This Summer, one of my boyfriend’s Greek friends was so nice to invite us to spend some days with him and his beautiful family in his father’s hometown in the Peloponnese peninsula. As we accepted the invitation, little did I know that I was going to discover one of Grece’s best-kept secret – the Byzantine castle of Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem.
Following the signs that lead you towards the little historic town, you won’t know exactly what to expect and will most certainly be surprised by the stunning view that will reveal itself once you’re close.
Driving towards the little rocky islet off Laconia’s eastern shore, you will wonder what is in it for you, but once you cross the bridge and turn the last corner, you will see why Monemvasia may not be part of the World Heritage but is indeed the most wonderful Greek hidden gem.
Once you’ve parked your car, step through the massive stone door, into the narrow, slippery streets and emerge yourself into a fairytale setting. Even though the houses that surround you are now shops, restaurants, bars or hotels, the medieval city has preserved its flair and historic feel.
Totally different than the signature all-white Greek villages, sunsets will be amazing in this beige town, the sun gently caressing it and transforming it into a pastel heaven. Thus, sit at one of the many tavernas in the company of one of the many cats, or at one of the two rooftop bars in town, and take in the view. You will never forget it.
How to get to Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem
The island was once attached to the mainland but got separated after an earthquake, and now is linked through a causeway through which you can drive or take the bus to get to the old town. I honestly think this destination should be part of any Greece itinerary, no matter if you’re looking to see the mainland or islands.
We landed in Athens and our friend picked us up and drove for about 3 – 4 hours from the Athens Airport. Thus, the easiest and fastest way to get there is by renting a car and driving the scenic 330 km road.
On your way down, you will pass by the ancient town of Corinthus and through what used to be Sparta.
Even though we’ve tried to look for public transportation to get there from Athens (train or bus), we’ve been told there is no such thing in the Peloponnese or it would take too long. The other option would be arranging a driver and splitting the car with other people, and the cost for that would be somewhere around 150 EUR for 2.
When to visit Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem
As we’ve done also last year, when we visited Santorini island, we have spent a weekend in Monemvasia in the middle of August, which might not be the perfect time to go to Greece firstly because it tends to be very crowded and expensive, and secondly because it is very hot outside.
Thus, I would suggest late Spring (May or June) and early Autumn (September or even October) for planning a trip in Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem.
What to do in Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem
That is in and around Monemvasia because in the surroundings there are plenty of beautiful beaches, not spoilt by hoards of tourists.
- Walk on the cobblestone narrow streets of the small village and admire the view and location, relax and make the best out of the days you spend here. This is your vacation!
- Climb the steep hill up to the castle walls, from where you will have the perfect view over the whole town and the deep blue sea
- Stop for a delicious cocktail at Enetiko Cafe & Cocktail Bar, where you will also have the chance to party a little
- Head to the center of the village where you will find the Christos Elkomenos church
- Take the car and head to one of the many unspoiled beaches, frequented by locals
- Head to Limenas Gerakos for one of the best fish lunches you will ever have, at Diamandis Fish Tavern
- Looking for Caribbean blue waters? Simos Elafonisos is the place for you! Trust me, you will love this place right here
Where to stay in Monemvasia, Peloponnese hidden gem
Ok, even though we were supposed to stay at a hotel, we ended up crashing at our friend’s family’s house 30 min outside of Monemvasia, living the real Greek experience.
But, the initial plan would have been to spend 3 magic nights in the castle, which I would totally suggest you to do because it is a priceless experience!
Our choice was the beautiful Byzantino Boutique Hotel.
Other Greece travel information
- Looking to spend your vacation in Santorini? Here is a comprehensive list of places where to stay in Santorini, what to do and see in Santorini, and the ultimate packing list for Santorini
- Want to see something hidden from the crowds? Spend your Greece vacation on one of these less known Greek islands.
- Heading to Athens? Here is my perfect Athens 2 day itinerary and all the things you must know before going.