Mani, Greece: Explore Europe’s hidden coasts
Greece is filled with amazing all-year-long destinations that attract millions of tourists every year. If you are planning to discover the beauties of this country, then visiting the Mani Peninsula should be among your top options. This hidden coast is a gem that everyone should consider as a destination, as it offers stunning natural beauty and a lot of interesting places to explore.
This region is located in southern Greece, and back in time, it was the home of the Maniots. If you are familiar with the ancient Spartans, then you should know that Maniots, or Maniátes in Greek, claim to be descendants of these.
You can consider that the peninsula is divided into two, the Outer Mani and the Deep Mani. The first is the most popular, and it includes beautiful towns such as Kardamyli and Stoupa, two of the peninsula's top destinations.
Above the beautiful Oitylo Bay, in the town of Areopolis, the Deep Mani begins. Its most well-known destination is on the shore nearby, to the south, and as soon as you arrive, you will get an idea of how deep this region may go.
Once there, between Areopolis and Pyrgos Dirou, you will find the Caves of Diros, which are large and magnificent, and considered one of the most important natural sites in Greece. The beautiful stalactites and stalagmites there were submerged in the sea before, and the caverns started to form hundreds of thousands of years ago.
By staying on the shore, you can reach the fishing village of Mezapos, and once there, you can pay a visit to the castle of Tigani. This region is interesting; it's filled with domed Byzantine churches with beautiful frescoes, along with the recognizable Maniat tower houses, which are kind of fortresses.
Heading more to the south, you will find the dramatic bluff of Cavo Grosso, located in the beautiful town of Gerolimenas, a picturesque and small village on the coast. Its name means "Old Harbour." This traditional seaside village offers you diverse dining options and nice beaches to visit.
Then you can visit the medieval town of Vathia, a beautiful village with a fascinating abundance of wildflowers, especially during spring and summer. Also, you will find many abandoned chapels and buildings that are very interesting to visit.
Further to the south, you will be amazed by Cape Tenaro, which separates the Aegean from the Ionian sea. This is the southernmost point of mainland Greece, and it is also called Cape Matapan. It is a place full of history and worth visiting.
According to Greek mythology, in Cape Tenaro, there’s a cave on the tip of the cape that's the home of the god of death, Hades. Also, there are some temples built by Spartans to honor different gods, such as Poseidon.
Kalamata and Kardamyli are two interesting towns to visit in the southeast of the region. Kardamyli is filled with beautiful beaches and medieval castles, Kardamyli is the perfect spot for a summer vacation. The most popular ones are the beaches of Ritsa, Belogianni, Salio, Tikla, Amoni, Santava.
On the other hand, in Kalamata, the second biggest city in the Peloponnese, you can visit the incredible old town and the different churches with interesting architecture. Also, the town is famous for its Kalamata olives.
One last spot you must not miss during your visit to the Mani Peninsula is Stoupa, a dream destination filled with amazing landscapes, two sandy beaches, and interesting sights to explore. Stoupa beach is the most popular one and a hot holiday spot, and Kalogria beach is also a beautiful one to visit, where you can play volleyball and swim in the water.
Filled with amazing sights and beautiful villages, the Mani Peninsula will make you fall in love with Greece. And don't forget to sample the local cuisine; it's simply delicious!