The city of Kalavrita is built on the site of the ancient Arcadian city of Kynaithi (or Kynaitha) which was located in the part of Azania. The name Kalavrita, which according to experts means "good fountains", seems to have acquired it during the Frankish period in the 13th century AD, when it was the seat of one of the 12 Baronies of the Principality of Achaia with the first Baron Otto de Tournai (Othon de Tournay) who built his castle on the ruins of the citadel of ancient Kynaitha.
Kalavrita was one of the areas of Greece that experienced the harshest Nazi German retaliation during the Occupation. On December 13, 1943, the German occupation army executed almost the entire male population (most over the age of 12) of Kalavrita and burned the city completely.
For the number of victims and survivors of the December 13 massacre but for the total number of victims from the German invasion of the region, contradictory numbers have been given from time to time. Most reports put the death toll at more than 800. Kalavrita is today a martyr settlement.
Kalavrita today is a tourist attraction mainly during the winter season as it has one of the best winter tourism infrastructure in Greece due mainly to the ski center located there.
Kalavrita as well as the surrounding area and the wider area are characterized by rich natural beauty and have a variety of natural and man-made attractions. Kalavrita Ski Center is one of the largest in Greece. Remarkable destinations in the area of Kalavrita and in nearby locations are also the two historical monasteries, Agia Lavra and the Great Cave, the Kalavrita Holocaust Museum housed in the old primary school of the city, the plane tree forest of the Aroani river, the Aroani river on the river Stygos in Helmos where the river Krathis originates, as well as the Cave of the Lakes near the village of Kastria and the Gorge of the Vouraikos river that is crossed by the famous Cog Railway.