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 Monemvasia, Nafplio town, and Dimitsana village. All with great accommodation that you can’t experience in the big cities. The itinerary is very flexible and can easily be adjusted to “add” or “replace” locations.
Day 1: Corinth Canal – Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus
At your hotel, meet your private driver/tour leader for your 8:00 a.m. departure. On a short trip of no more than 1 hour, you enter the Mythical Peloponnese through the Corinth Canal for this “real Greece” experience.
The Corinth Canal is the first stop and then on to MYCENAE 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 with its 999 steps. Then head to EPIDAURUS, home to an ancient, beautifully preserved theater. Overnight at probably the most beautiful Greek town, Nafplio.
Option: Visit Ancient Corinth which was one of the largest and most important cities of Greece, with a population of 90,000 in 400 BC. If you’re of the Christian faith then you certainly have heard of his letters to the Corinthians. Ancient Corinth is where he lived for a time on his mission to convert the Gentiles to the Corinthians, and those letters he wrote came after once he moved to Ephesus in Turkey.
Day 2: Cosmopolitan Hydra Island
After a quick 1 hour drive from Nafplio town, we arrive at the beautiful peninsula village of Ermioni (or Metochi pier) to catch the boat to Hydra. This is a lovely, easy, and quick 25-minute ride (each way) from the Peloponnese mainland to take you to Hydra Island and back. Note: This area of Ermioni, Hydra & Spetses islands, Portoheli is a hidden gem that Greeks only explore, and which the rich & famous residents from all over the world try to hide even more to preserve the family holiday style.
Hydra is a very historic and cosmopolitan island but also the most relaxing Greek island. No cars, no noise but still extremely popular and “real Greek” unlike places like Mykonos or Santorini! Explore on foot and enjoy the views, the water, the coastline, and the beautiful narrow cobblestone streets, doors, windows, and houses.
[Video: Eudaimonia Private Tours – Summer 2023 – Entering the port and main town of Hydra Island]
Visit places like the Manor of Lazaros Kountouriotis. The house was built in 1750 and it is a great example of upper-class island life of the 18th and 19th centuries when Hydra was the home to the shipping families. Inside the Manor are displayed family heirlooms, personal belongings, paintings, and exhibits from the folkloric and historical collections, which belong to the National Museum of History. A coffee or drink next to the water is a must!
Day 3: Monemvasia Castletown via the Coastline & Parnon’s Mountain Range of East Peloponnese
Starting from Nafplio, our destination is Monemvasia but -should you agree- taking not the fast/shorter motorway route but exploring the glorious coastline of the East Peloponnese before climbing up the mountain range with several stops and lunch on the way.
Late afternoon and the evening are dedicated to the Monemvasia castle/town where you will spend the night (if you book early enough to secure one of the great guesthouses) enjoying the magic atmosphere, the views of the castle, and the water, plus food & drink. The name MONEMVASIA (derived from two Greek words, mone, and emvasia) means “single entrance” and refers to the narrow causeway which is the only way to enter the town. The town walls and many Byzantine churches remain from the medieval period.
If you don’t make a last-minute booking overnight will be inside the atmospheric Monemvasia castle town.
Optional extra day: Kyparissi (Cypress) village
Kyparissi is the kind of holiday place that if you know about it, you only tell your closest friends because you are afraid of spoiling it. But it would be a hard place to spoil just because of the difficulties in getting here.
It is a secluded paradise backed by the craggy slopes of Mount Parnon and fronted by the cobalt blue of the Myrtoan Sea. There are 3 parts to Kyparissi. The mountainous Vrisi village, about 100 meters above the level of the sea, is the first one that you meet as you descend from the winding road of Parnonas. Paralia (beach in Greek) is the one that gathers the lion’s share of visitors. Lastly, there is the Metropolis, the last but not least interesting part of the village that overlooks its most beautiful beach.
Day 4: The Mani Peninsula
Leaving behind Monemvasia, there will be a long great day in the MANI Peninsula, one of the wildest and most beautiful areas of Greece. A dramatic coastline of sleepy fishing coves and fortified villages like the beautiful Oitilo, Gerolimenas & Limeni. The amazing DIROS caves that you will optionally visit with a guide and a boat and/or explore the peninsula as far as the beautiful Vatheia village and Cape Tainaron.
Vatheia is a small settlement of stone towers and abandoned houses that became a ghost village, but in recent years, it has become one of the must-see destinations in the Mani Peninsula. Next is lunch at one of the stone-built villages where Pirates were a permanent threat.
Overnight will be at one of Mani’s best sunset locations (if you book early enough) or near Sparta.
Day 5: Mystras & Sparta
Breakfast and a morning visit to Sparta for the statue of King Leonidas and his famous 300 warriors. Sparta is the ancient rival of Athens known for its fierce warriors! The King Leonidas statue stands belligerently in front of a football stadium. When the Persians attacked Thermopylae and told the Spartans and their allies to lay down their weapons, Leonidas’ response, immortalized beneath his feet, was ‘Molon labe’ (‘Come and get them’).
Wandering around the Byzantine castle town of MYSTRAS is probably the highlight of the day. Mystras, the best-preserved example of a medieval walled town in the Greek region, is today a standing ghost city that fascinates the visitor with its castle, churches, and the palatial complex of the ruling Byzantine dynasty, bearing witness to its bygone greatness.
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta, transports you to the culture, history, and technology of olive and olive oil production in the Greek realm, from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. This area is the ideal place to purchase olive oil after visiting the impressive Museum of Olives & Olive Oil.
Overnight at lively Sparta or Mystras will allow us to visit (next morning) a couple of amazing sites that very few visitors of Greece or even Greeks have seen.
Day 6: Ancient Messene & Andromonástēro
After a great breakfast, we will drive a circle to visit Ancient Messene and the Andromonástēro (13th.C. Byzantine Castle Monastery).
Ancient Messene has much to offer. In size, form, and preservation, Messene is one of the most important cities of antiquity. It boasts not only religious and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, houses, and funerary monuments. It is a very significant ancient city in terms of its size, form, and state of preservation. It possesses not only sanctuaries and public buildings, but also imposing fortifications, houses, and tombs.
Andromonastiro: or Monastery of Metamorphosis:
A monastic complex with fortifications and defensive towers. It was abandoned for more than a century but recently it has been effectively renovated. It was built during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos (end of 12th- beginning of 13th century). Since then, the monastery has gone through six additional construction phases.
A small drive to Kalamata the famous olives city. A great hotel to enjoy its rooftop view and relax in the evening.
Optional extra day : Pylos, Neokastro and Methoni
From Kalamata, we visit Pylos with its Neokastro and then the beautiful Methoni site and Castle.
Pylos is historically also known as Navarino. Pylos has been inhabited since Neolithic times. It was a significant kingdom in Mycenaean Greece, with remains of the so-called “Palace of Nestor” excavated nearby (optional visit), named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer’s Iliad. We visit the Ottoman Neokastro (new castle) which is located southwest of the Navarino bay, on the heights of the city of Pylos.
Next is the Castle of Methoni which is a medieval fortification in the port town of Methoni village. The castle of Methoni occupies the whole area of the cape and the southwestern coast to the small islet that has also been fortified with an octagonal tower and is protected by the sea on its three sides.
Day 7: Ancient Olympia and to the mountains of Arcadia
From Sparta, it is a 1h.30′ drive to ancient OLYMPIA to walk through 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 the Hermes of Praxiteles. 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.
Next, we carry on towards the Arcadia mountain range past Lagadia, the hometown of the best stone builders in Greece to end up in the mountain air and the view of Lousios gorge from DIMITSANA & STEMNITSA villages at 3,000 ft altitude.
We overnight in a great stone-built guesthouse and explore the beautiful village before or after dinner.
Day 8: The Arcadia Cliff-hanging Monasteries & Villages
Dimitsana is one of the most beautiful stone-built villages of central Peloponnese. We will be visiting the Open-Air Water Power Museum which highlights the importance of water power in traditional society. Focusing on the main pre-industrial techniques that take advantage of water to produce a variety of goods, it links them to the history and daily life of the local society over the ages.
The first monastery we visit is Moni Amayalon and then we continue to St. John Bastist’s which is the most amazing cliff-hanging monastery of Lousios Gorge. A short hike through the forest is easy to manage for anybody to experience this site! Next is another very popular mountain village for a great lunch. Just like Dimitsana, this is also a very popular village for the Greeks! Famous for its jewelry making. A nice day with relatively limited driving and plenty of time to self-explore or walk.
Finally, we head back to our beautiful accommodation with the amazing views and sound of the river.
Day 9: Cave of Lakes & Odontotos Rack railway
We will start with breakfast in the mountain air and the view of the Lousios Gorge before driving and crossing the mountains to visit the Cave of Lakes. The Mythical Cave of Lakes has something exclusively unique that does not exist in other well-known caves. A rare creation of nature with mysterious galleries and strange stalactite formations.
We drive on to climb the mountain range towards the top and the ski center of this area to enjoy one of our best lunches at the mountain village of Kalavrita. After exploring the village you will be boarding the ODONTOTOS rack railway to take you from the top of the mountain, through the Vouraikos Gorge to the coastline and the Corinthian Gulf. This is considered one of the most scenic routes in Greece.
Back in the car for a great ride next to the coastline to arrive back in Athens in less than 2 hours.
Depending on your plans we can drive directly to the airport (even if you spend the extra night in the countryside) to catch a flight instead of checking in and out of an Athens hotel and then a 1 hour drive to the airport with traffic!
It is important to remember that this is a very flexible and personalized tour. The Peloponnese is full of amazing locations that we can include, substitute, or leave out of your itinerary. So, do let us know as much as possible about yourselves (likes/dislikes, etc) and we’ll make this tour a great experience! [© Eudaimonia Private Tours Athens Greece]