Road trip! The very words put a smile on my face. I have noticed these words have the same curious effect on several people. What else could combine adventure, comfort, the luxury of moving exactly at the pace you want, unexpected little restaurants along the way that astound you, great views and…. I could go on. But, let’s agree on the fact that road trips are magical and that somewhere, someday, I just might meet Peter Pan around the bend in the road. 😊
I have been on numerous road trips in my life. I’ve driven down the Amalfi coast in Italy, famous for its jaw dropping coastline views, been across the French wine country where there are so many shades of green you will think it’s an entire color family on its own, traveled along the mountainous roads of Sikkim where wild hibiscus grows in riotous colors in every crevice it can find along the way. And yet….. and yet, none of these road trips can hold a candle to the road trip across the Peloponnese coast that Suraj and I did in Greece.
What is so special about this one, you ask? Well, have you ever seen so much beauty in one day that you felt almost intoxicated at the end of the day? That day, we did.
Have you ever had an entire beach of sparkling turquoise waters to yourself and two sun-bathing French women? We did!
Have you ever seen a sunrise that blew your socks off, and then, at the end of the day, also seen a sunset that vied with the sunrise to put up a more spectacular show? That day, we did.
The sky was a sea of burning orange and pulsing fire. . . . #travel #traveler #greece #wanderlust #globetrotter #latergram #blogger #blog #view #greek #travelitinerary #sightseeing #travelpost #manipeninsula #roadtrip #sunset #orangesky #landscape #peloponnese #passionpassport #beautifulmatters #ig_europe #europe_vacations #travelingtheworld #worldplaces
Have you seen rolling hills full of wildflowers, dropping down the sheer rock-face only to give way to spectacular vistas of a calm, azure blue sea, meeting a candy blue sky in the distant horizon?
So much beauty, quite literally about 20 people you will meet along the way during shoulder season and the friendliest locals we have ever met made this the best road trip we have ever been on.
So, let’s cut down on the descriptions and get into the practicalities. Ideally, you should begin this road trip from Kardamyli. Kardamyli is a little sea-side town about 2 and half hours from Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic games and the place where the Olympic torch is still lit. If you have already gone through my two week Greece itinerary, I have detailed a way for you to do this road trip. We did this as a day trip and stayed at Stella Rooms in Kardamyli, a great accommodation for budget travelers. For now, let’s assume that you are already in Kardamyli, and ready to begin this road trip at about 8 AM. You need the early start because you have a long way to go.
The route you will follow is this:
Kardamyli to Stoupa to Agios Nikolaos to Platsa to Thalames to Lagada to Itilo to Neo Itilo to Limeni to Areopoli to Chimara to Loukadika to Kokkala to Lagia to Cape Matapan to Vathia to Gerolimenas to Mezapos to Monemvasia or back to Kardamyli.
Simply doing the drive with no stops will take you about five to six hours hours. But if you stop to explore a few of those quaint little towns and pretty churches, to take photographs of the jaw-dropping views around pretty much every corner, for lunch and coffee, then you will most likely get back to your hotel in Kardamyli around 9 PM. I know that is a very long day, but it will be one of the most rewarding days of your trip to Greece.
So where should you stop and where should you drive by? Hmmm…that is a tough call, and I am making these suggestions based on our personal experience. Keep in mind that we went in April, so swimming in the ocean was quite out of question for us. But if you go during summer and would like to do that, you might need more time for this road trip, preferably two days.
Stoupa is a little resort town that literally hugs the sea. The big thing in town is the promenade and the cluster of little cafes and restaurants that line the promenade. You should definitely make at least a photo stop here. Platsa has a very interesting church of Saint John, if I remember right. Apparently the roof has a very interesting painting of Christ as Pantocrator and all the sun signs. We missed this both on our way in and out, but see it if you can (It’s usually closed more in off-season I think).
Thalames also has a gorgeous church that you should definitely explore if it is open. Limeni is an incredibly cute little town. This is one of the places you could stay in if you are going to do this road trip over two days. Warm waters, inviting restaurants, a delightful small-town feel; what’s not to like about that. Limeni is also incredibly popular among locals.
However, if you are continuing on, I would suggest making a lunch stop at Areopoli. Areopoli is a slightly larger town than the ones you encountered so far. You could spend about an hour exploring Areopoli. Get lunch there, and then leave at about 2 PM. Feta from Areopoli is very popular, make sure you try it while there.
You can sort of cruise through the rest of the towns right up to Cape Matapan, except of course, the photo stops. Cape Matapan is the point at which ancient Greeks believed the world ended – their very own Land’s end.
Land's end, Greece. This is where the ancients believed the souls of the dead came to pass over to the underworld. If this is where the dead come, even in passing, it's a good deal I say!!! . . . #greece #landsend #cape #capematapan #manipeninsula #travel #traveler #wanderlust #instavideo #instagram #globetrotter #roadtrip #coast #greek
The tip of Cape Matapan was the site of the ancient town Tenarus. Here, there is a cave that the ancients claim was the home of Hades. They also believed that this is where souls went to enter the underworld. On the hill above the cave is a sanctuary dedicated to Posiedon. In later times, this was converted into a Christian church. If the afterlife is anything close to Cape Matapan, I think I would be happy forever. 😊
You can actually walk all the way around the end of land to reach the cave if you want a short hike.
After Cape Matapan, you can make a short stop at Vathia and see the fortified town. Just along the road is fine because the town is uninhabited today. Reading about the chilling vendetta history of this small town while in such an idyllic and bucolic setting was somehow incongruous.
Further on, you will come into the little fishing town of Gerolimenas. This protected cove is perfect for swimming and whiling the afternoon away. So, if you have the luxury of time, do stop-over here for the night. Imagine how lovely it would be to swim in those pristine waters. You could perhaps pick up dinner in one of the seaside cafes. That would be a perfect end to your perfect day.
But, if you, like us, need to head back to Kardamyli, then don’t rush back yet. You have one more stop to make. The Mezapos bay, with its beautiful harbor, picturesque fishing boats and tranquil serenity is the perfect place to catch the sunset. Flared sunbeams shining through an old abandoned building along the harbor will bid adieu to you as you make your way back to Kardamyli, tired, but incredibly satisfied.7