The Peloponnese peninsula and more specifically Messinia Prefecture has been selected by Aegean Key as a place of unique natural beauty and long lasting history, features which distinguish this extremely interesting holiday destination in mainland Greece!
It is an area rich in flora and fauna, hosting seven designated EU Natura 2000 sites and six attractive areas of unique, delightful character: Pylos, Kalamata, Methoni, Koroni and Foinikounta attract thousands of tourists each year for their interesting culture, awe-inspiring landscape and pristine habitat.
Pylos is the ideal starting point for excursions in the castle cities of Methoni and Koroni, the modern town of Kalamata, the beautiful beaches that dot the coastline and the renowned historic and natural sites.
Pylos town is built amphitheatrically at the foot of the hill of Aghios Nikolaos, in a small protected Navarino bay, facing the small island of Sphacteria. Its harbor, its hexagonal venetian fortress Neokastro (1865-1715) and the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour within it, its arched houses in the central square (Square of the Three Admirals, named after the three commanders of the victorious fleet in the battle of Navarino), and the small islands Sphacteria, Tsichli-Baba or Fanari and Chelonaki, of Navarino Bay, create a scenic surrounding.
Some ideas for side trips:
Overlooking Pylos town, you will see the ruins of Paliokastro, the old Frankish castle (13th c.) in the area of ancient Korifasio and the nearby King Nestor's cave, full of stalactites, at the foot of the castle's walls. The panoramic view to Pylos, Navarino Bay and Gialova is breathtaking.
17 kilometres north of Pylos, on the hill of Upper Englianos, the Palace of Nestor is the best preserved Mycenaean palaces, a complex of various buildings, an administrative, economic, military and religious centre for Messinia.
The amazing seaside towns Methoni (21 kms from Kalamata, 16 kms from Pylos) and Koroni (52 kms from Kalamata, 39 kms from Pylos) will captivate your heart. The fortress of Koroni reaches the level of the sea and its sister-castle in Methoni, which were both built by the Venetians in the early 13th century, are facing the Mediterranean, offering stunning views. You can combine your visit with a stop at the church dedicated to Panaghia Eleistra and a dive in secluded coves and beaches found along the way (Paroulia, Gargarou, Zagga, Aghia Triada, Aghios Ioannis).
Kalamata, the capital of Messinia and second largest city in the Peloponnese, is at 52 kms distance from Pylos. Here, you will be amazed by Palia Poli (Old City) at the foot of the Castle of Isabeau, Panaghia Ipapanti church (1873), the patron saint of Kalamata, the Byzantine church Aghioi Apostoloi (13th century) with the brick enclosed masonry, the City Hall, the Historical and Folklore Museum, the Archaeological Museum, galleries and a long, blue-flag rated pebbly beach, backed by bars and tavernas.
Foinikounda, is a peaceful unspoilt seaside resort, offering a sandy beach and bedazzling azure waters, at 20 kms from Pylos and 69 from Kalamata, between Methoni and Koroni. Its beach is stunning, the surrounding is peaceful and it offers quite organized tourism facilities.
The seaside village of Gialova, north of Pylos, is famous for its unique, protected area, the wetlands in Divari, home to many endangered species of birds. Nature will relax and inspire you!
Voidokilia Bay has been officially recognized as a landscape of exceptional natural beauty and is considered one of the most scenic beaches in Greece and the most renowned beach in Messinia, situated 12 kms from Pylos. Crystal waters & fine sand create a still authentic, dreamy landscape.
Diros Cave: Mani's number 1 tourist attraction, this cavern is a magical place, a unique experience traveling barely a subterranean river length 1,600 m., surrounded by enormous stalactites and stalagmites in the most amazing formations. Combine with a visit at the museum with exhibits dating from the Neolithic age. A well 140 kms from Pylos, but worth the drive!
Get the Taste
The Messinian land, rich and fertile, is renowned for its olive groves, where the extra virgin olive oil is produced and exported all around the world. It's the kind of the cuisine, dominating all dishes and salads.
Then, we have the Kalamata olives, the award winning wines, the fresh vegetables and dairy products, the high quality meat and fish dishes, all together offering a culinary experience in mouth-watering regional specialties.
Try also Sfela cheese from Messinia (Protected Designation of Origin), octopus with raisins, octopus in balsamic vinegar, seasoned with thyme and served with Messinian baby potatoes, pork with celery and natural herbs from Mount Taygetos, Mani crisp “dakos” (with tomato, sfela cheese, oregano and olive oil), lalaggia rolls (fried biscuits with cinnamon) and yogurt with nuts and Greek thyme honey from Taygetos mountain.
Sea & Sun
Crystal clear waters, white sand and idyllic coves surrounded by castles and fortresses, are just a few of the stops that will lure you for a swim in the area. In Pylos town, there is a very small spot preferred by the locals for a quick swim.
To discover the most amazing beaches, you need to travel near and around Pylos. The first stop should be made at Voidokoilia Beach, a natural bay, with white fine sand and beneath it, the small Glossa Beach (nudists- friendly). Also, Sykia pass, is a narrow water passage that divides the island of Sphacteria from the mainland, offering with crystal shallow waters. Amazing and unspoilt are the beaches at Divari – or Golden beach, a beautiful, protected area with a short organized area, Gialova Beach, an organized, sandy beach with tourist facilities, such as shops, taverns, cafeterias and Romanos Beach, long, spacious and sandy.
Foinikounta is a family beach with crystal waters and sand, near the homonymous village, and only 1,5 km away from here we reach Tsapi Beach. In between these two, the Small and Big Marathi are a refreshing surprise, so a detour is a must.
When visiting Methoni, you can try the beach beneath the castle and the organized Front and the Back Lampes, a few kilometres outside Methoni. While in Koroni, don’t miss a dive at the equally wonderful beach beneath the castle, with crystal clear and calm waters and at Zagka Beach, south of the castle.
Messinia is world famous for its rich soil which produces tasty and aromatic olive oil, wine and natural herbs.
Thus, don’t leave without filling your suitcases with a “taste of the area”: the world famous Kalamata Olives and Kalamata extra virgin Olive Oil, local wines of exceptional quality, dried figs which are rich in minerals and fiber, sun-dried raisins, one of the main agricultural products of Messinia, natural herbs from Taygetos mountain (balsam, mountain tea, oregano, dittany, Melissa, bay leaves), sesame bars and Messinian balsamic vinegar.
The area is also famous for its gorgeous silk products, today sold at Gonou Manufacturing Workshop.