Kalamata is a wonderful destination to visit in Greece and there is a lot to see and do there. Its central location makes it a great base to explore not only the wonders of Messinia but also the adjoining prefectures as well, such as Mani and Laconia. There are some fantastic Day Trips from Kalamata that you can do.
Keep reading to find the best ones!
Further reading: Top Things to do in Kalamata
Kalamata is a town of some 70,000 people and is located pretty much right in the middle of the Peloponnese, making it an ideal base to explore much of this fascinating peninsula.
You can get to Kalamata by airplane, car, or bus.
Kalamata airport receives flights from several European countries, including the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. For domestic air connections, you can fly to Kalamata from Thessaloniki; however, there are no direct flights between Kalamata and Athens.
The best way to reach Kalamata from Athens is by car. The drive is around three hours long, and you can stop in amazing places along the way, such as the Corinth Canal, the charming town of Nafplion, and other incredible sites on the Peloponnese.
Alternatively, you can take the public bus. The KTEL bus to Kalamata departs from the Kifissos bus station in Athens. The bus ride takes between three and five hours – there is a slower one with many stops and an express in Summer.
Where to stay in Kalamata
Along the waterfront, there are a number of excellent hotels with great views over the Bay and easy access to the beach, and the many cafes and tavernas along the water.
Horizon Blue is one of the best with beautiful rooms and great facilities befitting their 5-star status. A little further along is Elite City Resort, a solid 4-star property, and right in the harbor are Grand Hotel Kalamata and Hotel Nevada, both a short stroll to the ferry port and the center of town.
A great budget option is Hotel Haikos.
At the end of the riviera is the expensive Filoxenia Kalamata resort, part of the excellent Grecotel chain and with absolute beach frontage.
Families and groups looking for self-contained accommodation love Kritis Apartment which sleeps 6 people in 2 bedrooms and City Cottage which is actually a very nice 5-bedroom villa with a pool that can sleep up to 12 people.
Day Trips from Kalamata
Kalamata is one of the best places to base yourself to explore the Peloponnese. You can discover the many wonders of Messinia as well as the adjoining prefectures of Laconia, Arcadia, and Elis. It’s even possible to go further afield to towns like charming Nafplio, bustling Patras, and islands such as Elafonisi.
The Mani is a peninsula within a peninsula and is often referred to as the middle ‘finger’ of the Peloponnese. It is a rugged, relatively dry area that played a vital role in the Greek War of Independence. Its exposure to the sea means it is home to a unique style of ‘tower’ architecture – homes that were fortified against invaders, many of which are in ruins today.
There are a number of extraordinary towns and attractions that all visitors to the Peleponnese should try to see. Namely:
Kardamyli and Stoupa
A charming seaside town only 50 minutes’ drive south of Kalamata, this is a great place for a very relaxed vacation with few tourists and lovely beaches and boat trips.
The Old Town of Kardamyli was once a fortified settlement that features a restored tower and a stunning 18th-century church, – to a variety of lively bars and eating venues.
Visitors should also check out Mourtzinos Tower, a perfect example of Mani tower architecture and once a former Sea Captain’ residence.
The next town along the coast, and somewhat busier, is Stoupa.
Again located around a small, picturesque bay, the town now has a number of hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes and is especially popular in summer with tourists from the UK and Europe. The beach is very nice, and the area is great for hiking and diving.
Arguably the nicest traditional town in the Mani is the medieval town of Aeropoli ( City of Ares). It is inland from the sea – just 5 minutes from Limeni and consists of charming cobblestone streets covered in pink bougainvillea, restored tower houses, and authentic tavernas.
Other than wandering the alleyways and marveling at the beauty other things to do in Aeropoli include visiting the Church of Taxiarches located on the town square where the locals declared the revolution against the Ottoman empire. It has an impressive five-storied bell tower and a ten-sided dome.
There is also Pikoulakis Tower, a three storeys, two-story tower-house that houses the Byzantine Museum of Mani and the Church of Agios Ioannis. There is also Mavromichalis Tower, a four-story tower that was a school for many years, and The Pyrgos (Towers) of Biroulakaou and Pikoulaki.
Limeni is considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Greece, if not Europe. Whilst much loved by the Instagram crew it is really a very small village with little parking and surprisingly still fairly quiet.
Limeni is a small but beautifully maintained and restored village located in a small protected cove with crystal clear, azure water. There are a number of outdoor activities and boat rides on offer as well as a dive center.
Whilst there are only a handful of tavernas and cafes the quality is exceptional. One of the best meals we have ever had anywhere was at Telonio and the views at sunset make it even more special!
It is also quite common to see Sea Turtles fighting over kitchen scraps in front of the Tavernas.
Caves of Diros
Located only 10 minutes south of Aeropoli ( which is less than 10 minutes south of Limeni) are arguably one of the most important archeological sites and natural wonders in all of Greece and many say, the world. Yet few people have heard of it!
The Caves of Diros are actually two massive caves and the largest, Vlichada, is open to the public and is mostly explored in small boats on the water. The tour is 1,500 meters, of which the first 1,200 are on the water and it takes about 25 minutes to complete.
They believe the caves may, in fact, go for many kilometers right up through the Mani peninsula and they are still being explored and mapped.
Inside the cave, the fossilized bones of panthers, hyenas, lions, deer, ferrets, and the largest hippopotamus bone deposit in Europe have been found. Near its natural entrance, pottery has been found to indicate human presence. In fact, in recent months they have discovered evidence that this may have been where the first humans arrived in Europe from Africa.
Sounds of the Caves of Drios is this fantastic beach, considered the best in the Mani.
Right in front of the village with the same name the beach is small but has crystal clear water and is often calm. You can rent a sunbed and umbrellas or have a meal or coffee at one of the beachfront tavernas and cafes.
This is a south facing beach so quite protected from the wind. It is also a pebble beach so water shoes are a good idea.
Caves of Diros
Ancient Olympia likely needs no explanation. Home to the first Olympic Games in 776, Olympia was an important sanctuary and house of worship to the Father of the Gods, Zeus. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important archeological sites in Greece and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe.
How to do a day trip to Ancient Olympia
On the western side of the Peloponnese, it’s rather easy to get to Olympia from Kalamata. If you have a car, you need to drive for one hour and 45 minutes to reach Olympia
If you don’t have a car, the best option is to join an organized tour to visit Ancient Olympia.
Things to do on a day trip to Ancient Olympia
- The ancient Stadium, where most Olympic Games used to take place. The racetrack is over 200 meters long and nearly 30 to 34 meters wide.
- The Temple of Zeus, built in the 5th century B.C., is made of limestone and marble.
- The Temple of Hera is one of the oldest temples in Greece, dedicated to the goddess Hera. It was constructed in the 7th century B.C. The Olympic flame is still lit inside the temple!
- The Archaeological Museum, which hosts findings from the archeological site and others in the area. Among the famous exhibits, you will find the statues of Hermes of Praxiteles and of Nike Paionios.
In the summer there are performances during the International Festival of Ancient Olympia and the area around the Alpheios River is great for hiking and swimming. There is even the Kaiafas hot springs.
A charming seaside town located on the northeast coast of the Mani peninsula in neighbouring Laconia.
Home to many excellent seafood tavernas it’s a great spot to stop for lunch but it is also worth considering staying a few days as there are a few fascinating things to see and do. Located close to the main town is the small island of Cranae, believed to be where Paris of Sparta and Helen of Troy spent their first night together, igniting the Trojan War.
Also, close by you can see the Dimitrios Shipwreck at Valtaki Beach and the lovely Lighthouse of Githio. Selinitsa Beach and Mavrovouni beach are also lovely spots.
The ‘island fortress’ of Monemvasia dates back to the time of the byzantine emperor Maurice, who founded the city in the year 582 AD.
Monemvasia is quite unique and a must-do if you are visiting the Peloponnese. Once an island joined to the mainland by a small rock wall it was deliberately designed to blend into the mountain it clings to and therefore not be seen by enemies at sea.
Monemvasia was once a thriving seaport during the time of the emperor Andronicus XII and after occupation by the Ottomans, which lasted up until the early 19th century.
There are several boutique hotels and rooms to rent so you can experience Monemvasia at night, which we highly recommend as that is when it is at its most charming and revealing.
There are also a couple of good cafes and tavernas, particularly Chrisovoulo and Oinomelo. It’s also wonderful to dine on the mainland with views back over the island all lit up at night, at places like Melitzanakia and Skorpios.
Further reading: Our Complete Guide to Monemvasia
Located just one hour east of Kalamata is the infamous town of Sparta and only 10 minutes from there you will find the former fortified town of Mystras.
Things to do in Sparta
Sparta itself has a rich history but not many attractions, having been rebuilt after several earthquakes. You can get a photo with the Statue of Leonidas, the legendary general of the army and leader of the Battle of the ‘300’. You can also visit his tomb.
There are also several archaeological sites: The Archaeological Site of Ancient Sparta, the Acropolis of Ancient Sparta, and, just outside town the Menelaion.
There are several good museums, notably the Archaeological Museum of Sparta, the Manousakeio Museum, and the Museum of Olive Oil, which is a highlight for most people.
Mystras Acropolis and Fortification Castle is located high in the hills to the west of Sparta and is nestled between a convent and a Monastery, near the village of Mystras. This is a fascinating site to explore but there is a lot of steep walking so be sure to come prepared. It is a beautiful site undergoing significant restoration and is a must-see on the Peloponnesse.
Things to do on a day trip to Mystras
While visiting Mystras, make sure not to miss these three places:
- The Palace of Despots, the second most important palace of the Byzantine Empire. Located on Mystras’ highest spot, the palace was the house of the city’s ruler.
- The Cathedral of Agios Demetrios was founded in 1292 AD. Built with a mixed architectural style, it was in this gorgeous place that the last Byzantine emperor, Constantinos Paleologos, was crowned in 1449. The interior of the Cathedral is particularly spectacular, as it is decorated with wall paintings in many different styles.
- The Archeological Museum, with Ecclesiastical items from the Byzantine period. You will find the museum in the yard of Agios Demetrios Cathedral.
The fourth ‘finger’ of the Peloponnese tends to be the least visited, probably because it is simply harder to access. Whilst Kalamata, the Capital, is relatively easy to access exploring the western peninsula can only be done by road and car is best as the bus service is limited.
The area consists of over 250 kilometers of coastline and some truly incredible beaches such as Voidokoilia, Finikounda, and Romanos.
At the southwest tip of Messinia, you will find the Messinian Oinousses Islands, a group of 4 uninhabited islands that are home to the Shaft of Oinousses, which is 5,121 m. deep and is the deepest known point in the Mediterranean.
Notable attractions include:
The Polylimnio gorge, with its beautiful waterfalls, is a fantastic alternative to a day at the beach while in Greece.
How to do a day trip to Polylimnio Waterfalls
The Polylimnio Waterfalls are located about 30 kilometers from Kalamata. To reach Polylimnio gorge, you have to follow the road from Kalamata to Pylos to the village of Charavgi. The drive is around 45 minutes long. Once in Charavgi, you need to locate the walking path to the Polylimnio waterfalls.
Things to do on a day trip to Polylimnio Waterfalls
In Greek, the word ‘polylimnio’ means ‘many lakes’: the area around Polylimnio waterfalls is dotted by hidden lakes with crystal clear and fresh waters. There is nothing better than swimming in the lakes after having admired the waterfalls from afar!
If you are particularly adventurous, you can try cliff diving from the surrounding rocks into the lake’s deep waters.
Small canyons and dense vegetation are the backgrounds of the Polylimnio Waterfalls, making the three kilometer hike to get to it even more pleasant! The path to reach Polylimnio gorge is steep and rocky in the last part. However, you will be highly rewarded with an unforgettable experience!
Located just 40 minutes north of Kalamata in a fertile valley under Ithome mountain is the ancient site of Messini ( also known as Messene).
This was once a large city-state, founded during the Bronze age and home to thousands of people. Due to its strategic position and clever fortification, it withstood many sieges by both the Spartans and the Macedonians and was one of the most important capitals of its time.
Messini is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. It was not destroyed by armies or earthquakes nor covered over by subsequent occupants. Here you find evidence of significant infrastructure and numerous religious and public buildings as well as houses, monuments, and town planning.
Pylos (once known as Navarino) is a seaside town of some 5000 people and is home to a number of attractions. It was established in Neolithic times and occupied over time by the French, Venetians, Ottomans, Russians, and even the Egyptians so it is rich in history and culture.
Two of the main sites to see here are the two Castles.
One is Neokastra, one of the best-preserved fortresses in Greece and also home to the Transfiguration of the Saviour Church which functioned as a mosque during Ottoman rule. The fort played a key role in the famous Battle of Navarino so is of particular interest to history buffs.
The other Castle is the Paleokastro, located on the other side of the lagoon at the top of the promontory on the site of the ancient acropolis of Pylos. It has panoramic views over the sea, the lagoon, and the Plain of Pylia. Below it is Nestor’s cave, where, according to mythology, the king of Pylos raised his oxen, and the bay of Voidokilia, regularly ranked as one of the most beautiful in the world.
South of the town is the old Nararino Aquaduct, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and used to supply the towns and the Castles with water until 1907.
Inland from Pylos – some 17 kilometers ( 11 miles) is the Palace of Nestor. Pylos was a significant kingdom in Mycenaean Greece, with remains of the Palace of Nestor nearby, named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer‘s Iliad. The site was also where the Battle of Pylos took place in 425 BC, during the Peloponnesian War.
The town itself is quite pleasant there are a number of excellent fish tavernas and shops to explore around the Square and the Marina. The Town is positioned very strategically being right between the Ionian and Aegeans Seas and is still an important port to this day welcoming many cruise ships and sailors in summer.
Koroni is a picturesque village nestled on a hill below a Venetian castle and reaches the edge of the Messinian gulf. Besides the castle, the town’s most popular attraction, there are plenty of wonderful things to do in Korini.
How to do a day trip to Koroni
Located southwest of Kalamata, you can easily get to Koroni by road. If you have a car, you will need to drive for one hour. Alternatively, you can take the KTEL bus and reach Koroni in about one hour and 15 minutes.
Things to do on a day trip to Koroni
- Unmissable is a visit to Koroni Castle, one of the finest examples of Venetian fortress architecture. Built in the 13th century, the castle dominates Akritas cape and overlooks the Messinian Gulf.
- Check out the Byzantine church of Saint Sofia, the Church Panagia Eleistra, located below Koroni Castle, and the old mosque Saint Charalambos, which is now a church.
- Relax on one of the many beaches in the area. Among the most gorgeous ones, there is Zagga Beach, a two kilometer golden sandy beach surrounded by crystal blue waters.
- Have a delicious meal in a waterfront restaurant or taverna to taste mouth-watering dishes.
Methoni is a picturesque town overlooking the Ionian Sea and the island complex of Oinousses. It’s mainly famous for its fortified castle.
How to do a day trip to Methoni Castle
In the south-eastern Messinia region, you can get from Methoni to Kalamata by driving for a little over one hour. Otherwise, you can take the direct KTEL bus, arriving in Methoni in around one hour and 40 minutes.
Things to do on a day trip to Methoni Castle
- A must, Methoni Castle will amaze you with its grandiosity! Built by the Venetians in the 13th century, Methoni Castle is among the largest ones in the Mediterranean. To enter the castle, you will need to walk the bridge stone made of 14 arches. The entrance gate is dominated by the lion of St Marc, the symbol of Venice.
- Go inside the castle and marvel at the amazing buildings of the Church of Metamorfosi of Sotiros, the gunpowder room, and two Ottoman bathhouses.
- Head to the southern edge of the castle to visit the Bourtzi, the fortified islet with a prison where executions were conducted during the Turkish Occupation.
- Once you are done exploring Methoni Castle, take a swim at the beautiful beach right next to it. The beach is the perfect spot for windsurfing and kite-surfing!
Sitting on the Ionian Sea in southern Greece, you will find Costa Navarino, which will offer you beautiful white sand beaches, thousand-year-old ruins, and strong local culture. Costa Navarino is one of the best places in the Peloponnese area to visit!
How to do a day trip to Costa Navarino
The best way to get to Costa Navarino is by car. From Kalamata, you can reach the area’s biggest town, Pyros, in about a one-hour drive.
You can also opt for the KTEL bus, which offers a direct transfer between Kalamata and Pyros. The bus ride is around two hours and 10 minutes long.
Things to do on a day trip to Costa Navarino
The list of things to see and to do in Costa Navarino is almost endless! If you are looking for the best activities to do in the area, don’t miss the following:
- Pay a visit to Nestor’s Palace. Located in Pylos, the palace is built on a hill overlooking the Bay of Navarino. The imposing palace was built in the 13th Century BC by King Nestor, one of the heroes in the Homeric epics. A fire almost completely destroyed the palace, but many ceramic tablets were found after the flames with rare information. The Palace complex is huge, and you can truly experience the rich Mycenaean history by visiting it.
- Wander inside the Castle of Pylos. The impressive large structure houses an old mosque that has been turned into a Christian church and a small museum with locally discovered artifacts. The best part? You will see a stunning view of the Bay of Navarino going up the wall around the inner castle!
- Explore the Old Navarino Castle, a fortress perched above the bay. Built in the 13th century, the site was once an important observation place. Today, only fragments of the castle still stand. However, it’s still worth visiting: from the castle, you will have stunning panoramic views of Voidokilia Beach, the lagoon, the coastline, and the nearby islands.
- Relax on Voidokilia Beach. Voidokilia is one of Costa Navarino’s nicest beaches, thanks to its unique geological formation and it’s protection as a wildlife zone. Covered in fine sand and surrounded by crystal clear waters, Voidokilia Beach is the perfect place for enjoying a relaxing day. Nearby the beach, you will find a path leading you to King Nestor’s cave.
- Marvel at the beautiful nature of Divari beach, a popular beach inside a protected area. This huge sandy beach with blue-green waters is well-equipped and easy to access.
- Spend some time at Romanos beach, a series of small beaches one next to another. The first part of Romanos beach is organized with sunbeds and parasols to rent. The other part of the beach is more peaceful and wilder. You will surely enjoy the magical views of the Ionian Sea and the abundance of small turtles while visiting Romanos beach!