Most people today -- just as in antiquity -- come to Central Greece to visit Delphi, the home of the famous ancient oracle that is one of Greece's must-see destinations. Delphi has it all: a gravity-defying cliffside location with the remains of treasuries, small temples, a stadium, and a theater -- not to mention the monumental temple of Apollo.
Mount Parnassus rises above the ancient site, and the site itself overlooks a plain of giant, gnarled olive trees. This forest of olive trees runs on and on across the plain below Delphi, stopping only when the plain itself is stopped by the blue waters of the Gulf of Corinth. Delphi is not just beautiful, it is awesome. The star of the Delphi museum is the famous bronze statue of the charioteer who raced his horses to victory in Delphi's stadium.
If you thought nothing else in Central Greece could rival Delphi's physical beauty, you were wrong. To the north, improbable sheer-sided rock formations rise up from the dusty plain of Thessaly.
For a thousand years, pilgrims and tourists have tried to figure out just how monks built the vertiginous monasteries of the Meteora atop these seemingly unscalable cliffs. Keep heading north and you'll pass through one of Greece's legendary beauty spots, the slender Vale of Tempe -- now, alas, more the haunt of long-distance trucks than of the nightingales the poets once celebrated. Head over to Mount Pelion and you can explore a clutch of beautifully restored traditional villages set in wooded mountain slopes. Central Greece is also home to two of Greece's most famous and bloody ancient battle sites -- Thermopylae and Chaironeia. Ahead stand the snow-topped peaks of Mount Olympus, once home to Zeus and the other Olympian gods, today a destination for mountain climbers, hikers, and nature lovers.
If you are a lover of vibrant nightlife, you may find that evenings in the neighborhood of the monasteries and ancient sanctuaries can be a bit tame. Don't despair, the mountain village of Arakova, 10km (6 miles) from Delphi, has a lively (and very chic) après ski scene in winter.
The term Central Greece (Sterea Ellada) dates from only 1821, when it was used as a shorthand term for the area of mainland Greece that had been liberated from the Turks. Today, most Greeks would agree that Central Greece stretches from the Gulf of Corinth in the south to Mount Olympus in the north.