Why you should visit The Peloponnese, Greece
In Autumn we were lucky enough to visit Greece for the first time. I have no idea why we have never visited considering Greece has amazing history, scenery, and culture. It’s probably because it is so close to us here in the UK that it’s easy to postpone visiting.
Most people visiting Greece make a beeline for the amazing greek islands that are renown for their beauty. But Greece is huge and there is so much more to be discovered in this beautiful country.
We spent 3 days exploring the stunning Peloponnese and we were blown away. Here is why I think you should visit the Peloponnese.
The Authentic Villages and Towns
We loved the villages and towns we visited in the Peloponnese. Nafplio is this seaside town that is full of cool bars, cafes and gift shops. We stopped there for lunch on our first day and then had a wander around the town to walk off all the delicious food we ate. Instantly we could tell that the locals liked to socialize. Every cafe, bar and restaurant was packed with people. There was such a nice energy about the place. Even though Nafplio attracts its fair share of tourists (mainly Scandinavian and German) it still felt authentic.
We based ourselves at the beautiful ART Mainalon Hotel in Vytina. The hotel is a beautiful building made of carved stone and wood. It is a unique hotel/art gallery with original pieces of art in the rooms and public areas.
The place we loved the most though was Dimitsana. It is a small mountain top village with a population of just 342 people. It is the type of place where you hire a small cottage that has traditional furniture and write that book you have always wanted to write. The beautiful traditional buildings of the village are being restored, with a few of them turning into guesthouses. We loved it so much we are considering going back for a month or two.
You cannot visit Greece without mentioning its history and the Peloponnese is no exception. Our first historical site was at Mycenae which is around 90 kilometers away from Athens and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the second millennium BC, Mycenae was one of the major centres of Greek civilisation. The period of Greek history from about 1600 BC to about 1100 BC is called Mycenaean in reference to Mycenae. Some of the stones that built the site are so big it took 2 men 2.5 days to move them! Researchers have estimated that to build the whole site only using manpower it must have taken up to 110 years to complete. Slightly slower than today’s builders but most definitely better built. Mycenae was such a major city it influenced classical Greek culture and European art for the next 3 millenia.
The highlight site for me in terms of our historical visits was at Epidaurus. The site used to be a healing sanctuary following on from the myth that Apollo’s son Asclepius was born there who was regarded as a healer. The standout attraction is the awe-inspiring theatre. Built around the 4th century BC, the theatre is still in use today and can hold up to 15,000 people. The acoustics are so good they amaze experts who visit the site. Apparently you can light a match in the centre of the theatre and wherever you are sitting in the stands you will hear the sound perfectly. Each seat has a perfect view of the performance, highlighting democracy in every facet of early Greek life. Sitting up in the stands with the mountains going off into the distance, I marvelled at the ingenuity of the ancient Greeks.
The highlight of our 3 day trip to the Peloponnese was on day 2 when we went trekking into the Lousios Gorge. We visited 3 monasteries during the trek, 2 in use and 1 that is now abandoned. All 3 are built high up into the cliff face giving them the air of secret hideouts. In fact from some points of view you cannot tell that there are buildings there. The last monastery is called Prodromou and is at least an hours trek to the nearest road. The monks have donkeys bring up their supplies which makes the place feel even more ancient and cut off from the modern world.
The trek itself is not too strenuous, just make sure you wear proper walking boots. The scenery is spectacular with huge cliff faces, beautiful foliage and the rushing river at the foot of the gorge. The Lousios gorge is 15km long and 2km wide. At the end of our trek we had a picnic right next to the river. It was beautiful. We sat on the rocks with the other bloggers chatting away, eating the delicious food and sipping the local wine. We sometimes forget that Europe still has some remote areas. When we hear the word Europe we tend to conjure up images of world-famous cities and all night entertainment but there is still wild areas out there, you just have to find them.
The Peloponnese make a great destination for a European holiday. With beautiful villages, amazing history and fantastic scenery you can manage to cover a lot of activities in a short space of time. I have not even mentioned the coastline, the food or it’s people. I will leave that to you when you go.
To book a trip to the Peloponnese, book at Discover Peloponnese. Christos the founder is not only an amazing guide but a great guy, so much so we are dedicating a blog post on his story! Discover Peloponnese is also a Responsible Tourism operator.