Patras is a picturesque seaside town with low, white buildings running alongside the edge of the water, under the warm Mediterranean sun. Enjoy the sunshine while sipping on a glass of the city’s famous local spirit, tentura, visit Roman and Byzantine architecture, or take in the famous Patras Carnival.
Like no other city in Greece, Patras knows how to have a good time. The country’s third-largest city has a history stretching back nearly four millennia. However, even more than the ancient architecture and the sweeping vistas of verdant mountains and sparkling blue waters, Patras is known for one thing above all else: the Patras Carnival. With over 180 years of history, the Patras Carnival is a raucous and vibrant celebration that comprises balls, masquerades, treasure hunts, and a famous parade that features enormous floats. The event is so beloved in Patras, in fact, that its official slogan is “Carnival forever” – and there’s no reason to think that it’ll slow down anytime soon.
That said, Patras is still an incredible place to visit outside of Carnival season. Visitors will delight in a beautiful Mediterranean climate, unparalleled architectural sites from aeons past like Saint Andrew’s Cathedral or the Patras Castle, and access to dozens of gorgeous beaches. Patras is a Greek destination that has something for everyone. Book a flight from Zurich to Patras with Edelweiss and discover this enchanting seaside destination for yourself.
When is a good time to visit?
With its warm Mediterranean climate, there aren’t many bad times to visit Patras. The summertime is hot and dry, with temperatures reaching a sunny thirty degrees Celsius in July and August; winters are mild and rainy at worst, with temperatures typically between ten and fifteen degrees from November to January. Travellers planning their trip to Patras should also make note of the Patras Carnival: starting on 17 January and lasting until Ash Monday, the Patras Carnival is an incredible celebration unmatched in the rest of Greece. If you plan to visit during the Carnival, make sure you book early, as hotels may fill more quickly for those dates.
How are the beaches?
Patras’s beaches offer spectacular views of sparkling waters and of the mountainous countryside surrounding the bay on which the city sits, making them perfect for a relaxing day just taking it all in. Travellers looking to feel the sand between their toes should note, however, that many of the beaches around Patras are pebbled, making them more suited for swimming and sightseeing. Should you find yourself craving some golden sand, some of the best beaches in Greece can be found just west of Patras in places like Kalogria or Lakopetra. Don’t be afraid to hire a car and explore the possibilities until you’ve found your perfect seaside paradise.
What should I pack?
Packing for a trip to Patras depends on which time of year you’re aiming for. If you’re going to be visiting in the summertime, light clothing will be key: shorts, sunglasses, T-shirts, and a windbreaker for the night-time breezes. Don’t forget the sunscreen, either! In autumn and winter, it’s a good idea to pack a rain jacket and some light sweaters.
Attractions of Patras
It’s easy to be blinded by the scenery and the sunshine, but travellers should not miss seeing the city’s architecture and history. With settlements dating back nearly four millennia, Patras holds many breath-taking reminders of centuries past. These sights should not be missed:
- Saint Andrew’s Cathedral
- Patras Castle
- Archaeological Museum of Patras
Patras: Museum and imposing structures
With so much space in history books dedicated to Athens, Sparta and Corinth, you might have left Patras off your archaeological list—yet the city has plenty to offer the visiting history buff: for example, the Patras Archaeological Museum, Greece’s second-largest. The museum is a treasure trove of information about the region’s past, with vast themed halls on private life, public life and cemeteries. Meanwhile, perhaps nothing else in Patras has borne witness to as much of the city’s long history as the Patras Castle. First built by Byzantine emperor Justinian I in the sixth century, the sprawling castle offers stunning views overlooking Patras. Not to be missed is the utterly exquisite Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, an important place of pilgrimage for Christians from around the world as well as an unmistakable part of Patras’s coastline.
Carnival in Patras
If you’re lucky enough to visit between 17 January and Ash Monday, you’ll be in for a special treat: the Patras Carnival is one of the major draws to the city, a bacchanal in the most literal sense of the word. The festival traces its roots to a celebration of the god Dionysus in ancient times. The Grand Parade, held on the last night of the festival, sees tens of thousands of people line the streets in colourful costumes, papier-mâché puppets and giant floats. Another highlight is the treasure hunt, which pits groups against one another in feats of skill and deduction until a victor emerges.
No visit to Patras would be complete without sampling some of the city’s fine wines and spirits. Tentura, for example, is a traditional liqueur made from citrus, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and is a local favourite – it is sometimes served with espresso to make an exquisite drink known as a corretto. Said to be the second oldest business in Greece (after the National Bank), the Achaia Clauss winery sits on a picture-perfect hillside about 15 kilometres outside of Patras proper. Be sure to try some of the Mavrodafni, a sweet fortified wine that has been the trademark product of Achaia Clauss for more than a century.
Amidst the sea breezes and cobbled streets of the city centre, friendly restaurants serve up traditional dishes alongside international offerings. Try a briam, an oven-baked vegetable casserole, or meat cooked in sauce featuring tentura, the local liqueur. The harbourfront tavernas are generally crowded with both locals and visitors; waiters will often bring out a selection of the day’s catch so that you can pick out your meal.
Shopping: Find your perfect Patras Carnival outfit
The compact, pedestrianised streets of the city centre are perfect for a shopping jaunt. Start at Georgiou I Square, the city’s central plaza, and work your way outward. Tour the city’s many shops, enjoy the weather, and then, if you need a rest, find a sidewalk cafe and grab a bite in the sunshine. Patras’s boutiques have what you’re looking for, whether it’s an extra pair of flip-flops or a fashionable mask for your Carnival party.