Road trip in Mani, Peloponnese

March 3, 2015 38640 178 106 Comments

Description

Having loaded my bike with my tent and all the necessary camping equipment, I began in Athens and moved south, wanting within 4-5 days to explore Mani in the Peloponnese. This was quite a familiar trip because I had visited the north part of Mani several times in the past. The distance from Athens to Kalamata, where actually there starts the interesting part of my trip, is 235km, and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach. The route to Kalamata is all highway and you must pass eight toll stations. This trip although it was short, only 800km, it contained so many different scenes and images that I felt I had been all over Greece. Mountains, forests, sea, nature, interesting acquaintances and many wonderful experiences.

Villages in Mani

  • Kardamili
    It’s a very beautiful and picturesque village with houses made of stone and clay tiled roofs. It has a small port, but not a beach for swimming because it is surrounded by rocks. In Kardamili you will find beautiful traditional cafes and taverns and 2 bars where you can have a drink.
  • Stoupa
    A beautiful settlement that was originally a small fishing village but has now become a famous tourist resort. The village has three sandy beaches with crystal clear water. The main beach is full of cafes, restaurants and taverns, while in the northern part you will find a nice lounge bar to have a drink at in the evening.
  • Pirgos
    Pirgos means “tower”, and is located southwest of Stoupa. The village is built on a hill with incredible panoramic views, where during Turkish occupation it functioned as an observation post. It’s a rather picturesque village with beautiful houses.
  • Kastania
    A hidden village between three slopes of Mount Taygetos, which is hard to notice even when you get really close. It is quiet and picturesque, and the old rooftops, where they still exist, are made of stone slabs. In Kastania there are many remarkable Byzantine churches with excellent hagiographic murals. One of the main attractions is the fountain with the huge walnut tree, as well as Dourakis tower, where Kolokotronis, a hero of the greek revolution against the Ottomans, once stayed. Kastania has about 85 residents, but after midday the cafe and the tavern in the main paved square attracts many people from the surrounding areas.
  • Agios Nikolaos
    A fishing village with beautiful traditional houses and picturesque streets, which is famous for its taverns. Agios Nikolaos has the only night club in the area, so people come and stay here until the late hours of the night.
  • Platsa
    It’s a traditional settlement with a picturesque square, where in the past it was the largest village in Mani.
  • Limeni
    A seaside resort, one of the most famous in Mani. Although there is no beach, people enjoy swimming by diving from the rocks into the blue water. The fish taverns here are famous for their cuisine, attracting people from the surrounding area. If you find yourself in Mani, Limeni is worth a visit, even for just a coffee.
  • Areopoli
    A historic settlement, which remains until today picturesque and unspoilt. Unique features include the stone built houses and the churches with amazing frescoes from the 18th century. Areopoli had retained its independence during the Turkish occupation and according to history, the first armed groups that started the revolution assembled here on March 17, 1821. Walking through the narrow streets of Areopoli you will find beautiful and stylish bars, cafes and taverns that really make you want to sit and enjoy them.
  • Gerolimenas
    One of the most beautiful and traditional seaside villages of Laconia. Under Turkish rule it was one of the bases of operations for Mani pirates and in its subsequent history it was an important fishing port. Today, Gerolimenas is a famous resort in Mani with many traditional restaurants, cafes and tourist accommodations that attract large numbers of visitors all year round.
  • Bathia (Vathia)
    The most photographed area of Mani, and an outdoor architectural monument that stands dominantly on a hilltop. It is an abandoned settlement of around 150 buildings, in which the first references to it were in the 16th century. In 1979, the village had only 11 residents, while electricity came here only in 1980.
  • Porto Kagio
    A fishing village built on a natural port, which, due to its beauty, is a major attraction in Mani. It is worth to eat fresh fish in one of its taverns.
  • Flomochori
    A traditional and beautiful village in East Mani, with stone built houses and tall towers.
  • Gythio
    It is a beautiful town reminiscent of an island village, and lies along the beach at the eastern foot of Mount Larysios. Gythio is very picturesque, because of the classical buildings and houses which, combined with the fishing boats in the harbor, creates beautiful scenery. It’s worth taking a walk on the waterfront, which is full of taverns, restaurants, cafes and bars. The port often receives cruise ships, as it is a connection point to the islands of Kythera and Antikythera.

Beaches in Mani

  • Kalogria
    A famous beach in north west Mani, where it is usually very crowded. Here you will find charming cafes and taverns. It is a family friendly beach, but you will also find many young people playing rackets and other sports.
  • Pantazi
    A quiet beach with tall trees providing shade and a tavern where you can eat or have a coffee.
  • Marmari
    A sandy beach close to Taenaro, which is an oasis in the rocky landscape of wild Mani.
  • Mavrovouni
    Mavrovouni beach, as it is a popular tourist resort in the area. Here you will find many beach bars and restaurants, and even many accommodation options, such as campsites, hotels and rooms to let.

sights and attractions in Mani

  • Cave in Diros (Vlyhada)
    The caves name is Vlihada and is considered as the most beautiful lake cave in the world. The water is brackish, with a temperature of about 14C, while the air ranges from 16 to 19C. The natural entrance has a diameter of only half a meter and is very close to sea level. Its total length stretches 6000 meters and even though in the past it used to be land, over the centuries, the water level rose, thus the formations of stalactites resembling white columns coming out of the water. The tour by boat takes about 45 minutes, costs 12€ and leaves visitors speechless.
  • Vasilikis Forest
    Vasilikis Forest is located in the southern part of Mount Taygetos, 8 km south of its peak, and spans approximately for about 11,000 acres. This is an isolated forest, which is surrounded by peaks. You can access it through Exohori, and inside the forest, there is a road that you can take for 21 miles.
  • Cape Tainaro
    This was considered as the gates of Hades by the ancient Greeks, or the underworld after death. They believed that in a small and isolated cave necromancy, or communication with the dead, occurred. If you like hiking, you can take the path that ends after 45 minutes of walking to the lighthouse of Akrotenaro., a structure from 1822 which marks the southern end of the Balkan peninsula.

Taverns in Mani

I am only mentioning the taverns I tried and I really liked it:

  • Palio Bostani
    Traditional greek cuisine in Kalogria beach.
  • Krifos Kipos
    Traditional greek tavern to eat fish (it also serve meat) in Agios Nikolaos village.

Greece

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