The place - Peloponnese
Almost an island, it is connected to the rest of the
Greek mainland by the Corinth isthmus bridge and the new Rio-Antirio
bridge (one of the longest cable bridges in the world, debuted in 2005).
The Peloponnese has a huge variety of styles of ancient architecture,
buildings, landscapes, topography and indeed, styles of places to stay!
This large land area in the south-west of the mainland sits south of
Athens, Patra and the main central land mass.
Beginning your visit - sensing your surroundings.
Drive from Athens, Piraeus or Patra - after about 1 hour if you turn
south off the Ethniki Corinth-Patra main highway you are in areas where
the suddenly-narrower and more interesting roads pass through rolling
hills, rural areas and - as in most parts of the Peloponnese - you pass
by or through small villages, old churches, local signs of agriculture
and away from the madding crowds. Pass archaeological sites, vineyards,
wine tasting, churches and people - the choices of where to stop, where
to shop, where to dine and what to photograph are endlessly strewn along
You can sense the architecture, topography and agriculture, the smells
and fragrances, the colours, signs, place names and more. Almost
everywhere in the Peloponnese you are no more than an hour and a bit
away from mountains and in most parts mountains are at least on view in
There are a plethora of trees, shrubs and plants - varied flora and
fauna in this huge area include fruit-bearing mulberry trees, other
fruit and vegetables and successful grape varieties.
Autumn produces the crisp golden orangey browns, the bright glow in the
sun associated with the falling leaves of annual trees.
Many wines from the region are remarkable and only improving in quality.
There are numerous chances for wine-tasting, apart from choosing local
wines with meals!
Some of the many mountainous areas receive enough snow for winter skiing and home to some charming mountainside villages.
Mythology has seeped into every crevice of the old buildings, between the stones of the many towers and caves, canyons and rocks
of the large, spacious and varied region.
Everything is interesting.
7 days or more can give you the raw essentials. Of course a
visit to the well known delights such as Nafplion, the
(Gerolimenas, Areopoli and Itilo - with day trips to nearby points of
interest) - visits to the endless supply of Great archaeological sites
including Mycenae and ancient Olympia...see places of interest in
the Peloponnese below.
There are many
truly marvellous drives, hikes and strolls. Travelling
from one part of this region to another always offers you spectacular
scenery, interesting topography and unique features in landscape,
buildings, archaeological sites, churches, villages and much else.
Driving from Nafplion and Monemvasia via Leonidio along the coast is most
spectacular, quite demanding in that the roads are small, winding and
rapidly changing - you will see areas of coastline which are reminiscent
of the most romantic Italian scenery, some splendid almost-hidden
beaches, some tree-clad hillsides -
allow lots of extra time - because you will enjoy the trip, the many
stops you will be tempted to make on the way - views, churches, beaches,
villages, sites and more need and deserve you time. As you arrive and see
the causeway leading to the rock of Monemvasia, you may be impressed,
but wait, when you get there you will appreciate the true world renowned
Any season, any month! Any season is good - each time of year shows
different features and benefits. All of the wondrous hotels and inns we
have selected are open year round.
Consider having the roads to yourself, no waiting, open vistas and space
for miles! Then, travel during late September until April. Weather being
less predictable is the trade-off. But much of this time you may enjoy
sunny and bright moments if not brightly-lit days on end.
Do allow for colder and even occasional stormy weather from late
December until early March.
If a high probability of bright sun and of course the warmth (or heat!)
this brings, is more important then April until early October and
especially the peak summer months may be the best choice. But roads will
be busier, as will everything else. In August roads can be crowded and,
because almost all journeys mean twisting roads, narrow winding mountain
passes or busy coast areas, travel times are longer.
A taste of history
The name Peloponnese (also known as Peloponnesus, Peloponisos,
Peloponissos) comes from the mythological hero Pelops and "nisos" (the
Greek word for island)...so it was named "the island of Pelops" (in one
After the decline of Minoan civilization in
Crete, the Peloponnese took
over the lead.
Flights to Athens or Kalamata will usually be the most
convenient - depending on where your trip to the Peloponnese
starts from. If you are visiting the West (for example Gerolimenas, Itilo and so on) it will reduce driving and local travel times if you
can fly to Kalamata.
There are many international, domestic and charter flights to Athens
from all over Europe and international flights from the USA and other
To Kalamata (airport code: KLX) there are domestic flights from Athens and international
charter flights (though few of them) from the UK and some European
From Athens (Pireas or Rafina) you can take Flying Dolphins (hydrofoils and catamarans)
to Monemvasia, Poros, Hydra and Spetses (just off the Peloponesse east
coast). Some are seasonal.
From Italy ferries sail to Patra.
Ferries to surrounding islands:
Zakynthos, Kefallonia, Kithira and Crete (though this is a slow ferry and
a bit old - hopefully it will be upgraded - sometime!), Aegina and some
trips from Athens to Monemvasia, Poros, Spetses
From Athens to Nafplion, Pyrgos and Kyparissia; to Argos and Tripoli (the latter two terminate in Kalamata).
By car or bus:
- Driving from
Athens or Pireas port, crossing the Corinth canal by road (New National Road - toll
payable...or old winding road along the coast edge.
- Coming from central-west Greece: drive across the new and spectacular Rio-Antirio
cable bridge (you arrive at Rio town, a few km east of Patra). Toll
- By bus: most cities are connected to Athens and with each other by KTEL
Driving times in Peloponnese:
When planning trips driving times are deceptive if you look at a map and
are not familiar with the areas you will explore.
Once off the very few main roads - it is best to estimate an average
rate of progress of 45 Kilometres per hour as many roads are narrow,
vary in surface quality and are twisting, winding routes.
Watch out for tractors and quite a few lorries/trucks (they have to get
that wine and other produce delivered one way or another!).
You might find useful our
Crete feature - mosts tips are valid for the Peloponnese too.
Where to stay - Peloponnese
Nafplion feature - Nafplion hotels
You can stay and enjoy one of the best views on offer at
Nafplia Palace Hotel or at near sea level the Amphitryon Hotel,
also with great views and both high standards of comfort and service. If
uniquely themed rooms, with a dominant color scheme reflecting the
mythological name of the room seems fun - the period building Ilion
Review, photos, rates & reservations with SuperbGreece.com:
- Nafplia Palace Hotel
- Amphitryon Hotel
- Ilion Hotel
NEW: See our 3 new hotel finds in Nafplion:
- Ippoliti Hotel
- Kyveli Suites
- Latini Hotel
Monemvasia: [ Movemvasia feature ]
If you prefer to be inside the castle, right there in
the centre of this ancient and historical landmark then there are
several places clearly signed and visible around the old village,
scattered amongst the ancient buildings. In guesthouses you can enjoy
a unique, if a little "funky",
room; eat in the evening enjoy drinks and take a few steps back to your "home on the rock".
Rooms are expensive for what they offer - you are paying a premium for
Wake up with a walk up to the church on the top
of the hill and a hearty breakfast or bold cup of coffee before
revisiting the corners of the place and taking a few more photos.
You will find a good choice of small hotels, rooms and studios on offer
at Gefyra (the village at the causeway to the rock of
Monemvasia). One that looks attractive is the "Flower of Monemvasia", on
the road into the village from the north.
NEW: See our 2 new hotel finds in Monemvasia, Malvasia Hotel and Monopati Apartments.
Mani area: [ Mani feature - Mani hotels ]
The sublime Kyrimai Hotel at Gerolimenas - if you can stay here
do, both for the area and this destination-in-itself.
Porto Vitilo, wonderful by-the-sea small hotel with a distinctive
classy feel mixed with comfortable warm welcome.
At Areopoli (the "small town centre of Mani") Trapela Hotel is
strikingly appealing and Kastro Maini speaks the plain truth of a
good effective base with the benefit of a swimming pool.
Review, photos, rates & reservations with SuperbGreece.com:
- Kyrimai Hotel
- Porto Vitilo Hotel
- Trapela Hotel
- Kastro Maini
- Melitsina Village NEW
One of the most distinguished archaeological sites in Greece.
This mythical city of king Agamemnon was the background for many
classical Greek tragedies and the beginning of the Trojan war of the
The site is rich in significant ancient relics: the prehistoric
acropolis with Cyclopean walls and Lion and North gates, Mycenaean houses, tombs of the Atreides
family, and Tomb of king Agamemnon.
The most famous finds from these tombs, such as the golden Death Mask of
Agamemnon, are displayed in the Archaeological Museum in Athens.
5km from Argos-Corinth motorway.
Open: daily 08.00-19.00 (summer), 08.30-17.00 (winter).
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus (Epidavros)
Carved on rock.
A masterpiece of architecture. Amazing natural acoustics.
Ancient Greek drama performances are still held here in the summer
months. 30 km east of Nafplion.
The legendary birthplace of the Olympic Games. A site of wonderful
natural beauty - well selected! Standing in the middle of the ancient
stadium, the history vibrates and overwhelms you.
The Olympic flame is lit here every four years (a moving ceremony), to
be carried across the continents to the city that has the honour to host
At the Olympia museum you will see, among other interesting artifacts,
the remarkable sculptures from the pediments of the temple of Zeus (this
was the second largest temple after the Parthenon, worth seeing its
massive foundation remains at the site), the famous, handsome Hermes of Praxiteles and the Nike of Paionios statues.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Original name was "Myzithras" (cheese-maker). Myzithra is a popular and
individual-tasting Greek cheese.
The remains of this Byzantine ghost town are impressive, as is the
panoramic view from them.
The Castle is on the top of the hill, below Mount Taygetus.
It was built in 1249 by William de Villehardouin.
The Upper Town has the Palace of the Despots "Palati ton Despoton"- a
unique example of a Byzantine secular building.
A little lower are the ruins of the church, Agia Sofia, which
was the palace's chapel.
The Cathedral, founded in 1291, dedicated to St. Demetrius was where the
coronation of Constantine Palaiologos, the last
Byzantine Emperor, took place.
The oldest church in Mystras is Agios Theodoros, dating back to the
The Pandanassa monastery is the only inhabited building.
Nuns living here produce beautiful embroidery you may wish to buy as one
of the more authentic souvenirs.
Open: May-October: daily 08.00-19.00, November-April: daily 08.00-15.00.
Interesting ruins and an archaeological museum.
The first capital of Greece after independence from the 400-year Turkish
occupation. See more about Nafplion and
Tiryns (5 km north of Nafplion) - impressive fortifications, occupied even
in Neolithic times. Panoramic views.
Open: May-October: daily 08.00-19.00, November-April:
The ruins of Ancient Asine,
12 km south east of Nafplion and 3 km south of modern Asine. Above the
sandy shore are the ruins of a prehistoric
settlement, tombs of kings, the acropolis and a
Great Drives of Greece (tm) in the Peloponnese:
Drive from Monemvasia to the Mani area (to Vitilo, Aeropoli or
Gerolimenas for example), stop at Githio - the port town - on the
way....drive onto the port's wall (follow signs to the ferry ) and order
an Elliniko (Greek coffee) at the municipally run cafe there - why ? For
the view of Githio's houses, buildings and shops along the waterfront -
a pretty sight .[Also a way of coming to the southern part of
Peloponnese from Crete and Kithira island - though on a rather slow and
old ferry twice a week].
The drive to Gerolimenas takes 1 hour and 45 to 2 hours without any
stops - so it is most interesting to make a whole morning or afternoon of
it at least.
Special Comments -
The area is enormous, so rich with things of interest, places and areas
to see. If you wanted to see "all" of the Peloponnese you would new 3, 4
or 5 weeks and more. So it is best to plan a circuit, staying in two or
three places as homes-on-the-road or stay in a single place and take
multiple day excursions by car. The choice depends on your preferred
pace and the ratio of relaxation to active exploration!
Simple map - Peloponnese
We have drawn an overview map of Peloponnese, to
give you a better idea of where things are. See the
Top of page
A glittering prize for the traveler, endless contrasts, every scenic
beauty well represented. An area of Greece with enough to see for months
on end. Fantastic fabled towns, buildings, major ancient sites,
romantic inns and charming or unusual small hotels.
Nemea archaeological site