Overview

Introduction

The vast fortified island rock of Monemvasia, with sea to three sides and reached only by a narrow causeway, is one of the major attractions of the Greek mainland. Sometimes called 'the Gibraltar of the East' (for obvious reasons), this remarkably preserved medieval town should not be missed.

Monemvasia is about a third of the way down the east coast of third 'finger' of the Peloponnese. Founded in the 6th century the town was the commercial port of Byzantine Mystras and soon thickly fortified (its very name means 'single entrance'). Only ever breached by siege, Monemvasia was subsequently occupied by Crusaders, Franks, Venetians and Turks, all of whom have left evident traces. Within the castle's walls many of the crumbling buildings are now restored and you will find an excellent choice of atmospheric restaurants and cafes.

Beaches along the mainland shore are functional but for some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the entire Peloponnese head to the off-shore islet of Elafonissos, a 50 minute drive to the peninsula's west coast followed by a short 10 minute hop on one of the frequent ferries (in season they can run as often as every 30 minutes) - a car plus 2 persons should cost no more than 15 euro. Simos is the best, a long wide expanse of white sand shelving into Caribbean-hued waters. We doubt you can find better in Greece!

You can also visit the beautiful island of Kythira from the port of Neapolis, although you may need to overnight here.

Monemvasia is remote, a 3 hour drive from Kalamata Airport via Sparta, and our holidays here include a car. A short visit is best done as part of a fly-drive itinerary. For those seeking upmarket luxury, the Kinsterna Hotel, 6 kms to the south, is very special. Alternatively we have arrange stays in small boutique hotels within the castle walls (cars are parked on the mainland and a free shuttle bus takes you to the gate) or in the modern town itself. If you prefer not  to drive straight off the plane we can arrange your first night in Kalamata.

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Pavlopetri

Swim and snorkel above the oldest submerged town in the world… 5,000 years of history beneath you
 
Just offshore from the deepest part of the wild Mani region of the Southern Peloponnese (Greek mainland), a 2.5 hour drive from the city of Kalamata but only 12 km from the small mainland town of Neapoli, lies the oldest (5,000 years old) submerged town in the world - Pavlopetri.
 
Discovered in 1967 and subsequently explored and excavated, this underwater town dates from 2,800 BC but the remains which can still be seen are Mycenaean, from between 1680 BC and 1180 BC. Located in the Laconia prefecture of Greece, Pavlopetri was an important trading port, a centre for textiles and, from its location, it controlled the entire Laconian Gulf.
 
The submerged town, covering over two acres, lies 3m to 4 m beneath the waves, and between the tiny islet of Pavlopetri and the beach. You are not allowed to scuba dive there, but to snorkel is thrilling!
 
In 2019, Sunvil is once more featuring the beautiful island of Kythira (as air links to Athens are much improved) in the Ionian Sea just to the south of the Mani region.  You will be able to hire a car on Kythira, take it across to Neapoli on the mainland on the ferry (1.5 hours) and drive the short distance (12 km) to swim or snorkel above Pavlopetri, returning to your island base after an overnight or two  in the medieval, castled island of Monemvasia, linked to the mainland by a causeway
 
Kythira’s little satellite island, Antikythira, is where the world’s first computer, known as the Antikythira Device, was discovered by divers over 100 years ago; in ancient times, this was a busy sea-trade route between Sicily and Italy in the western Mediterranean and Turkey and Greece in the eastern Med.   Doubtless the sea has many more secrets to reveal in this wonderful part of the ancient world!

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Mark Willson
Mark Willson
Best time to go
  • JAN
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  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
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Time Difference

GMT + 2 hours

Currency

Euro

Language

Greek

Average flight times

3 hours 40 Minutes

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Talk to our Greece expert

Jackie Gogonas
Jackie Gogonas

Those of our clients who have, over the last 20 or so years, visited Tolon in the Peloponnese will know Jackie; our very knowledgeable and passionate representative. Having decided to return to the UK, she has joined our reservations team and, needless to say, knows Tolon, a resort we have featured since 1973, inside out. It will come as no surprise to know that the Peloponnese is her favourite region in Greece.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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