E: You know what I have missed? A multi-day road-trip around Greece! N: Multi-day I hear! I wonder who the driver might be. H: If you want to get back safe and sound, I will be driving the straight roads and you will get us through the mountain roads. N: Okay, I agree! (Could I possibly not?) Mountain roads, huh? You must have something specific in mind. E: From a young age I wanted to meet my (paternal) homelands, so I suggest we make the tour of the Peloponnese. N: A road-trip in the Peloponnese… Done deal! E: It didn’t take a lot to convince him; maybe I shouldn’t bother with sugarcoating next time!
As you can tell, time came for an unforgettable road-trip. A road-trip spanning more than twenty days indeed, a road-trip we dreamed about for a long time and now the time has finally come for the dream to become reality. The schedules were set, the accommodations booked and we were left counting down to the seconds until the start of our road-trip around the Peloponnese…in 20 days!
After an extensive check, our car was ready to take us to every corner of the Peloponnese, to guide us to historic locations, to gift us with images we haven’t even dreamed of, and in the end score more than 3,200 km of distance travelled! Our timing was ideal. How so? Mid-September, of course, when the seas are still boiling hot, the heat is bearable, tourism is toned down, and the prices are considerably lower! The weather in the Peloponnese is nothing to worry about, since it is mild during the winter and spring, while it is warm during the summer. The rain appears mostly during late autumn to quench the thirsty land. Although when it rains it pours, the rain is strong and persistent so it is a good idea to pack an umbrella.
Going south from Thessaloniki our first stop was Porto Heli, from where we left behind the Peloponnese in order to spend our first (three) days in wonderful Spetses! Then we returned to it, in order to officially begin our road-trip with Nafplio as the first station. Anapli, as it is called by the locals, won us over from the first hours. A town so picturesque that is dressed with rich history, with access to a lot of beaches and delicious food. Of course we did not skip any close distance excursions like Tolo, Ancient Epidaurus and Mycenae while we could not deny the opportunity for a Wine Tour hosted in one of the wineries in famous Nemea, a.k.a. Tuscany of Greece!
Next stop, the Tsakonian land and Leonidio, with a quick stop at the coastal Astros Kynourias, so we can enjoy the view from its –abandoned- castle. The tsakonian village, even though it does not attract a lot of tourists, owes its growth to the renowned Red Rock which is located above it. Meanwhile, the whole area is known for the Tsakonian eggplants, used in almost every local dish, including pizza! That is where we found the best beach in the Peloponnese, with the deepest turquoise and clean waters we dived in (excluding Elafonissos). Find out the location in our Tips section.
Up next was the unique Monemvasia, but first a quick swim in Vlychada, followed by a taste of fresh fish at the Greek fjord, Gerakas. Monemvasia surprises you with its appearance and transfers you to its own knight fairytale. Strolling around its cobbled kantounia (traditional stone-paved alleys) of the castle-town, we realized that this town not only did not lack anything compared to others, but it is indeed more beautiful and picturesque! Of course, we did not miss the chance to explore its every nook and cranny and enjoy the view of the Myrtoon Sea, accompanied by some sweet Malvazia wine (PDO wine).
Next stop, but of course the one and only island of the Peloponnese. Elafonissos, with its turquoise waters and total peacefulness, gifted us with three amazing days (leaving aside the strong sandblasting and grade 6 winds) and empowered us for the demanding four days at Mani. After our few hour long visit to Gythio, oh yes for fresh fish, we ended up in Areopoli, which became our base for the following four days. Mani by itself is a unique destination dressed in stone and drenched in sunlight. Wild landscapes, Peloponnesian cliffs and blue-green waters took us to long journeys. How long? Far to the southernmost mainland point of Europe, Cape Tenaro. We obviously visited the world-renowned caves of Diros, we learned about the customs and traditions of the area and indulged in the tastiness of the Maniot cuisine. And while the days were running out, we packed our stuff heading for a dive at Foneas beach, we swam with horses at the beach of Kalamata and we ended up in wonderful Methoni! Our mornings were full of exercising at Finikounda beach and the nights had a lot of food at Nontas’ grill house in Methoni! Powerful combination!!!
Around that point is when our climb to the north started! Of course, the temperature was higher, so a dive in the cool waters of the lakes at Polylimnio seemed like the best option! We continued with a climb up to the castle of Navarino, a dive in Voidokilia, a walk in Pylos, a photography session with the Eiffel Tower at Filiatra, a visit to Ancient Olympia, passing by the thermal baths of Kaiafas and rest in Kakovatos, accompanied by our relatives! And you know how greek families are… You check in with every aunt, uncle, or cousin and each visit fills your belly for a month. N: I thought you would say a year. E: Let’s not exaggerate now. N: That’s right, we’re talking about you after all!
And after all this belly-bloating feast, I wonder how we managed to reach the waterfalls of Neda and the temple of Apollo Epicurius. Luckily, we had a coffee under the plane tree of the picturesque village of Andritsena, which gave us the power to go through the difficult and narrow roads to Lagkadia, our stop for the next two days. The small village, despite its beauty, could only have a few hours of our program, and work as our rallying point for villages such as Stemnitsa, Karitena, Vytina with the forest and the Love Road, and, of course, for the beautiful Demetsana with the stone-built mansions and the museum of hydropower!
Our trip to the north continued with the historic Kalavryta as our second to last destination. The martyr town of Kalavryta is pretty quiet and its economy is based on winter tourism, mainly because of the nearby ski center. The pictures of nature, the ride with the historic Odontotos train and the fairytale-like village of Zachlorou added the last but very powerful mark on our trip. Of course, right before the end we could not skip a quick visit to Patras and the bridge of Rio-Antirio!
The Peloponnese is a place that has everything. Tall mountains (Taygetus 2,407m.), big cities (Patras, Tripoli etc.), wonderful beaches (Leonidio, Elafonissos etc.), picturesque settlements (Vathia of Mani, Lagkadia of Corinth) and, of course, amazing and delicious food.
N: I’m still waiting for you not to refer to your favorite sport during a trip. E: What are you talking about? That’s impossible, since the history of every location is undeniably connected with the local cuisine. N: Undeniably connected with your need to eat is what you mean to say! E: You could say that… So, where should one start about the food in the Peloponnese? The amazing virgin olive oil, the likes of which we have never tasted; the oranges of Laconia; the Lalagkia; the salad and the sygklino at Mani; the game dishes at central Peloponnese or the pork at Nafplio? And, of course, I could not leave out the unique wines of the Peloponnesian Tuscany, Nemea!
What also left a strong impression on us were the people. And we obviously refer to the people of villages and picturesque settlements. People who wish to help you in any way, treat you, advise you and finally offer you something missing from our era, a helping hand expecting nothing in return.
We never expected that a trip in Greece would take up such a place in our hearts and minds like this one did. In the Peloponnese we experienced amazing moments, met real people rid of the “misery” of our times, swam in pristine waters, climbed mountains, explored valleys, learned of its rich history, got holed up in places of rare beauty, saw exceptional attractions and tasted the delicacies of the local cuisine. So, with all certainty I can tell you that it is one of our top three destinations we have ever visited.
Finally, I will tell you that upon returning home, our car was loaded to the roof!! Wines, bottles of olive oil, local delicacies and a lot of gifts filled our car, showing us once more that the Peloponnese is a blessed, welcoming and genuine place!
A trip around the Peloponnese in 20 days