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The Peloponnese is a destination for all seasons, with a rich history and landscape. Destinations of authentic natural beauty, each with their own distinctive characteristics, stand eager to welcome you all year long: Messinia, Elafonisos, Monemvasia, Mani, Porto Heli, Kalavryta and Nafplio. It’s the land of Ancient Sparta, home of the holy olive grove and the birthplace of the Olympic Games. War, peace and culture saturate the cities and countryside of one of the most beautiful destinations of mainland Greece. Here, ancient monuments are scattered throughout the landscape, such as the ancient theatre of Epidaurus and next to it the Asclepius (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The Peloponnese is a celebration of contrasts: majestic mountains embraced by a dramatic, golden coastline of endless beaches and exotic coves. Road-trippers will never tire of its winding roads that disappear into the horizon, where sea and sky become one, and pure, unspoilt landscapes, technicolour water and fertile valleys. Its villages, both seaside and alpine, will enchant you with their age-old traditions and exceptional food. You’ll be transported to another time as you are introduced to ancient monuments and resplendent medieval Venetian and Byzantine castles. Then rest up at a traditional guest villa in a stone-built hamlet.
The coastline of the Peloponnese hides spectacular sandy beaches with crystal-clear water. Award-worthy are exotic Elafonisos and Voidokoilia in Messinia. Other notable beaches are those in the Gulf of Messinia, Kardamyli, as well as Old Epidaurus and Porto Heli.
In the Peloponnese, you’ll experience the grandeur of Ancient Greece. You’ll stand awestruck in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, tour Homer’s ‘gold-rich Mycenae’. You’ll discover the temple of Apollo Epikourios at Basses (Bassae), created by the same architect that built the Parthenon, and marvel at Iktinos, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Peloponnese is a living lesson in medieval and Byzantine architecture, particularly the well-preserved castle Mystra in Sparta and the castles in Methoni and Pylos.
The European long-distance hiking trail, E4, passes through here and there are dozens of other signposted paths in every area, especially the Taygetos Mountains. The more courageous will want to head to Lagada that has a rock climbing park.
The Peloponnese is world-famous for its olive oil and Kalamata olives, but the sweet fragrance of the orange groves in Sparta and Argos will stay with you forever. You’ll discover the wines of Nemea and Mantineia, as well as Monemvasia’s famous Malvasia, the regional sweet wine, dubbed ‘the nectar of the nobles’. Pair it with the local homemade pasta called goges (like gnocchi, but flour-based), Mani’s eliotyropita (olivecheesepie) or Neapolis’ tyropsomo (cheese-bread).
Arcadia is known for its handmade hilopites (a type of noodle) and trahana (rustic pasta), sold in shops along with other traditional products, like the region’s honey, chestnuts and delicious, seedless Tsakonian eggplants. Don’t leave Mani without trying the cured meats and sausages and the various recipes with artichokes, a vegetable produced here in large quantities, along with beans and wild greens. You’ll finish off your meals with local Peloponnese sweets like diples (thin sheets of fried dough), pastelia (sesame with honey) and rafiolia (pastry filled with walnuts). In Corinth, try the syrupy sweet made with rose water and the famous Corinthian raisins and currants.