This coveted part of the Peloponnese, known as the Greek Riviera, is a favorite of Athenian weekenders, and the playground of writers, artists, Greek and foreign celebrities, as well as many well-known jet setters who have mansions in the area. In close proximity to Athens, this Eastern part of the Peloponnese, the prefecture of Argolida, is known for the beautiful landscape with undulating hills and olive groves, its crystal clear beaches and protected coves as well as the rich culture, fascinating geology and excellent local cuisine. This coastal area is an ideal base not only for relaxing at the waters’ edge, but also for exploring the regions’ archeological sites and historical relics and indulging in numerous leisure and sports activities. Fish, mountain bike, hike, horseback ride, windsurf, scuba dive, waterski, wakeboard, kayak or simply sail away into the sunset.
July: Agro tourism Festival in the harbor of Ancient Epidaurus
July: Musical Festival at the Small Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
July – August: Festival at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus
September: Armata Festival on Spetses, on the second Saturday in September
October: Spetses Mini Marathon & Swimming Race
Located on the Eastern side of the Argolic Gulf, Kilada is a sleepy quaint village nestled on a picturesque natural harbor. Traditional daily life has remained unchanged here. The harbor is crowded with colorful fishing vessels built by local craftsmen and lined with local fish restaurants, known for their red shrimp and crawfish specialties. Fishing and boat building are deeply rooted in Kilada’s tradition. Its’ shipyards, famous for exceptional woodwork shipbuilding such as that of the “trexandiri”, are among only three still functioning in Greece.
Referred to by locals as “the cave of Cyclops”, lies opposite the village of Kilada overlooking the bay and the private island of Koronis. It rates among the most important archaeological sites in Europe, occupied as early as the Paleolithic continuously through the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, finally being abandoned around 3000 BC. The cave is floodlit at night creating a spectacular backdrop for dinner at Kilada’s seafront taverns.
The capital of the County of Ermionida, is built on a hill with commanding views and dominates its interior plain. Its importance as a commercial center is still visible in its stately neoclassical homes ornamented with lace-like iron balconies and in its numerous impressive churches and monasteries. Attractions include the Folklore Museum, three windmills and the traditional oil press with the big stones characteristic of the area. Kranidi also briefly served as a capital of modern Greece, right after the liberation from the Ottoman rule.
A charming harbor town located on the slope of the ancient hill Pronos, a narrow peninsula whose history goes back to antiquity. According to Homer the city took part in the Trojan expedition. Lining the main port are restaurants and commercial shops, while in the particularly picturesque quarter called Mandrakia with its old colorful houses and taverns lining the waterfront is another harbor where the fishermen’s boats are docked and their nets put out to dry. While strolling in Ermioni, one can see remnants of the old town castle and of ancient temples. The road leading north – east of Ermioni is dotted with small seaside towns and resorts. Particularly attractive is the area around Thermissia and Plepi with its seemingly endless beaches lining the coast. Some of the many sandy beaches around Ermioni include Pigadia, Metochi, Kouverta, Bourloto and Petrothalassa will fascinate the visitor and they are ideal for swimming and relaxation.
Situated in the southern Bay of Ermionida, about one kilometer away from the sea. In this Monastery according to legend Aesculapius healed his patients with spa treatments. Today, visitors can admire the architecture, the wonderful frescoes, the relics from the War of Independence, the library and splendid works of art, the oil press, the looms, the well, the immense gardens as well as the spa.
Situated between Fourni and Ermioni amidst pine trees, and boasts a unique and lush ecosystem ideal for rare animals and birds that take refuge there especially during the winter months. Visitors can enjoy its rare natural beauty as well as the Argolic orchid found in the area. In winter, rare species of birds can be observed.
One of the largest and safest natural harbors in Greece. Lined with pine trees and crystalline turquoise waters, 350 days of sunshine and mesmerizing sunsets it has become the epicenter of the greater Greek Riviera. Its port, attracts sailing and yachting enthusiasts year round and is ideal for swimming and water sports. The town was built on the ruins of the ancient Halieis, a city of the classical era, with an abundance of findings, including its preserved sunken houses, the temple of Apollo, the cemetery, the fortifications and the acropolis, lying sunken 300 meters ashore. The first name of this unique summer holiday centre was “ALIIS” meaning fishermen derived from the occupation of its inhabitants in antiquity. Conquerors later changed it to “Porto Heli” meaning “Port of Eels.” Days here are filled with long lunches at traditional taverns and “ouzeri” (fish taverns) along the port, endless cultural activities and rich nightlife.
Further inland, on the slope of a mountain northwest of the village of Didyma lie Megali Spilia or “The Big Cave” as the locals call it (visible from the road) along with a smaller crater Mikri Spilia or “The Small Cave”. At the bottom of the crater Mikri Spilia are two tiny churches: St. George dating back to the 13th century, adorned by old frescoes, and a tiny cave-like chapel of the Metamorphosis tou Sotira (Transfiguration of the Savior).
Situated on the south slope of the hill of Bardounia. The numerous silver and gold icons found in the church, date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The church is a basilica with a dome, one of three of its kind in Greece.
Situated on the northwest of the village Didyma and is built on the north slope of the mountain Avgo (Egg). On the north part of the mountain one can notice the remnants of ancient castles and medieval buildings.
Less than an hour from Porto Heli lays the best preserved and most important theater of ancient Greece. Epidavros, which set the stage for performing arts, back in antiquity was built of limestone in the 4th century B.C. in a mystical forest setting and can seat 12,000 people. Renowned for its impeccable acoustics, it comes alive each summer with “Epidavria”, a captivating festival of ancient Greek drama which has become the foremost institution of ancient drama around the world. Also hosted here are classical concerts and select performances of foreign theatre productions. Epidavros is home to the famous sanctuary of Asclepius, mythological god of healing, and ruins of the temple of Apollo (4th century BC), patron god of musicians and poets.
Travel back in time to the heroes of the Trojan War and the exquisite, gold treasures of the Mycenaean kings in little over an hour from Porto Heli. Mycenae one of the richest archaeological sites in the world, is a glowing tribute to the great Mycenaean civilization. Legend has it that its magnificent fortress walls were built by Cyclopes due to the large size and weight of the stones. The Palace of the Acropolis, the Lion Gate Entrance to the citadel (considered the most ancient sculptural monument in Europe), the Northern Gate, the remains of Mycenaean houses, the temples and sanctuaries, the royal beehive tombs, highlighted by the impressive tomb of King Agamemnon with its golden masks, swords and jewelry (now exhibited in the Archaeological museum of Athens), and that of Klitemnistra are few of the highlights.
Minutes across the water from Porto Heli, the beauty of Spetses is within easy reach from the mainland. Beautiful beaches, cosmopolitan lifestyle, Captains’ mansions, neoclassic traditional architecture and pebble mosaic courtyards charm all visitors alike. No cars are permitted and transportation is by horse-drawn carriages and bicycles or mopeds. The old harbor laced with luxury yachts, restaurants, cafes and sophisticated bars creates a summer mood tempting visitors to enjoy seafood delicacies, ouzo and late nights under the stars. The island can be reached by hydro taxis and fishermen’s boats that depart from the mainland.
Hydra’s preserved sea captain mansions cascading down to the quaint small port, create the feeling of centuries past. A heaven for writers, poets and artists, Hydra is known for its galleries, museums, lively cafes and sophisticated nightlife but even more so for its boho-chic character. Cars are prohibited, and transportation is still done by donkeys adding to the tranquility of this island paradise. Visitors can reach it in minutes by water taxis that depart from the mainland. While in Hydra, one can also visit the small island of Dokos where in 1975 the Institute of the Sea Archaeological Research found broken prehistoric vessels; the most ancient shipwreck to date in the Mediterranean Sea.
One of the best preserved Byzantine fortress cities, is located on top of Taigetos Mountain, just 5 km outside of Sparta. This deserted, medieval town is a world heritage site and includes old churches and the fortress, the despot’s palace and the church of Saint Sofia within the fortress walls.
Nafplio, is the capital city of the Province of Argolida and it is not only the first capital of modern Greece but also one of the most picturesque towns to be found in Greece. A spectacular city crowned by historical monuments, such as the castle of Palamidi built by the Venetians on a rock (999 steps up), Akronafplia beneath it, Bourtzi, the fortress island symbol with a castle opposite the port, all combined with gorgeous, neoclassical buildings, narrow winding streets beneath Venetian balconies, historic squares and old churches along with Nafplio’s trendy nightlife highlight represent only a glimpse of the colorful tapestry that makes this distinguished town unique. This charming city, historically, an important seaport on the Gulf of Argolida, was inhabited during the Neolithic, the Proto-Hellenic and the Mycenaean period.
The Peloponnese is famous for its wine producing areas, such as Nemea and Mandinea, along with the quality of the vintages and the indigenous varieties. A tour of the area’s vineyards and local wineries offers the visitor an opportunity for excellent wine tasting, as well as an introduction to the history and art of local winemaking, grape varieties and the region’s winemaking ritual with roots deep in antiquity.
Famed in Greece for the fine quality of its olive oil, the Peloponnese has a long tradition in producing oil. A drive through the countryside of the Greek Riviera fills the visitor with a true taste of the region’s olive culture, with the opportunity to buy excellent oil from local producers in the neighboring villages.