Patras (pronunciation: [ˈpatra], Latin: Patrae (pl.)) is Greece’s third largest urban area and the regional capital of Western Greece, in northern Peloponnese, 215 km west of Athens. The city is built at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, overlooking the Gulf of Patras. The Patras City Area is a conurbation of 160.400 inhabitants, while its wider urban area, in the new Patras municipality, has a population of 213,984 (in 2011). Patras’ core settlement has a history spanning four millennia, in the Roman period it had become a cosmopolitan center of the eastern Mediterranean.
Dubbed as Greece’s Gate to the West, Patras is a commercial hub, while its busy port is a nodal point for trade and communication with Italy and the rest of Western Europe. The city has two public universities and one Technological Institute, hosting a large student population and rendering Patras a major scientific centre with a field of excellence in technological education. The Rio-Antirio bridge connects Patras’ easternmost suburb of Rio to the town of Antirrio, connecting the Peloponnese peninsula with mainland Greece.
Every year, in February, the city hosts one of Europe’s largest and most colourful carnivals; notable features of the Patras Carnival include its mammoth-sized satirical floats and extravagant balls and parades, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors in a pleasant Mediterranean climate. Patras is also famous for supporting an indigenous cultural scene active mainly in the performing arts and modern urban literature. It was European Capital of Culture 2006. One can find more information about Patras on Lonely Planet.
Some suggestions concerning your well-being during your stay in Patras
No matter what your personal preferences are, Patras offers a variety of places where you can enjoy a coffee or a drink, have a snack or a traditional meal, drink ouzo by the seaside or a beer enjoying the sunset from the Upper Town (Ano Poli), go for a run or work in a modern café.
There are several areas that cover different tastes; the pedestrian zone at Riga Feraiou and Pantanassis streets is full of cafes and bistros – even some restaurants and breweries. For a more traditional “meze” you can go to Ifaistou street, near the Gerokostopoulou stairs and next to the Roman Stadium. Those areas are very popular and hip, flooded with locals and students during summertime. If you are looking for something more “alternative”, then you should head to the Upper Town, next to the Old Hospital where the conference reception will be held, to enjoy your beer listening to rock music. Do not forget to go there by the long stairs of Agiou Nikolaou and see the city from above. Another option is Trion Navarchon (stands for the Three Admirals), where there are many grill houses to taste the traditional souvlaki. If you prefer to be by the sea, there are several cafés and bars on the eastern side of the port, at the Marina, or you can go a bit further, closer to the University and the Rion Bridge for a little more “posh” stroll.
Here are also some suggestions from our librarians, off the regular path, we hope you can find something that suits you! There are links mainly to their official Facebook pages, for more info.
Cafes and Bars
The centre of Patras is full of book cafes, places you can enjoy your coffee, beverages and snacks and at the same time work with your laptop and your books. The best book café of the town is Tag located at the bottom end of Pantanassis Street.
At Ypovrychio Vanillia you enjoy Greek coffee in the picturesque Markato Square and at SiDoux you will feel romantic. At Plaz there is also a vast area for sports and swimming. Eyoi Eyan is closer to the University, just ten feet away from the Rion train station; if you are lucky you will enjoy some live music as well.
To combine coffee and/or drinks (sometimes even food) there is Pop Horn, where you travel back in time, and Syndetiras, situated at a lovely terrace by Gerokostopoulou stairs, enjoying the best music in the city, aired from its own studio. Mare Mare combines a stunning sunset view with drinks and beverages. More “after” suggestions include the balcony of Bocas for a classy combination of cocktail and jazz music, the always elegant Pedonale in Riga Feraiou, Abbey Kitchen Bar at Psilalonia square, and Tam Toom at Rion.
Hint: Wine lovers should taste a glass of Malvasia Aromatica by Orfanos or Sideritis-Apostagma Oinou by Parparousis. For beers, the local Dione and Mamos are your natural choices.
If you need something to eat, except for the numerous grills -a fast and inexpensive choice, but mainly inappropriate for vegetarians/vegans-, we suggest Salumeria, Carousello, Bodegas, Tomo’s Open Kitchen Bar and Rokfor, all located in the city center within walking distance from our recommended Hotels.You can also go at Talks and Alambra, which are all on the Psilalonia square. A little bit more formal, but still casual is Fagioum in the Upper Town, whereas Naftiko and Distinto are the equivalent for those staying in the Rion area. Koukoutsis near the Rion train station and Fasoloi in the city center are synonymous of low budget, yet tasty cuisine.
If you want fresh seafood, then Amalia in the city center is a balanced option for sea ‘meze’, while Icthioskala and Istioploikos at the both ends of the seaside are two great options for those who want to taste really fresh fish.
Sports and recreation
If you want to stay fit and exercise, the Southern Park (watch a panoramic video below), starting from Faros (the Lighthouse), opposite to St. Andrews Church, is a place where you can run, cycle and walk. Cross the shoreline to the East and you will reach the Plaz (Beach), where you can also enjoy a swim.
During summertime, several cultural events take place. There are theatrical performances, such as ancient tragedy plays in the Roman Odeon (unfortunately in Greek, with no hyper-titles), open air concerts and exhibitions. More information about cultural opportunities during the conference week will be available on due time.
The Archaeological Museum of Patras is located in between the city center and the University. It opened on 2009 and has 8,000 square meters of interior spaces, making it the second-largest museum of Greece. The museum has four thematic sections, three of which permanent and one periodic. The three permanent ones are dedicated to public and private life, while the third one refers to the necropolis. Items of the museum come from the Mycenaean, Ancient, Hellenistic and Roman Greece, with the oldest one is of the 17th century BC.
According to the Christian tradition, Patras was the place of Saint Andrew’s martyrdom. The Church of Saint Andrews is the largest in Greece and one of the largest in Europe, a typical example of Greek Orthodox basilica church of approximately 1,800 square meters are. A five meter long gold-plated cross stands over the central dome, while over the other domes there are 12 smaller crosses, symbolizing Jesus Christ and His apostles. The interior of the St. Andrews is decorated with Byzantine-style paintings and mosaics.
Citizens from several European countries can be served by the consulates that operate in Patras. There are Consulates in Patras for citizens of Great Britain Austria, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Poland, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.