki Spetses
Photo Credit: Yayaki Spetses

Located about 7 kilometers from Patra, this hotel is perfect for visiting the Rio-Antirio Bridge. The beachfront complex offers an outdoor pool and gorgeous suites with balconies.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Yayaki Spetses 2
Photo Credit: Yayaki Spetses

Luxury Places To Stay In Patra

Cavos Fokidos
Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Cavos Fokidos 2
Photo Credit: Cavos Fokidos

Check out this beautiful property boasting an outdoor pool and a well-tended garden, 150 meters from the beach. It offers self-catering accommodation, opening to a furnished balcony with Corinthian Gulf views.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_Cavos Fokidos
Photo Credit: Cavos Fokidos

The Bold Type Hotel, A Member Of Design Hotels
Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_The Bold Type Hotel 2
Photo Credit: The Bold Type Hotel

This 5-star property offers concierge services, allergy-free rooms, a garden, and a terrace 1.6 kilometers from the Port of Patras. You will find a restaurant serving Greek, Japanese and European cuisine at the accommodation. Rooms are air-conditioned and have a desk, a coffee machine, and a balcony.

Greece Travel Blog_Guide To Patra_The Bold Type Hotel
Photo Credit: The Bold Type Hotel

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