Peloponnese, Greece: ancient Greek sites, beautiful view and clean beaches

Corinth ruins

If you’re headed for the Peloponnese you’re in for one of the greatest experiences of your touring life. Blessed by a Mediterranean climate and steeped in over 3000 years of history it has everything, except long sandy beaches.

If you are wise you will avoid the blazing heat and crowds of high summer. Late September or early October are good times to visit this area.

By then the weather is likely to be sunny still but temperatures should be down to the 80s and many visitors will have left.

Most visitors are likely to arrive in Greece via the airport outside Athens and will need to arrange transport into the Peloponnese. Of course you can hire a car, but why not travel light and use the very good bus and coach services? This is a good way to mix with the locals and get a real feel for the country.

Corinth ruins
Corinth ruins

You are almost certain to pass through Corinth as you enter the Peloponnese, for it is here that it is joined to mainland Greece by a narrow isthmus. This city-state was at the height of its power in the seventh century BC before the rise of Athens. Sadly, many of the remains to be seen are from the Roman period, (though seven columns of the Temple of Apollo remain standing )but it is well worth stopping off to explore them.

From here you should easily be able to travel on south to see the far more ancient remains at Mycenae. Dating from the fourteenth century BC, the huge stones forming the walls of this city-citadel housed the seat of Agamemnon, who led the attack and sack of Troy some time around 1220BC. The entrance way, known as the Lion Gate is spectacular. Similar yet less well known are the remains of ancient Tiryns, further to the south.

If you are seeking accommodation and a good meal Nauplion, on the coast to the east, is an good destination to make for.

You may wish to see remains of ancient Sparta, home of the legendary warriors whom none could withstand. However, there are no remains to see of the ancient town, which was always plain and simple in keeping with the Spartans’ austere lifestyle.

The modern town of Sparta is a good place to break your journey, but on your way you may wish to visit Tegea, where the Spartans won a decisive victory early in
the fifth century BC.

From Sparta head on south to enchanting towns set quietly on the sunny southern coast, such as Kiparissia and Kalamata, where you can sit and watch the fishing boats come in as you enjoy a coffee or a meal. Be sure to visit Pylos though, site of Nestor’s palace. Destroyed by fire in ancient times, it has been carefully excavated.

If you continue your circuit of the Peloponnese you will now be heading north and will be able to stop off at Olympia, home of the original Olympic Games, where Classical Greek remains in the Doric style abound. Look particularly for the remains of the Temple of Zeus, dating from around 460 BC.

You may return to Athens via Corinth or at Patras on the north west coast of the Peloponnese you can take the ferry across to Brindisi in Italy. If you can though, cross the gulf of Corinth to visit Delphi. You won’t regret it!

Whichever way you go, take in the exquisite scenery and marvel at how small an area produced so much that was so great.

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