Top 10 Hidden Gems of the Peloponnese

The Peloponnese is a region rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, yet some of its most captivating sites remain hidden from the mainstream tourist radar. The region is home to some of the country's most iconic tourist destinations with renowned archaeological sites, such as Ancient Olympia, the Epidaurus Theatre, Mycenae as well as some picturesque mountainous and seaside villages with stunning beaches like Voidokilia and Limeni. However, there are also many hidden gems tucked away in this picturesque region that are off the beaten path and waiting to be explored. From remote mountain villages to secluded beaches and ancient sites, the Peloponnese offers a wealth of unique, instagrammable and unforgettable destinations for those willing to venture off the main tourist trail. Here are the top 10 hidden gems of the Peloponnese, each with its own distinct charm and allure and we invite you to explore them on your next trip to Greece.

The Sunken City of Epidaurus

The Sunken City of Epidaurus, located on the eastern coast of the Peloponnese at Kalymnios Beach, is a remarkable underwater archaeological site. You can snorkel around the remains of an ancient city  with a countryside roman estate, Villa Rustica, preserved in the crystal-clear waters of the Saronic Gulf. The Sunken City offers a unique glimpse into the past, and is a must-visit destination for divers and history lovers alike. Don’t forget your snorkelling equipment. 

Temple of Apollo Epicurius

The Temple of Apollo Epicurius is located in the bare and rocky landscape of Vasses, (Ancient Phigaleia), tucked away in the mountains.It is an ancient Greek temple built in the 5th century BC, dedicated to god Apollo with an impressive architectural design of Ionic, Doric and Corinthian styles. This architectural gem was the first of Greek monuments to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1986. Admire its majestic beauty and learn more about its historical and cultural significance upon your visit. 

© Y. Skoulas

Chlemoutsi Castle

© Y. Skoulas
The Chlemoutsi Castle (aka Kastro of Kyllini, or Château Clermont), is a mediaeval fortress located in the westernmost point of the Peloponnese. Built in the 13th century by the Frankish rulers of the area, the castle was strategically positioned to fend off attacks. Today, the restored halls with their domed ceilings, and large fireplaces, house a unique exhibition entitled “The Era of the Knights—Crusaders in the Morea”. The approximately 500 objects on display uncover lesser-known aspects of the Mediaeval world and its Crusaders. The castle offers a glimpse into the turbulent history of the Peloponnese region and one of the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. 

Ancient Messene

Ancient Messene was an ancient city-state (polis), and a powerful rival to Sparta. Founded in the 4th century BC, Ancient Messene allows us to understand what life was like in ancient times as it was never subsequently destroyed or settled over.Today, it is a treasure trove of archaeological remains, including imposing fortifications, an Agora, a theatre, a Heroon, a stadium and the Arsinoe fountain. Explore the remains of the city and visit the nearby museum. You’ll also enjoy the serene natural surroundings, with stunning views to the neighbouring hills and valleys.

Polylimnio Waterfalls

The Polylimnio Waterfalls (aka Blue Lagoon of Messinia) are a stunning series of waterfalls and natural pools located in the Messinia region, 34 km from Kalamata town. You can hike along the trails that lead to the waterfalls, and enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings along the way. The waterfalls and pools are located amidst lush green forests and rocky cliffs, creating a picturesque and tranquil setting that is perfect for swimming and relaxing. The crystal-clear waters and peaceful ambiance make this spot an ideal destination for nature lovers and those seeking for a peaceful retreat.

© Y. Lagos

Mainalo Trail

© Y. Lagos
The Mainalo Trail is a wonderful hiking trail located in the Mainalo mountain range. The trail offers a range of hiking options, suitable for hikers of all skill levels, from easy walks to more challenging hikes that take you through stunning natural scenery, including verdant forests, rocky cliffs, and picturesque villages. Along the way, you can admire breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, as well as discover historical and cultural landmarks, such as monasteries, churches, and traditional houses. 

Lake Doxa

Lake Doxa is a beautiful man-made lake surrounded by mountains and the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic or boat ride. Surrounded by lush green forests and mountains, the lake offers a picturesque setting for outdoor activities and relaxation. You can enjoy hiking and cycling along the scenic trails, fishing in the crystal-clear waters, or simply sunbathe on the sandy beach. The lake is also home to the charming Chapel of Agios Fanourios, which sits on a small stretch of land that ends in the middle of the lake. 

Kapsia Cave

Kapsia Cave is a magnificent natural wonder located in Mantineia, 15 km from Tripoli town, in Arcadia. This impressive cave has been listed among the top ten caves in Greece. It boasts an impressive array of sinkholes, stunning multicoloured stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations that have been shaped by the slow erosion of water over thousands of years. You can explore the cave and admire the intricate geological formations all while learning about the cave's history and cultural significance. You can combine your visit with a trip to nearby Mantineia where you can explore the archaeological site or taste the world renowned  Moschofilero variety

Wine Routes of Nemea

The Wine Routes of Nemea offer a wine-growing tradition among incredible scenery. The area has world-renowned vineyards and wineries, which produce some of the finest wines in the country. You can explore the scenic route that winds its way through the vineyards and the picturesque countryside, stop to taste the local wines and learn about the wine-making process. The region is particularly famous for its aromatic Agiorgitiko grape, which produces rich and complex red wines. In addition to wine-tasting, you can also visit the charming villages and historic sites that are located along the wine routes, including the ancient city of Nemea, the Ancient Stadium or the imposing Acrocorinth Castle and the nearby archaeological site of Corinth. Experience the rich cultural and culinary traditions of the Peloponnese at this must-visit destination for wine-lovers and foodies alike.

Lake Vouliagmeni

At a short distance from  the seaside town of Loutraki, Lake Vouliagmeni is a beautiful saltwater lake renowned for its blue-coloured waters and white sand. The lake is located at a stone’s throw from the sea, surrounded by rugged cliffs, creating a picturesque setting that is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. You can also explore the nearby archaeological site of Heraion of Perachora (aka Melagavi), whose most significant monument is an ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Hera. Don’t miss the Melagavi Lighthouse that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline and the sparkling blue waters of the Corinthian Gulf.

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