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Peloponnese in December???

I couldn't pass up cheap air fare and I will be in Greece for twelve days. I will rent a car and would like to visit a couple of RS recommended cities/sites: including Kardamyli, the Prygos Dirou Caves, and Monemvasia. Do any of you seasoned travelers know whether these towns and sites close down during December? Any other advice you have on visiting the southern end of Peloponnese will be appreciated. Thanks!

Posted by
1388 posts

I’ve been to Monemvasia in December and several hotels and a couple of restaurants were open. We stopped at Ancient Corinth on the way down and had AcroCorinth to ourselves on a cold but sunny day. It’s a huge site with great views and well worth a visit. On the way back we stopped at Sparta and visited Mystra. Sparta is a pleasant enough little town but, despite its history, has few sites. Mystra, the last capital of the Byzantines, is spectacular.

I’d choose either of these over Kardamyli which, apart from the Patrick Leigh Fermor connection, is not that interesting.

Have a great trip.

Alan

Posted by
104 posts

Alan, thank you for your advice. This will be my first trip to Greece. I am depending on the RS recommended itinerary, as I usually do on first visits to any European country. Because it is winter season, I am not planning on any island visits.

I've only got 11 overnight stays and below is my first pass at the itinerary:
Rent a car in Athens upon arrival. Drive to Nafpilo (approx 2 hour drive) ( spend 2 or 3 nights). The first night/day is mostly for recovery from jetlag. We will follow RS recommendations for Nafpilo.
Nafpilo to Kardamyli (approx 2.5 hour drive) ( spend 2 nights). I want to do RS walking tour and some hiking here.
Kardamyli to Monemvasia (2.5 hour drive) (spend 1 or 2 nights). Will follow RS recommendations for touring this area.
Monemvasia to Athens (3.75 hour drive) Alan, thanks for suggesting a visit to Sparta, it will break up the 4 hour drive to Athens. We will (spend 4 or 5 nights) in Athens.
I welcome input from you seasoned travelers. Let me know if you think I should spend more or fewer nights in each city.

RS talks about snow on the mountains near Kardamyli and I'm wondering whether there will be snow on the drive from Nafpilo to Kardamyli or Monemvasia. While we obviously will visit plenty of ancient ruins while in Greece, it is not our only interest. We enjoy wandering around cities and easy hiking, and prefer natural beauty more than cathedrals or museums.
Thanks.

Posted by
104 posts

@concerned local.
Fantastic resources!! Thanks.

Posted by
20 posts

Hi Marti,
I just returned from Greece - 5 weeks, including 9 nights in the Peloponnese Peninsula. We LOVED it there! You'll find driving slower than you expect, as you get way down the Mani Peninsula roads are very curvy and very narrow (some one lane with pullouts). Often we were lucky to do 30 mph - 2nd and sometimes 3rd gear, taking longer than we expected. I used "https://distancecalculator.globefeed.com/Greece" for driving distances, maps, times, speeds, etc. VERY helpful, especially the estimated speed for the route, which was somewhat optimistic. I highly recommend stopping in Areopolis on the Mani Peninsula, a very charming town of stone towers and small back alleys. A great stop for lunch, dinner, etc. Not far from Kardamyli, also a charming small town, but not a major stop. I would much rather stay in Areopolis. It's a looong drive from there to Monemvasia. That was probably our favorite site, really lovely, similar to Mont St Michel. Stay on the "rock" if you can. It's a beautiful example of a medieval citadel, lots of hiking if you go all the way up the hill.

Two hours from Athens to Nafplio should be fine if you take the toll roads. It's a beautiful town, lovely harbor, eat at restaurants along the water. From there you really should see Epidavros (the HUGE amphiteater) and Mycenae. They're not too far.

If you take the toll roads from Athens all the way to Kalamata (fastest route south), make time to see Ancient Messinia (Messine), one of the best preserved ancient Greek ruins/sites in the country. Then from Kalamata it's not far or too hard to get to Kardamyli.

There's a good road from Gytheio (between the Mani and Laconia (Monemvasia) peninsulas) that's the best road back north and it passes through/near Sparta and Mystras near Tripoli. The peninsula is way more mountainous that we realized, I guess it's possible there could be snow at some points.

There are many sites that are not just Greek ruins in the Peloponnese - Venetian, Byzantine, Ottoman Turk, Medieval, etc., etc. Beautiful beaches (not your focus for December!) and lovely small towns and fishing villages.

We spent 3 weeks in the islands and only had 2.5 days in Athens, it would have been nice to have one more day. 5 is too much. The hours at sites are shorter in winter. Buy the combined ticket in Athens for the Acropolis and other sites, you can do most in one day if you are into a lot of walking. 2 hours in the Acropolis museum is enough. You have to be sneaky to take photos in there (technically not allowed). Stay in the Plaka, the old area at the base of the Acropolis. LOTS of restaurants, shops, easy walking to museum and other sites.

I put together an itinerary for our group for the Peloponnese Peninsula, with highlights and tourist sights at each stop, the history and some narrative for each, the maps and driving distances and directions, and photos of what you would see at each stop. If you're willing to send me your email address, I would be happy to share it with you. It's a big file. I'm at: mary_jacob@comcast.net (that's an underscore).

You say you will see lots of ancient ruins in Greece, but it doesn't look like you really will other than in Athens if you miss Epidavros (MAJOR site) and, as I said, Ancient Messinia has a lot that's well preserved and isn't far off your path. We covered a LOT in 9 nights on the peninsula, we did feel kind of rushed so I would cut out a couple stops, but we began our trip on the west coast at the town of Pylos, spent 3 nights there, which you aren't including. I think you can fit in a lot of these stops that give a wide variety of historical eras, not just ancient Greek.

We really did love the Peloponnese peninsula, I want to go back there someday. I had been to northern parts of it many years ago and we found all the charming back-road towns in the south to be a highlight of our entire trip! ENJOY!!