Peloponnese Road Trip Itinerary

by | May 11, 2017 | Greece, Latest Posts, Road Trips

A Peloponnese road trip is full to the brim of amazing historic sights, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and delicious food a making it one of the best places in the world to take a road trip. We combined our Peloponnese road trip with exploring the rest of Greece and some of its islands but it’s also an amazing stand alone adventure. We loved our time spent exploring the Peloponnese and, to help with your Greece planning, we’ve put together our ultimate Peloponnese itinerary: from its unmissable historic sights to the best places to stay, this itinerary will help you make the most of your journey through the Peloponnese!

Planning a Peloponnese Road Trip Route

The Peloponnese region is a large peninsula in south west Greece which is accessed form the mainland in the east and via a bridge to the north. It makes for a perfect looped road trip starting and ending in Athens and takes in all the major sights, including 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, scenic seaside towns and the island of Zakynthos, home of the ridiculously beautiful shipwreck beach! There are lots of accommodation options in the Peloponnese, ranging from luxury hotels to fantastic holiday apartments. We used and recommend booking.com for accommodation as it has an amazing range of options and offers the best prices we could find in Greece – you can check Peloponnese hotel prices here.

Most Peloponnese road trips start and end in Athens and we recommend setting aside a few days at either end to explore the city. The itinerary below starts in Nafplio but, given it’s a loop to and from Athens, it works in reverse as well – if you prefer to start in Delphi and flip the itinerary around this will work perfectly as well!

The Route: (1) Athens — (2) Nafplio  (day trips to Tiryns and Mycenae and Epidaurus) — (3) Mystras — (5) Kardamyli — (6) Methoni — (7) Ancient Olympia (day trip to Bassae and Neda Waterfalls) — (8) Zakynthos — (9) Delphi (day trip to Hosios Loukas and Galaxidi) — (1)  Athens

Greece Pelepponese Road Trip Route

Peloponnese Road Trip Itinerary

1 | Athens to Nafplio: use Nafplio as a base

After leaving Athens the first stop is the scenic seaside town of Nafplio. Set in idyllic surroundings, Nafplio is a mix of tiny alleys, Venetian houses, ancient walls and medieval castles and you can easily spend a week relaxing here. It’s a great base to explore the major sights in the area: both the UNESCO inscribed ancient settlements of Mycenae & Tiryns and the ancient Greek city of Epidaurus with its incredible outdoor theatre are easy day trips.

Where to stay in Nafplio

  • Anassia Villas: We opted for the Anassia Villas, a great apartment style option close to Nafplio and a perfect base for exploring the surrounding sights. The villas are located half way between Nafplio and Mycanae and are a 10 minute drive from the town. The highlights were the sweeping views over the countryside and the beautiful pool. Check prices here
  • Hotel Perivoli: if you prefer hotel style accommodation then check out Hotel Perivoli, another great option outside the town. Located on a hillside the hotel has stunning views of the surrounding country side and orange groves – Check prices here
  • Grand Sarai Nafplio: Located in the old town of Nafplio under the hill top fort the Grand Sarai is a short walk from the waterfront and a host of Nafplio dining options – Check latest prices here

 

2 | Day trip from Nafplio to Mycenae and Tiryns

Mycenae and Tiryns are the first of many UNESCO World Heritage sites on the Peloponnese. Walking through the iconic Lion gate entrance to Mycenae it’s hard to comprehend that this site is over 3,000 years old: it is the only surviving monument of the Greek Bronze Age and remains in almost perfect condition. Wandering up the winding path to the top of the citadel and taking in the commanding views of the surrounding countryside, it’s easy to see why the Mycenaean civilization chose this hillside site.

Peloponnese itinerary tip: Don’t forget to explore the ancient cistern at the back of the site at Mycenae.  Just make sure to bring a torch – it’s very dark down there!

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Walking through the mighty Lion Gate

Located close to Mycenae is Tiryns, a second Mycenaean archaeological site. Tiryns is famous for its mighty walls which are so impressive that Ancient Greeks did not believe they were built with human hands. While not as well preserved as Mycenae, Tiryns is definitely worth visiting with the Masonry tunnel a highlight.

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The cyclopean tunnels at Tiryns

3 | Day trip from Nafplio to Epidaurus

Most famous for its incredible ancient theatre, the principal monuments of Epidaurus are some of the greatest masterpieces of Greek architecture. The temple of Asklepios, the Tholos and the Theatre are the main attractions in Epidaurus and date back to the 4th century. If you are visiting in summer check if you can grab a ticket to one of the legendary ancient Greek productions which take place in the theatre.

Peloponnese itinerary tip: Be sure to test the amazing acoustics in the Theatre. They’re so good that a person can speak normally from centre stage and another, at the extremes of the seating, can hear perfectly what they are saying!

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The theatre at Epidaurus

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UNESCO!

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Perfect symmetry and an incredible insight to Ancient Greece

4 | Nafplio to Mystras: stay in Mystras

The well preserved fortified Byzantine town of Mystras winds up the hillside like an open air museum and is a truly unique site in the Peloponnese. The hilltop fortress and Byzantine monasteries are a highlight of a visit to this UNESCO site.

Peloponnese itinerary tip: Mystras is set on a steep hill and split onto three levels so it’s a steep climb! We recommend parking at the top and climbing to the fortress, then walking down to the second level. You can then drive to the lower level.

Where to stay in Mystras

  • Mystras Inn: The Mystras Inn is a great choice for a stopover in Mystras. Rooms are excellent as is the traditional Greek breakfast – Check prices here
  • Prygos of Mystra: Built in 1850, Prygos of Mystra is a small luxury hotel with comfortable rooms, views of the hillside and romantic gardens. Check prices here

 

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Mystras from the sky

5 | Mystras to Kardamyli: stay in Kardamyli

The next stop is the beautiful seaside town of Kardamyli. Nestled between turquoise waters and lush green mountains, it was our favourite little town in Greece and is prefect for a few days of relaxation. It has an island feel despite being on the mainlain and the seafood, like much of Greece, is delicious.

Where to Stay in Kardamyli

  • Vardia Hotel: With a gorgeous hilltop setting and a stunning terrace overlooking the town and sea, The Vardia Hotel is one of the best in Kardamyli – Check prices now
  • Melitsina Village Hotel: A boutique hotel located just outside Kardamyli and beside the beach and tavernas. A slice of heaven! – Check prices now

 

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Idyllic Kardamyli

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Stunning turquoise waters of Kardamyli

6 | Kardamili to Methoni: stay in Methoni

Methoni, with its Venetian Fortress the Methoni Castle, is another picture perfect town overlooking the Ionian Sea on the Peloponnese. En route from Kardamyli to Mehtoni, make a short detour (it is about 30 minutes each way off the route) to Messene, a well preserved ancient city built 2,500 years ago.

Where to stay in Methoni

  • Ulysses Hotel: Perfectly located close to the beach, castle and restaurants Ulysses Hotel is excellent value in Methoni – Check latest prices here
  • Niriides Luxury Villas: beautiful villas set in lovely gardens with the bonus of an outdoor swimming pool – Check latest prices

 

7 | Methoni to Olympia: use Olympia as a base

Ancient Olympia is the perfect base for spending a few days exploring the region. It’s on the doorstep of the site of the first Olympic games and both the Temple of Apollo Epicurus at Bassae and the stunning Neda waterfall are within reach for a fantastic day trip.

Where to Stay in Olympia

  • Hotel Europa Olympia: We stayed in the Hotel Europa Olympia perched atop Davros Hill in Ancient Olympia. The hotel is bright and airy with modern rooms, a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a delicious locally sourced breakfast – Check prices here
  • Olympion Asty Hotel – Another clean, modern option with a gorgeous pool (a welcome necessity after a day of exploring!) and a great view of the valley – Check prices here

8 | Visit Ancient Olympia

The birthplace of the Olympic Games and the site where the Olympic flame is lit before it travels around the world: Ancient Olympia is a site that will bring you out in goosebumps. It’s easy to imagine the Olympic Village in full swing, with athletes training and competing, the roar of the crowds and the women, resigned to watched from a hill close by.  Pheidias’ workshop, where one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Statue of Zeus, was sculptured is another highlight of the visit.

Peloponnese itinerary tip: Check out the museum during your visit: it has some awesome sculptures and statues which adorned the facades of the many temples of ancient Olympia.

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Early morning at Ancient Olympia

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The stone archway leading to the stadium: we could almost hear the roar of the crowd

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Stadium moments: on your marks, get set…GO!!

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The museum

9 | Day trip to Bassae and Neda Waterfall

Deep in the mountains of the Peloponnese is the Temple of Apollo Epicurus at Bassae, an ancient Greek treasure. Despite being shrouded in a tent for preservation purposes for the past 30 years, the UNESCO World Heritage inscribed temple is one of the most perfect ancient Greek temples surviving today.

One of the Peloponnese’s hidden gems is just 30 minutes from Bassae: the gorgeous Neda waterfalls are located in a gorge a little off the beaten track. The turquoise waters are perfect for a cool dip after a scorching Greek day.

Pelopnesse itinerary tip: The two waterfalls at Neda are a short hike from the main road. Climb up behind the first waterfall to the second larger waterfall: it is really stunning and perfect for a swim to cool off from the hike. Be warned: it’s super chilly!

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Bassae

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Perfection! Neda Falls

10 | Olympia to Zakynthos: stay in Zakynthos

It’s important to budget some time for relaxation amid all the culture so it’s time to hit the islands! Zakynthos, in the perfect turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea, is a short ferry ride from the Peloponnese and the perfect stop after Olympia. It’s home to Navagio Beach, known as Shipwreck Bay, which was the main reason we wanted to visit the island! The regular car ferries make it easy to take a car to the islands: the Zankynthos ferry arrives at Kyllini port on the mainland beside Zante town, the capital of Zakynthos.

Peloponnese itinerary tip: There are two ways to visit Shipwreck Beach: either drive to the viewpoint above the beach for a panorama view or visit the beach itself via a boat tour. There is no access to the beach from the road due to the steep cliffs.

Where to stay in Zakynthos

  • Hotel Palatino: Perfectly located a few minutes from the restaurants of Zante Hotel Palantino was perfect for our stopover in Zakynthos –  Check prices now
  • Mabely Grand Hotel: if you are staying a little longer and a resort style hotel with a host of amenities and a relaxing vibe then the Mabely Grand Hotel is a great option – Check prices now 

 

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The stunning Navagio Beach, also known as Shipwreck beach

11 | Zakynthos to Delphi: use Delphi as a base

Second only to the Acropolis in Athens, the ancient site of Delphi is one of the most visited sites in all of Greece. It was at Delphi where two eagles sent by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the navel of the world met and so in ancient times it was considered the centre of the world. Delphi was the seat of the fabled oracle of Delphi and people would travel from all corners of the known world to consult the Oracle on important decisions.

Today the ruins of Delphi dot the mountainside overlooking the beautiful countryside. The archaeological museum is close by as is the Tholos at Delphi, which is a short walk down hill from the main Delphi site.

Peloponesse itinerary tip:  Given Delphi’s status as one of the most visited places in Greece, we recommend visiting early in the morning before the coaches arrive from Athens with the bus loads of day trippers! It’s much more fun to visit when the site is quiet and temperatures are lower for the uphill climb.

Where to Stay at Delphi

  • Pitho Hotel: In the heart of the historic town of Delphi, Hotel Pitho is within walking distance of the ancient Delphi site. The rooms are clean and spacious and the breakfast good – Check prices now
  • Hotel Chrisso: Located in Chrisso Village, 6km from Delphi, Hotel Chrisso’s accomadation options include a mix of rooms and one bedroom apartments. It’s a nice escape from the crowded town of Delphi and the views from the balcony are stunning – Check prices now

 

Greece Peloponnese Road Trip Itinerary

Appreciating the view of Delphi

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The Tolos of Delphi

12 | Day trip to Hosios Loukas and Galaxidi

Hosios Loukas, a historic walled monastery, and Galaxidi, a picturesque town by the sea, are both within easy reach of Delphi and make for an awesome day trip. Hosios Loukas is worth a visit for its Byzantine architecture and art and Galaxidi is the perfect seaside escape after stepping into Ancient Greece!

13 | Delphi to Athens 

Athens is the final stop as the Peloponnese road trip draws to a close. We spent 5 days in Athens and loved it. From the stunning Daphni Monastery and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion on its outskirts, to its world famous Acropolis and its incredible culture and food, Athens is the perfect city to begin or end a Pelopnesse roadtrip. For our full guide on what to see and do in Athens, check out our dedicated Athens post here.

Where to stay in Athens

  • Pallas Athena Grecotel: We stayed in a suite at the quirky Pallas Athena Grecotel Boutique Hotel. which is a 10 minute walk from Monastiraki and incorporates local street art into the room design – check prices here
  • A for Athens: If you like to be right in the heart of the action check out A for Athens is perfectly located on Monastaraki square and the beautiful panoramic rooftop deck for breakfast and evening drinks make this one of our favourite hotels in Athens – check prices here
  • Plaka Hotel: The Plaka Hotel is a real hidden gem in Athens. This comfy hotel is located just off Monastiraki square and is a perfect base from which to explore Athens. Make sure to checkout the amazing views of the Acropolis from the rooftop bar – check prices here

 

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Daphni Monastery

2 Comments

  1. We are planning something similar. Thanks for the info and insights. How long did you spend touring the Peloponnese? We have only 8 days…

    Reply
    • Hi Tom

      8 days should be perfect – you could spend a few in Nafplio, Olympia and Methoni with some time in Kardamyli if you like to move around. We spent a week there and managed to see all that we wanted 🙂

      Elaine

      Reply

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