Deep Mani is the southernmost area of Mani Region, Peloponnese, dominated by the specific Maniot architecture and home to the legends about the hot temper of the locals. This is the place where fairytales come to life in the form of stone towers, houses like real fortresses and all-stone villages which make you feel time disoriented. Those who have been here keep special memories of the austere beauty and dramatic scenery of rocky uplands dotted with clusters of stone buildings. If your first visit to Mani is on the go, the following may give you some clues on how to spend your time.
1. Sleep in a castle
That is easy - almost, if not all hotels, villas and guesthouses in Deep Mani look like castles, towers and fortresses. And despite the legends about the fierce temper of Maniots, they are extremely hospitable and kind with their guests.
2. Walk in the center of Areopoli
Areopoli could be described as the main village of Deep Mani where you can meet other people all year round. As soon as you reach the square with a statue of the local hero Petros Mavromichalis, you can slip into the central alley lined with small cafes and tavernas, many of them with the name "Petros" or "Mavromichalis". Do not miss the stone church with the tall tower-like belfry and the local bakeries.
3. Eat at Limeni
Limeni, the scenic harbor of Areopoli, combines the Maniot style architecture with the traditional Greek atmosphere - blue sea, fishing boats and delicious food. The houses stand right above the sea and the couple of seafront tavernas have their tables on stone platforms next to the water. You can dine with the waves splashing just below your feet, or swim in the crystal clear blue water. There is no beach here but you can use the rocks to sunbath and go into the sea.
4. Visit the Diros caves
The Diros Caves complex is one of the few caves with lake which you can tour by boat. The route includes walking through narrow passages and sailing with boats in the lake through cave tunnels, all this with a licensed guide and roughly within 40 minutes. The experience is not very cheap but the thrilling sensation justifies the money.
5. Explore the ghost village of Vathia
It is not a ghost village in the full sense as some of the houses are renovated and inhabited (not sure if all year round or only seasonal). But most buildings of Vathia are deserted and stillness hovers over it. You can have a walk and peek through the abandoned towers and semi-ruined houses but the feeling between these empty walls and creaking doors in the perfect silence around is a bit eerie.
6. Have a coffee at Gerolimenas
Like Limeni, Gerolimenas is a small picturesque harbor for fishing boats, with stone houses spread by the sea. There are nice cafes and tavernas at the seafront, and a small beach with smooth white pebbles.
7. Set your foot on Cape Tenaro
The lighthouse on Cape Tenaro is the southernmost point of mainland Greece and mainland Europe. The hiking trail leading to the lighthouse is about 2 km long and requires proper shoes, clothing and water, especially in the hottest months since there is no shade anywhere. Next to the parking place for cars is the Sanctuary of Poseidon Tenaros, an ancient death oracle where tourists leave small gifts to Poseidon, and on the way to the lighthouse you can see a Roman mosaic ground.
8. Sunbath and swim in Marmari
The usual beaches of Deep Mani are small and rocky but Marmari proudly possesses two large and entirely sandy bays with shallow water. The sand is a bit coarse and dark but there are no pebbles or stones. The two beaches are surrounded by barren rocky highlands but despite the remote location there are a few guesthouses and one hotel complex. The larger beach has also a beach bar operating in the summer.
9. Take the hiking trail to Kastro Tigani
This is for enthusiasts only as it needs walking on the flat and barren rocky peninsula known as Tigani, on the tip of which you will find ruins of an old castle called Kastro Tigani. In order to reach the peninsula, first you need to pass through the villages of Stavri and Agia Kyriaki. The peninsula is clearly visible from Mezapos, a seaside settlement with weird beach and sea caves.
10. Get lost in time in any of the villages off the main road
This is easy, too, because there are plenty of small settlements where time has stopped, especially in the east part of the peninsula. Tsikalia, Lagia, Kitta and Paliros are just a few examples.