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Easiest/most difficult archaeological sites to traverse in the Peloponnese

Hello, I'm planning a six-week visit to the Peloponnese next fall. My primary interests are ancient archeological sites and the towns of Nafplio and Monemvasia. I'm in my late sixties and have arthritic knees but am otherwise in good health and weight for my age. Having been on steep, uneven streets and archaeological locales the past two years in Italy, Spain, and Greece, I'm prepared for similar terrain in the Peloponnese. However, I'd very much appreciate advice and opinions about the ease or difficulty of traversing the following places. Up and down is difficult, but not impossible, for my knees, but flatter is easier. Thanks!

Corinth
Acrocorinth
Nemea
Mycenae
Epidaurus
Tiryns
Nafplio
Olympia
Bassae
Messene
Pylos
Sparta
Mystras
Monemvasia

Posted by
2441 posts

Corinth, Mycenae and Epidaurus are easy. Acrocorinth would be a challenge as it is a steep climb up and down. Napflio is easy but we drove up to the Palamidi Fortess and then walked around. We did not walk up to that site. I haven’t been to the others. I hope this helps.

Posted by
1394 posts

To add to Mary’s comments

Nafplio - it’s easy and reasonably cheap to get a taxi up to the fortress, a lot of which would then be accessible.

Tiryns - there are steps at a couple of points but it’s fairly flat inside

Monemvasia - getting up to the fortress itself is a long climb but many people visit without doing that. The streets of the lower town are still very interesting.

Mystra - I think doing the whole site would be a problem. It’s really large and spread over a steep hill. There’s a middle gate - again we got a taxi - which gives access to part of the site and gives an idea of the overall scale.

If you’re interested in sites, and in the area, Roman Argos is worth a look

https://www.bridgemanimages.com/en/noartistknown/the-roman-baths-argos-peloponnese-greece-greek-and-roman-civilizations-photo/photo/asset/2838118

Posted by
7410 posts

Did you mean to leave out Delphi? I found it a very rewarding, mostly level visit, once dropped at the highway entrance. There was even a hot-dog stand kind of lunch available.

Monemvasia is very attractive, and the lower town worth an uphill ramp to get through the town gates. But the upper citadel (many stairs) is pretty much invisible from the lower town.

The Corinth Canal is a highly-developed tourist bus stop with shops and a level prospect of the canal.

Mycenae is an important visit, but I remember a lot of uphill walking and maybe steps to get at the mysterious and bare "palace remains." This is a really famous place, although much remains speculative about it. I'm sure it has fueled many a PhD thesis.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for such quick replies, which are very helpful! It sounds like Corinth, the Canal, Epidaurus, Tiryns, and Nafplio will be relatively doable. Mycenae (which I want to see above anything else!) appears to be more difficult, though ramps aren't too difficult for me, and I wouldn't attempt to see the underground cistern. I'd stay in Monemvasia for several days but wouldn't climb to its fortress. Acrocorinth and Mystras sound too hard, but are there areas from which to view them, even from afar? A little is better than nothing! I'll definitely consider Argos and will visit Delphi on my next trip to Greece. Thank all of you again!

Posted by
4390 posts

It's been 11 years and mobility wasn't an issue for me back then, but all I remember about Mycenae is a gently-sloped uphill walk and steps that were wide and not steep(but probably no handrails).

Posted by
2441 posts

I would skip Acrocorinth if I were you but not Mycenae. I do not find Mycenae difficult at all plus there is Agamemnon’s tomb which is very accessible.

Posted by
2205 posts

No one has mentioned Olympia, but that was pretty flat. My husband was 68 when with bad knees when we did our Greece tour and the only place he really struggled was Delphi. He didn’t have trouble with Mycenae or Mystras, although the downhill part of our walk at Mystras was a slight issue for some.

Posted by
11292 posts

I slipped on a wet stone while climbing up to look down into ancient Nemea as the front gates were locked when we were there. I spent several hours in the ER getting stitched up but would like to return to see Nemea, located relatively near the Mycenae.

Posted by
1394 posts

On Mystra this might be helpful.

https://www.greecetravelsecrets.com/mystras-greece/

In particular they say

“If you are not particularly fit you can explore the Museums and lower buildings near the main gate, and if you’re up for it, the middle buildings, such as the Pantanassa Monastery. It’s not a particularly hard climb, but there are a lot of uneven surfaces, so go slowly and stop and admire the incredible views from time to time. If you have a car, you can drive up to the top car park and see some of the buildings and even more astonishing views from there.”

Posted by
1884 posts

For the western part of the Peloponnese, Messene, Pylos and Bassae do not represent any particular difficulty.

Given that all the sites you want to see will be at least partially accessible to you, I advise you to focus on the itinerary and travel time parts, assuming that you will have a car.

Posted by
1634 posts

Do not skip Mystras! It is absolutely beautiful and stunning! You don't have to visit the whole site. There is the Upper Town and the Lower Town.

We visited Mystras in May 2022 when I was 72 and my husband was 75. I have arthritis and I had my right hip replaced in 2019. I wore very study Brooks sneakers. First we drove to the Upper Town. We did walk up to the castle ruins at the very top. The path is steep and winding, and there are places where the path is quite rough with loose rocks. So you could skip the castle ruins. But near the entrance gate, and where it is flat, you can visit Agia Sofia, the palace church with frescoes and ancient wall paintings.

After we visited Agia Sofia church, we drove down to the Lower Town. The Lower Town is much easier walking than Upper Town. You don't have to walk through the whole site to appreciate its beauty. I visited the Cathedral of Agio Dimitrios with a lovely courtyard, gorgeous flowers, an arcaded court and more ancient wall paintings. Then I visited the Church of Odigitria decorated with ancient murals.

I think you will appreciate Mystras and get a sense of its beauty without having to see the entire site. I didn't see all of the Lower Town. There are people, probably much younger than us, who do walk from the top to the bottom or vice versa, but it's not necessary to do that.

Posted by
211 posts
Posted by
11292 posts

We didn’t have any problems exploring all of Mystras. I had an injury from a fall earlier in the trip but Mystras was ok for me. My favorite of the antiquities. We are of average fitness, seniors.

Posted by
3 posts

MANY thanks to all of you! I never expected to receive so many helpful opinions and answers. I consolidated all your comments and now have a much better idea of what to expect. Thank you again!