207km (128 miles) SW of Athens

Patras is the third-largest city in Greece and far and away the largest in the Peloponnese, Patras's unappealing urban sprawl now extends for miles north and south of the city center. Patras has always had a lively cafe, theater, and music scene, and sights worth seeing -- the Cathedral of St. Andrew, the Archaeological Museum, a Roman Odeon (music hall) on the slopes of the ancient acropolis, and a medieval castle on the summit. Still, this remains a better place to live than to visit; unless you are arriving or departing here by ship, love commercial ports, or have lots of time on your hands, you'll probably want to skip Patras.

If you do plan to spend time in Patras, here are some suggestions: In July and August, the Patras International Festival of the Arts (tel. 2610/276-540 or 2610/279-008) brings performances of everything from ancient drama to popular music to the Roman Odeon and the Patras Municipal Theater (tel. 2610/623-730) and a number of locations around the city. Patras also has a vigorous carnival that lasts nearly a month, with parades, costumes, and floats, ending the Monday before Lent (www.carnivalpatras.gr). Whenever you are here, you may choose to sample local wines at the Achaia Clauss winery, 8km (5 miles) southeast of town (tel. 2610/325-051); check with the tourist office for directions, bus schedules, and hours.