Nestled near the mountains in the peaceful coastal town of Diakopto in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece, three train cars painted like white-and-blue BMW hippie vans depart three times a day into the sunny Peloponnese countryside. They travel through a vast plane tree forest, up the rugged Aroania mountains, along the edge of a gorge, over waterfalls and rivers, past a historic monastery, and finally come to a halt in the mountain resort town of Kalavryta. This one-hour journey along the Diakopto-Kalavryta railway has been happening every day for over 100 years, rain or shine. The two trains that make this journey (the one that looks like a hippie van is called the Decauville) travel along the narrowest strip of railway tracks in the world, specially altered with cogs to help them safely climb the region’s rugged mountains (hence the line’s local name, “Odontotos”—literally, “the toothed one”). Along their journey, they stop for a few minutes at the Niamata/Mikrohelidou and Triklia stations and longer at the Mega Spilaiou station in Kato Zachlorou, where travelers can visit the Monastery of the Great Cave built along the mountainside. Finally, they pass quickly through Kerpini and stop at Kalavryta, where they do a round trip back the other way. Faithful and reliable for decades, just like the hills themselves.
The Diakopto-Kalavryta (Odonototos) Railway
Diakopto Station +302691043206
Kalavryta Station +302692022245
Tickets €9.50 one-way or €19.50 round-trip
Tips: Purchase your ticket ahead of time at https://tickets.trainose.gr/dromologia/?lang=en. You can’t pick a specific seat number, but it’ll save you the wait at the train stations. Autumn to spring (October-April) are the best times to go to beat the crowds and escape the summer heat (and you may even catch the mountains covered with snow in the winter). If you go in the summer, pick the first or last journey of the day and take a wide-brimmed hat and a water bottle with you—the Peloponnese sun can be very intense up in the mountains.