Day1: Meet your private driver/guide for your 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. departure. In a short trip of no more than 2 1/2 hours, we shall reach our destination in this “real Greece” experience.
Starting from Athens, we drive towards the Corinth canal and make a quick 10 min stop to see the Corinth canal. If we start from Nafplio town we drive directly towards the mountains without the Corinth canal stop. We head towards Tripoli town (mountainous center of Peloponnese) and start our village exploration of mount Mainalo in the region of Arcadia. Not for nothing is the name Arcadia used as a shorthand for bucolic beauty.
The main destinations are the awesome villages of Dimitsana & Stemnitsa and also a couple of cliff-hanging monasteries. Dimitsana is one of the most attractive villages in the mountainous Arcadia region. It is set on a double hump overlooking the Lousios river. In this beautiful stone-built village, there are six beautiful churches since the Frankish and Norman rule. Just two km south of Dimitsana we shall be visiting the Water-Power Museum containing a reconstructed watermill, tannery, and gunpowder mill showing how the basic pre-industrial techniques used water as the main energy source for the production of various products.
Stemnitsa village has a medieval feeling with the stone-made houses, cobble-stoned alleys in an amphitheatrical structure. The amazing Prodromou & Emialon (or Philosofou) monasteries will be visited and of course Lousios river, the gorge, and the remaining of ancient Gortys. All monasteries are in the beautiful gorge of the Lousios river and one of them requires an easy 15-minute hike.
The gorge of Lousios is one of the most important and beautiful natural monuments of Peloponnese, ideal for hiking, rafting, and kayaking while a drive around will reveal amazing landscapes.
Somewhere in between these sites, you will enjoy a traditional Greek lunch and drink in a place to be arranged by your local driver. For those seeking to discover real Greece, these villages are must-visits any time of the year. There will also be free time for you to wander around through the narrow stone-built roads of both villages before relaxing and spending your night in a beautiful guest house.
Day2: Start with breakfast with the fresh mountain air and the view of Lousios gorge before a 1.5 hours drive to ancient Olympia.
On the way, we stop at the traditional village of Lagkadia. A special place of natural beauty, lots of sightseeing, and a photographer’s playground! Lagadia village is the homeland of skilled stone craftsmen and for many generations built houses, churches, and schools all over Greece. The village houses are the living proof of their amazing talent and made them famous as the best in the art of stone building.
Then, we move on to Olympia. You can walk through the impressive ruins of the area where athletes trained and ran in the ancient stadium; just as the ancient Olympians did after their victory 3000 years ago. In front of the Temple of Hera burns the Olympic Flame during the modern-day Olympic Games. You can also visit the world-famous museum and get the chance to see some unbelievable sculptures such as the sculpted decoration of the marble temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the famous Hermes carved by the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles.
Tour the monuments of the archaeological site, including the former gymnasium and Palaestra (where athletes practiced before competing), stadium, hotel & crypt. Let your imagination run to the times that Greece’s finest athletes strove to honor the gods through the Olympic ideal.
At the end of the day, we return to your accommodation or cruise ship in Athens or Nafplio with a few stops (to stretch and have a drink) at the stone-built villages of the area and possibly an extra historic monastery. The tour can be done the opposite way by firstly visiting Olympia and the mountain villages on the second day (depending on the time of year).