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The third-largest city in Greece and a major stopover for ferries en route to Italy, Patras is particularly well known for the International Festival of the Arts, which is held there each July and August.
There are also a number of interesting attractions in the city, including the Cathedral of Saint Andrew and the Patras Fortress, a medieval castle at the summit of the acropolis.
Your first stop on a walking tour of the town is likely to be the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. The cathedral is fairly modern, having been built after WWII, but the mosaics within give a good impression of old Patras. The skull of Saint Andrew is housed in a highly decorative golden container on the right of the altar, and draws large numbers of pilgrims from far and wide.
A Roman Odeon rests on the slopes of the acropolis, below the ancient fort of Patras. The town’s archaeological museum provides an interesting historical background to the area.
The best place to eat in Patras is the main square, Plateia Yioryiou, where you can sample local or international fare at one of the cafés looking on to the attractive neoclassical theatre. Plateia Olga and Plateia 25 Martiou also have a range of good restaurants, cafés and shops.
The nearby beach town of Rion, only 15 minutes away by public transport, is a great place to visit if you fancy a spell of fun in the sun. Messolonghi, on the edge of a lovely lagoon, is known for its Park of Heroes, commemorating the Greek War of Independence. The coastal stretch between Patras and Corinth is dotted with a number of charming fishing villages, including Akrata, Platanos and Egion.
Driving to Patras along the National Highway from Athens takes approximately six hours. Regular buses and trains run between Athens and Patras daily, and ferries run between Patras and Corfu, Italy and the Ionian Islands. Patras is served by its own airport of the same name.