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10 best things to do in Kalamata

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As long as it takes to eat a slice of watermelon

Famous for its combination of mountain and sea and its juicy olives, Kalamata combines the best of Greek summer with all the benefits of a city break destination. The capital of the Messinia region of the Peloponnese (around 2 hours 40 minutes by car from Athens) has beaches, museums and activities within and around the city and has made a name for itself as one of the most popular destinations in Greece at any time of year. So it's time to get planning all the best things to do on your holidays in Kalamata.

Soak up the atmosphere of the city

Every visit to Kalamata should begin with a city stroll. You’ll be introduced to the history and culture of the city, all the way from the 13th-century castle to the seafront, a distance of around 2.5km. There’s a bird’s eye view of Kalamata from the castle, which was built by the Byzantines and finished by the Franks. Walking through the Old Town and beyond, look out for the different architectural influences (German classicism, Italian Renaissance, Athenian neoclassicism and even Venetian elements). Highlights include the Town Hall, the Tsigou building near the church of Agios Nikolaos, the Zouboulio on Navarinou and Vyronos streets (today housing the municipality’s Ceramics School) and the Benakio Museum on Papazoglou St. Daily life revolves around March 23 Square (with the Church of the Holy Apostles and the shops, cafes and bars of Amfias and Ypapandis streets) as well as Vasileos Georgiou Square and Aristomenous Street (the main commercial street of Kalamata, with its lively arcades and side streets). As you near the port, make sure to visit the 54-acre Municipal Railway Park, by the old Kalamata train station.

Bonus: The Kalamata Dance Festival in July is a popular event, with international and Greek artists and with workshops and performances.

Enjoy a walking tour of Kalamata

Take your pick of Kalamata’s museums

The beauty of Kalamata is that it’s a walking city, so choosing which museums to visit couldn’t be easier. Very close to the castle are the Historical and Folklore Museum of Kalamata (in the 19th-century Kyriakou Mansion), with memorabilia from the 1821 revolution against the Ottomans and objects of everyday life from the past, and the Archaeological Museum of Messinia, with exhibits from prehistoric to Byzantine times. Elsewhere, the beautifully curated Victoria Karelias Museum of Traditional Greek Costumes is a joy to visit and the Military Museum of Kalamata is an annexe of the War Museum. The city's Cultural Centre, on Aristomenous Street, houses the People’s Library (founded in 1933 by 46 intellectuals), the Public Library of Kalamata and the Gallery of Modern Art (with a display of 120 paintings as well as drawings and engravings). Finally, the A. Tassos Municipal Arts Gallery near the castle has a collection of some 350 pieces of art, mostly dating from the 1980s.

Experience the waterfront, day and night

The waterfront is the place to be in the summer months and it’s a beautiful part of the city for a stroll or a bike ride at all times of the year. It stretches 2.5km along Navarinou Street, whose shops, restaurants and cafes come alive when the beach (awarded a Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety) fills with sunbathers and swimmers. There are pockets of sunbeds and beach bars, but you can choose an empty spot if you’re looking for something quieter. During the day, you can unwind, sunbathe and swim or enjoy a bite to eat and a drink. But the real action in the summer months happens at night, with beach bars and restaurants buzzing with life.

Tip: There are tavernas at the Kalamata Marina at one end of the beach, if you’re looking for something more traditional.

 

Explore Kalamata’s olive culture

Central to any list of things to do in Kalamata is to immerse yourself in the olive culture. Dark purple, oval-shaped and renowned for their robust flavour, Kalamata olives are the region’s most famous product. The Koroneiki variety is a Protected Designation of Origin product (PDO Kalamata). They produce the exceptional extra-virgin olive oil that is at the heart of the health benefits of the Messinian diet (full of healthy fats and antioxidants). But even more famous are the Kalamata table olives (also PDO), which are preserved in brine and exported all over the world. They are enjoyed with feta as a simple appetizer or in meze with a glass of tsipouro or wine, or in Greek salads and many other dishes. If you're lucky enough to visit Kalamata in the autumn, you’ll witness them being harvested in the countryside (later than other olive varieties, which are often picked when green). The best way to appreciate Kalamata’s iconic olives is to visit a press that offers olive oil tasting or book a cooking class.

 Tip: In the yard of the Olive Institute, the ‘Mana Elia’ is an olive tree that has a 9m diameter and is believed to be more than 1,700 years old. It is a protected natural monument and provided the cuttings from which the region’s original Kalamon olive trees were produced.

Follow the olive route in Messinia

Discover the culinary flavour of Kalamata

Now that we’ve opened your appetite with Kalamata’s famous olives, it’s time to delve even deeper into the region’s local products. Want to know which fruit and vegetables are in season? Head to the open market next to the castle and wander around the stalls and shops and you’ll find out. The producers and shopkeepers are part of the fabric of the city. A few highlights to put on your radar are pasteli (sesame bars) and PDO sfela (a semi-hard cheese, spicier than feta). Gourounopoula is a roast pork delicacy enjoyed in meze and tavernas and found in grocery stores, and even used as an alternative to gyros meat in a souvlaki. Other meat specialities include pasto or synglino (pork cured in salt and smoked with olive wood) and sausages (flavoured with orange).  Look out for the honey from bees feeding on the fir and pine trees of Mount Taygetos (thyme, blossom, sage and heather honey are other options). And if you’re feeling peckish, pop into a bakery or sweet shop and buy lalangia (fried dough hoops, traditionally made on holidays and eaten with spicy cheese and honey) or diples (spirals of fried dough, topped with honey and chopped nuts).

Tip: See below for where to find local products in Kalamata, including pasteli, sfela cheese, pasto, lalangia and diples.

A foodie guide to the Peloponnese

Head to the beaches close to Kalamata

If it’s summer, you’re in for a treat when it comes to your swimming options. As well as Kalamata beach, there’s a selection of beaches a short drive (10-13km) from the city. Mikri Mantinia (a small seaside settlement with a Blue Flag-awarded beach and a water park) and Almyros beach (with water sports) are family favourites, with tavernas lining the shore. Santova beach has sand and pebbles and beach bars and Kitries is a picturesque fishing village with a pebbly beach and fish tavernas. A little further away (40-70km) are Voidokoilia beach (horseshoe-shaped Insta heaven next to Natura 2000-protected Gialova Lagoon) and Lagouvardos beach (a 2km-long sandy bay on the Ionian Sea, popular with windsurfers). Finikouda beach also has a Blue Flag and all the facilities to keep you happy for the day and Stoupa beach is another family favourite.

Discover the beaches near Kalamata

Take in the scenic views and epic sunsets of Mt Kalathi

The mountain that you can see from so many spots in the city is Mount Kalathi, rising to a height of 1,316 metres and rewarding anyone who visits with panoramic views of Kalamata and the Messinian Gulf. It’s part of Mount Taygetos (the highest peak in the Peloponnese) and can be visited on your own or as part of an organised group. From the village of Ano Verga, there are hiking paths that lead to the top, past an abandoned settlement and through a landscape of olive, walnut, mulberry and fir trees. Fragrant herbs and wildflowers fill your senses and the views are breathtaking. You might even witness a paraglider taking off from Ano Verga (or perhaps even be tempted to try it out with a trained instructor). One way or another, you won’t want to miss the sunset over the Messinian Bay. A little lower, Kato Verga is a great spot for sunset cocktails and dinner.  

Fill up on history at Ancient Messene

Ancient Messene (about 30km from Kalamata) was a sleepy valley until a few decades ago when excavations unearthed a theatre, stadium, agora and other remains of one of the best-preserved ancient cities in Greece. A tour of Ancient Messene will reveal the secrets of the city that flourished in the 4th century BC and its formidable neighbours, the Spartans.

Ancient Messini

Other remains at Ancient Messene include sanctuaries, temples, statues, springs and dwellings of a city famous for having a symmetrical grid system known as the Hippodamian plan. is one of the finest examples of its kind (almost 100m long and holding 10,000 spectators) and the well-preserved stadium has 18 rows of seats and Doric stoas. Around 500m from the entrance, the Archaeological Museum has exhibits of finds that include statues of Hermes, Artemis Laphria and Isis Pelagia and works by the sculptor Damophon.

Tip: You can also explore the countryside around Ancient Messene, on foot or on an E-bike tour.

E-Bike Tour Ancient Messene Way

Get active in and around Kalamata

There’s no excuse for not getting active during your holidays in Kalamata. So next on your things to do list is an Electric Mountain Biking excursions within the city and in the surrounding countryside where you head through olive groves and onto the lower slopes of Mount Kalathi. 

e-biking in Kalamata

Alternatively, you can explore bays, coves and sea caves on a sea kayak excursion in the Messinian Bay. There are organised trips for all levels of experience and all members of the family. Another option is a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or snorkelling trip … all with the added attraction of leaving a zero carbon footprint. 

Organise a day trip from Kalamata

The last of your things to do in Kalamata is to add an activity or day trip to your holiday plans. The gorges of Polylimnio and Neda have beautiful walking trails and waterfalls (if you’re feeling really adventurous, there are even canyoning and zipline experiences in Polylimnio). And speaking of adventure, how about exploring the UNESCO-protected Byzantine castle town of Mystras (55km away). Now that’s a view! You can combine your trip with a visit to the villages of Artemisia or Alagonia on Mt Taygetos, between Mystras and Kalamata.

Fantastic coastal settlements include Kardamyli and Limeni on the Mani peninsula (perfect for sea kayaking and hiking), as well as the towns of Koroni and Methoni (also ideal for sea kayaking and famous for their Venetian-era castles). And the mountain villages of Agoriani, Vytina and Dimitsana are fantastic options. The lake and wetlands of Kaiafas are important for local biodiversity. And you can go sea kayaking and e-biking in Navarino Bay. Finally, if you’re in the mood for more culture, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius in Bassae was the very first of the UNESCO sites in Greece. All are within easy reach of Kalamata by car.

Best things to do in Kalamata

Kalamata has so much to offer all year round. The beaches in and around the city offer the best of the Greek summer, while the mountains and coastline are ideal for activities in spring and autumn. As for the famous Kalamata olives... they're available all year round. So no excuses! Whenever you feel like visiting, Kalamata is ready to welcome you.

7 Exciting outdoor activities near Kalamata

FAQs about Kalamata

  • Versallies: More than just a traditional taverna or restaurant, Versallies offers delicious meals reminiscent of home-cooked food. The menu changes frequently, drawing inspiration from local culinary traditions and seasonal ingredients.
  • Kardamo: Kardamo Comfort Cuisine blends traditional and upscale Greek gastronomy with unique dishes served in a refined but warm atmosphere.
  • Thiasos: True to its ouzerie or tsipouradiko style, Thiasos is a popular meeting spot for locals to enjoy a tsipouro or ouzo and the house speciality … roast piglet with crackling.
  • Nikitas Souvlaki: Lauded by locals as one of the best places for souvlaki in Kalamata. The unique flavour comes from the use of extra virgin olive oil and a special marinade, complemented by speedy, friendly service.
  • Souvlaki Panagiotis: Renowned for its freshly made pita with souvlaki, made with prime meat and yogurt seasoned with Fleur de Sel sea salt from Mani and hand-picked oregano from Mount Taygetos.
  • Zaxaroplasteio Skiada: A traditional sweet shop on Ypapantis Street whose galaktoboureko (custard pie with filo pastry and sugar syrup) is famous around Greece.
  • Oinopantapoleio Chrysomallis: A landmark of the city, which opened as a grocery store in 1958 and quickly transformed into a wine shop and taverna with a reputation for constantly evolving.
  • Ou Blexeis Rakomeze: Relaxed and open-hearted meze restaurant with an atmosphere from an old black and white Greek movie … just in colour.
  • Secada: An all-day ‘beach and resto bar’ on Navarinou Street by the seafront, with seafood and high-end and imaginative bites and more.
  • Notias: Excellent seafood and meze in a wonderful location, by the Kalamata marina.
  • O Mylos: A traditional taverna about 20km outside Kalamata, serving hearty food and built around a water feature that gives it a special atmosphere.
  • Ego: An all-day beach bar & restaurant on Navarinou Street, with cocktails, coffee and creative bites, perfect to combine with a day on the beach.
  • Luna Lounge: Conveniently located and with ample seating for all occasions. The ambiance is enhanced by an extensive collection of wines and spirits, paired with a varied menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 
  • DOC: A quaint wine bar tucked away in a corner of the square opposite the old railway station, DOC boasts an impressive wine selection.
  • Kastraki Meteοro: A must-visit locale in Kalamata, with a stunning view at sunset and fantastic cocktails that make it an unforgettableexperience. With a wide variety of food and snack options.
  • Bistroteca: A popular locale that stands out with its relaxed atmosphere, tasteful decor, and cozy corners. Perfect for quiet coffee dates or people-watching.
  • Le Jardin:  Known for its boho atmosphere and impeccable cocktails, by the beach on Navarinou Street. 
     
  • Afon Lambou: A confectionery shop founded by six brothers in the 1950s, famous for its sweets and ice cream.
  • Philippos: Established in 1958 and the place to go for pasteli and other nut and seed bars.
  • Polyfimos: Specialists in cheeses, including sfela, graviera, kefalotiri and saganaki Messinias
  • Allantika Oikonomakos: Specialists in charcuterie in a quiet side in street Kalamata’s old town, including locally produced sausages and pasto.
  • Aroma Manis: A pasta factory using the purest local ingredients, as well as traditional hilopites (egg pasta) and other types of pasta and pasta flavoured with spinach, beetroot and other vegetables.
  • Potopoiia Kostea: A family-owned company specialising in locally brewed distillates, including ouzo and tsipouro, that supplies many of the ouzeries and restaurants of Kalamata
  • Taygetos: A traditional pasta factory specialising in noodles and hilopites, as well as handmade wheat trachana and lalangia.
  • To xeiropoiito: Traditional local products made by hand (as the name of the shop translates), including olives, preserves and ‘spoon sweet’ confectionery.
  • Trofopolion 51: Specialists in local products including fantastic honey, Kalamata olives and olive products, preserves and more.
  • Gevseis Manas Gis: Tastes of Mother Nature (as the name translates), with a selection of local products as well as lalangia and diples.
  • Vryonis – To Spiti tou Agroti: A treasure trove of locally produced pulses, olives and more served by the kilo in sacks and barrels
  • Bachart: Attractively presented selection of local products, from mountain herbs to lalangia.
  • Oikogenia Poulopoulou: Specialists in pasta (hilopites, penne etc) as well as diples and other delicacies.

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Explore Messinia
Explore Messinia
Outdoor activities & adventure specialists

Explore Messinia are outdoor activities & adventure experts in Kalamata and the Messinia region of the Peloponnese, providing guests with authentic and intimate activity trips and multi-day adventures. Activities includes sea kayaking, canyoning, E-biking, stand-up paddling, river trekking, hiking and rafting.

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