East Peloponnese, Greece

This remote southern region and its ancient churches will keep Byzantine fans busy for days: crumbling ruins, monasteries and churches line the quiet roads where traffic comes mostly in the form of passing cows. Flora flourishes in a landscape of vineyards, olive trees and orange groves, and there are mountains to the east and west. Mediaeval walled towns include the castle-rock, Monemvasia, an isolated fortress across the Aegean. Above ground, the peninsula boasts golden beaches with transparent turquoise waters, but underground, it’s just as exciting – buried cities and caves to navigate by boat. Don’t miss Sparta, home of Helen of Troy, and Mystras, a deserted fortified town, stopping off from long drives at one of the roadside tavernas serving souvlaki and saganaki.

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Areas in East Peloponnese

When to go

It’s warm and sunny from April until early October, but crowd sizes peak in August, when the narrow mountain passes get congested.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Athens is the region’s main air hub. EasyJet hooks the city up with the rest of Europe, with regular flights from London, Paris, Rome and Berlin (www.easyjet.com). British Airways (www.ba.com) and Aegean Airlines (www.aegeanairlines.com) also operate flights here. The drive to the East Peloponnese will take around five hours.
  • Boats

    The main gateways by sea to the East Peloponnese are Githio in the south, Patra in the north-west and Piraeus in Athens.
  • Automobiles

    Pick up a hire car at the airport, where Avis (www.avis.com) has a desk. From Athens, follow the national highways to Corinth, Tripoli and then Sparta. Monemvasia is well signposted from here.
  • Taxis

    The bigger towns have taxis to flag, but it’s best to ask your hotel for advice. In Monemvasia, try Dimitris on +30 6974 128278 or Tasos on +30 6980 567871.

Byzantine Suite at Kinsterna, Peloponnese, Greece

Byzantine Suite at Kinsterna, Peloponnese, Greece

This luxury hideaway in the hills is set on an ancient Byzantine estate and overlooks the fairy-tale rock city of Monemvasia. Framed by vineyards and olive groves, Kinsterna carefully marries traditional design with modern touches. The Byzantine Suites are the estate’s oldest – one can lay claim to being used as a cell thousands of years ago – with jagged stone arched ceilings, whitewashed walls and views over the iridescent waters of the Aegean.

Find out more about Kinsterna