Perched on a rocky peninsula, Monemvasia (also spelled Monemvassia / Μονεμβάσια in Greek) medieval jewel nestled in the southeast of mainland Greece. It is hands down one of the Captain’s favorites in Greece! ❤️
Follow the guide!
👍 The Captain’s tips & recommendations 👍
How to get to Monemvasia? Where to stay?… Find all the practical information as well as tips from the Captain at the end of the article!
Preparing your trip to the Peloponnese? Be sure to check out the Captain’s detailed article : A Guide to the Peloponnese.
Brief history of Monemvasia
Founded in the 6th century by Laconians fleeing the invasions of the warlike tribes coming from the North, Monemvasia became over the centuries a key strategic location in mainland Greece.
The citadel was in turn conquered by the Byzantine Empire, the Franks, the Venetians and the Ottomans, before becoming Greek at the time of the country’s independence (in the 1820s).
During the Second World War, Monemvasia was occupied by the Italians, then Germans and finally the British!
Since the 1950s, major renovations have been carried out to restore the city to its former glory. Today, Monemvassia has become an essential stop for any visitor one of the top tourist attractions in the Peloponnese!
The old town of Monemvasia is closed to all motorised vehicles. The only solution: exploring the city on foot!
The Kastro, the old town of Monemvasia
The upper city
A steep path leads from the lower to the upper town: while you might feel a bit out of breath, no need to be in great physical shape to get to the top and the view is really worth the effort!
The upper town of Monemvasia is a picture-perfect pastoral haven of peace. In spring, when the landscape is covered with small country flowers, the scenery is all the more magical.
The remains of an ancient hammam dating from the 17th century as well as ancient cisterns stand proudly amidst the brush. The church Agia Sofia (Saint Sophia), built in the 12th century and converted into a Catholic convent under Venetian rule, became an Orthodox Church after the independence of Greece, in the early 19th century.
The lower town
Put away your your map/GPS and get lost in the lower town’s its winding streets! Take some time to linger a while on the city’s panoramic terraces (the view is quite simply spectacular),
sit at a café and explore the charming souvenir stores where you’ll find olive oil, mead and wine of Malvasia.
Don’t miss Tapia Square, the main square of the fortified village, from which the view of the Mediterranean is simply breathtaking. That’s also where you’ll find the church of Christos Elkomenos (Christ of the Leaves), built in the 17th century on the site of an ancient Byzantine monastery.
The Venetian walls
The Venetian walls, which surround the old city, offer beautiful views of the city and the Mediterranean.
The new city
Located on the mainland, facing the old city perched on its rock, the new city of Monemvasia, baptized Gefyra, has very little interest except for the beautiful panorama that it offers on the Kastro (the fortified city).
You will also find accommodation and food at more affordable prices than in the old town.
Getting to Monemvasia
Monemvasia is located in the southeast of the Peloponnese, almost 200 kilometers/125 miles from Nafplio, 90 kilometers/55 miles from Mystras and a little over 80 kilometers/50 miles from Gythion.
Renting a car is the easiest way to get to Monemvasia. Captain Ulysses recommends taking the small scenic roads: the The journey is quite simply spectacular.
🚘 Visiting the Peloponnese by car 🚘
If you’re planning on exploring the Peloponnese on your own, Captain Ulysses strongly recommends renting a car: it is by far the most practical way to get around the peninsula. Not to mention that car rental in Greece is on the whole very cheap!
To find THE best deal, the Captain recommends Rentalcars, which compares offers from a host of rental services.
One last piece of advice: the Peloponnese is crisscrossed with small mountainous roads, so you should definitely opt for a fuel-efficient car, even if it is a little more expensive to rent!
If you don’t want to drive and if your budget allows it, you can also opt for a private day trip to Monemvasia from Athens. This is a rather expensive option, but very handy, especially if you have little time and intend to travel around the Peloponnese from Athens.
You can also get the bus from Athens to Monemvasia. The journey is long, but has the undeniable merit of being cheap. For more information, visit the bus company’s website.
Where to stay in Monemvasia?
You’ll find plenty of hotels in Monemvasia.
If you can afford it, the Captain strongly recommends staying in the old town. The hotels, nestled in historic buildings, are mostly very beautiful. The Captain particularly recommends Casa Felicia, Guesthouse Kellia, Pietra Suite and Theophano Art Hotel.
If you are on a tighter budget, then you’ll find more affordable options in the new city. Villa Cazala and Filoxenia Hotel are good options.
And for an unforgettable experience, the Captain can only recommend Kinsterna Hotel: an absolute gem 6 kilometers/4 miles from the old town.
For more options, you’ll find a list of quality establishments in Monemvassia here.
Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions in the Peloponnese!
🛏️ Accommodation: to book your accommodations in the Peloponnese, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Booking.com. From youth hostel to luxury boutique hotel: everything is there!
🎟️ Activities: monuments, guided tours, sports activities, boat tours, excursions… To book your activities in advance, the Captain recommends two trusted sites: GetYourGuide and Civitatis.
🚌 Local transportation: to get around the Peloponnese, Captain Ulysses can only recommend renting a car. He also advises you to use the Rentalcars platform, which compares offers from a host of brands, including Hertz, Avis, Europcar and trusted local agencies.
If you prefer to avoid driving, the websites GetYourGuide and Civitatis offer a selection of excursions in the Peloponnese.
📍Circuits: if you prefer to entrust the organization of your trip to a travel agency, Captain Ulysses recommends you very warmly Evaneos. This French agency works in collaboration with local agencies to orchestrate customized and personalized stays.
✈️ Flights: to book your flights to Greece, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends the Skyscanner comparator. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.
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