Kalamata is a city in the southwestern Peloponnese region of Greece. It is the capital and largest city of the regional unit of Messenia and is known for its olives, particularly the famous Kalamata olive, a large, dark, and meaty olive variety that is a signature ingredient in many Greek dishes. It is also a popular tourist destination, with a number of beaches, museums, historical sites and numerous other wonderful things to do in Kalamata and the surrounding area.
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.
Private tours and cruises to Kalamata
If you’d like to see more of the wonders of the Peloponnese there are some good tours that include Kalamata and its surrounds.
Once in Kalamata, there are several ways to get around. Cars and motorbikes will allow you total freedom when exploring Kalamata and its surroundings. However, you might have difficulties in looking for parking spots during the peak tourist season.
If you don’t have a car, you can easily get around Kalamata via public bus. Urban Bus offers four main lines that connect the different parts of Kalamata with the nearby towns.
There are also a decent number of taxis in Kalamata available, 117 to be precise. You can book them online, flag them down in the street or at the Airport or call 18300, or WhatsApp 6984686601.
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.
Things to do in Kalamata
On a rocky outcrop ( not unlike that of the Acropolis in Athens) behind the city of Kalamata is Kalamata Castle.
Originally an ancient citadel called Fares that was one of the seven cities offered to Achilles by King Agamemnon to appease Achilles in Homer’s The Iliad.
It was then a fortress during Byzantine occupation and grew after the Crusades during the Frankish occupation. It was the home of the ruler of Kalamata in the 12th century, Geoffroi de Villehardoiun l, and later his son Guillaume ll. It was later occupied by the Ottomans and the Venetians, several times each, until eventual liberation during the Greek War of Independence in 1821.
Today it is a popular tourist attraction with sweeping views over the city and the Guld of Messinia.
Summer – 08:00 to 20:00
Winter – 08:30 to 15:30
March 6 – Memory of Melina Merkouris
April 18 – International Memorial Day
May 18 – International Museum Day
The last weekend of September each year (European Heritage Days)
Every first Sunday of the month from November 1 to March 31
€3 or €2 concession
There is also a 7 site ticket for €15 which covers :
Messinia Archaeological Museum
Chora Archaeological Museum
Tower of Mourtzinos
Municipal Railway Park
The Municipal Railway Park is a unique attraction, an open-air museum full of old railway vehicles and locomotives. Founded in September 1986, the park is the perfect place to visit to get an idea of how transportation worked in Greece a couple of centuries ago. Other great reasons to see the Municipal Railway Park are if you are a railway enthusiast or traveling with children.
The museum exhibits include the railway station ‘Kalamata-Limin’ with a two-story station house, four boarding platforms, three locomotive taps, and wheelhouses. Besides a museum, the Municipal Railway Park is also a recreational park with basketball and volleyball courts, children’s playgrounds, and a refreshment bar.
The Municipal Railway Park is located just five minutes away from the central square of Kalamata, so it’s incredibly easy to reach.
Tuesday – Sunday 10:30 – 13:30
Wednesday & Friday 18: 00-21: 00
2 € Group ticket (over 5 people) 1€ Guided tours 1€ per person
Further reading – see Official Website
Archaeological Museum of Messinia
Located in the historic center of Kalamata, there is one of the many museums you can find in town.
The Archeological Museum of Messinia is an incredible museum that, although small, houses an extensive collection of archaeological findings dating back from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era.
The museum collection is divided into four geographical areas, representing the four provinces of Messenia: Kalamata, Messene, Pylia, and Trifylia.
Among the exhibits you can see, there are maps and photographs that illustrate the area’s history, as well as antiquities from Messenia, such as carvings, tombs, jewelry, and everyday objects.
The museum also includes the finds of an 18th-century building that collapsed during the devastating earthquake of 1986. Among the most impressive exhibits, make sure to visit the splendid mosaic depicting various scenes of the worship of the god Bacchus.
The Archeological Museum of Messinia is located inside a mid-19th-century building that used to house the old municipal market, which has been moved right out of the old quarter.
Monday: 1:30 pm–8 pm
Weekdays, Sundays, and Holidays: 8 a.m.–8 p.m.
3€ (full admission) and 2€ (reduced fare).
Kalamata Military Museum
You will find the Military Museum near Kalamata’s historical center. The museum collection focuses on Greece’s modern history from the Revolution of 1821 to the present day through military findings. Artifacts include uniforms, texts, photos, and other audiovisual materials.
The museum’s first room display uniforms and photographic material from the Independence War of 1821. It continues with the Macedonian War, with particular reference to the Messenian soldiers that took part in the struggle.
The other rooms have exhibits connected to the Balkan Wars, the Asia Minor Disaster, the First and Second World Wars, and the National Resistance that followed.
Among the interesting exhibits of the Military Museum is the evzone uniform, which has particular folklore symbols and was established as the official uniform of the fighters by King Otto.
Another remarkable exhibit is inside the ‘Sound and Light’ room, where a documentary shows the historical route of the 9th Infantry Regiment.
Don’t miss the visit to the museum’s forecourt, where you can see an M48-A5 tank, an M8 armored vehicle, firearms, and an F-5 aircraft.
The Military Museum is located in a neoclassical building under the command of the 4th Infantry Division.
Wednesdays – 9 am – 2 pm and 6 pm – 8 pm.
Sundays – 11 am to 2 pm.
The museum is free to enter
Church of the Holy Apostles
A must-see in Kalamata is the main square, a meeting place for the locals, thanks to its numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants. Besides enjoying a coffee break or doing some shopping, visiting Central Square is also a history lesson.
The square has an interesting history with regard to its name, as “Central Square” is what the inhabitants of Kalamata call it.
However, it is not the square’s official name, which actually changed several times. During the last 100 years, the square’s name changed 12 times, depending on the political situation.
In the late 19th century, the first name of the square was Tzani Square, given in memory of the coffee made in the cafe Tzanis Karampinis. The square’s current name is King George II Square, decided in 1992.
At the square’s center, you can see a monument titled ‘Freedom’, dedicated to the fighters of the 1770 Revolution. In the southern part of the square, there is the characteristic fountain with the form of fish.
Don’t leave Central Square before enjoying a bike ride or a relaxing walk on the trails around the square.
Victoria Karelias Collection of Costumes
One of the most interesting museums in Greece is the Museum of Traditional Greek Costumes. Recently founded in 2017, it is run almost entirely through private initiative.
The museum’s collection contains national Greek costumes and dresses from the past two centuries. The garments are displayed in self-moving mannequins that will surely capture your attention.
You will be guided through the exhibition with user-friendly digital means, such as digital labelings that favor the interaction between the visitors and the pieces displayed.
It is possible to book a guided tour of the museum (for a minimum of eight people).
Tuesday to Sunday – 9 am to 2 pm
Sundays and Wednesdays – 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
The tickets for the Victoria Karelias Collection of Costumes are 5€ (full admission) or 3€ (reduced fare for children, seniors, families with more than 6 members, and groups with more than 15 people).
The main Churches of Kalamata
Church of the Holy Apostles
There are many gorgeous churches around Kalamata for you to visit. If you have time to explore only a couple of churches, make sure to visit the Church of the Holy Apostles and the Church of Ypapanti.
The Church of the Holy Apostles is an impressive Byzantine temple located right in the middle of the old quarter, on March 23 Square. The church was built in the 12th century and later expanded under Venetian rule. During the Venetian occupation, a dome and a bell tower were added to the original structure. The inside of the church is decorated with frescoes that date from the 16th and 17th centuries. While it is still possible to imagine the beauty of the frescoes, they are poorly preserved.
The Church of the Holy Apostles has a fundamental place in Greek history as it was where the Revolution was declared on March 23, 1821.
One of the best times to visit the Church of the Holy Apostles is during the celebration for the heroes of the Revolution, which is held annually on March 23.
Entering the church is free; however, you won’t find it always open, as the opening hours vary depending on the orthodox religious celebrations.
A couple of minutes by foot from the Church of the Holy Apostles is the stunning Metropolitan Church of Ypapanti.
This Byzantine-style church was built in 1839 and was named in honor of the holy icon of the Virgin Mary, which dates from 672 AD.
The icon is still visible on the southeast side of the church, in the fenced part of the courtyard. The site where you can see the icon of the Virgin Mary is special, as it was the location of an ancient temple destroyed in 1770 by the Turkalbans.
The church has a cruciform structure with a dome and large narthex and has two bell towers. The Metropolitan Church of Ypapanti was severely damaged by two earthquakes, after which it was completely restored and is fully accessible.
The imposing cathedral is the center of the celebrations that take place every year on February 2, the feast of the Ypapanti Sotiros.
The Church of Saints Constantine and Helena
Dedicated to the Roman Emperor Constantine – the first to convert to Christianity – and his mother, Helena, this picturesque church is situated right on the waterfront, on the site where an ancient stone iconostasis (a wall inscribed with Christian iconography) was found.
This was considered evidence of the existence of an older church that may have stood on the same spot.
Subsequently, a church, in the form of a small wooden chapel, was built here in 1898. When this could no longer cope with the number of parishioners wishing to use it, the current church was built in the early 20th century by architect Aristides Zachos; the first service was held here in 1936.
It’s a stone structure, in Romanesque style complete with a tall tower, and features columns, archways, frescoes, and mosaics within.
A must for every visitor to Greece is going to the beach. Kalamata has many beautiful beaches you can go to, but one of the best is right by the city center. Kalamata beach, as it is called, has a Blue Flag certificate that guarantees the waters’ cleanness and the environment’s safety.
The beach is a 2.5 kilometers long with fine yellow-white pebbly sand and shallow and warm waters. The almost complete absence of strong waves and the soft bottom make Kalamata beach ideal for families with kids.
The beach is fully equipped for a comfortable vacation: you can rent sunbeds and parasols. Nearby Kalamata beach, there are restaurants, tavernas, cafes, and shops where you can taste the delicious Greek cuisine.
Besides enjoying a day sunbathing and swimming, at Kalamata beach you can also rent water sports equipment to have a fun time in the water.
The Farmers’ Market
A fantastic place in Kalamata to experience the local culture is the Farmers Market. On Spartis Road, on the other side of the street from the Kalamata main Bus Terminal, the Farmers Market is a great place to taste Greek foods and pick up fresh local products you can enjoy once back in your apartment.
The Kalamata Farmers Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday since the early morning when the gastronomy products are brought in from the whole Messinia prefecture. Among the delicious products you can buy at the Farmers Market, make sure to get your hands on the famous Kalamata olives, local honey, Taygetos tea, and as many wild edible greens and herbs as possible.
Crazy Bloom Water Park
Spending a summer vacation in Kalamata means that you will spend lot of time splashing in the water.
If you are traveling with kids, there is nothing better place to visit than a water park. Located right on the central Kalamata beach, you will find the fantastic Crazy Bloom Water Park, open daily until 8 pm.
Crazy Bloom Water Park has been operating for several years now, and it is a great place where kids can spend unique moments of peace and play with the many floating inflatable water toys.
The water park welcomes children of every age, even those younger than four years old. For security reasons, children aged four to 10 are recommended to have an adult accompanying them in the park.
10:00 to 20:00 7 days a week May to October
Ippikos Horse Riding
If you love horses, nature, and adventure, an unmissable activity in Kalamata is horseback riding on the beach!
The Equestrian Club of Kalamata offers horse riding lessons and excursions around Kalamata beaches. After the horseback walk on the beach, you can also swim with the horses! The animals are all calm, well-trained, and suitable for every rider, no matter your riding ability.
Prices and riding hours depend on the period, how many people you want to go with, and which type of riding experience you want to book. See the official website.
Day Trips from Kalamata
Kalamata is so centrally located on the Peloponnese that it makes a great base to explore other parts of Messinia on day trips, as well as the adjoining Mani, Ilias, and Laconia prefectures and beyond.
In just 1-2 hours in any direction, you can visit some of the most important, and incredible, sites and attractions in Greece.
Kardamyli – A charming seaside town only 50 minutes drive south of Kalamata, this is a great place for a very relaxing day with few tourists and lovely beaches and boat trips.
Aeropoli – Arguably the nicest traditional town in Mani is the medieval town of Aeropoli ( City of Ares). It is inland from the sea and consists of charming cobblestone streets covered in pink bougainvillea, restored tower houses, and authentic tavernas.
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.
Caves of Diros – one of the most important archeological sites and natural wonders in all of Greece. The Caves of Diros are 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.
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.
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.
Sparta itself has a rich history but not many attractions, having been rebuilt after several earthquakes. It is home to 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 and several excellent 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 Peloponnese.
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 totally 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.
It was once a thriving seaport during the time of the emperor Andronicus XII and after its occupation by the Ottomans, which lasted up until the early 19th century.
Today the medieval town is car and scooter free and there are several boutique hotels and rooms to rent and a number of excellent tavernas, shops, cafes, and places to do wine tastings.
Ancient Messini – Messini is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. 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.
The Palace of Nestor – 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.
Pylos – is quite a pretty port town and 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.
Methoni Castle – Methoni is a picturesque town overlooking the Ionian Sea and the island complex of Oinousses. It’s mainly famous for its fortified castle. 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.
Polylimnio Waterfalls – The Polylimnio gorge, only 30 minutes from Kalamata, has beautiful waterfalls and is a fantastic alternative to a day at the beach while in Greece. The three-kilometer path to reach Polylimnio gorge is steep and rocky towards the end. However, you will be highly rewarded with an unforgettable experience!