In our opinion, the Peloponnese is one of the best holiday destinations in Greece. For an insight into the wide range of things you can do in this wonderful peninsula, see our
Green Traveller's Guide to the Central and Southern Peloponnese. Below, Richard Hammond describes a holiday that is a great way to experience the best of it - a 12-night, self-guided tour of the Peloponnese's rich history, including castles, ancient cities and Olympia.
In a nutshell:
Fascinating heritage, from the ancient sites of Olympia and Epidavros to the medieval towns of Mystras and Monemvasia and spectacular scenery as you travel along the Gulf of Corinth. Witness the landscape change as you journey in the shadow of the Taÿgetos Mountains, cross the Laconian plains, the outer Mani before reaching your final destination, the former Greek capital of Nafplion.
Price: £1,145 per person (not including train travel or transfers)
What's included: 12 nights at five selected hotels (one 2-star hotel; three 3-star hotels; one 4-star hotel); detailed documentation; 12 breakfasts; 12 days' category B car hire.
Departures: April, May, June, September, October.
Nearest station to start of trip: Bari (Italy)
Nearest station to end of trip: Bari (Italy)
How to travel by train to Bari: It is possible to travel from London to the Peloponnese without flying, via the train to Milan and then ferry across the Adriatic from Bari to the Peloponnese, Greece. Take the Eurostar to Paris then change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon for the overnight sleeper train to Milan where you take another train to Bari on the east coast of Italy where you take the overnight ferry over to Patras on the Peloponnese Peninsula. In total, it's a two-day journey from London to Patras, so you could leave in the morning of day 1 from London and arrive in the early afternoon of day 3 in Patras. NB. The transfer in Paris can take 20-30 minutes on the Paris metro (9 stops), but we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer (see our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris). For more details on the train journey from London to Milan, including some suggestions for where to stay near the train stations if you want to break up the journey and spend more time in Paris or Milan, see our flight-free journey planner: Train from London to Milan.
Optional extra: Add on two nights in Athens, home to the world-renowned Acropolis (from £154pp) and/ or spend 10 more nights visiting more ancient sites in the Peloponnese (from £995pp).
The central and southern Peloponnese has it all: ancient sites such as the Homeric palace of King Nestor at Pylos, stunningly preserved Byzantine cities like those at Mystras and Monemvasia, tiny multi-domed churches whose interiors are daubed with vibrant frescoes, rugged forest-clad mountains and luxuriant gorges with monasteries carved into their rockfaces, houses shaped like towers, stalactite-hung caves. There’s plenty to do in the great outdoors too with lots of options for mountain trails, cycling and horseriding as well as crystalline waters for swimming and kayaking, and a wonderful range of accommodation from mountain lodges to beachside hotels.
Watch Green Traveller's video of the Central and Southern Peloponnese:
What's the trip like:
Spend Day 1 marvelling at Greece’s best-preserved Byzantine settlement, Mystras, wandering the ruins of the abandoned citadel – or take a drive to ancient Sparta, home to a sprawling archaeological site. Day 2 involves a two hour drive to the fortified medieval town of Monemvasia, where the Hotel Bastione Malvasia in the old town will be your home for two nights, and your base from which to explore the town the following day. Sights include the castle and Agia Sofia church and there’s also time to walk the coastal path.
On Day 4 you will drive 5 hours to the seaside town of Kardamili via Cape Tenaro, taking in plenty of sights (including the option to detour down to the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese) before checking into the Notos Hotel’s comfortable studios for three nights. During Days 5 and 6 you can explore hidden gorges and leafy valleys around the Mani, relax on the nearby beach or visit the medieval castle and ancient amphitheatre in Kalamata. Day 7 will take you on a 3.5 hour drive to Olympia, home to the first Olympic stadium where it all began in 776BC, and where you will spend all of Day 8. The journey includes a detour to the archaeological site of Ancient Messini.
On Day 9 you will drive 3.5 hours to your final destination of Nafplion, where you will stay at the Hotel Marianna. Spend your final Days 11 and 12 exploring the harbourside city, taking in many of its significant monuments. Be sure to venture into the surrounding areas, including Epidavros; ancient Tiryns and the colossal citadel of Mycenae, all of which are a short drive away.
How to enquire/book this holiday:
This holiday is provided by Inntravel, one of the founding tour operator members of Green Traveller. One of the great things about this holiday is its flexibility: you have a choice of start/end dates and you can add additional nights on to the itinerary. If you'd like to know more about this holiday, please see more details on the relevant page given below and if you'd like to book it, do contact them directly or complete their booking form and a member of their team will be in touch with you: