Ideal tour for those looking to visit some amazing sites without wasting time driving in & out of Athens, but instead overnight & enjoy beautiful, authentic “Greek” locations like Sparta & Mystras, Monemvasia, Nafplio town and Dimitsana village. All with great accommodation that you can’t experience in the big cities. For up to 8 (related only) people but we can do bigger groups too.
Day 1: So, meet your private driver/guide for your 8:00 a.m. departure. On a short trip of no more than 2 1/2 hours, you arrive at the center of Peloponnese for this “real Greece” experience. Corinth canal is the first stop and then on to DIMITSANA & STEMNITSA villages at 3,000 ft altitude. Explore the gorge, Lousios river, a couple of cliff-hanging monasteries, the water-power Museum, ancient Gortys, and then let your guide treat you to a typical Greek lunch in a non-touristy location with the locals. Relax in a great stone-built guesthouse.
Day 2: Start with breakfast in the mountain air and the view of Lousios gorge, before a 1h.20′ drive to ancient OLYMPIA past Lagadia, the home town of the best stone builders. Walkthrough the impressive ruins of the area where athletes trained and ran in the old stadium, just as ancient Olympians did after victory 3,000 years ago. See the temple of Hera and some unbelievable sculptures such as the statue of Zeus and Hermes of Praxiteles before heading to Messene, which is one of the most important cities of antiquity. The city has the rare advantage of not having been destroyed or covered by later settlements. Ruins that have withstood the test of time and remain standing for travelers to marvel at. This landscape combines the mountainous majesty of Delphi and the lowland riverine tranquillity of Olympia. Lunch… and next is SPARTA, the ancient rival of Athens known for her fierce warriors! Wander around the byzantine castle-town of MYSTRAS. Overnight at lively Sparta or Mystras.
Day 3: Leaving Sparta the obvious route is to the amazing MANI peninsula with its DIROS caves, Areopolis town, and the beautiful fishing villages of Limeni and Itilo, for lunch next to the sea. We finish the day arriving at MONEMVASIA town/castle, which is located on a small island linked to the mainland by a short causeway. A place of incomparable beauty, but also of extraordinary historical importance. The spectacle is unique: a huge, steep, 300-meter high cliff in the middle of the sea. On one of its slopes, there is a medieval town, wedged in by walls, ramparts, and towers. The famous castle of Monemvasia was built in 375 AD when the rock broke away from the land in a big earthquake. There the hunted Lacon Greeks, who suffered from the barbarian raids, very quickly built a castle. The castle walls still look inaccessible and impress the visitors. Only 10-15 families live in the castle, but every year thousands of tourists cross the bridge to admire it and feel like they are in a time machine. One can imagine the battles that took place there as he walks through the impressive stone streets of the medieval state and the passages with the high arches.
First of all, you need to take a walk in the lower town where all the housing is located but also the Upper Town which was first built on the top of the rock, and it was there that the lords and administrators of the town lived. The stone houses, the cobbled streets, the special architecture, and the strong walls remind the visitor of times when Monemvasia was one of the most important castles of the Peloponnese, a commercial center and a place of historical battles.
Overnight in the beautiful castle, if you book early enough to secure one of the great guesthouses.
Day 4: Enjoy the morning at Monemvasia before driving (1 hour) to the top of the Parnon mountain range in ARCADIA. Then, we drive down to the coastline of East Peloponnese with several stops to enjoy the amazing views and a coffee before reaching NAFPLIO town.
Mountains, cool air, great landscape, a cliff-hanging monastery, the authentic lunch, the views, the coastline villages, and the coffee next to the water will substitute the boring motorway alternative route to Nafplio, Mycenae, and Epidaurus. We spend the evening and night at probably the most popular Athenians’ weekend destination; Nafplio (old) town & port.
Day 5: MYCENAE is home to some of Greece’s most famous ancient ruins. Wander around the site & museum before hopping back in the vehicle and exploring the “old town” of NAFPLIO, the famous Venetian fortress of PALAMIDI. Then head to EPIDAURUS, home to an ancient, beautifully preserved theater. Once you’ve finished your explorations, return to your vehicle and head back to Athens in an over 1-hour drive. Expect a very flexible and personalized tour from this private tour operator, with lots of authentic experiences and great food.
PS. The above itinerary is a counter-clockwise drive around the Peloponnese (check the “Trip Map” tab) but we very often do the clockwise route. This will depend on the time of year, and on hotel availability which is a very important parameter so that you stay in the best places at each location.