A Legendary Greek Destination: the Peloponnese
September 11th, 2017 by Tom Kerswill

When looking for that perfect Greek holiday villa, don’t neglect the mainland. The Peloponnese is the mythical heartland of Greece, the setting for so many of its legends, but it is also a glorious, largely unspoilt, holiday destination.

The Gulf of Corinth separates this southern peninsula from the central part of the mainland, and of its administrative regions, the Peloponnese is the largest.

This area was at the heart of ancient Greek affairs and contained the major cities of Argos, Sparta, Corinth and Megalopolis. It was also the setting for the Peloponnese War in 431 BC, when various Ancient Greek states united against the Persian Empire.

As a contemporary holiday destination, the Peloponnese has plenty of sandy beaches and beautiful natural landscapes, alongside intriguing ruins and remnants from antiquity.


Fortresses and Caves in Laconia

The Laconia Region of the Peloponnese contains areas of natural beauty and historical significance, such as the fortress city of Monemvasia and the Mani peninsula.

Monemvasia is a hidden fortress, dating from the Byzantium period, and close by is the ancient Kastania Cave, formed over millions of years. There are also beautiful beaches here, for when you want a break from exploring.

Mani has two distinct parts, Outer and Deep. The Outer Mani consists of coastline, including pretty coastal villages such as Kardamili, and the beautiful beaches at Lefktro.

The Deep Mani has an altogether more rugged coastline, and is strikingly dramatic. Visit the village of Vathia, perched high above sea level, with its outcrops of stone tower-houses and winding streets.

In this part of the Mani you’ll also find the legendary Diros Caves, which you explore on a punt, gliding along on the water’s surface through their eerie setting. The caves cover a huge area of around 33,000 square metres, and only a fraction of this has been explored, but it certainly feels extensive as you pass stalactites and stalagmites.


Archaia and Patras

The Peloponnese region of Achaia is home to Patras, the biggest city on the peninsula, along with wonderful beaches and scenic mountains.

Patras is a bustling place, in contrast to the more rural, undeveloped areas of the Peloponnese. However, it has its charms and attractions, from its busy harbour, medieval castle, and the cobbled streets of the Old City. It also has a landmark lighthouse, and various areas of archaeological interest.

Also, like many Greek cities and towns, it has a thriving nightlife, as you’d expect from a city that is the country’s third largest and also home to a large student population.

The region has some truly beautiful beaches, including Kalogria, Akrata, Platanos, Monodendri and Egira.

Also look out for a more modern architectural wonder, the Rio-Antirrio bridge, which connects the Peloponnese to central Greece.


Glorious Coastline at Ilia

In the north west of the Peloponnese, Ilia is a fertile, rural region, with a long coastline running up its western side.

It’s the site of Ancient Olympia, where the first games were held, and the hot springs at Kaïafas, legendary home of the Atlantean nymphs.

The beaches are beautiful, many with blue flag status. Some are bordered by pine trees and they range from the tranquil to the more active, where you can enjoy a range of watersports.

Ilia has plenty of picturesque sea ports and traditional villages, alongside its many characterful tavernas and beach bars. It also boasts the Temple of Apollo at Epikourios, the first Unesco-listed Ancient Greek heritage site.


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