Explore the overlooked destination of Greece's Peloponnese

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Greek Peloponnese

GETTYThe Greek Peloponnese isn't on everyone's list but has a real pull

Until recently, it wasn’t on my radar either. In fact, it wasn’t until a friend’s family trekked the Peloponnese, and fell so in love with the region that they moved there, that I began planning a trip of my own.

Luckily, it’s easy enough to reach, with direct flights from London Gatwick to Kalamata airport (only an hour’s drive from the Peloponnese).

But as I’m a fan of a road trip, I travelled with a friend into Athens and embarked on a scenic five-hour drive from there.

Once we’d left the highways behind, we enjoyed the sight of soaring mountains, glistening oceans and Byzantine churches on the rugged Mani Peninsula, with barely a soul in sight for miles.

It’s this wild strip of land that has been at the heart of Greek theatre, literature and history for more than 3,000 years.

PeloponneseGETTY

The Mani Peninsula promises beautiful vistas with a private feel

Exploring the region properly would come later in our trip. First, we headed to Laconia and the beautiful Kinsterna Hotel, a historic manor that has been converted into a 54-room resort and spa.

On arrival, we were greeted with a cool drink, before being shown to our lovely room, with its exposed brickwork and views over olive and citrus groves.

After a few hours by the pool – fed continuously by natural spring water – we dined at Kinsterna Restaurant, built around (and named after) the original water cistern (kinsterna). We were in foodie heaven as we tucked into scrumptious lamb, cooked in a wood-burning oven, while taking in the sea views.

The next morning, we set off to explore, heading north to the medieval citadel of Monemvasia.

Perched on the east coast, this enormous sea rock had an estimated 40,000 residents in the 1600s; now, it’s believed that only 10 people reside here full time and most of the old mansions are now guest houses and boutique hotels.

It’s not possible to explore the island by car, so you have to park up before you enter Monemvasia proper.

And make sure you put aside an afternoon to fully explore the cobblestoned streets and take in its incredible history.

Keen to explore the region further, we soon bid a sad farewell to Kinsterna Hotel and hit the road for a two-hour drive back to the Mani Peninsula, where we based ourselves at the gorgeous family-owned boutique hotel Citta dei Nicliani, in Stavri.

In 2006, retired couple Tania, an interior designer, and Ilias Sepsas, an oil engineer, lovingly restored this collection of three historic tower houses into a stylish seven-room inn.

Each room is individually styled, but all have plenty of characterful stone walls, exposed beams and wooden floors, with unique little touches (mine featured an olive press).

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