Things To Do In The Peloponnese
There are many things to do in The Peloponnese, most of them involving historical, mythical and traditional stories. Many of the stories you might already know of (remember the movie Troy?) and others you will learn. But every place is sure to leave you mystified and filled with wonderment. Since the Peloponnese region is surrounded by water, many of the sites overlook the sea and give you stunning views. The region is also quite vast, so you will come across many pretty little villages along the way and each of them will make you want to stop and click!
The Corinth Canal is what separates the Peloponnese from its Greek mainland. It is a very narrow canal, with steep walls on both sides, making it impassable for most of today’s modern ships. The colour of the water is out of the world and is a sight for sore eyes. A few tourist boats pass through the canal and it is definitely a nice way to experience this beautiful man-made structure. It was constructed in the late 19th century. It is located about 1 hour from Athens and makes for a grand first stop, as you enter the Peloponnese.
Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
Known as the perfect theatre for acoustics and aesthetics, this ancient theatre was constructed in the 4th century BCE and is still very well preserved. The acoustics that it is famous for can still be experienced. There is a particular spot in the middle of the stage on which if you stand and whisper, even people from higher rows can hear you. It was built as part of a healing centre, as Drama was considered a form of therapy.
Near the town of Sparta (Sparti) is the archaeological site of Mystras – an entire town built on the slopes of a hill with the Castle at the very top. The climb from the bottom right up to the top will take about 3-4 hours depending on your fitness level and how much time you spend exploring the ruins and monuments along the way.
There is also an entry/exit point higher up – so you could also start from there, climb up to the Palace for its epic views and then hike down all the way to the museum. Make sure you have an overall of 6 hours of daylight to visit the place, so you don’t have to hurry at any point.
Mycenae was once home of the legendary figure –King Agamemnon, famous in the story of Troy. His kingdom was one of the most powerful in all of Greece during the second millennium BCE. You can climb the hilltop and get a bird eyes view of how the city might have once been. There is also a small museum at the bottom. Also, quite near the archaeological site of Mycenae, is what is believed to be the Tomb of Agamemnon and should also be visited.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius
A UNESCO world heritage site, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius is located at the Bassae archaeological site. It is one of the most well-preserved temples in all of Greece, dedicated to the God - Apollo. It was built around 420 and 400 BCE with Doric-style columns in its outer ring and Corinthian style in the centre. The site of Bassae was always a sacred place and had many other temples as well, not much of them remain today. The scenic location of the temple, at the top of a hill, amidst lush mountainous landscape, is another reason why this temple should not be missed.
This here is where the Olympic Games started and took place for over 1100 years. As a tradition, the Olympic flame is still lit here even today. The ancient city now lies in ruins, due to destruction by Theodosius II and various earthquakes over the years, but it is still exciting to see whatever remains of the Roman Temples, Baths, Gymnasium and other buildings. You can easily spend between 3 to 4 hours here. Next to the archaeological site is also a museum which houses some unique antiques and gives you an overview of the history of Ancient Olympia.
In the quaint seaside town of Nafplio, on top of a hill, is the Palamidi Fortress, built by Venetians in the 16th century. There are 8 bastions in the fortress, currently named after Greek leaders like Leonidas, Achilles, Agios Andreas and others. One side of the fortress overlooks the city while one side overlooks the beautiful Argolic Gulf and makes for stunning pictures. Don’t miss out on visiting the prison area, where you can go down into the cell where Theodoros Kolokotronis, once a hero of the Greek revolution, was held prisoner.
Diros cave is a beautiful natural phenomenon, located near the small town of Aeropoli. There are buses to the cave or it can be reached by taxi or private vehicles. The caves were inhabited since Neolithic times. The stalactites and stalagmites formations are quite stunning. The best part is that you get to experience this cave through a boat! The boat takes you through the maze underground. The scenery outside of the cave exit is also quite spectacular – blue water and rocky hills.