Messinia, a region in the Peloponnese, is a treasure trove of beauty, a unique blend of nature and history. It stands out for numerous reasons, making it an ideal destination for a leisurely road trip. What sets Messinia apart is not just the landmarks and points of interest you’ll visit, but the fact that the journeys you’ll embark on are attractions in themselves. The routes you’ll traverse are as much a part of the experience as the destinations they lead to. The landscapes unfold like a story, each turn revealing a new chapter of natural beauty and historical intrigue. All you need is a handful of days to spare and a bit of planning. So, prepare for a journey where the travel is as rewarding as the destination itself, and let Messinia’s charm unfold before you.
Let’s begin with the starting point of your journey: Kalamata, the captivating metropolis of Greece. This city can cater to all your needs, offering a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, and beautiful surroundings. Its ranking among the country’s most beautiful cities is no coincidence. You’ll understand why from the moment you arrive, especially if it’s your first visit. Kalamata exudes a unique aura that draws numerous admirers who frequently return for more.
Kalamata offers a unique blend of sea and mountain landscapes. On one side, you have the sea lapping at your feet, and on the other, the imposing Taygetos Mountain beckoning you to explore its trails and lose yourself in its beauty. During your stay in Kalamata, dedicate a day to discovering the city. Wander through its narrow streets and take a leisurely stroll along the beach. You’re sure to find spots that pique your interest. Don’t miss out on visiting some of the city’s landmarks, such as the 13th-century castle that offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Now is an ideal time to get to know Kalamata, on the one hand because the tourist traffic is lower, so you move more comfortably and see the sights more easily, on the other hand the weather is ideal to walk without being burned by the sun and explore the area. And from there begins your excursion to Messinia.
Messinian Mani and Kardamili
The next destinations on your Messinian road trip should be Messinian Mani and, of course, Kardamyli. Be sure to visit one of the most beautiful houses in the Mediterranean located in Kardamyli, a true gem of the area that you shouldn’t miss on this journey. Rest assured, the praises you’ve heard about this region of the Peloponnese are not overstated.
Kardamyli, situated about 35 km from Kalamata, is a serene, traditional, picturesque village enveloped in greenery. This coastal village is a popular summer spot, but you might even spot some people diving there in the autumn, especially if the weather is favorable. Kardamyli offers a unique blend of natural beauty and the traditional architecture of Mani, adding to its charm.
After Kardamyli, continue your journey to the rest of Messinian Mani, specifically to Stoupa. It’s worth visiting Kalogria beach at this time of year, not for swimming, but for something even more enchanting. It was here, in this very place, that the great Nikos Kazantzakis found inspiration for his work “Zorba the Greek” (Book title: Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas).
Awe-inspiring Ancient Messini
You cannot be in Messinia and not get to know the miracle of Ancient Messini. You will feel awe and a fullness that will accompany you for quite some time. We are transported again about 30 kilometers away from Kalamata and this time we are in front of one of the most important and impressive archaeological sites in Greece. You will travel mentally to the ancient city of Messini, which dates back to having been founded around 370 BC by General Epaminondas after the Spartan victory in the battle of Leuctra. We suggest you read a relevant historical note or book earlier to get into the mood as you admire the Arsinoe Fountain, the Stadium, the Theater, the Ecclesiastic, the Agora and the Monument-Mausoleum. In the Archaeological Museum, you will also find some of the most important findings of the archaeological site.
Once you’ve journeyed through history and discovered the gems of Messinian Mani, it’s time to venture a bit further from Kalamata. About 50 km away, you’ll find another enchanting spot: the renowned town of Pylos. If this is one of your first trips to Messinia, Pylos is a must-visit. This quaint town, built amphitheatrically in the Bay of Navarino—site of the eponymous naval battle—will sometimes give you the impression of being on an island. Be sure to visit Niokastro, the well-preserved castle built by the Ottomans in 1573, which is one of the area’s most significant landmarks.
If you’re a nature enthusiast and enjoy hiking, your exploration of Messinia shouldn’t stop here. There are numerous hiking trails and the Neda River to explore during the summer. For the autumn season, we recommend visiting one of the many villages in the area, each offering beautiful hiking trails.
One of our top recommended hiking trails is the historic 400-year-old path that leads from the village of Sellas to the Holy Monastery of Agios Nikitas. Nestled about 20 km from Kyparissia, the village of Sellas is a verdant haven. Every moment spent there is a reward in itself. The trail is adorned with oak trees and flowing waters, creating a picturesque landscape for hikers. In the autumn, the trees lay down a golden yellow carpet, enhancing the uniqueness of the experience. The trail is approximately 3.5 km long and will take around 2 hours to complete. Do note that there’s a half-kilometer uphill stretch on this route.
Kalamata - Athens distance
Kalamata is a mere three-hour drive from Athens, covering a distance of approximately 237 km. You’ll take the Athens - Patras route, then head towards Tripoli. The road signs will guide you effortlessly to your destination! A road trip to Messinia would ideally span four to five days, promising an unforgettable experience!