Peloponnese

PORTO HELI
Porto Heli is the perfect base to explore the northeastern part of the Peloponnese.  Easily accessible by a two and a half hour drive, or 30 minute helicopter ride, from Athens, once there the things to do and see are countless.   First off you have the ancient theater of Epidaurus which you will visit during the day during one of your guided tours of the area, but also during night if you visit during the festival dates.  Then the picturesque town of Naflpio with the imposing Palamidi castle perched above it and from there to Nemea where you can visit one of our favorite wineries in Greece and enjoy a meal cooked by the estate’s head chef accompanied with a selection of the estate’s finest production years.  Had enough?  Well don’t leave without visiting Mycenae, a major center of Greek civilization which dominated around 1500 BC.  You may also choose to spend your entire day at the new Nikki Beach Club opening in time for summer 2013.  Top it off by chartering Amanzoe’s Wally speedboat for a cruise over to Spetses and Hydra islands, each in their own right destinations worth visiting.
 
LAKONIA
Lakonia is the southeastern part of the Peloponnese.  Its center has been the famous city of Sparta which you will definitely visit on your way to the the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mystras on the steep slopes of Mt. Taygetus.  The castle served as the Byzantine Magistrate during the 14th and 15th centuries.  Monemvasia is another unique destination worth visiting.  The island which connects to the mainland by a short path 200 meters in length is basically one big natural boulder with a fortified town dating back to the Middle Ages.  The place is perfect for couples or for those travelers looking for peace and quiet.  Laconia offers one more treat and it comes by the name of Elafonisos.  This small island just a 15 minute ferry ride from the mainland is a tropical paradise.  With one of Greece’s best hidden beaches, it’s great for a day with the kids followed by a great meal at one of the main town’s many seafood restaurants.
 
MESSINIA
While the entire Peloponnese is filled with olive trees, Messinia is by far the olive capital of the Peloponnese and arguably Greece.  Agro-tourism activities such as olive picking or a visit to one of the olive presses will give you a small understanding the importance of olive oil to Greek culture over the centuries.  Messinia also has its own UNESCO World Heritage site with the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae, one of the best preserved ancient Greek temples.  Just as impressive is Ancient Messinia with its many well preserved buildings including a stadium and theater.  The capital of Messinia, Kalamata, is great to visit during the Kalamata Dance Festival held every summer.  Mani is also another must see with its rugged villages with stone towers such as Areopolis and the famous Diros cave where several kilometers of an underground river will guide you through a cave filled with stalagmites and stalactites.  The best place to stay is Costa Navarino in the beautiful bay of historically significant Navarino.  A great resort for families and for golfers and perfect to explore all that this part of the Peloponnese has to offer.
 
ANCIENT OLYMPIA
Wherever you end up staying in the Peloponnese you will definitely want to visit Ancient Olympia by far the most significant archaeological site in the area and not because it’s designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, but because of the ideas it stands for.  The significance of the Olympic Games demonstrates the lofty ideals of Hellenic humanism which have stayed with us to this day through the Modern Olympic Games.  At the core of the games is the idea of peaceful competition between free men, who surpass their physical strength in a supreme effort to win and receive all the glory that come with the symbolic olive wreath.  Every four years the Olympic flame is still lit here by the sun to make its journey to the next Olympic city.


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