Peloponnese is a large peninsula occupying the south part of Greece, and its southernmost point is also the southernmost point of the European continent as well. The northeast part of the peninsula is connected to mainland Greece by the Corinth isthmus but after the completion of the Corinth canal in 1893 it can be considered an island, since now Peloponnese is accessible only via bridges. The Corinth canal aimed to facilitate and shorten the route of sea vessels but due to its narrowness, large modern ships cannot pass and the canal is not much of use but it attracts tourists. The northwest part of Peloponnese is also connected to mainland via the Rio-Antirio bridge (completed in 2004), allowing you to choose the access depending on your location.
Peloponnese is the richest in history regions of Greece - many of the legendary towns and heroes from Greek mythology are all related to places on this peninsula. There are many castles and fortifications bespeaking of the past and reminding of Roman, Ottoman and Venetian rule, preserved old towns in which you can take a walk in history and ruins of ancient sanctuaries and poleis. Among the most famous and world known sights of the region are Mycenae, Epidaurus, Ancient Olympia and Ancient Corinth, Monemvasia, etc. The castles of Nafplio, Pylos, Mystras and Methoni are well preserved in their original outlook and Mani, a small peninsula in the south, looks unreal with its stone houses and towers.
As it comes to geography, Peloponnese is very diverse and boast with high mountains, rivers, lakes, fertile valleys and long sandy beaches. The east coast of the peninsula is more indented and rocky, the beaches are usually pebbly (of course, there are exceptions). The long sandy beaches with sand dunes are in the west, including Elea which is the longest beach of Greece with uninterrupted beach strip of more than 35 km. The architecture also varies according to the region, jumping from traditional Greek style to Venetian and Medieval buildings.
Administratively the peninsula is divided into 7 regions - Argolis, Arcadia, Achaia, Corinthia, Elis (Ilia), Laconia and Messinia. The island of Elafonisos also belongs to Peloponnese because it is very close to mainland. Below is a list of interesting sights and places you can consider for your trip to this part of Greece:
1. Argolis Region
- The historical site of Mycenae near the village of Mykines
- The historical site of Argos and Larissa Castle in the town of Argos
- The town of Nafplio with its strongholds, Palamidi and Bourtzi fortresses and the narrow pedestrian streets full of flowers
- The historical site of Epidaurus with its Great Theater
The Saronic islands of Hydra, Spetses and Poros are scattered around this region and very convenient to visit, although administratively they belong to Athens.
2. Arcadia Region
- Stemnitsa and Dimitsana, beautiful old villages high in the mountains
- The monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos carved in a high rock, close to Stemnitsa
- The castle of Karytaina in the village of Karytaina
Arcadia is mainly mountainous and hard to explore, note that even short distances take much time. The beaches at the seaside are pebbly.
3. Achaia Region
- The fortress of Patra
- The Cave of the Lakes, with cascading lakes on three levels, near the town of Kalavryta
4. Corinthia Region
- The Corinth Canal
- The historical site of Ancient Corinth and the castle of Acrocorinth
5. Elis Region
- The historical site of Ancient Olympia
- The Crusader fortress of Chlemoutsi near Kastro village
The port of Kyllini in this region provides regular ferry connections to the Ionian islands of Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca
6. Laconia Region
- The Ancient town and castle of Monemvasia
- Elafonisos island
- Mystras, a fortified town near Sparta
- The town of Gythio which reminds of Corfu town with its architecture
- Mani peninsula (Mani Region) with the stone houses
- The Diros Caves near Areopoli, Mani
- Cape Tenaro, the southernmost point of continental Europe where you can also see an ancient sanctuary of Poseidon
7. Messinia Region
- The town of Pylos with its Venetian architecture, the castle above the town and the big rock Sfaktiria in the sea
- The Methoni Castle
- The castle of Koroni
- Voidokilia beach, a beach with peculiar shape
- The old Navarino Castle above Voidokilia beach
- Nestor`s Palace
- Ancient Messinia near Kalamata