The county of Etoloakarnania (Aitoloakarnania) is the western most part of Central Greece, and borders on the southeast with Fokida, and northeast with Evritania. In 2004, the "Rio-Antirio" bridge was completed, connecting Etolaokarnania with the Peloponnese, thus making a dream that has been dreamed for decades finally come true.
This remarkable bridge has made both side much more accessible to each other, and has offered a wonderful new sense of the true beauty and charm of these regions of Greece.
Nafpaktos and it's mountainous villages of Mesologi, Agrinio, and even Amfilohia and Vonitsa, are now easily reachable, creating a wonderful new selection of easy to reach holiday destinations.
The capital city of Etoloakarnania is that of Mesologi, which is located just 34km from Antiro where the bridge is situated. Mesologi is a very historic city and was the birthplace of Charilaos Trikoupis ( a Greek Prime Minister who served for seven terms from 1875 to 1895 ). Kostis Palamas, a famous literature personality, who wrote the anthem for the Olympic Games, "Ancient Spirit Immortal", was also born here.
The city and the castle located there, also played an important role in the Greek revolution against the Turks, and resisted attack for many months, and was the scene of the heroic exit of the besieged Greek fighters in 1826.
Visitors to the city today can see the "Heroes Garden" with it's wonderful moments of the Greek and Philhellenes heroes such as Lord Byron, who fell fighting for the Greek cause. Visitors can also go to the town hall, which operates as a museum, where you can see an interesting selection of historical exhibits.
Mesolongi is an important trading city and tourist port, which was built between the openings of two rivers, those of Evinos and Aheloos. This is the reason for the famous sea-water lake that is found here today, and which has been declared as a national park, and is protected under specific laws.
Mesolongi offers visitors the chance for wonderful holidays in a very natural and relaxing setting. There are several tavernas in the area where you can sample some tasty local delicacies such as BBQ eels and fish. Mesolongi is an ideal base from which visitors can venture outwards and explore some of the other beautiful areas of Etolaokarnania.
Located 44km south of Mesolongi is the picturesque coastal town of Nafpaktos. The town was known to the Europeans as "Lepando", after the large sea battle between the allied forces and the Turkish navy, which took place, and which resulted in the destruction of the Turkish armadas.
Visitors to Nafpaktos will see the two medieval fortresses that stand on the edge of the harbour and which acted as the two protectors of the town. Whenever there was a threat of enemy attack, these two fortresses would close up with a very thick and heavy chain, and block the entrance into the harbour. A walk around the harbour is an enjoyable way to see the remains of these fortresses, as well as to enjoy a drink at one of the cafes dotted around the sea.
The castle that sits above the town and dominates the landscape is a very popular attraction for tourists to the area. Visitors can take a walk up to the castle, and enjoy the amazing panoramic views out towards the sea.
Nafpaktos is a very charming destination for holidays in Etolaokarnania, and is well catered for tourism. There is a wide variety of accommodation in the town and beyond, as well as a wealth of interesting restaurants, cafeterias and bars. Nafpaktos is ideal for visiting all year round, and is a popular place for those seeking alternative tourism, and a place where one can easily get to grips with nature.
Heading north from the capital of Mesolongi, at a distance of approximately 36km is the town of Agrinio. This is the industrial and productive center of the region, with the main industry being tobacco cultivation and processing. Visitors to this part of Etolaokarnania can also pay a visit to the "Kastrik" dam. If you decide to take this trip, you will pass through charming scenery, full of colour and rich vegetation, and pass along the Aheloos river with it's charming green islets.
Another place worth visiting is the lake of "Kremeasta", which is found on the route to Karpenisi. There are some truly magnificent views and scenery if you follow this route.
The picturesque town of Amfilohia has a wonderful selection of traditional fish restaurants where you can have a very tasty and freshly prepared meal. Another village worth seeing is that of Vonitsa. Each town and village in Etolaokarnania offer their own beauties, magic and charm, and the combination of all these elements make the Etoloakarnania region of Central Greece one that is ideal for holidays. With so much nature beauty, history and interesting sights to see, visitors will always have something to do in the area.