Too often, the Peloponnese is overlooked by visitors who prefer to visit the Greek islands or focus on Athens and its surrounding region. Millenia-old architectural marvels like Epidaurus, sweeping golden beaches and rolling vineyards hosting wine tastings are just a handful of the reasons that you’ll fall in love with the Peloponnese peninsula.
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The Peloponnese is home to a series of archaeological sites worth visiting, including Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were held in classical times; Mycenae, home to the Mycenaean civilisation and the mythical King Agamemnon, located in the Argolid plain; and the ancient city-state of Messene, near Kalamata. An often forgotten sight is the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, a beautiful temple hidden high in the mountains of Arcadia.
Without any doubt, Epidaurus is the highlight of the ancient sites to visit in Peloponnese – enough to warrant its own paragraph. This ancient theatre, part of a sanctuary dedicated to the god Asklepios, was constructed in the fourth century BCE. It has excellent acoustics and still hosts concerts to this day. If you’re lucky, catch a summer performance during the Athens & Epidaurus Festival. Even if you can’t, a visit to this millennia-old ruin is still impressive.
With an extensive coastline, the Peloponnese beaches are just as impressive as those in the Greek islands in terms of beauty. The region boasts some spectacular gems such as Voidokilia in Messinia, the sandy stretch of beach in Kaiafas, and Gialova beach in Navarino Bay. Alternatively, escape the crowds and make a stop at the hidden Vlychada beach, near Kyparissi. The beaches are best explored by boat – hire one for the day through SamBoat, or make a full week of it by booking a sailing holiday through Dream Yacht Charter.
Less than 50km (31mi) away from Epidaurus lies a beautiful gem called Nafplio. The waterfront city, which used to be the country’s capital from 1823 to 1834, is a romantic place to explore, boasting Venetian and Ottoman architecture, the spectacular Palamidi citadel and beautiful neoclassical mansions. Hire a bike and cycle around the winding streets, before stopping at Arvanitia for a swim.
With its fair share of rugged mountains, dense forests and verdant valleys covered in olive groves, the Peloponnese is a real haven for outdoor adventurers. Follow the Menalon Trail, a hiking route that covers 75km (47mi) through the centre of Peloponnese. Alternatively, trek sections of the Peloponnese Way, a 225km (140mi) track that cuts through the heart of the peninsula, passing mysterious monasteries and towering gorges.
Probably one of the most romantic places in Greece, Monemvasia is a medieval castle town, carved on the slopes of a rock off the eastern coast of the Peloponnese. Constructed during the Middle Ages, the fortified city with its cobbled streets and stone houses is still a major attraction today. Stay in one of the traditional guesthouses, explore the medieval castle and take a day trip to other spots around the Peloponnese.
Plonked between the Peloponnese and Kythira, Elafonisos is a small island paradise, blessed with white sand beaches and a tiny population of just 360 inhabitants. Come summer, however, the island attracts more than 3,000 visitors per day. Spend your morning swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise waters or sunbathing on the wide stretches of sand, before stopping at Ouranía for grilled octopus, doused in white wine.
An interesting way to get more acquainted with the Peloponnese peninsula is by doing a small wine tour while you’re there. Indeed, the region is not only one of the oldest wine-producing areas in the country, but in the world; an early reference to the wine tradition of the region dates back to Homer, who called the region Ampeloessa: “full of vines”.
Navigate your way around the Peloponnese by renting a boat for the day through SamBoat, or booking a multi-day charter through Dream Yacht Charter.
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