6 Reasons why you should visit the Peloponnese Region in Greece

Chloe O'Brien | Live the World

March 3, 2023

Immerse yourself in the traditional Greek culture, exploring the authentic villages, classic gastronomy, and breathtaking beaches.

Peloponnese is a region of Greece that isn’t the first you’re bound to think of when you think of Greece, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one worth visiting. The Peloponnese region in Greece is one of the most traditional regions today, with an older population that prides itself on keeping in touch with their roots.

The region is incredibly diverse, with some of the best beaches in all of the country, with soft, golden sand and some of the bluest waters you’ll see, alongside mountainous landscapes, where you can explore ancient ruins and taste the region’s best products like olive oil, wine, and fresh Greek cheeses. Discover the vibrant and welcoming villages and spend your days like a true Greek.

1. Explore some of Ancient Greece’s most important settlements

Mycenae, Sparta, Corinth, Olympia… Do any of these names sound familiar? Many of the most influential Ancient Greek settlements were on the Peloponnese peninsula, which many travellers don’t realise when visiting Greece! Exploring the ruins of the Peloponnese is an amazing trip for history buffs. It’s easy to spend days exploring the ancient settlements, and it makes for a great way to plan a road trip through the region. There are a lot of amazing archaeological spots to discover, including Acrocorinth, which was the acropolis of the ancient city of Corinth, an extremely important settlement from 3000 BC until the Roman Empire invaded it in 146 BC. If you’re a big fan of sports, Olympia is for you! At Olympia, you’ll get to see where the first Olympic games originated from and took place every 4 years from the 8th century BC to the 4th century BC.

Sparta holds great ruins to visit for all of the movie buffs out there. If you love the movie 300, we are sure you’ll love exploring the ruins that it was based on. While the ruins today are difficult to identify in Sparta, it's interesting to hear the myths, legends, and heroic stories that are based off of the ruins you’ll visit. In Argolis, you can visit the ruins of Mycenae, which shaped Greek culture into what it is today. The Archaeological sites of Mycenae are linked to the Homer epics the Iliad and the Odyssey, which have been influential in Greek culture and European art and literature for thousands of years. Learn about the influential Mycenaean civilisations at these ruins, and its impact on all of Ancient Greece.

Skip the hassle of planning on how to visit all of these amazing archaeological sites by taking a 5 day trip from Athens.This trip spends 4 days in the Peloponnese region, discovering all of the most impressive ruins of the region, and also takes you to the striking Meteora in the North. The price of this 5 day tour includes transportation, hotel accommodation, breakfast and dinner, entrance to the archaeological sites, and an expert guide who can share all of the important histories of the sites with you and the group.

Ruins of Olympia

2. Beautiful beaches without the crowds

The Peloponnese region is almost entirely surrounded by water, which means endless untouched beaches. Some are sandy, some are rocky, but they all have one thing in common, and that is that they’re incredibly stunning, and have access to the warm Mediterranean waters. Besides major cities like Nafplio and Kalamata, most of the beaches you’ll come across are pretty empty.

Take some time to drive along the coast and explore some of the most incredible beaches. There are hundreds of beaches in Peloponnese, so feel free to take matters into your own hand, drive along the shore, and stop at whichever beach calls to you. It’s a great region to explore spontaneously, especially because there are a lot of beaches that won’t show up on platforms like Google Maps, so you will have opportunities to discover some hidden beaches that only the locals know about.

There are some amazing beaches that are quiet and are favourites among the Peloponnese locals. Voidokilia Beach in the Messinia regionis one of the most stunning in the region, distinguished by Greeks for being shaped like the Greek letter omega. The sand formation is a semicircle, and the waters are a bright green-blue colour. For bird watchers, this is a great option as the nearby Gialova Lagoon is home to a variety of birds.

For those who like watersports, Mavrovouni Beach in the Messinia regionis popular among windsurfers, and is a long stretch of golden, soft sand, and clear blue waters. Explore caves at Foneas Beach in the Mani region.The small sandy strip is distinguished by a big rock formation in the middle of the ocean, and the green waters are calm and great for a dip in the sea.

Voidokilia Beach

3. Romantic seaside cities and villages

Exploring Peloponnese, you’ll find some incredibly stunning towns, especially along the coast. There are a variety of cities that are worth visiting on your trip, and the most popular has to be Nafplio. Nafplio is incredibly romantic. Colourful buildings stand along the shore, magenta bougainvillaea bushes line the winding streets, and you can wander into boutique shops with local artisan products and fashion. One of the best ways to learn about the charming city’s history and architecture is through a walking tour, where you can discover the roots of this beautiful seaside city.

Nafplio

There are plenty of beautiful villages alongside the ocean that are more quaint than Nafplio, a favourite among Greek travellers. While Peloponnese is relatively uncrowded compared to Athens and the Greek Islands, head to the village of Limeni for a quiet, tranquil getaway. The coastal village in the Mani region is one of the most picturesque in all of Greece. This hidden gem is made up of traditional stone buildings that are right in front of the mesmerising turquoise waters.

Limeni

Nafplio and Limeni are just a couple of examples of beautiful seaside cities and villages that you can visit in the Peloponnese region. For more inspiration on where to stay in Peloponnese, check out 8 of our favourite stops in the region.

Where to stay in Nafplio

Budget-Friendly - Nafplia Hotel

Stay right in the heart of Nafplio in this cute and affordable hotel

Mid-Range - Amalia Hotel Nafplio

Stay in a beautiful neoclassical building with amazing views and a luxurious pool.

Luxury - Epoch House & The Orange Shop

Elegant, modern rooms a short walk away from Arvanitia beach.

Vineyard in Nemea

4. Home to Greece’s best olive oil and wine production

It isn’t a secret that Greek cuisine is heavily based around olive oil, but the country has many uses for the oil. My mom used to tell stories of her mom pouring hot olive oil into her ear when she had an earache, and many Greeks use olive oil as a skin and hair care product. For Greeks, there are never-ending uses for this liquid gold that have been passed down through generations, and the majority of this olive oil comes straight from the Peloponnese, the largest producer of olive oil in the country. Like all Mediterranean countries, where you find an olive grove, you can be assured there is a vineyard nearby. Not only is the Peloponnese region the top producers of olive oil in the country, but also wine! Greek wine is not as famous as its other Mediterranean neighbours like Italy, Spain, and Portugal, but the climate makes it a great region for cultivating grapes.

For those interested in olive oil production, you can’t miss the second largest city in Peloponnese, Kalamata. The namesake of the famous Greek olive is located in a perfect location for olive groves, and the best olive oil production in the country. Take a day trip from the city to visit a traditional olive grove , where you’ll learn about the production of the delicious oil, and get to do an olive oil tasting of the finest in the country. Not to mention you’ll get a delicious home-cooked meal!

While Kalamata is known for olive oil, Nemea is known for its wine. From the beautiful seaside town of Nafplio, you can discover the Nemea region's delectable wine production. On this tour you’ll get to visit 2 award-winning wineries that have a unique production process that you’ll learn about. Of course, you’ll get to taste wines at each of the vineyards, and hopefully, you’ll agree with us that Greek wine deserves more recognition!

Where to stay in Kalamata

Budget-Friendly - Downtown Corner

Stay at a traditional Greek apartment in the city centre of Kalamata.

Mid-Range - Hotel Fotini

Spacious, modern rooms located 100 yards from Verga Beach

Luxury - DN Sea Apartments

Breathe in the fresh Mediterranean air from this apartment’s oceanfront balcony

5. Some of the most delicious and comforting regional Greek cuisine

Greek cuisine varies a lot depending on the region. Each region has its own speciality, and you’ll even find different dining experiences depending on which city you are in. While Thessaloniki, located in the North of Greece, is known as the food capital of Greece, and Athens has many famous restaurants with Michelin star ratings, my personal favourite has to be the cuisine from Peloponnese. The food in Peloponnese is traditional, simple, and delicious. You won’t find as many experimental restaurants like you do in the big Greek cities. Instead, you’ll find small tavernas that use traditional recipes passed down from their yiayia’s (_grandmother’s), and every Greek person you meet will assure you that their _yiayia’s have the best cooking. The food is comforting and flavourful, and the simplicity is what makes the region's gastronomy so perfect.

There are a variety of foods that are a must-try when in Peloponnese. Hilopites are traditional, handmade pasta that is either in the form Hilopitakia, small little squares, or Hilopites, a longer rectangle. Hilopites can be prepared in a variety of ways, either in a soup, alongside Chicken Giouvetsi in a delicious tomato sauce, or on its own cooked in chicken broth, tomatoes, and a traditional parmesan-like cheese, mizithra. Another typical dish is trahanas, which are a comfort food in Greece and the Middle East, and have often been credited as being the oldest comfort food in the world. The trahanas may be prepared in a risotto-style manner, or in a variety of different soups. The sour flavour of the trahana is incredibly distinct, but take it from my grandfather who would walk into every Greek restaurant demanding trahana soup whether it was on the menu or not, it is incredibly delicious.

There are plenty of other dishes that are popular in the Peloponnese, such as gigantes, which may be the biggest beans you’ll ever see in a delicious tomato sauce. You’ll also find all the popular favourite Greek foods like gyros, souvlaki, and moussaka in their simplest form. If you’re a big fan of cheese, head to a local store and pick up some delicious feta, mizithra, graviera, and kefalotyri, and make your own cheese board of these traditional Greek cheeses. Pair it with some Peloponnese wine and have a delicious little picnic on the beach or in a beautiful park.

Traditional Greek Taverna in Peloponnese

6. You’ll feel like a local

The Peloponnese region is filled with Greek people. The coastal villages attract travellers from inner Peloponnese cities like Tripoli and Sparta, and the towns are as traditional as you’ll find in Greece. In the smaller villages, don’t be surprised if you get some stares, as they’re not used to foreigners visiting them. The fact of the matter is that if you’re looking to be completely immersed in Greek culture, find out how real Greek people live and spend their days, and discover the truly local side of Greece, Peloponnese is where you should plan your trip to Greece.

Expect when you’re strolling through these villages to see crowds at the coffee shops during lunch breaks, shops closing in the afternoon (similar to a Spanish siesta), Greek people congregating in the squares in the centre of the villages for drinks, dinner, and chats, and a welcoming vibe. Traditional dinners at tavernas will last for hours, and won’t start until after 21:00 at the very least, and traditional music may be played.

As a kid, after dinner, our parents would continue sitting at the restaurants along the main square, and me and my cousin would walk back and forth, so expect a safe, family ambience when visiting these locations. While there may be a language barrier in a lot of places, they’ll be happy someone is interested in learning about their traditional towns, and will do their best to make you feel comfortable and welcome, even without perfect communication.

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