The Peloponnese is one of my favourite areas in Greece. This guide will show you what to see and things to do in Peloponnese Greece.
The Peloponnese region in Greece
Few areas in Greece are quite as geographically diverse and archaeologically rich as the Peloponnese. The southernmost part of mainland Greece, the Peloponnese is a self-contained peninsula separated from mainland Greece by the man-made Corinth Canal.
I've cycled around the Peloponnese, lazed for weeks on beaches, and taken several road trips. I've still barely scratched the surface though!
This travel guide acts as an introduction to the region, and lists all my relevant blog posts toward the end. It's a great starting point if you're planning your own holidays to Peloponnese.
This map of the Peloponnese shows the cycling route I took, and gives you a good idea of the shape of the region. Due to its location near Athens, and circular shape, the Peloponnese is the perfect destination for a road trip.
A Brief History of the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese was said to have been named after Pelops, an ancient king. The word “Peloponnese” means “the island of Pelops” and, technically, you could actually argue that it is an island.
The Peloponnese has constantly been inhabited since prehistoric times. It was dominated by the Mycenaean civilization during the Bronze Age, and was home to the first Olympic Games in 776 BC.
It was always one of the most important regions in Ancient Greece, and was involved in many wars, like the Peloponnesian War, the Persian Wars etc.
Peloponnese Occupation and Liberation
Over the last two millennia, the Peloponnese became a Roman and later Byzantine province, but was also raided by Slavs, Arabs, the Franks, the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks in the 14th century.
After the Greek War of Independence which started in 1821, the Peloponnese was one of the first areas that was included in independent Greece. The picturesque city of Nafplion then became the first capital of the newly founded country, until the status was transferred to Athens.
Best Places to visit in Peloponnese
Due to its rich history, the Peloponnese is full of ancient and historic monuments. Five of these have achieved UNESCO World Heritage status. I've not worked it out mathematically, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Peloponnese had the highest density of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world!
Some of the most important places to see in the Peloponnese include Mycenae, Olympia, Epidaurus, Corinth, Nemea, Messene, Mystras, Monemvasia, Methoni and Koroni castles, and Nestor’s palace. More about these important places in the Peloponnese toward the bottom of this travel guide!
Best Beaches in Peloponnese
At the same time, the Peloponnese is home to some of the best beaches in Greece. Apart from the most famous ones, such as Voidokilia, Finikounda and Simos, there are literally hundreds of beaches dotted around the peninsula.
Beaches such as Kalogria, Pori, Kyllini, Mavrovouni, Kyparissia, Elea and Foneas should be on your itinerary.
Skiing in the Peloponnese
It’s not all about beaches, however. The inland Peloponnese is really mountainous, with quite a few mountains standing taller than 2,000 metres. As such, it is an ideal destination for off-season travelling, winter breaks and even skiing.
Wine-making is very popular in the area, and there are several wineries you can visit, many of which are located in the Nemea region.
What to see in Peloponnese
In terms of cities, you could consider stopping by Patras and Kalamata for a day or two, even if it’s just for the museums.
Sparta, the once important city-state, is actually a small provincial town. You can easily see it in a couple of hours, but it's not exactly a deal-breaker if you don’t.
Nafplio is definitely worth it, but it’s a popular destination and as such it can get quite busy. You can choose to stay overnight or take a day trip from Athens to Nafplio.
When to visit the Peloponnese in Greece
For all these reasons, and as it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from Athens, the Peloponnese is an ideal all-year-round destination.
Unlike some of Greece’s most famous destinations, like Santorini or Mykonos, the majority of the areas in the Peloponnese have not been affected by mass tourism, so you are likely to have a more authentic experience.
Getting around the Peloponnese
The best way to get around the Peloponnese is by car, as you will have flexibility. You should also note that many of the beaches and archaeological sites cannot be easily reached by public transportation.
Driving around the Peloponnese is fairly straightforward, as there are some fantastic new highways . Sadly these also come with fairly frequent and expensive tolls!
The local road network is quite easy to navigate with the help of Google maps or a GPS. Furthermore, if you choose to go to the Peloponnese instead of the islands, you won’t need to rely on boats or planes, which can be a source of frustration for some visitors.
Of course, my preferred mode of transport is the bicycle. You can read about my experiences cycling around the Peloponnese. It's not for everyone though!
My Peloponnese Travel Guides
I've written a few travel guides to different areas of the Peloponnese in Greece. These include some Peloponnese road trip ideas, my cycle tour of the Peloponnese, and individual guides. You can go through to each one of the Peloponnese blog posts for more travel tips and details.
How to get from Athens Airport to Patras in Greece
Patras is the largest city in the Peloponnese, and a destination for people seeking to catch ferries to Greek islands. This guide shows how to get to Patras from Athens, but can also be used to get to the Peloponnese peninsula to visit other destinations.
Peloponnese Tour : A 2 Day Road Trip for Peloponnese Sightseeing
There's no way that I'm saying 2 days is enough time to take a road trip in the Peloponnese! However, I was once asked to drive some people for a quick trip to Olympia and back from Athens. Here's how that short road trip went!
Peloponnese Road Trip Itinerary - See the best places in the Southern Peloponnese, Greece
This Peloponnese road trip itinerary is a little more like it! Including stops off at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beaches in the Peloponnese, and other significant places of interest, this Peloponnese road trip itinerary is a good starting point to planning your own.
The Labours of Hercules Bike Tour of the Peloponnese in Greece
The Peloponnese in Greece is a popular destination for cyclists. I've cycled there a few times myself now, the last occasion being a month long bike tour of the Peloponnese. If you're planning to cycle around the Peloponnese, make sure to read this guide first!
Mycenae - Explore Ancient Greece with Dave's Travel Pages
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must see in the Peloponnese. The main city of a civilisation that held sway throughout the Mediterannean during the Bronze Age, Mycenae is a place where Greek Myths come to life!
Mystras - Byzantine Castle Town and UNESCO Site in Greece
Mystras is the UNESCO World Heritage site in Greece no one has heard of! It's a shame, because it's a fascinating place to explore, and gives a greater insight into the Byzantine history of Greece.
Koroni and Methoni Castle, Greece - The Eyes of Venice in the Peloponnese
Whilst everyone focuses on the Ancient Greek past of the Peloponnese, few realise that it also has a rich Venetian legacy. This is present in what I consider to be some of the best castles in Europe. Read the article for more information on Methoni and Koroni castles.
Messene - Why you need to visit Ancient Messene in Greece
If not many people have heard of Mystras, then even fewer have heard of Messene. In any other country in the world, Messene would have pride of place as a major archaeological attraction, but in Greece where there's an abundance of sites, it barely gets a mention. Personally, I think it's one of the best archaeological sites in the Peloponnese.
Things to do in Patras, Greece | The Best of Patras travel guide
Well known for its Carnival celebrations, Patras is a worthy stop on any Peloponnese road trip. It's museum is particularly impressive, along with other notable attractions such as vibrant street art, churches, and incredible food.
Tiryns and Lerna in Greece - Hercules Bike Tour Day 3
If you plan to spend a day or two in Nafplion, visiting Tiryns should certainly be on your list of things to do in the Peloponnese. Combined with Mycenae, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in some ways, perhaps more impressive that its more well known partner.
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