Despite Greece being one of the most visited countries in Europe every year, the Peloponnese region does not get the crowds like the rest of the country, and instead, attracts Greek locals looking for a quick getaway. The region is diverse, with beautiful coastal towns, delicious gastronomy, sandy beaches, and a rich history that is comparable to Athens.
After travelling through numerous Greek islands and Athens, I can confidently say that there is something about travelling through the Peloponnese region that has a much more traditional feeling than other regions in Greece. Get a taste of the local culture and fully immerse yourself in the Greek culture by exploring this untouched region. Spend as much time as you see fit in each of the stops, and curate this itinerary to your liking!
Know before you go
The easiest way to get to Peloponnese is to fly into Athens International Airport (AIA), which welcomes hundreds of flights every day from a variety of major, international airlines. From there, you can drive to the nearby region, which is about a 1 hour drive from Greece’s capital.
Public transportation can be quite difficult in Greece, as the infrastructure isn’t super built up. The buses can take hours longer than a car, and the trains don’t connect the whole country. Most places in the region can be interconnected by bus, and some of the bigger locations by train, such as Athens to Corinth, Athens to Kalamata, and Athens to Nafplio. That being said, there can often be delays and occasional strikes, and it is a bit hard to navigate.
The easiest way to explore the Peloponnese region is by car. It is a faster and easier way to explore the region, and will save a lot more time, especially if you plan on visiting some of these places for half a day before moving on to the next. A car rental is the easiest way to travel throughout the region, and although driving in Greece gets a bad rep, the new highways and roads connecting the Peloponnese region are easy to navigate, and pretty straightforward. We prefer renting a car with Rent A Car , due to their wide availability of vehicles and locations to choose from. Book in advance to assure you get the type of car you want for your ideal dates, especially if you’re visiting in summertime, as Greece can get very crowded during the season.
Peloponnese is the warmest region in Greece, and stays mild during the winter months. Since a lot of places are more of resort towns like Astros and Porto Cheli, there might not be much to do during the winter months, as the main thing to do is enjoy the beaches and swim. For other locations that are more historical and city-like, they are great places to visit during the winter and explore. During the summer, it can get very hot, but the beaches make the hot summers more than bearable. When visiting historical locations in summer, don’t forget your water and sunblock.
Stop 1: Corinth
Corinth, or Korinthos as called by the locals, was one of the most important cities in Ancient Greece. Corinth lies at the edge of the Peloponnese region, closest to Athens, so it is a great first stop. You can get to Corinth from Athens in about an hour by car, and explore some of the significant historical sights in the city that dates back to 5000 B.C.
The first fortification of Acrocorinth traces back to the late 7th-early 6th century B.C, and was used and occupied throughout all of Greek History, up until the early 19th century. The acropolis on top of the mountain is one of the most impressive acropolises in all of Greece, and its strategic location on a mountain makes for a gorgeous backdrop.
Like a lot of major monuments throughout Greece, the story behind its creation dates back to Greek Mythology, which is one of the most interesting aspects of Greek history. This audio self-guided tour uses AR (augmented reality) technology to help visualise how the ruins may have looked in 2nd century AD, and shares the history behind its creation, including information about the many different Greek mythological legends that sparked the creation of these monuments.
This artificial canal near Corinth connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea to the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean sea. This is a super interesting geographical feature, because technically, although the Peloponnese peninsula is considered mainland Greece, this canal separates the peninsula from the mainland, and some argue that this makes the peninsula a large island.
This canal has been in the works for centuries, when the idea for it was proposed in the 1st century AD originally. Despite the ideas that early in time, the canal was not completed until 1893. Nowadays, when at the canal, you can sign up to go on a boat that goes down the canal, or you can admire the canal from a bridge above that serves as a viewing point.
Apostolos Pavlos metropolitan church
Apostolos Pavlos has an incredibly rich religious history, and was created in 51-52 A.C by Paul the Apostle, also known as Saint Paul, one of the most influential figures of Early Christianity. Corinth takes great pride knowing that the Apostle had visited the city a few times, and wrote religious letters called ‘to the Corinthians’. Due to an earthquake, the original church was destroyed, and a three-aisled basilica was constructed in 1936 to replace the original church.
If you’re travelling during the summer months, on the 29th of June, a festival is held in his honour at the church. For the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, gather in the streets for a typical Greek celebration to honour the religious works of the Saints, knowing that one spent time in the same city you are now, while also having a great time.
Where to Stay
Stay right in the heart of the ancient city of Corinth.
A modern, tranquil hotel with comfortable rooms.
Have a whole house to yourself, beautifully landscaped.
Stop 2: Porto Cheli
Porto Cheli is a luxurious resort destination located in the Peloponnese. You might recognize some of the scenery if you watched Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, as the movie was filmed there. Porto Cheli is an amazing spot to catch some sun, and relax, and it is a popular destination among Greeks looking to vacation. The waters are clear and warm, and the sandy beaches rival some of those on the Greek Islands, just without the crowds.
Paralia Porto Cheli
The beach in Porto Cheli, called Paralia Porto Cheli, has clear, blue waters. In fact, so clear that when I was a kid visiting my aunt who lives in Porto Cheli, I remember putting on my swimming goggles and seeing huge seashells, perhaps the biggest I have ever seen. Don’t take any of the shells from the water though! From experience, a friend of my uncle swam down and brought me the shells. About 5 minutes later, the shells started walking…they were hermit crabs! The clearness of the water makes Porto Cheli a favourite spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. If you don’t have any gear, take a walk into the town. There are plenty of Scuba rental shops that you can grab some gear from, and even sign up for tours to go out onto a boat and check out the sealife of the Mediterranean.
Porto Cheli Town
The town of Porto Cheli has been built up quite a bit in recent years, although it is a very calm seaside town. From the town, you’ll notice boats with fishermen catching the freshest fish. Make sure to try some fresh fish in the town. When I was 8 years old, my uncle took us to the back of the restaurant, and the chef let us pick out the fish we wanted to have. The catch of the day was a white fish, common in the Mediterranean, and to this day, it was the best fish I ever had. Any of the small restaurants in the town are offering the freshest catches of the day, so be sure to take the opportunity to try a delicious baked fish, drizzled in the finest Greek olive oil.
There are a variety of cute shops in Porto Cheli as well, and you can spend some time walking around and looking for some souvenirs. Traditional Greek products and boutique clothing stores can be found along the port and the area surrounding.
Where to Stay
Located right near the beach offering a quiet break.
A quaint apartment near the Paralia Porto Cheli, with a fully equipped kitchen and a terrace.
A luxurious 5-star resort with gourmet dining and a large swimming pool.
Stop 3: Spetses
If you know a lot about Greek geography and are reading this as a stop, yes, Spetses is not part of the Peloponnese, but rather a part of the Saronic Islands. That being said, it is so close to Porto Cheli (so close that it literally takes 10 minutes by boat), and boats and ferries frequently are travelling between the port town and the island, making for a great day trip from the resort town.
Spetses is an upscale island, which is known for its beautiful seaside mansions. The island is elegant, and features delicious restaurants near the marina, where we can guarantee you’ll see a bunch of chartered yachts parked in, and it's a great location for shopping, with a wide variety of boutique shops.
Dapia is the main port of Spetses, and has been an important trading centre for the island since the Byzantine and Venetian periods. It is now a bustling, lively area of the island. Dapia is the place to live the slow-paced Mediterranean lifestyle while on vacation. Stroll along the waterfront, and the picturesque harbour, and don’t rush it! There are plenty of cafes, bars, and restaurants for you to take a seat at, and people-watch. Not to mention, there are incredible views of the sea.
Spetses has a long tradition of horse-drawn carriages, which is an interesting and unique way to explore the island. From Dapia, you’ll find plenty of horse-drawn carriage tours, and you’ll learn about the history of the island, and see the most famous historical buildings on Spetses.
Agia Paraskevi Beach
Once on Spetses, if you feel like branching out from the adorable town, you can head to Agia Paraskevi Beach, a large sandy beach that stretches a long way down the coast. There is plenty of room for those looking to spend some time here, along with some quaint beach bars and restaurants. If you feel like it, the beach is a great location with clear, warm waters that are ideal for snorkelling. Just be careful of the swans that call this place their vacation getaway. Swans love Agia Paraskevi beach, it's a popular spot amongst them to sunbathe as well!
This fascinating cave is located near the Agioi Anargiri Beach, and is accessible either by a hike through a pine tree forest, or by boat. The cave itself, however, must be accessed only by swimming, as it is too shallow for boats to enter. The interior of the cave is well worth the effort, boasting turquoise waters, and a small sandy beach.
Like with a lot of places in Greece, you’ll find myths and legends about how they came to be, and why they were named. For Bekiris Cave, there are two different stories that have been told around the island. One being that a man named Bekiris lived alone in the cave and befriended a seal, who continued to bring him fish everyday. The other, a bit more depressing, was that when the Turks were invading the island, a large number of people seeked shelter here, and ended up being murdered by an invader named Bekiris. While none of these stories have been proven true, its fascinating that the name has so much significance to the locals.
Where to Stay
Tastefully decorated rooms located walking distance from Dapia port.
Located right near the Dapia port, this relaxing hotel offers sea views and sun beds.
Elegantly furnished with a luxurious pool and a rejuvenating spa.
Stop 4: Astros
This beach destination is another that gets overlooked by foreigners, and attracts Greek tourists looking for a beach getaway in the region. I have heard hundreds of stories about Astros from my mother, from when she would spend summers in Greece. From the small city in Peloponnese that they are from, they would come to Astros for weeks at a time, as a summer destination getaway.
The small village is beautiful, with nice tavernas with the freshest seafood. My mom always told the story of when she went on a boat with locals, and they caught fresh octopus with their bare hands, for the dinner of the night. Expect fresh catch of the day on every menu, while admiring the long, sandy beach with great water for swimming.
This main beach in Astros is what calls in its visitors. The sandy, long beach is a great place to take a dip in the warm Mediterranean waters, and take in the sun. Paralio Astros is the epitome of relaxation, where Greek families come to escape from the nearby cities. On the beach, you’ll find a few beach bars and tavernas serving fresh and traditional Greek food.
If you’re coming to Astros, don’t expect much hustle and bustle, and expect to spend your visit soaking up the sun, listening to the crashing waves, and taking a swim when it gets too hot on land.
At the top of the hill, above the port, you’ll find Astros Castle. The castle is predicted to have been built in the 18th century, although due to the lack of studies about the castle, there seems to be a vast difference between different studies about the castle. For example, some scholars claim that it was built in the 13th century, and others dispute this by saying they’re referring to a different castle. While this is all very confusing, the ruins of the castle are still interesting to see nonetheless. Some known history about Astros Castle is that it was important in the Greek defence against the Ottoman Empire during the occupation, and is a symbol of Greek resilience.
Perhaps the best part of Astros Castle is the magnificent views it offers over the port, however. The striking seaside and sandy beaches can be seen from up on top of the hill, contrasting against the traditional Greek village.
Where to Stay
Small apartments right by the sea for a reasonable price.
Have a whole house to yourself with views of the mountain and a short drive from Astros.
Modern apartments with a large pool, walking distance from town.
Stop 5: Nafplio
Fortress of Palamidi
This fortress was built by the Venetians to protect the city from attack, and is one of the most impressive fortresses in all of Greece. This can be attributed to its stunning, hill-top location that offers incredible views of the city and the sea, and its impressive architecture. Pack your gym shoes if you’re hoping to visit this fortress. It is a whopping 999 steps to the top, but the trek is well worth the views from the top. This number, 999, is symbolic in Nafplio, and you’ll see it around the city such as in menus at restaurants.
Once you’ve reached the top of the fortress, you can explore its various historical sections, including a church, barracks, and prisons. Interestingly, the fortress also played a significant part in the Greek War of Independence, as it was re-captured in 1822 by the Greeks, after being under Ottoman control for over a hundred years.
Built-in the early 15th century while Nafplio was under Venetian control, Bourtzi was a fortress built to protect the harbour and city from attack. Its original use was for the protection of the city of Nafplio, but throughout history, it has had multiple uses, such as being a prison during the Ottoman empire’s control of the city, and as the residence for the governor of the province in the 19th century. Today, you can visit it and get great views of the city and the harbour from its walls.
Nafplio’s claim to fame, Bourtzi was used as a film location for the film “The Guns of Navarone”, which was based on a book about World War II. Bourtzi was used to represent the fictional island that the book centres around, Navarone, in the film.
Karathona beach is a favourite beach for locals, with crystal clear waters and fine sand. It is the spot in Nafplio to spend a relaxing day tanning, swimming, and a great place to do some water sports. There’s paddle boards and kayaks available to rent on the beach, to explore around the beach. There are a ton of beach bars along the coast as well, to stop and grab some snacks, food, and drinks. When I was a kid, my highlight was going to the beach and grabbing an ice cream with a side of fresh watermelon juice at one of the many beach bars!
Nafplio’s old city is incredibly beautiful that a walking tour would be an awesome way to get to know it more indepthly. The buildings are colourful, and in a Venetian style architecture. The tour takes you to some iconic historical places in the city, such as the spot where the first leader of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias was killed. You’ll get to explore the Syntagma Square, one of the most popular spots in the old town, and marvel at the beautiful Venetian and neoclassical buildings.
Throughout your tour, your guide will show you more historical locations, such as The First Parliament of the Greek State, and the Acropolis of Nafplion where you’ll get amazing views over the bay. Finally, you’ll end your day with learning about Bourtzi, arguably the most famous place in Nafplio.
This day trip to the Epidaurus Ruins leaves from Nafplio, and is an incredible way to discover more of the Peloponnese region. Your first stop on the trip will be at an olive oil production plant, where you’ll get to learn about the production process of olive oil. Afterwards, you’ll get to sample Greek olive oil, olives, and other delicacies that are created from at the plant.
To top it off, due to the olive oil plant’s proximity to the Ancient Epidaurus, an ancient theatre that is one of the most iconic archaeological monuments in Greece, as well as visiting the Asclepieion of Epidaurus, which used to be the healing centre for serious diseases for the whole of Ancient Greece. The tour does a great job of combining the gastronomic aspects of Greece with the ancient history.
Where to Stay
A cute, affordable hotel located right in the heart of Nafplio.
An optimal location near the waterfront offering traditional Greek breakfast.
This hotel is a bit out of the city, but its hilltop location surrounded by orange groves makes for a distinctive stay.
Stop 6: Sparta
The Archaeological Museum of Sparta
Established in 1874, the Archaeological Museum of Sparta is home to a wide range of artefacts from the prehistoric to the Roman period. There are plenty of notable exhibits, such as the findings from the Bronze Age, including traditional pottery, jewellery, and weapons. There is also a collection that includes artefacts from the Sanctuary of Apollo at Amyclae, a nearby town that was a very important religious centre during Ancient times. You can also explore the small section dedicated to the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods, which contains a collection of artefacts used during the time.
Museum of Olive and Greek Olive Oil
This modern museum is dedicated to the culture and history of olive oil in Greece. Sparta, while often accredited just for its history, also has a long tradition of olive cultivation, and the museum in Sparta includes a variety of exhibits, such as olive oil production equipment, and educational exhibits that teach about the nutritional value of olive oil, the role of olive oil in Greek mythology, and the importance of olive oil in day to day life for Greeks, specifically in regards to the Mediterranean diet.
At the museum, you can sign up for a variety of activities, such as an Olive Oil tasting, where you can try the traditional Greek products from the region. The museum also offers guided tours for an in depth discovery of the olive oil history and production in Greece. The best part of the museum, of course, is the gift shop. Many different olive oil products, such as olive oil soap, olive oil, and olives can be purchased in the gift shop, and make for great souvenirs.
The Acropolis of Sparta
The Acropolis of Sparta was first inhabited during the Bronze Age, and became important during the Archaic period. The Acropolis was important to ancient Sparta and served as a religious and civic centre, along with many public buildings. There are many ruins left to visit, like The Temple of Athena Chalkioikos, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena built in the 6th century BC. The Ancient Theatre of Sparta, located on the slope of the Acropolis, was built in the 3rd century BC and was a common gathering place during Ancient times, with the ability to host up to 17,000 people.
The Acropolis of Sparta also claims to have ruins of The Palace of Menelaus. Menelaus might sound familiar if you ever read the Illiad. Married to Helen of Troy, Menelaus was the king of Sparta during the Trojan War, at least according to myth. Ruins of this palace are rumoured to be among the ruins on the Acropolis of Sparta, although that has never been proven by archaeologists. That being said, it is still an interesting story for those interested in the Trojan war and traditional Greek mythology.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is located near Sparta, built overlooking Sparta on a hill. The city is an amazingly preserved Byzantine city that was a hub of Byzantine culture and civilization. Mystras was the last capital of the Byzantine Empire before the empire fell to the Ottoman Turks. The city was abandoned in 1832, leaving the medieval ruins surrounded by a breathtaking landscape.
Ruins of palaces, monasteries, and churches can be explored, dating back to 1271-1460. The Convent of Pantanassa is a well-preserved convent from the 14th century, and it is the only place in Mystras that has inhabitants, those being the nuns that maintain the convent. You can also explore some other ruins like the Mitropolis, which houses the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios, known for its beautiful frescoes in the interior.
Statue of Leonidas
The Statue of Leonidas is made of Bronze, and commemorates the legendary Spartan king, Leonidas (yes, Gerard Butler’s character in the action movie based off of the battle, 300), who led the 300 Spartan fighters during the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The statue was unveiled on the 2,500th anniversary of the battle, and stands in the centre of Sparta’s main square, Plateia Leonida.
The attraction is a symbol of Spartan resilience and bravery, and the statue depicts Leonida in his iconic helmet and battle gear. This is one of the most photographed spots in Sparta, and you’ll probably have to wait in line to get a picture with the statue, as it is a favourite way that visitors commemorate their visit to Sparta.
Where to Stay
A traditional Greek apartment located right in the city centre of Sparta.
Every room is equipped with balconies overlooking the city in this modern hotel.
Located 2 miles from Sparta, and near Mystras, this luxurious resort offers spa amenities and mountain views.
Stop 7: Monemvasia
Built along the slope of the rocks, this medieval town has long been important throughout Greek History. Surviving multiple empires and occupations, the influential settlement of Monemvasia is one of the most underrated spots in all of Greece. Looks wise, the old town is an absolute stunner. The stone-walled buildings make you feel like you’re living in medieval times, and as you wander the tiny streets, it’ll barely feel real. Not to mention, the nearby Aegean Sea only adds to the attractiveness of visiting Monemvasia.
Spend some time exploring the old town and discovering some of the historical gems that get overlooked compared to other relics in Greece.
Explore the incredible Old Town of Monemvasia, known for its narrow, winding streets and beautiful squares. The old town is easy to lose track of time exploring, perhaps walking through the different streets for hours, and admiring the historical buildings and sea views. Monemvasia is known for its traditional greek products, and there are plenty of traditional shops and markets that will be selling products such as traditional wine, honey, olive oil, and ceramics. These make for unique souvenirs to bring home with you to remember your time in the enchanting city.
Stop by traditional greek tavernas in Monemvasia to taste some of the best traditional foods, and also head to some confectionaries, as Monemvasia is known for its sweets. Amygdalota has been a traditional sweet in the region for over 2 centuries, and is a cookie made from almonds and oranges, both of which are traditionally grown in the region. You can also try samousades which is similar to baklava, and is a sweet made of filo pastry, honey, sesame seeds, walnuts, cinnamon, and occasionally orange, but fillings and toppings can differ by bakery.
This Byzantine-era church was built during the 13th century, and is one of the region’s best-preserved churches. It is famous for its beautiful, vibrant frescoes, which are some of the most impressive in all of Greece. The name ‘Elkomenos Christos’ means ‘Christ on his Knees’ in Greek, and refers to an image in one of the frescoes that depict Christ on his knees, with his hands tied behind his back. Historians speculate that this is based on an ancient Greek statue that depicted the Greek god Apollo in a similar manner.
Monemvasia Archaeological Collection
The town of Monemvasia has been important in Greece since the 6th century AD. Because of its long history, the Monemvasia Archaeological Collection was opened to store artefacts that tell the story of the history of the town. The main purpose of the museum is to explain how the city developed throughout the different time periods of history, with the help of relics from the past.
The museum is small and located near the central square of the town. Spend some time exploring the quaint museum and learning about the uses and significance of the antiques on display.
Lighthouse of Monemvasia
The Lighthouse of Monemvasia is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Built upon a rock, the backdrop of the Mediterranean sea makes the lighthouse stand out. This lighthouse is one of the most important in Greece. The cape, Cape Malaes, is one of the most dangerous to sail past, and its treacherous waters were even mentioned in Ancient Greek texts. With the help of the lighthouse, the cape became safer to travel.
When visiting the lighthouse, bring a sweater, as the harsh winds from the coast can be quite chilly, especially if you’re not visiting during the summertime.
Where to Stay
Tasteful rooms offering views of the Monemvasia port.
Modern rooms, some with sea views, in a resort with an outdoor pool
Spacious accommodations in a historic stone-built building. The property is home to an 800-year-old well.
Stop 8: Kalamata
If the name sounds familiar, it might be because it is the namesake of the most famous Greek olive known internationally, the Kalamata olive. If you’re a fan of Greek olive oil and olives, this region is famous for its production of it, and the area nearby of Messinia is home to over 15 million olive trees. They produce 55 thousand tons of olive oil, and 2500 tons of olives. Despite its claim to fame being the olive and olive oil production in the surrounding areas, Kalamata is the second biggest city in the Peloponnese region, with an optimal location to explore the region of Messinia.
Explore the city and its history by going on a Kalamata bike tour, which is a unique way of exploring compared to by foot or by car. Kalamata has a rich history, and on this tour, you’ll stop by its most famous spots, like the Old Market, and the Kalamata Port. Feel the sun on your skin and the wind blowing through your hair as you ride along the coastal town.
The tour also adds a gastronomic element to the experience, taking you to a traditional Greek tavern in the city for you to taste the local cuisine. There is also a stop along the tour at an artisan culinary shop that has artisan products and homemade delicacies.
This private gastronomic cooking class is a bit expensive, but once you realise you’re taking a private cooking class from a chef that has curated meals and feasts for politicians like Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, as well as was the head chef of the former President of the Hellenic Republic, you’ll understand the high price tag.
During this gastronomic experience, you’ll prepare a three-course Mediterranean feast in his restaurant, which is constantly changing. You’ll learn about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and your meals will be prepared with the freshest, local ingredients found in the Messinia region. Maybe I am biased because I grew up with it, but the regional variations on Greek dishes in Peloponnese are the most delicious in all of Greece in my opinion, and you’ll get to try first hand the traditional flavours of the region with this amazing class.
Kalamata’s Castle is a medieval castle that was built in 1205 AD, but was altered under the Ottoman Empire, as the occupiers added some details to the structure. The castle is atop a hill, subsequently overlooking the historical centre of Kalamata, so you’re bound to get amazing views during your visit.
The castle was built by the Franks, who were in power in Messinia, and is one of many in the Peloponnese region that was built by the Franks, which was an attempt to assert their dominance over the region. The castle is conveniently free to visit and is a great way to learn about the history of Kalamata, dating back to the Byzantine empire.
Get an escape from the city and take a trip to Polylimnio Waterfalls where you can explore the 15 small lakes and the waterfalls surrounded by a lush, green forest. Hiking through the vegetation will lead you to the Polylimnio Waterfalls, where you can take the opportunity to take a swim in the waters. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, you can climb up the rope to dive into the beautiful waters. After spending an hour enjoying the turquoise waters and impressive waterfalls, you’ll hike back to get transferred back to Kalamata.
Where to Stay
Stay in a historical building that used to be an old guest house.
A beautiful seaside resort with private beach access.
Luxurious, beautiful rooms in a serene location of Kalamata.