Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game
Slap in the centre of the Peloponnese, its regional capital Tripoli is the first town from the peninsula whose club has challenged the giants of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
Europa League competitors for fourth successive season in 2015-16, Asteras Tripolis were the first representatives of the Peloponnese in the top-flight Greek Superleague since Paniliakos in 2003-04.
Asteras are also the only club from the region to reach the Greek Cup final, in 2013, when the Arcadians achieved a first-ever third place in the league.
Arcadia, this area of the central and eastern Peloponnese, also lent its name to the regional league founded here on the eve of World War II. Asteras (‘Star’) had already been founded, in 1931.
After the war, Asteras dominated the Arcadian League at various periods, until 2003. That was when new management arrived in Tripoli, and Asteras left lower-league football behind.
While the likes of small Tripoli clubs such as Doxa and Elpida still ply their trade in the Arcadian League, the town’s second most significant club, Panarkadikos, usually battle with teams from Kalamata, Zakynthos and Kymi in the fourth tier.
Formed before Asteras, in 1927, Panarkadikos reached the Greek Cup quarter-finals in 1979-80 but top-flight football has eluded them.
Arriving in town, local transport and timings
The nearest international airport to Tripoli is Kalamata 80km (50 miles) away – but only serves summer flights from London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos is 190km (118 miles) from Tripoli.
For details of how to get into the capital, see Athens. There is no train service to Tripoli.
Buses from Athens leave from KTEL Terminal A, by a main road at Kifissou 100, some 7km north-west of central Syntagma Square.
KTEL terminal A has no metro station. From Athens airport, it’s served by 24hr bus X93 (€3.20 on board), which takes about 1hr from Arrivals level (door 5). It terminates at the KTEL bus terminal.
Alternatively, from Syntagma in Athens city centre, it’s about a €10 taxi journey to the KTEL terminal, less than half that from Eleonas, further along the blue metro line from Syntagma and the airport.
The KTEL bus (€15) for Tripoli leaves around every 1hr-1hr30min from Athens. Journey time is 2hrs. In Tripoli, the KTEL station is on Napfliou, a short walk from the stadium or a 10-15min walk/€4 taxi ride into town. Tripoli city centre is pleasantly pedestrianised and walkable.
Where to Drink
The best pubs and bars for football fans
Cafés and bars line the parallel, pedestrianised streets of Ethnikis Antistaseos and Tasos Sechioti, and the square they lead to, Petrinou.
Starting at Petrinou, the Barrak is a destination bar for coffee sippers by day, cocktail drinkers by night, when DJs occasionally man the decks. TVs are put up on major football nights.
On the little street of Ermou, behind the Galaxy Hotel, Khovoli is a little bar run by an Asteras fan, responsible for the star sign outside and themed artwork within.
Up Tasos Sechioti, the Grill Bar is refreshingly unpretentious, providing beer and meaty treats at knockdown prices. At No.38, the Cova Café lends a somewhat arty touch to the night’s imbibery.
A big summer hit, the Kallisto lounge bar (Plateia Areos 5) only makes use of its leafy setting from spring to October – but may open for major nights in winter.
Where to stay
The best hotels for the stadium and city centre
Tripoli has no tourist office but Arcadian Tours (Plateia Kolokotroni 7, +30 27102 23 614/30 163) can provide local information.
There are a handful of hotels dotted around the city centre.
On the prominent square of Agiou Vassiliou, the Galaxy (Plateia, +30 271 022 5195) is cheap but not too cheerful – modernisation would do wonders, given the location. A few steps away, the superior Mainolan Resort (+30 271 023 0300) is a comfortable three-star but priced as if it were at least one star higher.
Less than 100 metres away on A.Georgiou, the Alex Hotel (No.26, +30 271 022 3465) is friendly and convivial, while slightly further along, the Arcadia on Plateia Kolokotroni is Tripoli’s main design-focused and business-friendly hotel. Doubles are offered at €70 online, €60 non-refundable.
Finally, affordable Anaktorikon (48 Ethnikis Antistaseos, +30 271 022 6545) is close to the bar action.