Well, BlueVillas Founder Christos Gkekas had a tour this summer exploring the wild beauty of Peloponnese, so we grasped the chance to learn from him all the juicy details about this hidden destination.
Q. What places did you visit?
Well, we had a roundtrip of the Peloponnese area to see as much as we could. Our first stop was Ancient Olympia and then we continued to Messinia to visit Kalamata, Kardamyli, Limeni, Gerolimenas, Agios Nikolaos, and Monemvasia. Then on our way back, we stayed at Nafplio and Epidaurus before returning to Athens.
Q. It is known that Peloponnese has many historical monuments and cultural sights. Which one was your favorite and why?
Peloponnese hosts some of the most important and well-preserved historical monuments of Greek ancient history. The Ancient Olympia - the birthplace of the Olympic Games - and Mycenae are undoubtedly awe-aspiring, carrying the history and glory of Ancient Greece. Of course, we should not forget the Mystras, a byzantine heritage site of high importance. However, my favorite was the Epidaurus theatre! It’s not only the most ancient theatre in the world but it still operates, hosting ancient drama plays or musical performances. I can’t think of another cultural center that combines the ancient and modern world better than this.
Q. Was there something that amazed you?
Food! Ok, so forget the classic gyros, Greek salad, and moussaka. Here, we got traditional homecooked dishes with local and organic products and vegetables. Olive oil, cheese pies, cured pork with herbs, eggplants, oranges, and honey are the main ingredients. The most popular dish to try is Kagianas, similar to scrambled eggs but made with grated fresh tomatoes and sausage.
Q. Are there any activities that you recommend?
The entire area offers a magnificent natural landscape that is perfect to explore on foot. For the more active travelers, I recommend hiking at mount Taygetos or cycling to gorgeous routes along the coast. Personally, I rent an e-bike to cycle the scenic, coastal route that connects Stoupa with the Agios Nikolaos area – the most known in Mani and then I visited the nearby remote villages located at the mountain’s base, a lovely route of approximately 40km. As for those that want something less energetic, you should try a wine or olive oil tasting as the entire Peloponnese produces some of the best local products.
Q. What’s been your most memorable experience?
Hmm… It’s hard to pick one. I’d maybe say the visit to the Monemvasia castle and the byzantine churches, but I also loved the serene vibes of the nearby villages. Especially at dusk when the lights were beginning to light and the waves were rocking the fishing boats at the bay, a magical moment! Also, the many old monasteries with wall paintings of saints fascinated me.
Q. Do you think Peloponnese is an uprising summer destination that most visitors ignore?
Absolutely! It’s not promoted as much as the Greek islands, which I think it’s unfair, as it is equally beautiful and offers visitors the chance to see an alternate version of Greece. It’s a version that you will not come across on social media – with the lively beach bars and fancy restaurants - but rather the one you see in the old black and white movies like ‘Zorbas the Greek’ that emit a more authentic atmosphere. That’s what you’ll find in Peloponnese: local people, Greek music and food, and a traditional way of living.
And what about the beaches? Didn’t you miss the popular, sandy beaches of the Greek islands?
Trust me, Peloponnese has some exotic beaches that can easily rival those of the Caribbean Sea! Pebbled or sandy, organized or totally secluded bays, all of them with emerald waters and verdant surroundings, a raw beauty that will seduce you. Foneas, Delphinia, Voidokilia, and Kalogria beaches are just a few of them and don’t forget Elafonisos! Need to say more?
Q. So, who should visit Peloponnese?
I think that everyone who has been at least once in Greece must have a tour of the Peloponnese to have a holistic experience of what Greek life truly is. Also, it is a great destination for those seeking a destination off the beaten path, full of exploration, activities, and serene, picturesque villages away from the crowds.
Contact us to plan your trip to Peloponnese and help you find the perfect vacation villa!