The Ultimate Greek Getaway: Monemvasia, Gythio, and Kardamyli

O que fazer em Lacónia, Peloponeso - Grécia.
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2024-01-08

Located in the heart of the Peloponnese, the region of Laconia, also known as Lacedaemonia, is a well-kept secret awaiting discovery. With its capital in Sparta, Laconia offers a quintessential Greek getaway that promises to leave you in awe.

My sojourn in this remarkable region spanned three days, and I can genuinely say that each moment was a cherished memory. Let me take you on a journey through this extraordinary land.

Our adventure began with an exploration of the timeless Monemvasia fortress, a place where history and beauty converge.

In Gytheio, the enigmatic shipwreck took center stage, a sight that has fascinated travelers for generations.

Then, a scenic hike through the Rintomos Gorge was an embrace from Mother Nature herself. The rugged terrain gave way to serenity as I ventured closer to Kardamyli, now part of the Messenia region.

Throughout my journey, I indulged in wine tastings, reveled in exquisite accommodations, and savored the culinary delights unique to each locale. It was an odyssey of the senses, one that will forever hold a place in my heart.

In this article, I’m delighted to share with you the treasures of Laconia. From the must-see tourist attractions to hidden gems, you’ll find a curated guide to make the most of your visit.

I’ve also included recommendations for accommodations and dining in each city I visited, along with practical travel tips.

Whether you’re planning to explore Monemvasia’s historical streets, marvel at Gytheio’s shipwreck, or find solace in the natural beauty of Rintomos Gorge, I hope this guide inspires your own Laconian adventure.

Are you ready to embark on this journey? Share your thoughts, and let’s explore Laconia together!

Three-day itinerary in Laconia, Peloponnese (My Greek Getaway)

Esplanada com vista para o mar em Monemvasia.
Terrace overlooking the sea in Monemvasia.

Day 1 of My Greek Getaway: Things to See and Do in Monemvasia

This greek getaway started in Kalamata, from where we headed towards Monemvasia.

The first stop of the day was at Tsimbidis Winery to visit the cellar and wine tasting.

Wine tasting in Monemvasia

O que fazer em Lacónia, Peloponeso: uma prova de vinhos.
What to do in Laconia, Peloponnese: wine tasting.

I particularly enjoy engaging in activities that allow me to delve into the local culture.

In this case, it was all about exploring the diverse world of Monemvasia’s wine varieties.

Tsimbidis Winery, founded in 1997 in Monemvasia by Yorgos and Elli Tsimbidi, was born out of a shared dream: to revive a wine that had nearly vanished from the region – Malvasia.

Yorgos, Elli e Anastacia Tsimbidi, de Tsimbidis Winery, em Monemvasia.
Yorgos, Elli and Anastacia Tsimbidi, from Tsimbidis Winery, in Monemvasia.

On this remarkable journey, they embarked on a mission to rediscover grape varieties that had long been forgotten, including Monemvasia, Kydonitsa, Asproudi, and Mavroudi. Today, these once-forgotten treasures are lovingly cultivated by numerous vintners.

The vineyard has flourished and currently sprawls across 30 hectares of organic vineyards.

Our adventure began in the heart of wine production, where stainless steel vats, a pneumatic press, and the bottling line are diligently employed. We then ventured into the cellar, where the wines mature gracefully in oak barrels and bottles.

The culmination of our visit took us to the tasting room, where we savored a selection of wines, elegantly paired with a delightful lunch.

As our time at the vineyard drew to a close, we embarked on a 10-kilometer journey to the walled city of Monemvasia

Explore the fortress city of Monemvasia

Visitar o castelo de Monemvasia, na região de Lacónia, Grécia.
Fortress city of Monemvasia, Peloponnese (Greece).

While in Monemvasia, I had the honor of being guided by Effie Anagnopoulou, who has called Monemvasia home for the past nine years.

Effie’s expertise as an archaeologist shines through, as she was instrumental in the excavation work in the city’s upper region.

I learned that Monemvasia has 14 centuries of history, as it was created around the year 583 and to this day it has never been completely uninhabited.

Our exploration led us through the labyrinthine streets, a descent to Portelo, a quaint gateway that beckons to the sea, revealing a hidden beach.

We also climbed the ancient steps to the zenith of the fortress, where history whispers its tales.

Igreja de Hagia Sophia, em Monemvasia.
Church of Hagia Sophia in Monemvasia.

As I explored the upper city, it was as if I had stepped into a time capsule.

I found myself encircled by the remnants of ancient houses and cobblestone streets, with the Church of Hagia Sophia resplendent against the backdrop.

What made this visit truly exceptional was the serendipity of timing – as the day drew to a close, I was treated to a spectacular display of colors on the horizon.

The last rays of sunlight gracefully danced upon the sea, creating a moment of pure magic.

Where to sleep in Monemvasia?

Theophano Art Hotel, em Monemvasia.
Theophano Art Hotel, in Monemvasia.

My stay at Theophano Art Hotel, inside the Monemvasia castle, was an absolute delight!

The hotel exudes the ambiance of a museum, adorned with art pieces at every turn.

Yet, it maintains the warm, welcoming atmosphere of a family home, where everyone feels right at ease.

Among the numerous charming spots at Theophano Art Hotel, the terrace held a special place in my heart. From there, I enjoyed unobstructed views of the Mirtoan Sea.

I had the pleasure of being welcomed by the lovely Fani Zabeli, the proprietor of Theophano Art Hotel.

She shared her remarkable journey – from a career as a lawyer in Athens to her return to the ancestral family home in Monemvasia, now transformed into this lovely hotel.

Fani now devotes her heart and soul to this extraordinary place.

Terraço com vista para o mar no hotel Theophano Art Hotel, em Monemvasia.
Terrace with sea views, at the Theophano Art Hotel, in Monemvasia.

Accomodation in Monemvasia

Restaurants in Monemvasia

Chrisovoulo Restaurant and Bar, em Monemvasia.
Chrisovoulo Restaurant and Bar, in Monemvasia.

Chrisovoulo Restaurant and Bar is the perfect destination for a delectable meal paired with breathtaking views.

I embarked on a culinary adventure starting with some appetizers, including a revitalizing salad, spanakopita (a filo pastry delight brimming with spinach), and prawns accompanied by a bean cream, cherry tomatoes, and capers.

The pièce de résistance was a delicate sea bass served with parsnip cream and a heavenly beurre blanc sauce.

To round off this exquisite meal, I indulged in a heavenly dessert – lemon curd with almond crumble and a torched meringue topping. It was nothing short of amazing!

Day 2 of My Greek Getaway: Things to See and Do in Gythio (Gytheio)

O que fazer em Lacónia, Grécia: visitar a cidade de Gythio.
What to do in Laconia, Greece: visit the city of Gythio.

On the second day of our journey through Laconia in the Peloponnese, we bid farewell to Monemvasia and set our course for Gythio.

However, en route to the city, we made a fascinating detour to explore one of the region’s most extraordinary tourist attractions: the Agios Dimitrios Shipwreck, located in Selinitsa.

See Dimitrios, the boat stranded on the beach

Dimitrios shipwreck, perto de Gythio (Peloponeso)
Dimitrios shipwreck, near Gythio (Peloponnese).

Dimitrios, originally known as Klintholm, is a cargo ship constructed in Denmark in 1950.

Stretching 67 meters in length, its presence on the shores of Valtaki near Gythio has spawned several intriguing legends.

Some suggest that the vessel is haunted, while others claim that it fell victim to arson by its owners, who allegedly employed it for cigarette smuggling and sought to erase incriminating evidence.

Yet, the official account is less glamorous. On December 4, 1980, the captain of Dimitrios faced a medical emergency, leading to the ship’s docking in the port of Gythio.

Due to complications with insurance and a lack of financial resources, the crew was disbanded, leaving the ship idle at the harbor.

However, in November 1981, a storm swept in, setting the ship adrift and ultimately leading to its grounding on the beach, where it stands to this day.

Visit the center of Gythio

Gythio, na região de Lacónia (Peloponeso - Grécia).
Gythio, in the region of Laconia (Peloponnese – Greece).

Gythio has an intimate connection with the sea.

It served as the primary port for Ancient Sparta, which lies about 40 km away. Even today, fishing remains a vital industry here, second only to tourism.

When you visit, you’ll be greeted by a sprawling promenade that extends for approximately 2 km, taking you past iconic landmarks like the marina and the Gythio Lighthouse.

While in Gythio, don’t miss the opportunity to savor the famous pasteli, a local sweet delicacy crafted from sesame seeds and honey.

Try pasteli, the local sweet from Gythio

Fedra Manokalos, da Manolakos Pastry Shop em Gythio. (Lacónia - Peloponeso).
Fedra Manokalos, from Manolakos Pastry Shop in Gythio.

I visited the Manolakos Pastry Shop, where I had the privilege of the current owner, Fedra Manolakos, explaining the art of making these sweets.

This sweet tradition traces back to Fedra’s grandfather, who initiated pasteli production in 1902.

The original tools used for crafting pasteli are thoughtfully showcased in the store.

While the basic recipe involves just honey and sesame seeds, there are delightful variations that incorporate nuts like almonds and a medley of seeds, all of which are equally delightful.

Where to sleep in Gythio?

Las Hotel & SPA, em Gythio (Lacónia).
Swimming pool on the rooftop of Las Hotel & SPA, in Gythio.

I had the pleasure of staying at the Las Hotel & SPA (4 stars), and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

The rooms are spacious and cozy, the breakfast spread offers a delightful variety, there’s complimentary Wi-Fi, and their 24-hour reception ensures your needs are met anytime.

What makes it even more special is the rooftop pool bar, which treats you to breathtaking views of Gythio. It’s an experience not to be missed.

Accomodation in Gythio

Restaurants in Gythio

For a leisurely lunch on a charming terrace, my top pick is 90 Moires, not too far from Gythio’s port.

While it’s a popular spot among tourists, I was pleasantly surprised by the delicious and diverse menu. Fresh seafood is abundant, but I must admit, my personal favorite was the octopus.

Now, for dinner, we dined at 360 Roof Garden, the restaurant located within the Las Hotel and Spa, where we were staying.

This is an elegant establishment with live music and mouthwatering cuisine, and I wholeheartedly recommend it without a moment’s hesitation

Day 3 of My Greek Getaway: Things to See and Do in Kardamyli

Kardamyli, cidade à beira-mar no Peloponeso.
Kardamyli, seaside town in the Peloponnese.

On the final day of this Peloponnese itinerary in Greece, our focus shifted to exploring the Kardamyli region.

We bid farewell to Gythio, and the day commenced with a hike through the Rintomos Gorge.

Trekking in the Rintomos Gorge

O que fazer em Lacónia: percorrer o desfiladeiro de Rintomos, Kardamyli.
Rintomos Gorge, Kardamyli, Greece.

The Rintomos Gorge extends from Mount Taygetos to the coast of Santova in the Messinian Gulf.

Our journey commenced in Kalamai, where we indulged in a traditional shepherd’s breakfast.

This hearty meal featured eggs, bread, cheese, olive oil, tomatoes, and cucumbers, providing us with the necessary energy for the adventure ahead.

Following a brief overview, with the summit of Mount Taygetos in the background, and an explanation of safety guidelines, we began our descent into the gorge.

Monte Taygetos.
Mount Taygetos.

The knowledgeable guides at 2407m Outdoor Experience are true experts of the region, enabling us to fully immerse ourselves in this remarkable journey.

Every moment of the experience was truly captivating, from identifying wild asparagus and tracking the traces of small animals to exploring isolated chapels in remote locations.

The walk along a dry riverbed offered a fascinating sensory adventure, and our visit to Kardamyli Old Town was equally enchanting.

Without a doubt, this was an unforgettable highlight of our Greek adventure

Visit Gournitsa in Kardamyli: The Church of Agia Sophia

Visitar Gournitsa em Kardamyli: a Igreja de Agia Sophia.
Visit Gournitsa in Kardamyli: the Church of Agia Sophia.

The Church of Agia Sophia, arguably one of the most stunning structures erected in Mani after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, majestically overlooks one of the hills in Kardamyli.

Perched atop a rocky hill, it derives its name, Gournitsa, from the cavities in the local quarries that, when filled with rainwater, are aptly referred to as ‘gournes.’

Interestingly, the church was later christened Agia Sophia, drawing inspiration from its namesake in Istanbul. Its origins can be traced back to 1604, making it one of the oldest well-dated monuments constructed in the Peloponnese post the Ottoman conquest of the region.

In the 1700s, noble families from Kardamyli played a significant role in financing the creation of the exquisite frescoes, with their names proudly etched above the Church of Agia Sophia’s entrance.

Visit Kardamyli old Town (Skardamoula)

O que ver e fazer em Lacónia: visitar Kardamyli Old Town (a cidade antiga).
What to see and do in Laconia: visit Kardamyli Old Town (the ancient city).

The ancient city of Kardamyli is an essential fortified complex for delving into the history of the Mani region.

As one of the oldest settlements in the Peloponnese, it traces its roots back to around 1200 BC, with its first mention attributed to the legendary poet, Homer.

According to his accounts, the region held significance as a dowry offered by Agamemnon to Achilles, a pivotal episode in the well-known Trojan War.

Within Kardamyli’s old town lies the enigmatic village of Skardamoula, a cluster of abandoned fortified tower houses encircling a historic church.

These age-old structures include 18th-century Church of Agios Spiridon, a meticulously restored tower, an ancient olive press, and even a three-story building.

This area played a vital role in Greek history. In the 19th century, Kardamyli served as the stronghold of the Traupakides-Mourtzinos clan, a key contributor to the Greek Revolution of 1821.

Kardamyli stands as a well-preserved testament to its rich history. The recent restoration of the Mourtzinos Tower serves as a testament to its historical significance.

Ensure Kardamyli finds a place on your list of must-visit locations in the Peloponnese.

Restaurants in Kardamyli

When it comes to dining in Kardamyli, my top recommendation is Elies Restaurant, near Ritsa Beach.

Our lunch unfolded in a serene garden, enveloped by ancient olive trees, and serenaded by the gentle lull of the waves.

The moment you stepped inside, tantalizing aromas wafting from the kitchen greeted your senses, and the contented expressions on the faces at neighboring tables hinted at the culinary delights to come.

This dining experience held great promise, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The meal started with a refreshing array of starters featuring vegetable-based dishes, such as Tzatziki, setting the stage beautifully for the robust main courses that followed.

After a day’s worth of trekking, this hearty meal served as the perfect conclusion to the day.

As I savored the last bites of this unforgettable dining experience, I returned to Kalamata, marking the end of my remarkable greek getaway through the regions of Laconia and Messenia.

Where to sleep in Kardamyli?

O que fazer em Lacónia, Grécia: Explorara Kardamyli.
What to do in Laconia, Greece: Explore Kardamyli.

To extend your stay in Kardamyli, I suggest you check out Palataki, a studio between Kalamitsi beach and Ritsa beach and which has free private parking.

However, if you want to explore other hotel alternatives in Kardamyli, check out the link and map below.

Accomodation in Kardamyli

Must-Visit Gems on Your Greek Getaway: Exploring Laconia’s Top Tourist Attractions

Cidade Bizantina de Mystras.
Byzantine city of Mystras.

In my three-day exploration of Laconia, I had the opportunity to visit the region’s primary tourist attractions. However, there are a few remarkable places that I believe deserve a special mention, even though they were not included in this particular itinerary.

To assist you in planning your Greek adventure, here’s a concise list of must-visit places in Laconia:

  • The enchanting fortress city of Monemvasia.
  • The historic archaeological site of Mystras (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • The picturesque coastal town of Gythio.
  • Areopoli, renowned as the birthplace of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
  • The charming fishing village of Limeni.
  • Vathia, an ancient fortress city that was once abandoned and is now being revitalized.

These places collectively capture the essence and beauty of Laconia, offering a diverse range of experiences to enrich your greek getaway journey.

Top Restaurants and Must-Try Dishes in Laconia, Peloponnese for Your Greek Getaway

Taverna 90 Moires, em Gythio, Lacónia (Peloponeso - Grécia).
Taverna 90 Moires, in Gythio, Laconia (Peloponnese – Greece).

Throughout this article, I’ve already shared my experiences with various restaurants and the dishes that left a lasting impression during my greek getaway journey across the Peloponnese.

To offer some additional insights that may assist you in your travel planning, here are a few general notes about dining in Laconia:

  • Tourist-Friendly Menus: Restaurants in Laconia are well-prepared to cater to tourists, often offering menus in English.
  • Dish of the Day: Many Greek restaurants feature a daily special. Not only is this option often more budget-friendly, but it also allows you to savor a typical regional dish.
  • Leisurely Dining: Dining in the Peloponnese is a leisurely affair. Plan for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours for each meal, as it’s meant to be savored.
  • Coastal vs. Inland Cuisine: In seaside towns and cities, you’ll find fresh and reasonably priced fish and seafood. Inland regions tend to offer heartier meat-based dishes.
  • Dessert Delight: While Greeks may not typically have coffee after a meal, they rarely turn down dessert, so be sure to indulge.

These notes can enhance your dining experiences while exploring this beautiful region.

Is it worth visiting the Laconia region, in the Peloponnese (Greece)?

O que fazer em Lacónia, Grécia: Prova de Vinhos em Monemvasia.
Best Things to do in Laconia, Greece: Wine tasting in Monemvasia.

Yes, undoubtedly, a visit to the Laconia region in the Peloponnese is an experience well worth embarking on!

This remarkable area seamlessly blends the lush green of the mountains with the captivating blue of the sea.

It beckons you to spend your days hiking through the forest and then unwinding on near-deserted beaches.

Charming towns and villages dot the landscape, many with deep-rooted connections to the cultivation of Greece’s iconic products, like olive oil and wine.

Furthermore, Laconia stands out as a safe haven for solo travelers and families alike, with friendly locals and a culinary scene that’s nothing short of delightful.

So, is it safe to say that you’re now convinced that a journey to Laconia, Greece, is a must?

What is the relationship between the word “laconic” and the region of Laconia, in Greece?

Pequena igreja isolada no desfiladeiro de Rintomos.
Small isolated church in the Rintomos gorge.

This is an interesting story that contrasts Sparta with Athens, since lacónico means a person of few words.

So the story is this: in Classical Antiquity, the city of Athens was for a long time Sparta’s main rival.

Athens was known for philosophy and the study of language, while Sparta was a city of warriors, men and women of action and few words.

In other words, the region of Laconia is the land of men of arms and few words.

Practical guide to plan your greek getaway to the Laconia region

Aeroporto de Kalamata.
Kalamata Airport.

How to Reach Laconia, Greece

When planning your greek getaway the Laconia region, you have two primary airport options: Kalamata Airport and Athens Airport.

While Kalamata Airport is the closest to Laconia, it offers fewer direct flight options from European cities and the United States.

Thus, you might want to consider flying into Athens Airport, where you can conveniently rent a car and drive to Laconia.

In my case, I booked a budget-friendly flight from Porto, Portugal, to Stockholm.

After spending two delightful days exploring Stockholm, I took a direct Aegean flight to Kalamata Airport, all at a cost of less than €100.

Surprisingly, including Stockholm as a stopover turned out to be a more cost-effective choice compared to flying directly from Porto to Athens or Kalamata.

Consequently, I recommend researching various flight options to determine the most advantageous route for your journey to this region of Greece.

Public transport and car rental in Greece for your greek getaway

Transportes públicos ou alugar carro em Lacónia, Grécia.
Effortless Exploration: Navigating Greece with Public Transport or Car Rentals.

The best way to get to know Greece is, without a doubt, by rental car.

Of course, there is public transport, especially buses, but they are only convenient for traveling between large cities.

I traveled in a group and recognize that it would be impossible to do this route by public transport, so I recommend that you book your rental car.

And you know, the sooner you book the car, the better chances of getting good prices.

I use and recommend Discovercars which, in my opinion, has the best prices for car rental in Greece.

How many days to visit Laconia, Greece?

On this particular trip I stayed for 3 days, which allowed me to visit three important cities, namely Monemvasia, Gythio and Kardamyli.

However, I had been to Kalamata before, that is, I stayed in this region of the Peloponnese for about a week.

Therefore, I believe that 8-10 days is the ideal time to explore this region of Greece in a relaxed way.

Best time to visit Laconia region?

Melhor altura para visitar a região da Lacónia, Grécia: Monemvasia em maio.
Best time to visit the Laconia region, Greece: Monemvasia in May.

For those who like visiting beaches, the hot months from June to September are the best times for your Greek getaway to the Laconia region.

On the other hand, if your idea is to explore forest parks and go trekking, October is a good time to do so.

I traveled in May, which allowed me to have good weather to go to the beach, a decent amount of tourists and enjoy the pleasant nights of the Peloponnese

What is the climate like in the Laconia region?

Visitar Gythio na Primavera (maio).
Visit Gythio in Spring (May).

The hottest month in Laconia is July and the coldest month is January, but the hot season lasts from the end of May until mid-September.

It is also important to note that winters are mild, with average temperatures of 16º, meaning it is a reasonable time of year to travel with fewer tourists and very acceptable prices.

As I mentioned before, I traveled in May and the weather was perfect: warm enough to go to the beach and pleasant for walking.

Is it safe to travel alone in Laconia?

Viajar sozinha na região de Lacónia, Peloponeso (Grécia).
Traveling alone in the Laconia region, Peloponnese (Greece).

Even though I traveled in a group in the Laconia region, I have no doubts in saying that it is safe to travel alone in this area of Greece.

In fact, I traveled alone in both Kalamata and Thessaloniki, and at no point did I feel unsafe.

In general, people are friendly and attentive, even when they don’t speak English, since I don’t speak Greek.

According to official sources, the crime rate in the Peloponnese is very low and the safety rate is very high.

Therefore, the probability of being robbed or having your car stolen is very low.

The same applies to safety at night, as, with the necessary precautions, it is safe to walk alone on the street at night.

Health insurance for visiting Greece

Fazer trekking em Kardamyli.
Trekking in Kardamyli.

Traveling to Greece is an incredible experience, but ensuring your safety and well-being during your Greek getaway is essential.

Thus, in the case of Greece, all residents and visitors, including those from the Schengen Area, must have health insurance, whether public or private.

Without it, it is not possible to receive medical care.

Although the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is recognized in Greece, it is important to know that long waiting times and communication barriers can arise when seeking medical assistance.

Therefore, I recommend traveling with travel insurance from IATI Travel Insurance, which in addition to being very affordable, has comprehensive coverage.

Get your travel insurance here (European Countries | Rest of The World).


*I traveled at the invitation of Mythical Peloponnese on a Fam Trip with international bloggers.

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