KINGS & CASTLES, MYTHICAL PELOPONNESE

Peleponniese

All Year Round

800

12 Days

A short drive from Athens is the Peloponnese, a peninsula barely hanging from the mainland.

Peloponnese was the heartland of ancient Greece. Its wild and mountainous landscape has hosted the interminable rise and fall of cultures, which makes for fascinating sightseeing today.

Anciently known as the Moreas, from the resemblance of its outline to the leaf of a mulberry tree (mouria), the Peloponnese was home to some of the most powerful rulers in ancient Greece.

Its modern name derives from ancient Greek mythology, specifically the legend of King Pelops who was said to have conquered the entire region. Rocks and stones, myths and legends, surround this land of dramatic and bold beauty. Medieval castles, Byzantine towers and fortresses, blue crystal-clear waters and unique culinary trails and wine roads.

Peloponnese seems to have the best of almost everything Greek. From the palaces of Agamemnon to the fabulous Venetian, Frankish and Turkish castles of Nafplio, Methoni and ancient Corinth, to the well-preserved Byzantine enclaves of Mystra and Monemvasia, Peloponesse is an “old world” ready to be re-explored.

DESTINATIONS & SIGHTSEEING

Day 1: Athens Welcome drink; Athens by night (Optional tour)/

Day 2: Athens Visit the Acropolis and drive to Sounio for a sunset tour of the temple of Poseidon.

Day 3: Corinth Snap photos at the Corinth Canal, visit of the 2,300-year-old open-air theater of Epidaurus, Stroll around the postcard-pretty coastal town of Nafplio and admire unique views from the three medieval fortresses.

Day 4: Nafplion & Nemea Bring Homer’s poems “Iliad” and “Odyssey” to life while you’re exploring Ancient Mycenae, the land of intrepid king Agamemnon, Olive oil & wine tasting (Optional tour).

Day 5: Nafplio Take a break day or be introduced to the art of Greek cuisine on a hands-on cooking class.

Day 6: Monemvasia: Explore The Castle Town of Monemvasia which is among the most impressive places in Greece.

Day 7: Monemvasia Take a break day or drive to Elafonisos island.

Day 8: Gerolimenas / Areopoli Drive to the tip of the Mani peninsula through amazing coastal roads through continuous breathtaking sceneries.

Day 9: Kardamyli / Stoupa / Voidokilia beach / Pylos Enjoy the wonderful, picturesque, historic, coastal villages of Messiniaki Mani.

Day 10: Ancient Olympia Explore the Temples and ancient training facilities of Ancient Olympia and grab the opportunity to run in the birthplace of the Olympics.

Day 11: Dimitsana / Stemnitsa / Karytaina Built like a choir of buildings across two hills at the beginning of the Lousios Gorge, Dimitsana and Stemnitsa, the traditional medieval villages will delight you with their mountainous allure.

Day 12: Dimitsana Hike or take a half day rafting trip in the river of Zeus, Lousios.

Day 13: Athens Drive back to Athens.

DAY 1 ATHENS, GREECE

Welcome to Athens! Check-in time at your hotel in Athens is after 14:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives in the early afternoon. We will meet you at the airport and you will enjoy your private transfer to the hotel. Take your time to relax. In the evening you will have your first taste of Greece by strolling around the old neighborhoods of Athens, on a moonlight evening tour and indulge in mouth-watering local dishes and drinks.

Overnight Athens
Included: Pick up transfer, Concierge welcome drink, Athens by night tour with dinner and drinks included, Accomodation

DAY 2 ATHENS

Take a half-day tour of Athens and its most significant sights. No visit to Athens is complete without a climb up to the Acropolis (“peak of the city”), where Ancient Athenians of the 5th century BC erected the great temple dedicated to the goddess Athena – the extraordinary Parthenon.

You will also see the Ancient Agora, and some of the finest structures of modern Athens, such as the Kallimarmaro Stadium, home of the first modern Olympics in 1896; the old Royal Palace and today’s Parliament, with the elite unit known as the Evzones guarding the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier.

Have lunch in one of the most traditional neighborhoods near the sea, before you head for a sunset tour of the Poseidon temple at Sounion

Overnight Athens
Included: Your preferred car, Guided tour of the city’s highlights including the Acropolis, Guided tour of the temple of Poseidon, Accomodation

DAY 3 ATHENS–CORINTH–EPIDAURUS–NAFPLIO

Leaving Athens with its one-and-only Acropolis, we will travel to Peloponnese, the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games, Drama Theater and great civilizations.

After taking a short stopover for unique Instagram photos at the Corinth Canal, the waterway that crosses the narrow Isthmus of Corinth with its long history, we’ll move toward Epidaurus.

Epidaurus’s fame is so grand worldwide due to the ancient theater of Epidaurus –an UNESCO World Heritage Site-, the most fascinating and best preserved of its kind being built in the 4th century BC and still used today under the framework of the summer Epidaurus Festival. Not to miss to stand in the middle of the highest row and admire how incredibly clearly you can hear the sound of a coin being thrown and reaching the floor in the middle of the stage!

Last stop for today will be at the charming coastal city of Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece where you’ll have free afternoon for exploring the village-feel, cobblestone labyrinth alleys and the neoclassical houses and admire unique views from the two city-mountains crowned by medieval fortresses or from Bourtzi, the small island fortress overlooking the city. Don’t miss to check out the only Komboloi Museum in Greece and taste some Ouzo at Karonis Distillery.

Overnight Nafplio
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Epidaurus, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 212 km

DAY 4 NAFPLION-NEMEA

Departing from Nafplio, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mycenae citadel after a short ride. Explore the fascinating hilltop city of Mycenae with its very long history dating back to 1600-1200 BC; stroll around the mythical Cyclopean Walls, the Lion Gate and the Royal beehive tombs; and hear stories about the intrepid king of Mycenae, Agamemnon who was the commander-in-chief of Greek army in the Trojan War and who was honored in Homer’s epic poems “Iliad” and “Odyssey”.

In the afternoon, continue your journey towards Greece’s Tuscany, Nemea. The stomping ground of Hercules is not only famous for its wineries but it’s also well known for its incredible archaeological sites.

Join a wine tour and learn all about the local varieties.

Overnight Nafplio
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Mycenae, Optional wine/winery tasting tour, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 82 km

DAY 5 NAFPLION

Take a break from driving and weather permitting either explore the magnificent coastline or be introduced to the art of Greek cuisine on a hands-on cooking class’

Overnight Nafplio
Included: Your preferred car, Optional cooking class activity, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 0 km

DAY 6 MONEMVASIA

Located in the south east tip of Peloponnese, the natural rock fortress of Monemvasia is a unique sight in a country known for its blue seas.It was founded by the Byzantines in the sixth century and shortly after it became an important port.

You will have the opportunity to explore this mystical stone-built settlement, nestled at the edge of a big rock by the sea, and immerse yourselves in a unique medieval atmosphere! In the lower part of the town, explore the ruins of the historic buildings situated there – among which the Muslim Mosque, a preserved 16th-century building housing the Archaeological Museum–, as well as the magnificent Byzantine churches.

In the (uninhabited) upper part of the town, you will come across the remains of old Byzantine buildings. A rocky twisty path leads you to the Fortress of Youlas offering an outstanding view of the city!

Step back in time as you stroll around this medieval citadel and don’t forget to enjoy a glass or more of the local Monemvasia – Malvasia, a white dessert wine from sun-dried grapes!

Overnight Monemvasia
Included: Your preferred car, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 195 km

DAY 7 MONEMVASIA

Your drive today will bring you to sand dunes, cedar trees that kiss the sea, a submerged Bronze Agee city, a protected wetland area, which is a refuge for rare species of migratory birds with flamingos among them and many more! Your adventure has a name; Elafonisos!
In one and a half hours from your Monemvasia hotel, explore one of Greece’s most beautiful island’s (yes, it is an island) Elafonisos.

There is parking in Pounta (mainland), from where ferry boats depart for Elafonisos. A specific prohibition directive applies to parking on the island and within the settlement for the summer months. Parking is located at Megalo Tigani where the ferry boats and the “Toumbes” , located near the beach of Kalogeras.

Overnight Monemvasia
Included: Your preferred car, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 84 km

DAY 8 GEROLIMENAS / AREOPOLI

Mani feels as though you have reached the end of Greece and indeed Mani was one of the most isolated regions until the recent years and the arrival of tourism. For centuries people within Mani region used the networks of cobble-stoned roads to maneuver between the villages. Until the 1960s transport of products mainly happened through boats and mules.

Many villages were only accessible by sea until some roads were built that made the peninsula less secluded from the rest of Greece. Don’t expect highways though, most roads are small and winding but worth the drive!

Gerolimenas is one of the most beautiful settlements of Mani and the nowadays picturesque port was in the past,the most important commercial port in the wider area. In fact, its name, which means “Holy Port” shows its significance.

Walk the alleys of the traditional settlement and admire the local architecture. Visit the enchanting Vathia with its stone houses and towers.

Drive to the Diros Caves, on the road that connects Areopolis with Gerolimenas. The spectacular cave complex of Diros offers visitors the opportunity to travel back to the Neolithic era and even further.

This is the most beautiful lake cave complex in Greece, a must see for every visitor to the area.

Overnight Gerolimenas
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Diros Cave, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 116 km

DAY 9 KARDAMYLI/STOUPA/VOIDOKILIA BEACH/PYLOS

This is an area of beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and charming seaside villages. Under the slopes of Taygetos, overlooking the gulf of Messinia, Kardamyli is a seaside village, 35 km away from Kalamata. The combination of mountain and sea, the unchanged traditional elements and authentic style make this area one of the favourites for the locals and families.

It is the site that inspired the British writer Patrick Leigh Fermor (Patrick Le Fermor)(he died in 2011) who fell in love with the place and settled in the village of Kalamitsi (his house belongs to the Benaki Museum and is available for visits and tours).

With stone-built alleys that challenge you to follow them, even if you don’t know where they will lead you, houses and miniatures towers, flowery courtyards with red geraniums, places with idyllic views, old taverns, a small picturesque port ideal for walks and atmospheric shops this destination is the epitome of quality holidays.

Cycle to Ancient Kardamili or get in the car and head out for some of the most idyllic routes of your life to explore the equally beautiful, stone and historically nearby villages of Taygetos such as Tseria, Exochori, Kastania, Milia.

Overnight: Pylos
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Diros Cave, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 158 km

DAY 10 ANCIENT OLYMPIA

Live the myth of the first ancient Olympic Games which took place in 776 BC in the archeological site of Ancient Olympia –an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Take your time and explore the most celebrated temple of Ancient Greece, the Temple of Zeus which once, housed the gold and ivory statue of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Continue your exploration and admire the Temple of Hera where the torch is lit during the modern Olympic Games; stroll around the ancient training facilities of the Palestra and the Gymnasium; and feel the passion for victory of the ancient athletes while you are standing in the middle of the Olympic stadium. Why not grab the opportunity to run in the birthplace of the Olympics? If yes, not forget to get crowned with the victory olive wreaths!

After visiting the outstanding treasures of the Archeological Museum of Ancient Olympia pop in Mercouri Wine Estate, with a history that goes back to 1864 for a supreme wine tasting. Definitely try their Greek red varieties such as Mavrodaphne, Agiorgitiko and Avgoustiatis and white Roditis ,Robola and Malvasia Aromatica.

Overnight Ancient Olympia
Included: Your preferred car, Optional guided tour of Ancient Olympia site & museum, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 117 km

DAY 11: DIMITSANA

Rich history, endless activities, countless walks,stone villages, forested mountains, gorges, running waters, beautiful monasteries, rafting and rappelling are just a few words to describe the beauty of this mountainous area. In Vytina there is also a ski resort if your road trip commences in winter.

In this mountainous landscape, the traditional villages have been assimilated in an ideal way. Dimitsana village is built at an altitude of 1,000 meters above Lousios (Lucios) river (Pausanias described Lousios as the place where Zeus was bathed as an infant) and was the most important gunpowder supply center during the Revolution of 1821, thus writing its history in a thunderous way.
A little further south of Dimitsana you will come to another important village, Stemnitsa. Built between four ravines, it is not just another village as it claims its place on the tourist map, by keeping its own identity and memorable history

Worth visiting:
The Open-Air Water Power Museum in Dimitsana which is an excellent little museum entertaining romp through the region’s pre-industrial past.
The Lousios Gorge has been inhabited for centuries by hermits in caves and monks. Two monasteries remain open to visitors: Philosophou and Prodromos.

The Prodromos Monastery. One of the most impressive monasteries in the country. The cells of the monastery hover over the cliff and the wooden balconies cast their gaze on the gorge, offering unique views not suitable though for the light hearted. It must have been founded in the 16th century during the reign of Manuel Komnenos in the place of old hermitages that existed from the 12th century. Its catholic is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

Overnight Dimitsana
Included: Your preferred car, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 77 km

DAY 12: DIMITSANA

Let’s get active today as the area has an abundance of outdoor activities!
The “Mainalo Trail” is the first trail in Greece to be certified by the European Hiking Federation (ERA), stimulating tourist interest in the area and attracting hikers from all over Europe.

The route is 75 km long and is divided into 8 sections starting from Stemnitsa and with final destination Lagkadia, joining in between the villages of Dimitsana, Zigovisti, Elati, Vytina, Nymfasia, Magouliana and Valtesiniko. It was certified in 2015 by the European Ramblers Association (ERA) and this means a significant guarantee of quality and safety. (However, it’s a good idea to ask a local before you start about the weather and the condition of your preferred trail).

Alternatively, go on a half day rafting trip in the river of Zeus.

Overnight Dimitsana
Included: Your preferred car, Optional 4 hours rafting tour, Accomodation
Today’s Distance: 0 km

DAY 13 DRIVE BACK TO ATHENS

After breakfast, pack your bags and hit the road. Before arriving in Athens, stop for lunch at Vytina village. In the streets of the village, where the houses are dominated by local black marble (many of which were bought and restored in the 90’s by famous Athenians), and around the square you will find good taverns, cafes-bars and shops with wood carvings and local products (mainly cheese and pasta). One of the most popular places to walk is the romantic Road of Love, among the trees

Included: Your preferred car,
Today’s Distance: 203 km

PLAN YOUR SELF-DRIVE TRIP