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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

15-Day Peloponnese itinerary - The best of mainland Greece

Updated: May 20

How about exploring mainland Greece? That's what we set out to do when we decided to make the most of our 15 days of vacation by visiting Greece for the first time.

Acropolis de Atenas - Roteiro de 15 dias pelo Peloponeso, Grécia continental
Acropolis - Atenas

Until then, Greece for me was synonymous with islands. One island, in particular, that probably existed only in my imagination (and maybe it's similar to yours): white houses along a cobblestone street on a gentle incline, small restaurants with tables outside, adorned with bougainvillea entwined in the railings. All of this with the backdrop of an amazing turquoise blue sea. Yes, a Mediterranean paradise.


But Greece is much more than the idyllic vision of its islands.


Greece is history, culture, a friendly people proud of their origins. It's delicious flavors and surprising wines. It's paradise beaches, charming villages, and a lot of fun.


This trip was done as a group with two families - 4 adults and 4 children, ranging in age from 3 to 7 at the time. We included activities to satisfy everyone, aiming for that essential blend of culture, fun, and relaxation that is important in any trip.


Teatro de Dionísio. Atenas, vista da Acrópoles - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso, Grecia continental
Theatre of Dionysus, Acropolis of Athens
 

Check out our 15-day itinerary through the Peloponnese in Greece.

 

15-Day Itinerary through the Peloponnese in Greece


This itinerary was planned to be done by car. While it's possible to do most of it with public transportation and tours, to truly enjoy what the contryside of Greece has to offer, savoring the trip at your own pace and with flexibility, I strongly recommend renting a car.


What's it like to drive a rental car in Greece?


Driving in Greece was extremely smooth - so much so that I recommend it! - but some precautions are necessary.


Driving side is on the left, but the challenge lies in the narrow streets everywhere, many of them on steep inclines or declines. If you already have experience in Southern Europe, you won't be too surprised, but you need to be very alert. With such charming little towns, a split-second distraction while admiring the scenery can result in a fender-bender.


In Nafplio, one of those lovely and challenging narrow streets, we did indeed scratch the car's fender, which caused us some headache when returning it. However, everything was eventually resolved.


If you tend to feel insecure when driving through these narrow streets of ancient cities that seem too tight even for toy cars, seriously consider renting the car with full insurance coverage.


Apart from this minor incident (completely our responsibility), we had no problems during the 12 days we had the rented car.


Oh, and don't forget your International Driving Permit (IDP). In Greece, it was one of the few countries where it was required for vehicle rental.


We picked up the rental car on our the last day in Athens because a car isn't necessary in the city - you can do everything on foot, by metro, bus, or Uber/taxi.



Days 1 to 3 - Athens


The itinerary begins in Athens, the capital of the country and where the main airport is located.


Where to stay in Athens


In Athens, there is no shortage of good accommodation options for all styles and budgets.


We stayed in Plaka, a central region of the city, very close to the Acropolis.


With narrow cobblestone streets filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants, the Plaka area is an excellent choice, especially if, like us, you're staying in the city for a short time.


After much research, the hotel we had chosen was the Plaka Hotel, with great prices, an incredible rooftop bar with a view, and family rooms (2 connected rooms, a dream for those traveling with children!). However, on the recommendation of a friend-of-a-friend, we stayed in a house rented via Airbnb (unfortunately, it's no longer on the platform).


Another fantastic option for accommodation in Athens is The Pinnacle Athens, which also offers family rooms.


Check availability and rates here:



What to do in Athens


I strongly recommend staying at least 2 full days in Athens. If you have time, 3 days (or more!) would be ideal to enjoy the city at the pace it deserves.


In this 15-day itinerary through Greece, we spent 2 and a half days in Athens.


In this post, I share everything we did in Athens, but to summarize, the highlights are:

  • Acropolis & Parthenon

  • Acropolis Museum

  • Temple of Olympian Zeus and Arch of Hadrian

  • Ancient Agora

  • Panathenaic Stadium

  • Plaka and surroundings (including Anafiotika and Monastiraki)

  • Archaeological Museum (and Field of Mars Park)

  • Syntagma Square (where the changing of the guard at the parliament takes place)

  • National Gardens Park

  • If you have more time, it's worth exploring the region called the "Athens Riviera" along the coastline, in the neighborhoods of Glyfada and Vouliagmeni (we didn't go).








Days 4 and 5 - Delfphi


On the 4th day of our trip, our Greek road trip began! We picked up the rental car early and headed towards Delphi, approximately 180 km away.


We stopped for lunch at Springs of Krya in Levadia, at a restaurant called Watermill Tavern (ΤΑΒΕΡΝΑ ΝΕΡΟΜΥΛΟΣ). In this village, there are several restaurants by a small stream, and the food was delicious. The children played and cooled off in the water – we couldn't have chosen a better place for lunch.


With that, we arrived in Delphi by mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day there, having ice cream, exploring the shops, and enjoying a good dinner.



Where to Stay in Delphi


The town of Delphi is very small and primarily thrives on tourism.


There are various accommodation options, and if you stay anywhere central, you'll find restaurants, cafes, and shops within a short walking distance.


We stayed at the Artemis Hotel, a very charming hotel with a great location, quadruple rooms (in addition to traditional doubles and triples), and a very attentive staff. Another cost-effective option with breathtaking views is the Fedriades Delphi Hotel (which also offers quadruple rooms).


Check availability and rates here:



What to Do in Delphi


I recommend allocating at least a full day in Delphi, allowing you time and tranquility to explore one of the 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece.


While it's possible to visit these attractions on a day trip from Athens with a rented car or through tours, in my opinion, it's well worth adopting a more relaxed pace to truly savor the place.


According to Greek mythology, Zeus, the all-powerful god of that time, was determined to find the center of the world. To do so, he released two eagles, one heading east and the other west, instructing them to always fly straight ahead. The birds met in Delphi, which was then deemed the center of the world and earned the title 'navel of the world' (apparently, the Greeks have known for a long time that the Earth is round).


The must-see attractions in Delphi are the Archaeological Site and the Delphi Museum.


Santuário de Apolo, Delfos - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso, Grecia
Temple of Apollo, Delphi

One of the most important areas of the Delphi Archaeological Site is the Temple of Apollo, renowned for its oracle. Between the 8th and 2nd centuries BCE, this was a pilgrimage center where people from all classes and backgrounds sought insights into their destiny and prophecies, which were delivered by the god Apollo through a Pythia (a woman duly prepared for the task of revealing the secrets of fate).


It was here that Acrisius, the father of young Danae (yes, I have a mythological Greek namesake), received the oracle's prophecy that his grandson would kill him. This prophecy triggered a series of events that led to the death of the feared Medusa. If you're not familiar with the stories of Danae and Perseus in Greek mythology, it's worth exploring these tales filled with tumultuous love affairs, sexism, homicides, attempts of femicide and infanticide, deceit, battles, and much more, as only Greek tragedies can portray. I also recommend "Bulfinch's Mythology" by Thomas Bulfinch, a book that delves into these and other amazing stories from the mythologies of various cultures.


The Archaeological Site of Delphi is vast, and there's no room for laziness when exploring it! It's worthwhile to climb to the top, where there's a stadium and beautiful views of the valley.


While there, a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Delphi is worth it (even if you've already visited its counterpart in Athens). While at the museum, don't forget to check out the Delphi Charioteer, a rare bronze sculpture representing a charioteer, believed to have been made as a thanksgiving for a victory in the Pythian Games."



We enjoyed another night in the city, and the next day, we set out early towards Epidaurus.


Day 5 - Corinth and Epidaurus


The distance from Delphi to Epidaurus is about 255 km.


On the way, we stopped in Corinth, although we didn't visit the ruins of the Temple of Apollo and the Sanctuary of Dionysus.


We simply admired them from a distance, had coffee and ice cream (Cafe Mousio and The Art of Gelato, just a few meters from the entrance to the archaeological site), let the children run around to burn off some energy, and then continued our journey towards Epidaurus, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greek territory.


Teatro de Epidauro - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso, Grécia
Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

Epidaurus is famous for its Theater, built in the 4th century BCE, one of the largest of its time, with perfect acoustics - something we could verify in practice!


While we were there, a group was in the center of the theater, and a young woman began to sing - she sounded like a professional singer. We climbed to almost the last row of the theater, and we could easily hear everything, it was so amazing, we felt like in a concert!


Then it was our turn to play: while one of the adults stayed down there saying nonsense diatribes, the children ran through the rows of seats, just laughing at what they heard! There is a mark in the center of the stage indicating the optimal position.


The theater is impressive not only for its acoustics but also for its grandeur: it has a diameter of 20 meters, with 55 rows of seats and a capacity for more than 13,000 people. The perfect acoustics are enhanced by the semicircular shape, the short distance between the stage and the rows, the materials used, and its location away from urban crowds.


At the same archaeological site as the theater, other ruins can be found, such as the Temple of Asklepios and other structures that were part of one of the main sanctuaries of the classical Greek era, of which unfortunately only a few fragments remain.


You can visit the Theater of Epidaurus on a day trip from Athens, with your rented car (it's about 140 km away) or through organized tours like this one.


We arrived in the late afternoon in Nafplio, which is about 30 km ahead.




Days 6 and 7- Nafplio and Mycenae


We spent two days in Nafplio, a pleasant medium-sized city on the coast of the Gulf of Argos in the Mediterranean.


One day we did a day trip to Mycenae. On the other day, we took the opportunity to enjoy the town, climbed to the fortress (Palamidi Fortress), and visited the local beach, called Paralia Arvanitias.


In Nafplio, we stayed at Pension Dafni, an extremely well-located and charming guesthouse with an excellent price and family rooms (you've probably noticed that we are experts in selecting charming guesthouses with rooms for 4 people, right?).


Check hotel availability and rates here:



Mycenae


Just over 20 km, which took us half an hour to cover, separate Nafplio from one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece: Mycenae.


In the second millennium B.C., Mycenae was one of the largest centers of Greek civilization and a military power that dominated most of southern Greece, so much so that the period from 1600 BCE to 1100 BCE is called the Mycenaean Period.


According to Greek mythology, Mycenae was founded by the son of my namesake Danae, Perseus, the grandson of King Acrisius of Argos. Since he had killed (albeit accidentally) his grandfather, Perseus did not inherit the throne of Argos, so he settled in the region and founded Mycenae.


The mythological history of Mycenae is extensive, filled with wars, loves, betrayals, and intricate plots - the Wikipedia account is quite fascinating.


As intriguing as the mythology are the ruins of the Mycenaean civilization that we see today in what remains of the acropolis, walls, and various tombs. These structures were built with enormous stone blocks, even more remarkable considering they were erected about a thousand years before the Greek structures of the classical period (like those we see today in the Acropolis of Athens).


The Lion Gate is the most well-known construction in Mycenae, dating back to approximately 1250 BCE, a time when the city thrived and dominated much of what is now Greece.


Although I recommend spending at least one night in Nafplio and leisurely exploring Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Corinth, you can do it all in a day trip from Athens, either by car or with an organized tour.



Day 8 - Sparta and arrival in Kiparissi


Leaving Nafplio, we headed to Sparta, where we stopped for lunch. Despite the history behind the name, there are few remnants of the ancient glory once experienced by the city. We stopped there just to eat, let the children play in a playground, have ice cream, and then continued on.


From Nafplio to Sparta is 120 km, and from there to Kiparissi is another 90 km, but be prepared - the average speed on this second stretch should be around 60 km/h, at best.


The road to Kiparissi is an attraction in itself. A narrow single-lane road, practically without a shoulder, full of curves and breathtaking views. If you like to go where few dare, Kiparissi is for you!


I imagine it's one of the few beaches where, in the height of the Greek summer, you won't feel suffocated by the crowd elbowing and jostling for every inch of space on the rocks as if it were the front row of a Taylor Swift concert.

Kiparissi, Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

Kiparissi was where we chose to truly enjoy the beach life and indulge in dolce far niente with a view of the Mediterranean.


But this good life lasted for a mere 2 days because we get restless and can't stand still with so much wonder to explore in the south of the Peloponnese.


We stayed at Atalanti Apartments, a delightful little guesthouse, half a block from the beach, with top-notch service. It was a small one-bedroom apartment with two single beds in the living room, a double bed in the bedroom, a bathroom, and a small kitchen, plus a balcony with a sea view. Not bad at all.


Check availability in the region and rates for the date you plan to travel here:




Days 9 to 12 - Kiparissi, day-trip to Monemvasia and Elafonisos


Out of the 4 full days we had in Kiparissi, two were dedicated to enjoying the beach - after all, where have you ever heard of going to Greece and not taking advantage of the sea?


On the other days, we did day trips to Monemvasia and Elafonisos.


Monemvasia


I've already written about Monemvasia in this post about 5 must-visit small towns in Europe - just by the title, you can already tell how much I liked this charming little village on the edge of the Mediterranean.


Monemvasia, Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

Monemvasia is one of those magical places that beckons you to sit at a table, have a drink, and watch life go by. If you manage to get a table with a view of the sea, perfect; if not, the view of the city and the fortress atop the hill are equally spectacular.


Founded in 583, the island-city is dominated by an imposing medieval fortress in the so-called "upper town." Over the centuries, it underwent Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Venetian, Turkish, and Ottoman rule.


In other words, for centuries, Monemvasia was an important port and fortress, contested by the various peoples inhabiting the region, as seen in the ruins and traces found in both the upper and lower towns. The fortress-city was entirely self-sufficient, and its inhabitants could survive for months within the walls if under attack.


We went there just for the day, but now I see that it would have been better to spend at least one night in Monemvasia. Besides not having spent time returning to Kiparissi, staying overnight would have facilitated the trip the next day to Elafonisos - it's only 42km between the two places, but the road is full of curves and it's suggested to allow 1 hour for the journey.


In Monemvasia, there are several charming hotels and guesthouses. I recommend staying on the island; the Ardamis Guesthouse looks like a dream, as does the Bastione Malvasia Hotel.


More budget-friendly options can be found on the mainland part of the city, such as the Filoxenia Hotel, very close to the bridge connecting the island to the mainland, the Panorama, and several other alternatives - as the main economic activity in the area is tourism, there are options for all tastes and budgets; you can check them out now:



If you prefer, there are tours departing from Athens that cover a good part of the route we took through the Peloponnese, including Monemvasia.



Elafonisos


Think of that transparent, light turquoise blue water, with no waves at all, and white sandy beaches in one of the most beautiful regions of Greece.


Elafonisos is one of the most beautiful and pleasant beaches I have ever visited. Besides sitting on the sand (there are chairs available for rent in one of the beach sections), enjoying a swim, and savoring life, there isn't much more to do except eat and drink in the various taverns that line the main street of the village.


To get there, you need to go to the village of Vigklafia and take a ferry to the island - we didn't had to wait in line for the ferry, but we heard some people commenting that depending on the day and time, the wait can exceed 1 hour.


Elafonisos - Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

There are some lodging options on the island of Elafonisos that seem quite pleasant, such as Sea and Sand and Estella Studios, take a look:



Day 13 - Mystras


After leaving Kiparissi, we headed early towards Dimitsana, our next destination.


However, the 13th day of our trip was dedicated to covering the almost 200km that separate one town from another and included a detour of a few more kilometers to visit Mystras. Despite the distance not being long, the roads are single-lane and winding.


Mystras is an ancient fortified city from the Byzantine era, founded in 1249 AD, and reached its peak in the 14th and 15th centuries when it was the second most important center of the Byzantine Empire, second only to Constantinople. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989.


Also called the "wonder of Morea" (as it was the capital of the Morea region), it is a stone fortress town with breathtaking views. With some well-preserved buildings adorned with mosaics, it's worth exploring this period of Greek history.



We arrived in Dimitsana late in the afternoon, where we stayed at Guesthouse Kazakou, a family bed and breakfast in a historic house with stone walls – truly sensational! In terms of authenticity, it was the most interesting accommodation we experienced on the trip.


Mystras, Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

Day 14 - Dimitsana


Dimitsana was a great surprise in our 15-day itinerary in the Peloponnese, Greece. It had not been planned.


While on our Greek road trip, chatting with other travelers and locals, we heard about this place, a village in the mountains of Arcadia, at an altitude of 1,000 meters. A quick internet search was enough for us to decide: let's give up a day at the beach and explore the mountains of the Peloponnese!


It was a very interesting experience: if you also get tired of the hordes of tourists descending on any Greek beach in the summer, and the Saharan heat that prevails there, consider a visit to one of these villages in the mountains. Full of history, charming traditional houses, and family restaurants with the most delicious food we tried in the country, these finds give the trip that special flavor.


The village is entirely built of stone - houses, Orthodox churches, public buildings, commerce, restaurants, practically the entire city maintains the traditional historic architecture.


In addition to the charm of the city itself, it is worth visiting the region to see the two monasteries built on the slopes of valleys on the Lousios River: Filosofos - founded in 963, it is the oldest in the Arcadia region - and Prodromos.


The latter - Prodromos Monastery, is embedded on a slope, built on rocks, with balconies and corridors connecting the rooms that seem precariously hanging on the slope. It is possible to climb up and visit the chapel, the views are incredible, and the monks who welcomed us were very friendly.


A half-hour walk along a trail that starts at Prodromos Monastery leads - passing through the gorge in front of Filosofou Monastery - to the so-called secret school (kryfo scholio), which operated secretly by the Greek Orthodox Church during Ottoman rule.


The approximately 800m trail is easy, although quite steep, and well signposted, but we gave up halfway as the kids were a bit discouraged, it started to get late, and we decided not to continue since we still had a lot of travel ahead...



Besides Dimitsana, other places in this region worth a stop are Vitina, Stemnitsa, Karitena, and Valtesiniko. In the region, there are several options for rafting and trekking.


Leaving Dimitsana in the late afternoon, we arrived in Athens at the end of the day - it's 200km, which we did in just over 2 hours.


This last night in Athens - for convenience, we stayed at the Plaka Hotel - had a taste of the end of the trip: it was time to leave the bags, go out for dinner in the Plaka area, and already start dreaming about 'next time we come to Greece...."


Dimitsana, Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

Day 15 - Athens and back home


Our flight departed very early from Athens, heading to Rome, where we had a 9-hour layover - with the opportunity for a nice lunch, gelato, and one more photo at the Trevi Fountain, and in the evening, we took our long-haul flight home.


Other suggestions


This itinerary turned out excellent, but after testing it, I would make a small adjustment: I would include 2 nights of accommodation in Monemvasia and do a day-trip to Elafonisos from there, or 1 night in Monemvasia and 1 in Elafonisos. For the rest, I wouldn't change anything.


If you have more time in Greece, a region we didn't explore and I'm eager to visit is Meteora. It's about 240 km from Delphi or 350 km from Athens, which would require 2 or 3 days to visit, and even then, the visit to the monasteries would be rushed. In a 20-day itinerary, including Meteora would be perfect!


And, of course, you could indulge in island hopping , there are amazing beaches for families in Greece!


Mystras, Grécia - Roteiro de 15 dias no Peloponeso

Detailed itinerary with map


Here is the Google MyMaps map with our detailed itinerary; just click and save it to your Google account. When you plan your next trip to Greece, you'll know where to start ;-)


In this post, I explain how to use Google MyMaps to plan a trip. It's a very useful resource; it's worth checking out!



 

Other posts about travels in Europe:

 

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