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A Guide to the Peloponnese in Greece

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Archaeological sites, spectacular landscapes, idyllic beaches… when it comes to historical and natural treasures, the Peloponnese is rather well supplied!

Add to that winding and picturesque roads, fresh and delicious gastronomy, sports activities… And you definitely have all the ingredients for a road trip rich in adventure and discovery!

How to get around in the Peloponnese? What to see and what to do? Which circuit to follow? Here are all the Captain’s tips to visit this enchanted peninsula on the edge of Europe!

Contents
👉 How to get around the Peloponnese?
👉 What to do in the Peloponnese? Top sites, visits & activities
👉 The archaeological sites of the Peloponnese
👉 The Corinth Canal
👉 Island and coastal cities of the Peloponnese
👉 Nature stopovers in the Peloponnese
👉 The most beautiful beaches of Peloponnese
👉 Gastronomy
👉 Sports activities
👉 What to do near the Peloponnese?
👉 Delphi
👉 Ossios Loukas
👉 The Meteora Monastries
👉 The Pelion
👉 The Captain’s recommendations in the Peloponnese: accommodation, activities, tours

Horse in a Peloponnese field

How to get around the Peloponnese?

The Peloponnese is a peninsula which remaines on the whole rather rural. Therefore, you will find few big cities, and the main tourist sites are scattered all over the region.

🚘 Exploring the Peloponnese by car

To explore the Peloponnese, the car is by far the most practical option. If you do not plan to drive to Greece with your own vehicle, the best option is to fly to Athens and rent a car.

The good news is that car rental in Greece is generally very cheap. To find the best deal, Captain Ulysses recommends that you use the Rentalcars platform, which compares offers from a host of brands, including Hertz, Avis, Europcar and trusted local agencies.

A word of advice: as Greek roads are often mountainous and winding, it is better to opt for a fuel-efficient car, even if it is more expensive to rent. It’ll be worth it in the end!

🚌 Exploring the Peloponnese by bus

It is also possible to travel in the Peloponnese by bus, but this option is not very practical and Captain Ulysses advises against it.

For more information on schedules and fares, visit the KTEL website.

🚐 (Multi-)day tours & excursions in the Peloponnese

If you’d rather delegate the organization of your trip in the Peloponnese, you have two options:

  • either opt for an organized tour of the Peloponnese: the travel agency will take care of the organization of your trip from start to finish. If you are interested in this option, Captain Ulysses recommends Evaneos, which will be able to orchestrate a tailor-made stay to meet your needs and desires.
    👉 Find out more here.
  • or opt for a multi-day tour from Athens: only your escapade in the Peloponnese will be organized. You will have to book the rest of your stay yourself: flights to Greece, accommodation and visits in Athens… This option is much more affordable than the previous one.
    👉 You’ll find a selection of day trips and multi-day tours on GetYourGuide and Civitatis, which specialize in selling tourist activities around the world.

Visiting the Peloponnese: top sites, visits & activities

To facilitate the organization of your trip, Captain Ulysses has listed below the top sites, activities and visits in Peloponnese.
Need even more of a helping hand? Find the Captain’s itinerary suggestions later in the article!

The archaeological sites of the Peloponnese

If the Peloponnese is a must-see destination in Greece, it is largely because it concentrates many of the most emblematic archaeological sites of the country. Follow the guide!

Mycenae

Located about 120 kilometers / 75 miles from Athens, Mycenae is without a doubt one of the most important sites in the Peloponnese.

Mythical city appearing many times in Greek mythology, Mycenae is the cradle of a rich ancestral civilization that dominated Greece for over four centuries: the Mycenaean civilization.

Incredible vestiges have survived the test of time, among which the Lion Gate, the Treasury of Atreus and the mask of Agamemnon.

💡 Practical information 💡
The site of Mycenae is located at about 1h30 from Athens and about 20 minutes from Nafplio. The entrance fee for the site is 12 € during the high season, 6 € during the low season (reduced rate: 6 €).
If you wish to spend the night in the vicinity of Mycenae, the Captain staying in Archea Epidavros or Nafplio.

👉 Find out more in the Captain’s te detailed article: Mycenae

The Temple of Asclepius & the Theater of Epidaurus

Some 50 kilometers / 30 miles from Mycenae, the ancient site of Epidaurus is essentially known for its ancient theater, unanimously considered as the best preserved in the world! The acoustics are simply spectacular!

The site is also home to the remains of the sanctuary of Asclepius, the cradle of medicine.

💡 Practical information 💡
The site of Epidaurus is easily accessible from Athens, Mycenae or Nafplio. As in Mycenae, the entrance fee is 12 € during the high season, 6 € during the low season (reduced fee: 6 €).
To stay in the vicinity of Epidaurus, the Captain recommends, as for Mycenae, the small coastal town of Archaea Epidavros. You’ll find here a selection of hotels offering quality services. The Captain stayed at the Aktis Hotel which offers a very good value for money.

👉 FInd out more in the Captain’s full article : the theater of Epidaurus and the sanctuary of Asclepius

Olympia

Welcome to the birthplace of the Olympic Games! Yes, it was in Olympia that the famous competition was born in 776 B.C.

The site offers visitors the opportunity to go back in time to discover the ancient Olympic Games, but also the daily lives of the inhabitants of ancient Greece: a must for any visitor exploring the Peloponnese!

💡 Practical information 💡
To get to Olympia, head to the other side of the peninsula, a few miles from the Ionian Sea. The modern city, located right next to the ancient site, is the ideal place to spend the night: you will find here a selection of the best hotels and apartments.
The Captain’s advice: you will quickly realize that it is sometimes difficult to imagine what the ancient site might have looked like a few centuries ago. This is why the Captain strongly recommends a virtual reality visit of the site of Olympia: equipped with virtual reality glasses, you will be able to discover Olympia as it was in ancient Greece. Find out more here.

👉 Want to know more about Olympia? Check out the Captain’s detailed article: Olympia

Mystras

Further south in the Peloponnese, the city of Mystras (also spelled Mistra / Mystra) is much more recent than Epidaurus, Mycenae or Olympia.

Founded in the 13th century by the Franks, it changed hands countless time and was in turn under Byzantine, Ottoman, Venetian and Russian domination.

Destroyed during the Greek war of independence (in the 1820s), Mystras was then abandoned. The ruins of the city were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1989.

💡 Practical information 💡
The site of Mystras is built on a rocky promontory: there’s some climbing to do. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring enough water!
To spend the night in the area, the Captain suggests staying in the village of Mystras, below the tourist site (you will find here a selection of the best accommodations) or a little further, in Kalamata, Monemvasia or Gythio.

👉 Find out more in the Captain’s full article: Mystras

Want more?: these four sites are not enough to satisfy your insatiable thirst for history? Don’t miss the sites of Corinth and Tiryns. While they may not be as famous as Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia or Mystras, they are nevertheless worth a visit!

The Corinth Canal

Located at the gates of the Peloponnese, some 80 kilometers / 50 miles south of Athens, the Corinth Canal is a positive technical feat! Dug through the isthmus of Corinth, it connects the Saronic Gulf (in the Aegean Sea) to the Gulf of Corinth (in the Ionian Sea).

Since its construction, the Peloponnese technically ceased to be a peninsula, and has become an island!

💡 Practical information 💡
To discover the Corinth Canal, several options:
– admiring the view from the bridge accessible to pedestrians, where the vast majority of tourists stop, or from Isthmia, a less spectacular but more tranquil viewpoint
– embarking on a cruise on the Corinth Canal (for more information, click here)
– bungee jumping over the canal (for more information, click here)

👉 For more information, check out the Captain’s detailed article: the Corinth Canal

Island and coastal cities of Peloponnese

Nafplio

Nestled in the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio is a charming, historic and colorful seaside town.

With its historical buildings, its old town full of charm, its pretty port and its rural surroundings, the city is well worth a day trip.

💡 Practical information 💡
Horseback riding, cycling, kayaking, gastronomic tours… the Captain recommends checking GetYourGuide to book incredible activities in Nafplio.
As for accommodation, you will find here a list of hotels and apartments with excellent value for money.

👉 Find all the Captain’s tips & recommendations here: Nafplio

Monemvasia

Perched on a rocky peninsula on the southeast coast of the Peloponnese, Monemvasia is one of the Captain’s favorites in the region!
This ancestral citadel, founded in the 6th century, is a picture-postcard wonder! Between the upper town overgrown by vegetation, and the lower town lined with small restaurants and craft stores, Monemvasia is well worth the detour!

💡 Practical information 💡
Monemvasia is located in southern Peloponnese, almost 200 kilometers / 125 miles from Nafplio and 90 kilometers / 55 miles from Mystras.
The Captain recommends staying the night in Monemvasia:
– either in the old town if you can afford it as accommodation in the old town are more expensive (the Captain particularly recommends Casa Felicia, the Guesthouse Kellia, the Pietra Suite and the Theophano Art Hotel)
– or in the new town if you’re running on a tight budget ( Villa Cazala and Filoxenia Hotel are good options)

👉 Learn more about this charming coastal town here : Monemvasia

Elafónisos

In the south of the Peloponnese, Elafónisos is a tiny paradise island located just 300 meters / 330 yards off the mainland. It is famous for its small immaculate villages (Chora, Elafonisos, Lefki, etc.)… and especially for its paradisiacal beaches!

The locals tell anyone who will listen that this is where the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean are located! The Captain will let you judge for yourself! 🤷

💡 Practical information 💡
If you are exploring the Peloponnese by car, you can reach the island of Elafónisos by taking the ferry that leaves from Pounta every half hour during the high season.
If you want to spend a night on the island, you will find here a selection of the best accommodations.

Kalamata

Kalamata is a seaside resort located in the south of the Peloponnese, west of the Mani peninsula. It is the 2nd most populated city in the Peloponnese.

If the city lacks charm to the Captain’s taste, it concentrates most of the vacation clubs and hotel complexes of the Peloponnese (Club Loukéa Kalamata Beach…)

The Captain couldn’t not mention Kalamata, but he Captain recommends skipping it altogether if you are not a fan of all-inclusive hotel complexes.

Nature stopovers in the Peloponnese

Spectacular landscapes, crystalline waterfalls, wild gorges… The Peloponnese is also a region of innumerable natural wonders! Ready to be amazed?

The Mani Peninsula

The mystical landscapes of the Mani region are much more reminiscent of Ireland or Scotland than of Greece!

Few tourists venture in this peninsula located in the southernmost part of the Peloponnese. However, the Mani Peninsula is heaven on earth for nature lovers. It is most definitely one of the Captain’s favorites in Greece, and he can only recommend planning a stopover in the region during your trip in the Peloponnese!

Ready to step off the beaten tracks? You’ll find plenty of things to do: charming villages, enchanting beaches, caving (you’ll find the famous caves of Diros in Mani) and gastronomy.

💡 Practical information 💡
To get to the Mani Peninsula, there’s but one option: the car. The area is located 2hrs50 from Nafplio, 2hrs from Monemvasia, 1hr50 from Kalamata and 1hr20 from Mystras. The Captain recommends spending at least one full day in the region, more if you can.
You’ll find here a selection of great accommodations in the area. If you can afford it, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Tainaron Blue Retreat: a corner of paradise with a view of the Mediterranean!

👉 Find out more in the Captain’s detailed article: The Mani Peninsula

The Vouraikos gorge

In the north of the Peloponnese, 55 kilometers / 35 miles east of Patras, a small cogwheel train take visitors on a tour of the spectacular Vouraikos gorge, between the coastal town of Diakopto and the mountainous village of Kalavrita. You’ll also find a hiking trail running through the gorge.

Two monasteries are also worth a visit in the Vouraikos gorge: Agia Lavra and Mega Spileo.

💡 Practical information 💡
The tourist train leaves Diakopto three times a day on weekdays and five times a day on weekends. Be warned, the train is a victim of its own success: you should definitely book in advance if you want to be sure to embark on a tour of the gorge. You can book your tickets here (be warned, the site is not very modern) or in a Trainose agency. The round trip is €19 (full price).
If you wish to stay overnight in Diakopto, you’ll find here a list of great accommodation.

The Lousios Gorge

Just a short distance from the village of Dimitsana, in the middle of the Peloponnese, the Lousios Gorge is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular in Greece.

The gorge is the perfect playground for hiking and is dotted with several ancestral monasteries. It is also home to the ruins of Gortys, a city from the 4th century B.C. which counted a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, and where a small church was built in the 11th century.

💡 Practical information 💡
The Lousios Gorge is located some 70 kilometers / 45 miles east of Olympia (≈ 1hr40 by car).
If you want to stay in the area overnight, the Captain has selected a list of quality accommodations here.

The most beautiful beaches of the Peloponnese

Grab your towels and your bathing suits! To take a break and relax, there’s nothing like a quick dip in the Mediterranean. The Peloponnese has no shortage of idyllic beaches!

🏖️ The beaches of Voidokilia and Methoni: located in Messinia, in the southwest of the peninsula, these two beaches are unanimously considered among the most beautiful beaches in the Peloponnese. Unfortunately, they are located away from the major sites and monuments of the region.

🏖️ The beaches of Mavrovouni, Skoutari & Foneas: in the beautiful region of Mani, the beaches of Mavrovouni, Skoutari and Foneas are well worth a visit. On the plus side: very few tourists venture into the Mani Peninsula and you should be able to avoid the crowds.

🏖️ Simos beach: located on the island of Elafónisos, in the southernmost part of the Peloponnese, Simos beach is, according to some, the most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean! One thing is certain: it is indeed truly idyllic!

Gastronomy

Greece is synonymous with gastronomy, and the Peloponnese is no exception to the rule! Discovering the peninsula also means taking the time to simply sit on the terrace of a small restaurant to enjoy delicious local specialties while sipping a glass of tsipouros, retsina, malvasia or mead. The products here are incomparably fresh!

On the menu: Greek salad of course, moussaka, fresh fish and seafood, grilled meat, stuffed vegetables…

Food lovers will also be able to take part in food tours or gastronomic activities. Captain Ulysses recommends a few in particular:

🍲 Nafplio:
Food Tour| Local Wine Tour | Cooking Classes

🍲 Monemvasia:
Tasting of local products in Monemvasia (wine, liqueurs, olive oil, bee honey)

🍲 Kalamata:
Gastronomic tour in Kalamata

Sports activities

With its crystal clear waters, spectacular gorges and contrasting landscape, the Peloponnese is the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts and adrenaline seekers.

Here are a few of the Captain’s recommendations:

🚴 Corinth Canal:
Bungee jumping

🚴 Nafplio:
Guided bike tour | Horseback riding | Sea kayaking | Windsurfing | Jet skiing | Wakeboarding

🚴 Mani:
Sea kayaking in Kardamyli

🚴 Kalamata:
Sea kayaking

🚴 Epidaurus:
Sea kayaking

You can also find more extreme sports activities and experiences on Adrenaline Hunter, GetYourGuide and Viator.

The best things to do near the Peloponnese

If you’re planning on spending more than a week in Greece, you’ll have plenty of time to venture beyond the Peloponnese. Captain Ulysses has selected a few tourist sites on the Greek mainland that he definitely recommends checking out!

Delphi

Perched in the mountains of central Greece, the sanctuary of Delphi is one of the most emblematic ancient sites in the country!

According to legend, Delphi was home to the omphalos, the “navel of the world”. The Pythia – a famous priestess whom the Greeks believed was able to predict the future – also officiated here.

The site of Delphi is wonderfully well preserved and well worth a visit, as does its museum, one of the richest in Greece.

💡 Practical information 💡
The site of Delphi is located 180 kilometers / 110 miles from Athens (about 2 hours and 15 minutes drive). The entrance fee is 12 € during the high season, 6 € during the low season (reduced fee: 6 €).
Captain Ulysses recommends staying for the night in the small town of Delphi, a stone’s throw from the ancient site. He recommends the Hotel Pan in particulat for its very good value for money. For more accommodation suggestions, click here.

👉 For more information, check out Captain Ulysses’ detailed article: Delphi

Hosios Loukas

A few miles from Delphi, in the middle of the mountains of Boeotia, the monastery of Ossios Loukas is a Byzantine architectual jewel founded in the 10th century and enlarged over the following centuries.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the monastery is dedicated to its founder, Saint Luke (not to be confused with his namesake, Saint Luke the Evangelist).

If you are passing through the area, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by: the monastery is quite simply spectacular!

💡 Practical information 💡
Captain Ulysses recommends combining the visit to the Monastery of Ossios Loukas with the visit to the sanctuary of Delphi, located a few miles away. The Captain recommends staying the night in the modern city of Delphi.
Entrance tickets are €4.

👉 Find out more here: Ossios Loukas

The Meteora Monasteries

In the region of Thessaly, in northern Greece, Meteora is a group of spectacular monasteries perched atop cliffs and rocky peaks.

Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, these monasteries, built between the 14th and 15th centuries, were home to up to 24 Orthodox Christian monastic communities.

The region is worth a visit both for its rugged landscapes and for its spectacular monasteries. And to get the adrenaline pumping, thrill seekers can couple the visit with a little climbing session!

💡 Practical information 💡
The Meteora monasteries are located 360 kilometers / 225 miles from Athens. Captain Ulysses recommends spending at least one full day and staying the night in Meteora.
You can stay either in the small town of Kalampaka or in the village of Kastraki.

👉 For more information, check out the Captain’s full article: The Meteora Monasteries

The Pelion

350 kilometers / 215 miles north of Athens, the Pelion peninsula the perfect getaway for a breath of fresh air away from the capital’s hustle and bustle. The contrasting landscapes of the region, mountainous in places, Mediterranean in others, the picturesque villages and the small fishing ports are an invitation to a relaxing break out of time.

It’s obvious, isn’t it? Pelion definitely is one of Captain Ulysses’ favorites in Greece.

💡 Practical information 💡
Be warned: you won’t be able to explore Pelion without a car. Winding and scenic roads crisscross the peninsula, inviting visitors to an unforgettable road trip. The Captain recommends spending at least 2 days in Pelion if you can.
Depending on your preferences, you can stay either in the mountains or by the sea. You’ll find here a selection of quality accommodations. The Captain recommends the Alkifron Hotel in particular for its excellent value for money.

👉 Find out more: The Pelion

👉 Book your tours and activities in advance!



Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all 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: there’s plenty to choose from!

🎟️ 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 suggests renting your car on Rentalcars, which compares offers from a host of brands, including Hertz, Avis, Europcar and trusted local agencies.
If you prefer to avoid driving, GetYourGuide and Civitatis offer a selection of day-trips in the Peloponnese.

✈️ 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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