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The Saronic and Argolic Gulf
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Home > Itineraries > Around the Peloponnese

Around the Peloponnese


Day 1

Athens - Hydra (38 miles)

Day 2

Hydra - Spetses (17miles)

Day 3

Spetses - Kyparissi - Gerakas (28 miles)

Day 4

Gerakas - Monemvasia - Elafonisos (35 miles)

Day 5

Elafonisos - Porto Kayio - Gerolimenas (44 miles)

Day 6

Gerolimenas - Methoni - Pylos (40 miles)

Day 7

Pylos - Kiparissia - Katakolo (visit Olympia) (35 miles)

Day 8

Katakolo - Kilini (25 miles)

HYDRA: Hydra is perhaps the most beautiful port village in all of Greece. A tiny harbor ringed with cafes, restaurants and gold shops is surrounded by a village of stone houses and villas that rise up the hills like an amphitheatre. But one of the best things about Hydra is that there are no cars. Everything is transferred and moved by donkey, including groceries, building supplies, people and their luggage. Hydra is the former home of singer/composer Leonard Cohen and stomping grounds of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Pink Floyd and many other famous and not so famous people.

You can get a coffee or a soda at the cafes and sit there all day long. Nobody will ask you to move like they would if you sat in a diner in the States all day with one cup of coffee. There is a very nice bookshop, which you can find by going up Miaoulis and taking your first right and going past 'Zoe's' Silver and Gold Jewelry. There is a foreign press shop on the waterfront where you can get your International Herald Tribune, USA Today, The Athens News and papers from just about any country. The Monastery of the Panagia is right in the port, with its entrance by the clock tower. The monks' cells are now municipal offices but you can go in and admire the church, the marble stones and columns and visit the small museum upstairs

The most traditional restaurant by far is 'Leonidas Taverna' in Kala Pigadia. Take Miaoulis street, the road next to the monastery and keep walking and eventually you will see it on your right...maybe. But your best bet is to call and make reservations before you come because it is small and popular. Easier to find is the 'Sunset' restaurant which sits on the ramparts overlooking the rocks where everyone swims just beyond the harbor. The food is excellent and the view is too. Great place for dinner or lunch and an ouzo and "meze" while you watch the sunsets that Hydra is famous for. Try the "Garides saganaki" which is shrimp cooked with cheese in tomato sauce

One of the best bars is the 'Pirate', right in the port close to the monastery and just before the gold shops. There is also the famous 'Disco Heaven' above the town that gets pretty wild in the summertime. As a matter of fact most of the bars get pretty wild in the summertime. Nightlife-wise Hydra is similar to Mykonos, a smaller version of the most famous island. If you want to party you will have fun here, no doubt about it.

SPETSES: Unforgettable scenes of natural beauty are created by the harmonic combination of crystal clear waters and ageing pine trees. Countless picturesque coves, around the island of Spetses offer visitors moments of peace and tranquility. Either by land or sea various forms of transportation make every part of the island fully accessible.

One should not miss visiting the Museum of Spetses, situated at the mansion of Hadziyiannis Mexis (one of the wealthiest leading activist of that era), the main mansion of heroine Laskarina Bouboulina, now a private museum and the historical monastery of St. Nicholas, where on April 3, 1821, the locals took the oath "Freedom Or Death" and joined the revolution

The most important Spetses Festival of religious and historical meaning is "Armata". Early September with weekly events leading to their peak on the 8th., the locals together with thousands of guests celebrate the anniversary of the great Spetses naval battle, one of the most significant fights of the 1821 revolution On the 8th of September 1822 a fierce naval battle took place and the enemy fleet was defeated to retreat after loosing their flagship. Spetses honors every year that courageous victory with a spectacular dramatization, which enables the thousands of viewers to re-live some of those heroic moments. Spetses has a good reputation for restaurants and food and has a plentiful selection of places to eat. The island is said to have some of the best bakeries in the Saronic Gulf and a local specialty is 'amigdalota' - a small almond cake flavored with rosewater. Another local dish is "spetsiota" - a fish and tomato casserole.

Visit 'Patrali' near the waterfront in Kounoupitsa for fish dishes. 'Exedra Taverna' on the old harbor front is great for fresh fish and Greek specialties. 'To Kafenio' near the Flying dolphin office in Dapia is a good place to sample traditional Greek cooking.

Spetses offers everything from bars and discos to bouzouki clubs all along the seafront from Dapia to the Old Harbor. Try 'Figaro', just ask anyone, for an international flavor were you are bond to dance or 'Zorbas', located in Kounoupitsa, which has a more Greek feel.

It's great fun shopping locally for typically regional goods such as olives, cheeses, nougat and honey, dried herbs and decorative ceramic pots. Local shops may have fairly restricted opening hours though - particularly around midday when local people take time out for a leisurely Greek lunch or siesta! The tourist shops of course stay open late at night and all day Sunday, and will accept credit cards for most purchases. Whether you're after a set of worry beads or cassettes of traditional bouzouki music, you're bound to find it.

KYPARISSI: to the north of Monemvassia and south of Sparti, is a charming coastal village, which has recently developed into a resort attracting those who like to "get away from it all". The two villages here are practically on the white-pebbled beaches overlooking the crystal blue waters. Kyparissi has three marvelous stretches of beach lining three successive coves.

GERAKAS: North of Monemvasia is the town of Gerakas, which is a medieval village located by a small port, which is surrounded by steep mountains that drop into the sea. The narrow bay travels a distance into the mainland. Located on the edge of the mountains there is a 'limnothalassa' (a sea-water lake), which has such a narrow entrance, it almost looks like a lake. It was the primary source of the gray mullet eggs used at one time for tarama (fish egg salad) but which is now made from carp. It is also the ancestral town of none other then Telly Savalas

MONEMVASIA: occupies a steep, rocky islet connected to the Laconian coast by a bridge. The inhabitants of Laconia founded the settlement in the 6th century A.D. A second settlement was later founded on a lower level, and gradually developed into a town of significant strategic importance. After a short domination of the Popes, the Venetians captured the area in 1464. In 1540 the Turks occupied it and its decline became more evident. In 1690 it was given over to the Venetians and in 1715 was recaptured by the Turks. It was the first among the fortified towns of the Peloponnese to be liberated by the Greeks in 1821

Located in the main square of Monemvasia is the largest surviving Byzantine church in southern Greece. It is directly opposite the small, domed church of Agios Petros, which houses a modest museum of archaeological finds from the town.

There are only a tiny handful of restaurants in the village, all within a few steps of each other along the main pathway. Wander up and down soaking in the ambience of the place while you browse for the perfect romantic dining spot under the stars. The 'Castellano' restaurant, situated in an ancient hospital close to hotel Lazario, is a great place to taste some lamb stew, moussaka or delicious goat cheese along with traditional Greek wine straight from the barrel. Another great choice is 'Matula's' taverna, which happens to be the oldest taverna on the Kastro (since the 1960;s) with indoor and outdoor tables. For a cocktail or a drink after dinner try the cafe - bar 'Enetiko'

ELAFONISSOS: named after deer that was supposed to have lived there in the past, is a multicolored sapphire, which gleams its ornamented beauties in Morias' crystal sea and in the azure waters of Smigopelago (from smigo meaning to combine and pelagos meaning the sea). A shallow and narrow water channel not more than 2,5 meters deep separates them both from the mainland.

Elafonissos is a wonderful island, full of pine and cedar trees, taverns and many small hotels. Peaceful sandy beaches are in abundance. This island forms the entrance to the Minoan, Aegean and Ionian Sea civilizations. On Elafonissos was noticed the First Pre-Hellenic settlement of Vatika and also that of South Laconia. Findings of the First-Hellenic period were discovered in the positions: Pavlopetri, Foudianika, Lefki, Kournospila, Kato-Nisi, and Vigla. proving that Elafonissos disposes civilization of 5000 years. Simos, one of the most beautiful Mediterranean beaches, is fascinating. Simos overlooks the Bay of Frago. Also visit Sarakiniko beach, which lies adjacent to Simos.

PORTO KAYO: is the last small port in Mani and a fantastic refuge for quail and storks. Past the wheat fields to the high hilltop of Vathia one will find a many gray towers of treasured tradition which most have been restored and transformed into guesthouses by the Greek National Tourist Organization. A refuge where peace and quiet reign, not only for the quail and storks! There are two taverns' that operate in Porto Kayo.

GEROLIMENAS: is a very nice port that faces south of Mani, which is bordered to the west side by a high cliff that goes on for a few miles. Full of stone houses right next to the tranquil sea, it is the site for exploration of the deep Mani.

Rest and relax in a friendly tavern and enjoy the calm and tranquillity. To the north lie the towers of Kita and Nomia and to the south the village of Alika among the prickly pears. A little further on, one will find the cape of Kiparissos, were a temple which was worshipped to Poseidon once stood. It is with a small boat that one can sea the cave of Hades, the entrance to the underworld, according to Greek Mythology.

METHONI: At the southernmost tip of the west coast of the Peloponnese lies Methoni. In the town are some enormous Venetian wells whose marble rims are furrowed by the pressure of huge ropes over the centuries. Homer called Methoni "rich in vines" and tradition maintains that the town is so called because the donkeys carrying its wine used to get drunk (methoun), from the heady aroma. You enter the castle by crossing a massive bridge, impressed by the gigantic walls, imposing bastions and monumental gates. To the south another bridge unites the citadel with the Bourtzi, a fortified islet with casemates and towers.

PILOS: is a pretty little town built up a hill on the south coast of the Bay of Navarino. Snow-white two-story houses with courtyards drenched in flowers. The arcaded streets make you think you've been transported to an island. The main square ringed with pastry shops is sheltered by humongous, centuries-old plane trees. The Turko-Venetian fortress, known as Neokastro, dominates the west side of town. One of the most attractive in the Peloponnese, it is called that to distinguish it from the ancient fortress to the southwest, named Paliokastro or Palionavarino.

The bay of Voidolkilia, a great place to swim and relax in the warm Greek sun, extends from the base of the old castle in a small, horseshoe shaped bay, surrounded by rocky hills with only a small opening to the sea. What an idyllic setting with a tranquil, carefree sanctuary, the floor of the bay is covered with a thick layer of sand. Voidolkilia is considered one of the most eye-catching beaches in the Peloponnese. A great place to eat would be Finikounda. Finikounda is a picturesque fishing village at the back of a bay. "Kaikia", Greek fishing boats, are drawn up all along its sandy shore, while its tavernas serve their fresh catch to little tables at the water's edge. The museum of Pilos was erected in 1956 and is a two-room house display. Some of the attractions include pottery, small findings, metal objects, weapons and tools from Prehistoric to the Roman period. Monday: closed Tuesday-Sunday: 08.30-15.00.

KYPARISSIA: is a seaside town at the slopes of Mt Psychrou, 60 km from Kalamata and has about 5.200 inhabitants. It is the capital town of Trifilias, trade and market centre, a lively town especially in the summer. In Byzantine times it was called "Arkadia" because of the Arkadian people who came to live there, and in place of the Akropolis they built a Byzantine castle, which was rebuilt by the Franks. At the harbour there are still the ruins of the old harbour and a spring protected by carved stones, which is called the spring of Dionyssos. As the legend of King Pavsanias refers, Dionyssos opened it with his stick.

For swimming there is the sandy beach of Ailagoudi with very clear water, which won the "Blue Flag" of Europe for its beauty. Other wonderful sandy beaches are: Memi, Terpsithea, Giannitsaina, Sani, Kalonero, Agianaki and Elaa.

For dinner there are many nice and clean restaurants, taverns and barbeques, bars, entertainment centres and discotheques. Try the 'Mouragio' taverna for fish and seafood and the 'Platanos' taverna for traditional Greek cuisine.

Happenings go on through out the summer; there are the religious festivals of Agia Triada and White Sunday and the festival of Kyparissia on the 14th of September which lasts 8 days.

KATAKOLO: The first Olympic games were held here in 776 BC and reached their height of popularity in 576 BC. The festival was open to only Greek born men but later Romans were allowed to compete most likely because they were running the country by then. Slaves and women were not even allowed to be spectators and women caught sneaking in were thrown off a cliff. The events included foot races, wrestling, discus, javelin, long jump, horse and chariot racing, and a type of boxing called pancratium. There were not only athletic events but also writing, poetry and history readings, plus business transactions and treaties were made between leaders of city-states. There was no television, so unlike modern Olympics spectators were able to see all the events. The games were banned in 426 by the emperor Theodosius II because they were pagan, and the temples were destroyed. They were begun again in 1896 in Athens

The modern village of Olympia, located near the port of Katakolo, itself is a collection of tourist shops, cafes, restaurants and a Historical Museum of the Olympic Games. As in most tourist places in Greece finding a restaurant is easy. A few of our suggestions are 'Taverna Praxitelous', next to the police station, the 'Klimataria', on the edge of town on the road to Pyrgos, and the 'Bacchus' in the nearby village of Miraka on the road to Tripolis.

Be sure to stop in at the Museum Art of Greece art gallery, located in the town center. The store contains some of the best copies of museum pieces and is owned by an American: Ginny Horan Papaioannou. Her husband has the Tourist Club, which serves lunches and has a folk dancing show every night during the season where you can get up and participate if you are in the mood.

KILLINI: is popular for its natural spa baths, the Loutra Killinis, and the exquisite beach of Ilia. Here since ancient times are the mineral water springs, famous for there healing powers against respiratory disorders.

Near the Killini baths are the two picturesque beaches of Glifa and Arcoudi and not too far from here, the village Kastro is located at the foot of a hill. Killini Castle (Chlemoutsi) dominates, built on the hill by Gothefritho Villardouino in the beginning of the 13th century. It is considered of great design and the most characteristic of the Franks fortresses. It is one of the most well preserved castles, kept in a very good condition. A large area of the county can be seen from the top of the castle, presenting a superb view, as far as the islands of Kefallonia, Ithaki, Lefkada and the coasts of the county side of Aetoloacarnania.

In ancient times, athletes from south Italy and Sicily who where going to participate in the Olympic games, disembarked at Killini and stayed for a month preparing for the games and then left for Olympia where the games took place. The most important occupation of the inhabitants is agriculture and its agricultural production is very rich. The products are cereals, vegetables, fruit, citrus fruits and grapes. Also important is fishing and the production of beef, pork and cheese. Its mountains provide wood. The industry processes agricultural products

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