Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini are a sure bet for idyllic scenery, but they also attract thousands of tourists per day. The Peloponnese Peninsula has more than enough amazing sights to fill out any beach holiday, and even a bit of history and adventure to go along with it.
The villages of the Mani Peninsula
Once upon a time, the villages of this spit of land were only accessible by boat. The Peloponnese's incredible scenery is perfectly embodied in these quiet, serene settlements. Frankish churches and Byzantine architecture exist side-by-side, and like almost everywhere in Greece, olive oil flows freely. Don't forget to have a taste of the local syglino: smoked pork flavored with herbs and orange peel.
This is one of the most picturesque villages on the Mani Peninsula, nestled amid verdant olive groves and surrounded by calm seas. Its legendary towers were built during the medieval period, and while they can be found all over the Mani Peninsula Kardamyli is one of the best places to see them. These fortified houses were built for the elites of the region and fortified for protection. There are a number of great beaches nearby, offering the perfect combination of history and leisure.
The caves of Diros
Located on the Mani Peninsula, these spectacular caves have served many purposes since Neolithic times as places of worship, housing, and even storage. Their delicate stalactites and stalagmites can be explored by guided boat tours offered by a number of companies in the area.
Just two hours from Athens, this port town sports Venetian architecture and classic Greek scenery. A plethora of beaches abound in Nafplio, and its proximity to the islands of Hydra, Spetses and Poros make it the perfect jumping-off point for discovering the Peloponnese. As an added bonus, its ornate pedestrian streets are walkable year-round as it benefits from a mild climate. Although not nearly warm enough for the beach, sunny skies can still be found in winter and the weather is still relatively pleasant.
The Corinth Canal was built in the late 1800s after centuries of attempts dating back to Roman times. Bungee jumping from the top of its steep walls is a favorite among thrillseekers, but a walk across the old, shaky (perfectly safe) footbridge might be enough adventure for some. Boat rides are probably the best way to experience the canal, giving visitors a chance to gaze up at this marvel of engineering.
Five kilometers away from present-day Corinth are the ruins of ancient Corinth, which was one of the most important cities in ancient Greece. Modern Corinth isn't necessarily new, but it was built in the 1800s after an earthquake destroyed much of the town around the ancient city. Although it may lack the old-world aesthetic of Nafplio, the the city's cafes, bars and relaxed atmosphere are still worth a visit.