I was just wondering if it was possible to drive from Olympia to Monemvasia in a day? If it is, which way is best to go? Via the coast or inland via Sparta/Mystras? Many thanks for your advice.
www.viamichelin.com suggests that you can drive 3.5 hours to Mystras, which is a very interesting site, worth a few hours, then drive another 2 hours to Monemvasia. Round up these times a bit, since the area is new to you. Sparta is not a recommended stop.
I agree with Laura. Mystras is a wonderful ruined Byzantine city (along the lines of Pompeii without the deadly volcano eruption). It is just outside of Sparta so you'll go through the town anyway; it's worth at least a stop for lunch.
I also like the mountain route east from Olympia, rather than the main expressway that you connect with to the west. Slower but very beautiful.
Monemvasia is easily reached after your visit in Mystras.
Dear Laura and Douglas, Many thanks for your help, greatly appreciated! From Olympia if we go east over the mountains would it be best to head towards Tripoli? Thankyou again, Danielle
Yes, you head towards Tripoli. The route is 74, then it connects with 111. I don't recommend going through Tripoli as it gets congested and easy to get lost (experience talking). Just north of Tripoli is a cutoff that gets you to the main highway 7. Take that and then get off on route 39 just south of Tripoli. It takes you direct to Sparta. You have to go through Sparta to get to Mystras. There are signs. For the most part, the routes are well marked in English, but have a good map.
We did the inland mountain route a couple of years ago stopping at Mystras along the way. The mountain pass was a beautiful drive. Our hosts in Olympia suggested that route. We had considered taking another route but they told us to take the mountain route - not quite sure why because of their limited English and our limited Greek. I had driven around the western coast on a previous trip as well and it was nice too but longer I believe. Just as Laura suggested - round up all travel times from the estimated duration. We had printed out several route options from viamichelin.com before we left and didn't have any problems with directions using that and road signs - we didn't even use our GPS - our entire route started at the Athens airport to Olympia, then to Monemvasia and on to Nafplio before heading back to Athens. It was helpful to have a paper map as our hosts in each location used it to point out their route suggestions and stops along the way.