Mercouri winery (3 km – 5 min drive near Korakochori)
This boutique winery is located near the sea, in a setting officially recognized by the Greek government as an area of outstanding beauty. Take the time to stroll around, see the beaches, peacocks, family church…The estate grows more than 15 varieties of grapes. Tours allow for the visit of the wine production facilities, vineyards, and olive groves, as well as the small folklore museum which houses a collection of old rural tools and instruments. Tours end with a sampling of products and you can purchase their wine, which is among the most historic and known in Greece.
Katakolo (5 km – 10 min drive)
Katakolois a picturesque fishing village, and among the busiest ports for cruise ships in Greece. The shops on the main street are open whenever there is a cruise ship (most days of the week until around 5pm). You can find beautiful jewellery, clothes, shoes, ceramics, art and local products such as olive oil and honey. There are also several restaurants, taverns, coffee shops and gelaterias.
Pyrgos (14 km – 15 min drive)
Pyrgos (population around 30,000) ιs the capital of Elis province. The municipal museum of Pyrgos is a beautiful neoclassical building, built in the late 19th century by Ernst Ziller. What used to be the city’s marketplace now houses many impressive finds from Elis prefecture. Park on the street near the restaurant Bistro (on google map, type Pyrgos Bistro), and walk to the museum.
Monasteries: unique destinations to discover Greek orthodox faith
Medieval Monastery of Skafidia (2 km – 5 min drive): this beautiful medieval monastery is now a nunnery. From the outside, it looks like a fortress. Once you are inside, wander around in the open courtyard and admire the old church (frescos from the 10th century AD).
Monastery of Eisodiotissa, the Virgin Mary at Agios Ioannis (7 km – 8 min away): on your way to Pyrgos, before entering the village of Agios Ioannis, you will notice a huge yellowish building with arches on the hill on your left side. The monastery hosts the Faculty of Hagiography and Byzantine Music. The cells of the monks function as a youth shelter.
Monastery of Kremasti (the hanging monastery) (21 km – 30 min – beautiful road trip): this monastery is literally hanging from the rocks. It was founded in 1700 and is now a nunnery. Many people visit this monastery for its miraculous icon.
Water sports (please check whether they are open before going)
Kaiafas lake, known for its sulphuric warm springs since antiquity, has thermal baths, a water-ski resort and places for rock climbing. It is located between Pyrgos and Zaharo (33km, 45 min drive) in a stunning landscape, where a pine forest meets the beach.
There are Water sports on the beach of Aldemar resort, about 5 min drive from the villas.
Agios Ilias beach (10 minutes drive) is popular with wind and kite surfers.
There are surfing schools in Lagouvardos (100 kilometers south, 1h and 30 min drive).
Cape Drepano (located near Patras 1 hour and 30 min drive from the villas) is famous in Greece for wind and kite surfing. Search the internet to find the right school for you.
Ancient Olympia and Folóï Forrest (53 km - 60 min drive)
Olympia is the place where the very first Olympic games took place in 776BC, and one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece and the world. It is located about 30 km (30 min drive) from the villas. You can also take a small train from Katakolo. You can find the train schedule at the train kiosk in front of the Katakolo church. The trip takes around 50 min and is convenient and picturesque. Visit the archaeological site and the museum. It is possible to hire guides. Then, you can continue to Folóï oak forest, located at an altitude of 688m, It is an ecosystem, unique in the Balkan peninsula, of 9,900 acres (40 square km), almost entirely covered by deciduous oaks that form a dense forest area. The ancient Greeks believed that it was a habitat of centaurs and dryads. Insider tip: it is better to visit Olympia when there is no cruise ship in the port of Katakolo, in order to avoid the crowds. Fun fact: During antiquity the area under and around the villas used to be a quarry, which explains the rock formations at the seafront. Rocks extracted from the quarry were transported to Olympia by ships through Alfeios river and used as the building material for the monuments that you will visit. Today the seafront is a protected archaeological site.
Zakynthos, Kephalonia, Ithaca islands
Zakynthos, the island you see in front of your terrace, is famous for the shipwreck beach, the blue caves, its caretta caretta turtles, beach bars, and nightlife. Kephaloniais famous for its natural beauty, world class beaches and Ainos mountain, with its pine forests and wild ponies. On a clear day you can see Ainos from your terrace to the north of Zakynthos. Ithaca, the birthplace of Ulysses in the poems of Homer, is a small island next to Kephalonia. Apart from its mythical essence, it boasts incredible natural beauty, with lush green nature and exotic beaches with emerald waters.
Temple of Apollo Epicurius and Andritsaina village (93 km - 1 ½ hour drive)
This remote temple on top of a mountain, was the first monument of Greece to be listed on the world heritage list of Unesco. On google maps, search for “Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae of Phigaleia”. The road trip is beautiful and the landscape very different from the area around the villas. The temple is located 6 km from the traditional mountain village of Andritsaina, with old stone houses, a square, and the oldest fountain in Peloponnese.
Ancient Messene / Ithomi (128 km - 1 ¾ hour drive)
Messene city, another Unesco site, was founded in 369 BC. It is a remarkable archaeological site, with many remains of buildings, including a stadium, a theatre, and a market. Stop at the museum when you exit the site, located a bit up the road. You can have lunch at the tavern Ithomi just opposite the spring at the charming town of Mavromati. It is situated above the ruins of Ancient Messene and provides an exceptional view of the valley. If you have time for a short detour, it is worth visiting the old town of Kyparissia.
Ancient Elis (44 km – 45 min drive)
Ancient Elis was the city that supervised the organisation of the Olympic games. One month before the games, athletes and trainers would gather there to train under the supervision of the local judges. Two days before the games began, a procession set out from this city-state and all the athletes and trainers had to walk the whole distance to Olympia (58 km). You can visit the site and the museum. During the summer, there is open air theatre with ancient tragedies and comedies.
Neda river waterfalls (95 km – about 2 hour drive)
For the adventurous, walking on the riverbanks of the Neda river and swimming in one of the small ponds of the waterfall is a once in a lifetime experience. According to Greek mythology, Neda was one of the 3 nymphs who bathed the young Zeus in the Lousios river. It was believed that this river was one of the gates to Hades (the Greek underworld). It can only be visited during the summer or early autumn when the waters subsidize. To go there, drive to the village of Platania (on the way to Kalamata – in google maps search for Platania Messenia) then walk 3.5 km to the waterfall.
Historic villages of Arcadia (95 km – about 2 – 2 ½ hour drive)
Dimitsanaand the surrounding mountainous villages of Arcadia is where the Greek revolution against the Ottomans started in 1821. There are many old villages, hanging on cliffs (e.g., Langadia) or inside forests (e.g., Vytina) within a few kilometres of each other. Breath taking landscape, excellent traditional food, old monasteries (e.g., Prodromou), unique trekking paths and water rafting in canyons. The area is among the most popular in Greece for outdoor activities.
Arkoudi village, Frankish Castle of Chlemoutsi and Strofylia National Park (95 km – about 1 ¾ hour drive)
You can start with Arkoudi (40 km, 45 min drive), a picturesque village with a sandy beach popular with surfers. Then you can visit the impressive Chlemoutsi castle, built by the Franks in 1220. Further north is Strofylia, a rare ecosystem with tremendous environmental value. It is a coastal forest strip, one of the largest of its kind in Europe, with stone pines, Aleppo pines and Valonian oaks. After the northern edge of the forest is Kalogria beach, with several beach bars.