Peloponnese is a peninsula in southern Greece. Once a peninsula connected to the rest of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth, it is now cut off from the mainland by the narrow Corinth Canal, spanned by bridges connecting Peloponnese to Attica across the canal.
Upon entering through Corinth Isthmos
- 1 Loutraki — A quiet resort, with very good hotels, a beach and a casino.
- 2 Corinth — A nondescript port town. Can serve as a base for Mycenae. Some miles away the ancient Corinth, with the ruins of one of the first civilizations of Greece.
Along the north-west route:
- 3 Patra — Pretty nondescript city, the third largest city in Greece. Main point of arrival for ferries from Italy and Ionian islands.
- 4 Ancient Olympia — Birthplace of the Olympics.
- 5 Amaliada —
- 6 Elafonisos
- 7 Kyparissia — A nice town in the centre of Kyparissian Gulf.
- 8 Pylos — Very picturesque city in the southwest. Many French-style buildings, as well as a marina and a gloriously shady square.
- 9 Methoni — A seaside town south of Pylos. Its main feature is a spectacularly positioned and well preserved castle, which contains both Venetian and Ottoman elements. The town itself is also pleasingly old, and there is a small but delightful beach near the castle.
- 10 Koroni — About 30 minutes drive further on from Finikounda is Koroni, a fishing village which snuggles beneath its great Venetian fortress that overlooks the beautiful harbourfront with pavement cafes and fish restaurants with fresh local produce and authentic Greek cuisine. Just before Koroni is the beautiful Zaga unspoilt beach and beyond are many other beaches.
- 11 Kalamata — Main city of Messinia Province. Famous for its olives but also a pleasant city with an attractive seafront and stylish new marina.
Along the central route:
- 12 Nemea — A typical town of the area, hosting interesting ancient and Byzantine monuments.
- 13 Tripoli — The center of the administrative area, the third biggest.
- 14 Ano Doliana — Small and scenic mountainous village, with beautiful views of the Tripoli plateau and the surrounding region. Almost deserted by its settlers during winter and revived during summer.
- 15 Sparta — This historic city has a population of 10,000. It has two main arteries which make navigation really easy. To the west of the City is the beautiful, rugged Mt. Taygetos.
- 16 Mystras — The Byzantine city of Mystras is a short 15-minute ride from Sparta. This has relics worthy of a visit.
- 17 Gytheion — A small fishing village. Nice seafood restaurants with plenty of beaches in the area mostly frequented by locals. Nearby Caves of Dyros is a large limestone cave system which is toured on a boat. Here you will find the point where Helen of Troy is said to have started the Trojan War. "The woman who launched a thousand ships."
Along the east route:
- 18 Argos — One of the oldest cities of Europe, Argos boasts some ancient ruins including an amphitheater, as well as a medieval castle.
- 19 Nafplio — A good base to explore surrounding area which includes Epidaurus theater and Mycenae.
- 20 Spetses —
- 21 Poros —
- 22 Hydra —
- 23 Tolo —
- 24 Epidaurus — A picturesque seaside village, nearby one of the most famous ancient theaters. Catch an ancient play in the summertime.
- 25 Leonidio — A typical well preserved old town of the area
- 26 Kyparissi — A small (population approx. 400), beautiful village, combining sea and mountains. Ideal for mountain ramblers.
- 27 Monemvassia — The Rock of Gibraltar of Greece. Really pretty with an ancient walled city.
- 28 Methana
Along the west route:
- Kalo Nero Kyparissia - Today, the village has developed into a well-organised tourist resort with all the necessary comforts, as taverns, apartments, cafe-bars and nice beaches. Family hotel Irida Resort in Paralia, is a cultural oasis in Kalo Nero's most successful tourism resort.
- Gialova - An exceptionally pretty fishing village near Pylos in the Southwest. There are a couple of nice hotels to stay in, as well as an excellent campsite. The village also boasts several fine eateries, none of which are too expensive.
- Finikounda - A smaller town about 10 minutes drive from Methoni. It is a little more touristy, but does offer wonderful beaches and some nice tavernas.
Along the central route:
- Loussios Valey - the cradle of the Greek independence revolution, surrounded by beautiful villages and historic sites.
- Mani - the southeastern tip of continental Europe, one of the most harsh places of Peloponnese during historic times, now hosting many interesting villages, views and beaches.
Along the east route: Porto Heli, a seaside resort area
From the 6th century BC, Sparta dominated the Peloponnese, and compelled its neighbours, including Arcadia, to join its Peloponnesian League and fight in its wars. The Spartan military dominance that enabled this interference in Arcadian affairs was suddenly ended in 371 BC, when Epaminondas and his Theban army decisively defeated a Spartan army at Leuctra. In the aftermath, the Arcadian League was formed, combining various cities of Arcadia into a federal league. After its establishment, the Arcadian League took an active role in the politics of the Peloponnese. However, by 362 BC, the question of whether to continue as an ally of Thebes had become so pressing as to divide the Arcadian League. The cities of the league therefore ended up fighting on different sides at the Battle of Mantinea. After the battle, and the end of the Theban hegemony, the influence of the Arcadian League diminished. Although it never regained the prominence it had held during the 360s, an Arcadian league in some form—whether a continuation or a recreation of the original league is unclear—continued to exist in the years after the Battle of Mantinea. Various references indicate that the league endured at least into the 3rd century BC. The date of its final disappearance is uncertain, but at the latest it had vanished by the 230s BC, when the Arcadian cities joined the Achaean League.
After the collapse of the Roman power in the west, Arcadia became part of the Byzantine Empire. Arcadia remained a rustic, secluded area, and its inhabitants became proverbial as primitive herdsmen leading simple pastoral unsophisticated yet happy lives, to the point that Arcadia may refer to some imaginary idyllic paradise, immortalized by Virgil's Eclogues, and later by Jacopo Sannazaro in his pastoral masterpiece, Arcadia (1504). After the fourth crusade, the area became a part of the Principality of Achaea. In the mid-15th century, the region fell into the hands of the Ottoman Turks with some exceptions in the 16th century for a couple of years. The Latin phrase Et in Arcadia ego which is usually interpreted to mean "I am also in Arcadia" or "I am even in Arcadia" is an example of memento mori, a cautionary reminder of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. The phrase is most often associated with a 1647 painting by Nicolas Poussin, also known as "The Arcadian Shepherds". In the painting the phrase appears as an inscription on a tomb discovered by youthful figures in classical garb.
After 400 years of occupation by the Ottomans, Arcadia was the centre of the Greek War of Independence which saw victories in their battles including one in Tripoli. After a victorious revolutionary war, Arcadia was finally incorporated into a newly created Greek state. Arcadia saw economic growth and small emigration. In the 20th century, Arcadia experienced extensive population loss through emigration, mostly to the Americas. Many Arcadian villages lost almost half their inhabitants, and fears arose that they would turn into ghost towns. Arcadia now has a smaller population than Corinthia.
The climate consists of hot summers and mild winters in the eastern part, the southern part, the low lying areas and the central area at altitudes lower than 1,000 m. The area primarily receives rain during fall and winter months in the rest of Arcadia. Winter snow occurs commonly in the mountainous areas for much of the west and the northern part, the Taygetus area, the Mainalon.
- Please see this section at the country level for a full discussion
Greek is spoken in this region, as are the usual foreign languages like English or German to cater to tourists.
- From Athens, by car or bus; having a car allows occasional stops that are worth along the way to most parts of Peloponnese. Nafplio is a 2-hr ride, Sparta about 4 hr, Patras about 2½ hr, Kalamata about 3 hr 45 min (3 hr on the nonstop express bus).
- From Athens, by train, using a Proastiakos Athens (Athens suburban) train, running from Athens International Airport all along the north route to Kiato and Aigio and even Patras through a bus correspondence (with the same ticket).
- From Athens, by ferry from Piraeus port to the Saronic islands of Poros or Hydra or Spetses. For accessing the mainland using the same ferry one can get off at the port of Methana or Galatas (through Poros town) or Costa. There are car rental agencies also there.
- From Western Greece / Ipiros to Patras through the Rio - Antirio bridge.
- To the port of Patras there many ferries daily from Italy and Ionian Islands.
Usually car or KTEL bus. If the timetable is convenient, the train can sometimes offer a comfortable and cheaper alternative. As of Jan 2011, it was cancelled for all lines, except for the north line Athens to Kiato to Patras.
Ancient and historic sites
- Ancient Corinth. The relics of the famous town where St Paul lived and taught for quite some time. Nearby is the castle of Acrocorinthos and the opposing Penteskoyfi.
- Ancient Olympia: The original Olympic games were in Olympia in honor of Zeus.
- Mycenae: From the hill on which the palace was located you can see across the Argolid to the Saronic Gulf.
- Epidaurus - Ancient theatre: A small city (polis) in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. One of the greatest ancient theatres in the world.
- Nafplio It is a beautiful seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece.
- Mantineia, the relics of the ancient town
- Epicurious Apollo Temple, in the mid west area, at Bassae — a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the temple is in a fragile condition it is covered under an enormous tent to protect if from the forces of weather.
- Villa of Herodes Atticus, ancient Roman villa of Herodes Atticus, on the outskirts of the community of Doliana.
- Pylos : A large bay and a town on the west coast of the Peloponnese.
- The historic villages of Lousios river valley. On northwestern Arcadia. The most famous is Dimitsana. It was built on the ruins of the ancient town Teuthis. All took part in the Greek revolution in 1821.
- Patras roman relics and the relevant museum.
- Chlemoutsi medieval castle on the northwest.
- Corinth Canal : The builders dug the canal through the Isthmus at sea level. It is 6.3 km (3.9 mi) in length and was built between 1881 and 1893.
- Diros Cave, near the homonym town in Mani, Laconia, Greece.
- Ladon River: Rivers were personified and credited with wooing nymphs and human maidens and fathering children.
- Lousios and Neda river valleys
- Rack-and-pinion railway, Diakofta-Calavrita
- Porto Kayo, the southern tip of Europe
- 1 Dimitrios shipwreck (A few km east of Gythio). A shipwreck slowly rusting away on a sandy beach. Easy to be seen when coming from the west, easily overlooked when coming from the east.
- Bungy jumping into Corinth Channel:
- Zulu Bungy, ☏ , . Apr: Su 12:00-18:00; May Oct: Sa Su 12:00-18:00; Jun-Sep: Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Closed Dec-Mar.
- White-water activities.
- Komboloi (worry beads), the best being in Nafplio.
- Ceramics and sculptures from Atelier Sud art gallery near Finikounda.
- "Psistaria" or "Souvla" (meaning broiled food in general and also the broiling apparatus)
- Gourounopoula (Roasted Pig),
- Arnaki Souvlas (Roasted Lamb)
- Kontosouvli (turn-roasted pieces of pork usually)
- Pasto (smoked pork)
- Loukaniko (regional sausage with orange) from the South area
- Kokoras Krasatos or Kokoras Horiatikos (rooster in wine sauce or country-cooked rooster)
- Gida vrasti (goat stew), from the northeast area.
Any of the local production of olives (specially southwest), grapes (specially northeast) and oranges (specially northeast).
Other typical Greek foods, such as: Horiatiki Salata (mixed salad), Tyri Saganaki (fried cheese), Kokkinisto (tomato sauce stew), Tyropitakia (cheese pies), Souvlaki, Pastitsio (pasta in the oven), Gemista (stuffed vegetables) etc.
- Ouzo, (liquor)
- Tsipouro, grapes made liquor
- Agiorgitiko, white dry wine
- Mavrodafni, sweet dark red wine in the Patras area
- Moschato, sweet red wine
- Moschofilero, white dry wine
- Xinomavro, red dry wine
- Frappe (coffee)
In general Greece is quite a safe place to visit, although the notorious dangers can be found here as well: Pickpockets in the cities and larger towns and drunk fellow-tourists at nighttime.
- Stay in Nafplio and drive in radial directions to ancient sightseeing (Ancient Olympia, Epidaurus, Mycenae, Argos, Corinth, Mystra, Sparta), one destination a day.
- From the port of Kyllini in the north west of the Peloponnese, ferries serve the Ionian Islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos
- From the port of Patras there many ferries daily to Italy
- From Kythera island there are boats to Crete every few days.