If you find yourself with a few hours, we suggest you head inland on Gerokostopoulou to Plateia Yioryiou (George Sq.). Sit at a cafe and take in the facades of the handsome neoclassical theater and banks on the square. Patras was burned by the Turks during the War of Independence and has been hit repeatedly by earthquakes. These buildings are among the few that remain from the 19th century, when the city was famous for its arcaded streets and neoclassical architecture. Patras boasts other attractive squares: Plateia Olga and Plateia 25 Martiou have cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Then head down to the waterfront to the Cathedral of St. Andrew. Although the present (substantial, but undistinguished) church was built after World War II, the mosaics give a vivid picture of old Patras. It's important to dress appropriately to visit the cathedral, a major pilgrimage shrine thanks to the presence of St. Andrew's skull in an ornate gold reliquary to the right of the altar. Visitors will find several pleasant cafes in the shaded park across from the cathedral.

The new Archaeological Museum, 44 Ethniki Odos (tel. 2610/220-829), originally scheduled to open in 2006, when Patras was that year's European City of Culture, finally opened in July of 2009. The museum has startling architecture, including an entrance made of silver-hued titanium that is shaped like a flying saucer on steroids (or an enormous antacid tablet). In yet another attempt to lure the unwilling into museums, this one has what is described as an "aerial corridor," which will whisk visitors above the exhibits, as they give passing glances at whatever catches their fancy. If you go through the museum room by room, you'll see themed exhibits on private and public life from antiquity through the Byzantine epoch. Entire period houses have been reconstructed and a necropolis is on view. Shops and a cafe are promised. The hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30am to 5pm; at press time, admission was free, but a fee was due to be charged sometime in 2011

advertisement

If you're here on the weekend have a look at the Roman Odeon off Platia Martiou; at night, pedestrianized streets such as Gerokostopoulou around the plateia and the Odeon have lots of bars and cafes. There are also a number of cafes and restaurants in the streets leading up to the Patras Fortress, a medieval castle on the ancient acropolis that's open Saturday and Sunday from about 8am to 7pm; admission is free.

If you take the Rio-AntiRio bridge or ferry from the Peloponnese across to Central Greece, you can see another fortress, the 15th-century Fortress of Rio. The fortress is open daily from 8am to 7pm; admission is free.

The Ferry to the Ionian Islands & Italy

advertisement

The major ferry and shipping companies have offices on the waterfront. There is usually daily ferry service from Patras to the Ionian islands and Corfu. There are many daily services from Patras to the Italian towns of Brindisi and Ancona. The fastest service to Italy is the 18-hour Super Ferry Crossing from Patras to Ancona, offered by Superfast Ferries (tel. 2610/622-500, or 210/969-1100 in Athens; www.superfast.com). In 2011, a cabin for two cost 350€, while a bunk in a shared four-bunk cabin cost 60€; bargaining is often possible on board.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.