The 15 Best Things to Do in Peloponnese (Bucket List)
You’re planning to visit Peloponnese and you’re looking for the best places to visit?
Then look no further!
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this guide of the best things to do in Peloponnese. You will find information about all points of interest and must-see attractions such as Mycenae, Epidaurus, Mystras, Olympia, Nafplio, Monemvasia and more.
In addition to this guide of the best places to see, I will also give you all my best tips as well as itineraries to visit Peloponnese and Greece and make the most of your stay.
So, what are the best things to do in Peloponnese?
Let’s find out!
- The 15 Best Things to Do in Peloponnese (Bucket List)
- Visit Peloponnese: The 15 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
- The 4 best things to do around Peloponnese
- Tourist map of Peloponnese
- Renting a car in Peloponnese
- Greece Tours
- You’re traveling to Greece ? These articles will help you !
Visit Peloponnese: The 15 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
1. Corinth Canal
If you start your trip to Peloponnese from Athens (as it’s the most convenient airport), your 1st stop will be Corinth Canal. Since 1893, it separates Central Greece from Peloponnese, so you will have to cross it to reach the peninsula.
Before it was built, if you wanted to go from the Ionian Sea to the Aegean Sea and Saronic Gulf by boat, you had to make a 400km detour! The original idea of a canal emerged at the end of the 7th century B.C, but it couldn’t be achieved with the ancient technologies. Instead, the boats were towed on a paved road.
Over the centuries, many people, including Alexander the Great and Nero (involving thousands of slaves), tried to finish the Corinth Canal, but it was only completed in 1893. The success of Suez Canal made the achievement of the Corinth Canal possible.
Nowadays, around 11 000 ships cross this 6km-long canal (with 80 meters high cliffs) canal. Most of them are small tourist boats or cruise ships. As the canal is only 24,6 meter in width, it’s impossible for 2 ships to cross at the same time. The organization really has to be perfect.
Another particularity of Corinth Canal is its 2 submersible bridges. Located at each end of the Canal, they must be lowered into the water every time a boat crosses. It’s quite unique to watch.
Mycenae is located in the Argolid Plain, on the road between Corinth Canal and Nafplio.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is best known for being the former home of King Agamemnon. This Trojan War hero was murdered here.
Mycenae’s golden age was between 1600 and 1200 B.C. Then, the city suffered a lot: many invasions and a great fire completely destroyed it. The city was then forgotten until an amateur archaeologist rediscovered it in 1870.
Nowadays, you can visit the Archaeological Site of Mycenae for 12€.
On the site, you will see:
- The Cyclopean Walls: according to Greek legends, these huge stone walls were built by a Cyclope.
- The Lion Gate, the main entrance to the fortress.
- The Grave Circles and its 6 tombs. The Golden Mask (wrongly attributed to King Agamemnon) was found here.
- The Royal Palace (or Agamemnon Palace), where you will have a splendid panoramic view of the plain.
- The tomb of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife.
- The tomb of Agamemnon
Your entrance ticket to Mycenae also includes the Archaeological Museum. There, you will learn everything about Mycenae’s History and the archaeological excavations. The museum houses reproductions of many remains found on the site, while the originals are on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Nafplio is a lovely seaside town you shouldn’t miss during your trip to Peloponnese.
It was the former capital of Greece, before Athens became a major city. You’ll love its picturesque alleys with elegant houses and lots of shops and cafés.
Here are the best things to do in Nafplio:
- Palamidi Fortress: this site overlooking the city offers a splendid panorama of the gulf and coast. Inside this castle, you can visit the 8 bastions and go all around the fortress. The entrance fee is 8€, and you can get there by car or climbing the 800 steps stairs starting in Nafplio.
- Bourtzi Castle, a fortress built at the entrance of the port to prevent invasions.
- Acronafplia fortress, where you’ll admire a great view of the city, the Bourtzi and Palamidi fortress!
- Arvanitia Beach, a nice pebble beach with a beach club.
- The Archaeological Museum, if you want to learn more about Nafplio’s History.
- The old town, where you should take a stroll.
Epidaurus is Another place to visit during your itinerary in Peloponnese.
This Unesco World Heritage Site is located around 30km East of Nafplio.
In the ancient time, people were coming to Epidaurus from all over Greece. There, they could find the main temple dedicated to the god of medecine, Asclepios. The place was renowned for its miraculous healing cases.
Nowadays, Epidaurus is famous for its ancient theatre. Built in the 4th century B.C, the theatre hosted plays to entertain the sick people coming for miracles.
With its capacity of 14,000 people, this theatre is perfectly preserved, and its acoustic is exceptional. If you drop a coin in the middle of the scene, someone located on the top of the bleachers will hear it! The theatre is still used for antique Greek plays representations every year during the Epidaurus Festival.
The other places to see in Epidaurus are the Gymnasium, the Stadium, the Tholos and the Temple of Asclepios. Most of them are mostly in ruins and others are being restored, surrounded by scaffolding.
The entrance ticket costs 12€ and includes Epidaurus Museum. There, you will see ancient surgical equipment and statues found on the site.
Monemvasia is one of the best places to see in Peloponnese.
This village is located on an island on the East Coast of Laconia, in the South of Peloponnese. It’s only connected to the mainland by a dike.
This unique citadel was entirely built behind a hill, under the cliffs, making it impossible to see the village from the outside. It only becomes visible when you cross the main gate, under the fortified wall!
This natural stronghold was used as a refuge during the Barbarian Invasions in the 6th century A.D and then during the many wars against the Franks or the Turks.
This medieval city is divided in 2 parts:
In the lower town, you will enjoy a walk on the paved alleys and discover many houses, hotels and small shops. If you follow the main street, you will reach the central square, with its church and cathedral.
From there, you can follow one of the walking trails to reach the upper city and the castle (the Kastro). The splendid view of the roofs and the sea is really worth this little effort.
6. Elafonisos Island
If you visit Peloponnese, you can also go to Elafonisos Island. It’s super beautiful!
This paradise island, located south of Peloponnese, is a real postcard landscape. You will be amazed by its numerous sand beaches with turquoise waters. Simos Beach, the most famous of the island, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and in all the Mediterranean sea.
During your stay in Elafonisos, you just have to relax: it’s the perfect place to go sunbathing and swimming all day long. You can also go scuba diving, or enjoy the many nautical activities.
If you want to go to Elafonisos, you have to take the ferry from the port of Pounta. Many ferries are crossing daily during summer, but the ship is quite small and can only carry a few cars at a time. If you wish to bring your car, you may have to cross early in the morning.
There is another option: you can park your car in Pounta and get around Elafonisos on foot. Simos Beach is located on the other side of the island, 5km away from the port. You might have to walk there, or try to hitchhike (you can try to speak with some people on the boat, it can help you find a car).
On Elafonisos, there are no buses, and you can’t rent a bike.
Mystras is among the best tourist attractions in Peloponnese. It’s located only a 10-minute drive from the city of Sparta, on the slopes of Taygetus mountain.
This ancient fortified city was once the cultural capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today, during your visit of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will enjoy the remains of the Castle, many churches, monasteries and palaces. The first fortress was built in 1249.
The city of Mystras was destroyed by several fires. It remained in a state of decay during many years, until the reconstruction work started in 1950. Nowadays, the work is still in progress!
When you’re visiting Mystras, you will notice the 2 entrances: one for the lower town, and one for the upper town.
You can start by the upper part and park your car there. After that, get back in your car and go to the lower city to finish visiting the site. You can do it one way or the other! In any case, remember to keep your entrance ticket, you’ll have to show it at each entrance.
Start your discovery of Mystras’ upper city on the trail going to the fortress. At the top, you will be rewarded by the splendid panorama of Mystras and the plain. In the upper town, you will also see the church of Agia Sofia, the Small Palace and the Despots Palace.
Then, go to Mystras’ lower city. There, you will visit:
- Pantanassa Monastery, an impressive building still inhabited by nuns
- Peribleptos Monastery
- Metropolitan Church of Hagios Demetrios
- Brontochion Monastery
- The Church of Agios Teodoros.
In my opinion, Mystras is one of the best places to see in Peloponnese. The buildings are truly beautiful and the natural landscape is amazing!
The archaeological site of Olympia is one of the must-see attractions during your trip to Peloponnese.
Like Mycenae, Epidaurus and Mystras, Olympia is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Between 776 B.C and 393 A.D, the Olympic Games were organized here every 4 years. The athletes were competing in track and field, wrestling, discus and javelin throw, and even chariot racing!
Only men could participate. Women and slave couldn’t even watch the competition from the bleachers. The winners were considered as heroes and received an Olive wreath, symbolizing strength and wisdom.
Nowadays, the ancient site of Olympia is mostly in ruins, and you can only see the foundations of the sporting installations and temples. During your tour, you will discover:
- Temple of Zeus
- Temple of Hera
- The Stadium
- The Leonidaion, an hotel for the special guests.
The 12€ entrance ticket includes the Archaeological site and the museum located nearby. If you can, start your visit with the museum, to get a better understanding of what the site looked like. The museum also houses ancient objects and statues found in Olympia.
9. The Vouraikos Gorge
If you’re looking for an unusual experience in Peloponnese, you should go to Vouraikos Gorge.
To get there, it’s simple: just take the rack-railway that runs in the canyon. The journey is really nice, and you will have plenty of time to admire the landscape.
The train goes from Diakopto to Kalavrita. This 22-km long ride takes around 1 hour.
In Kalavrita, you can visit the Municipal Museum of the Kalavritan Holocaust, a memorial dedicated to the 500 men and children assassinated by the Nazis during World War 2. The Nazis also locked all the women, children under 13 and the elderly in the school, and set it on fire. This region was an important place of Greek resistance activity.
You can return to Diakopto with the train, or choose to walk back there. You will have to follow the railway track for 22 km (it takes about 5 hours). Many hikers choose this option. The train drivers will honk at you to warn you when they are coming!
10. Mani Peninsula
You’ve visited all the most touristic archaeological sites in Peloponnese, and you want to do something different? Then you should go to Mani Peninsula !
Mani region is quite wild, arid and still spared from mass-tourism. During your tour, you will see many fortified mountain villages and a lot of defensive towers. In this region, many clan wars were declared to fight over the most fertile lands.
The several floors of the towers are only accessible with ladders, and there are very few small windows. The richest families had the highest towers. You can see many towers in the village of Vatheia, or near Kita, in the south of Pyrgos.
Today, some of these towers have been converted into charming hotels.
Mani Peninsula is also well known of its many wonderful walking trails, especially around Kardamili. You can get a trail map in the local small supermarkets, or ask for advice at your hotel.
And if you want to go swimming, you will find here many beautiful beaches and coves.
11. Menalon Trail and Lousios Gorge
If you’re a hiking lover, you can enjoy the Menalon Trail, one of Peloponnese’s most famous itinerary.
With its 8 different walks, this 72 kilometers long trail explores the Lousios Gorge, the Mount Menalon, the Gortynian Mountains and the Mylaon River Valley.
Menalon offers 8 trails in various length and difficulty. These 4km to 15km long hikes are lasting from 1h30 to 5 hours.
if you chose to explore the Lousios Gorge, the trails starts in the city of Stemnitsa and reach Dimitsana. During your 12,5 km walk, you will also discover 2 monasteries. Plan at least 4h30!
For more details about the different hikes, you can visit the Menalon Trail website.
The 4 best things to do around Peloponnese
Your itinerary in Peloponnese is already over, and you still have some time to visit Greece? Here are some of the best places to see around Peloponnese!
From the Corinth Canal, the gateway to Peloponnese, you will drive about 1h10 to reach Athens.
As there are strong chances you will fly to and from Athens, you can choose to visit Greece’s capital before or after your trip to Peloponnese.
Athens’ must-see attractions are:
- The Acropolis and the Parthenon
- The Acropolis Museum
- The Ancient Agora
- The National Archaeological Museum of Athens
- The Roman Agora
- The National Garden
If you want more information about the best places to visit in Athens, you can check my detailed article: The 20 best things to do in Athens.
13. The Saronic Islands
Some of the Saronic Gulf islands are located South East of Peloponnese. You can easily go there by boat:
- Poros is only a few hundred meters away from Galatas town in Peloponnese. Boats are crossing everyday for only 1€, or 6€ with a car.
- You can go to Hydra with an high speed boat, from Ermioni and Porto Heli.
- Spetses, located close to the cities of Costa, Porto Heli and Ermioni.
These islands are the best places to relax and enjoy beautiful beaches around Peloponnese.
14. The Ionian islands
It’s quite easy to go to the Ionian Islands, located North of Peloponnese. These islands are well known for their green landscapes and wonderful coves.
The boats are sailing from Killini, or Patras, in Peloponnese. You can go either to Zante island, or Cephalonia island, as these two are the closest from the mainland.
If you wish to go to Corfu, you can take a boat from Patras, but then you will have to take another boat in Igoumenitsa to reach Corfu.
If you want to visit another archaeological site during your holiday, you can go to Delphi.
Delphi is located about a 2-hour drive from Patras town, in the North of Peloponnese, and 2h45 away from Corinth Canal.
In Delphi, you will visit the ancient site where the Pythia ( also named the Oracle of Delphi) transmitted Appolo’s directives from the gods to humans. This remote place, located on Mount Parnassus offers a breathtaking view over the mountains and valley. It’s really an amazing photo spot!
When you’re done visiting the site, you can also visit the Museum located nearby.
Delphi is among the most famous tourist places around Peloponnese and Athens.
Tourist map of Peloponnese
To help you picture what the region looks like, here is a tourist map of Peloponnese, listing all the best places to see and points of interest I have talked about in this Top 15 of the best things to do and see in Peloponnese and its surroundings. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button. (The one with a little arrow)
And you, what do you plan to visit in Peloponnese? What are the points of interest you want to discover ?
Renting a car in Peloponnese
If you wish to visit Peloponnese, you will have to rent a car. It’s clearly the most convenient way to discover the region, as all the things to do and places to visit are scattered throughout the peninsula.
- You can easily compare prices between all car rental agencies. It will be easy to chose the cheapest, or the one with the best customer reviews.
- You can get the Full Protection Insurance to get refunded in case of accident or theft. (tested and approved, they have already refunded me more than 1200 euros to date!)
- You can very often modify or cancel your booking for free.
Oh, and one last thing: they offer the “best price guarantee”. If you find a similar car cheaper elsewhere, they will refund you the difference!
However, if you prefer to book a Greece tour with a travel agency, I recommend you to check the 10 best Greece tours by clicking the button below:
Greece travel guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Greece guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Greece guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
You’re traveling to Greece ? These articles will help you !
Discover all my articles about Greece: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Greece are listed there.
- The 20 Best Things to do in Greece – The Ultimate Bucket list!
- Itinerary: 4-5 days in Greece – The perfect itinerary for a short stay in Greece
- Itinerary: 1 week in Greece – The best Itinerary to visit Athens + Santorini!
- Itinerary: 6, 7 or 8 days in Greece – The definitive guide to visit Athens + Peloponnese in a week
- Itinerary: 10 days in Greece – The definitive guide to visit Central Greece in 9-10 days
- Itinerary: 2 weeks in Greece – The best Itinerary to visit Athens + Central Greece + Cyclades (Santorini)
- Itinerary: 3 weeks in Greece – The best Itinerary to visit Athens + Central Greece + even more Cyclades islands!
- Itinerary: 1 month in Greece – The definitive guide to visit Greece in a month!
- Road trip in Greece – The best itineraries for 5, 7, 10, 15, 21 and 30 days.
Cyclades (Greek islands)
- The 15 Best Cyclades Islands to visit – With all the must-see attractions
- Itinerary: 1 week in Greek islands – How to visit the Cyclades in 6, 7 or 8 days
- Itinerary: 10 days in Greek islands – The definitive guide to visit the Cyclades in 10 days!
- Itinerary: Greek Island Hopping routes – The best 2 weeks itinerary to visit the Cyclades
- Amorgos: The 8 best places to see
- Andros: The 7 must-see attractions and activities
- Naxos: Top 10 things to do
- Paros: The 10 best places to visit
- Santorini: The definitive guide
- Tinos: The 10 best things to do