Greece’s Peloponnese has it all—striking landscapes, an array of historical sites, rich local cultures, and delectable food. Outdoor enthusiasts, culture vultures, foodies, history buffs, and practically everyone else will find their niche. It’s one of Greece’s most alluring regions, and it’s easy to access from Athens in a rental car. Plan well, rent a car, and voila you’re all set for the road-trip of a lifetime.
To begin developing a plan, check out the five top places to visit in the Peloponnese below:
1. Acrocorinth, the Acropolis of Ancient Corinth
Located approximately an hour and a half drive away from Athens, the Acropolis of Ancient Corinth can easily be explored on a day-trip from Athens or as a convenient first-stop when heading farther south into the Peloponnese. The Acrocorinth is a massive, striking, medieval fortress perched 575 meters above the ancient city of Corinth, and is largely considered to be one of the most important sites in all of Greece. The fortress walls total almost 2,000 meters in length, encasing all types of interesting historical sites including a temple dedicated to Aphrodite. Views of the surrounding countryside are stunning too, so don’t forget to bring a camera.
One of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Greece is Epidaurus. It is as historically fascinating as it is visually stunning. Regarded as the birthplace of Apollo’s son, Asclepius, who was a medical healer, the site was the most prominent therapeutic center in the Classical era. Today, visitors can see the remains of former guest and recovery rooms, and a sporting arena. There is a giant, impressive theater on the grounds that seats 1,500 people too. Sometimes plays take place in the theater, showing off the exceptional acoustics. Ask the guide at the ticket booth for details.
Few places in the world are as idyllic as Nafplio, situated on the lovely Argolic Coast. The town’s pretty architecture, elegant homes, and winding, narrow streets are as picture-perfect as they come. The towering Palamidi Fortress that looms above Nafplio adds to the town’s mystique, as do the superb restaurants and cafes. Chic shops abound too. For an all local experience, head to the beach. It’s quite rocky though, so do make sure to bring a beach chair.
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the archaeological wonder of Mystras astounds even the most well-traveled of visitors. First constructed as a castle in 1249, the site is resplendent with intact, medieval, historical ruins including stunning churches. Make sure you do not miss the fourteenth century frescoes in the Peribleptos Monastery Church. Apart from the ruins, the natural landscape is splendid too with craggy mountains, colorful flowers, and towering trees. It’s an easy place to spend an entire day wandering through the sites, so pack a picnic.
5. The Mani
The Mani Peninsula, a mountainous, rather remote region is a land of superlatives where the impossibly blue, crystal-clear ocean meets rocky coastlines backed by thick evergreen forests. Though there are several towns along the coast, Kardamyli is a particularly ideal place to call home for a few days. Well-marked hiking paths are plentiful, and there are many places to swim. Unpretentious, simple restaurants line the small town center serving delectable Greek food.
For a locally-owned, comfortable, and affordable seaside stay, the Kalamitsi Hotel is hard to beat. The affable owners go out of their way to please guests, and the all-homemade breakfast buffet may just be the best in all of Greece. Last October, my husband and I planned on staying for two nights and stayed seven—yes, it really is that great!
Written by and photos by Guest Contributor, Katherine Sazdanoff for EuropeUpClose.com
Katherine Sazdanoff is a freelance travel writer and Europe enthusiast. Though she hates to play favorites, Greece in October is hard to beat! To chronicle her wanderlust adventures, visit her website here.