In the southwestern part of the Peloponnese, you’ll come across Messinia, a beautiful destination that deserves a visit at least once in a lifetime. From Koroni and Methoni to Pylos, Finikounda, and Petalidi, you will be impressed with Messinia’s raw beauty and authentic charm.
Only two hours’ drive from Athens, Messinia is known for its lush landscapes, endless olive groves, gorges, coves, and beaches. It’s also the home to some of Greece’s most impressive landmarks, including the Venetian castles of Methoni and Koroni and the beautiful villages where they stand, Nestor’s Palace and Pylos. From small mountainous cliff-hanging villages to stunning seaside towns and a range of flavoursome traditional dishes, there is so much to see and do in Messinia.
Here we have chosen 5 seaside towns on the southwest coast, where you can drive along slowly and stop off at each, or spend a few days (or weeks) at one (or all) of these beautiful places.
The picturesque seaside town of Koroni lies about 52km from the city of Kalamata. Koroni is amphitheatrically built on a low-lying hill and features charming homes, gardens filled with colourful flowers, stone-paved alleyways, narrow back streets, and a large number of churches. When you walk along the narrow little streets of Koroni, you will realise that it is a remote medieval town, which remains enchanting and beautifully raw.
Must see: Visit the manor of chieftain Karapavlos and the traditional central square where you will find the Church of Agios Dimitrios. The top of the hill is occupied by the large Venetian Castle of the 13th century, inside the castle is the Monastery of Agios Ioannis. Below the castle, you will find the church of Panagia Eleistra, which offers stunning views of the town. Also check out the Historical and Archaeological collection with the region’s excavated findings, housed in a small building on the site of the grove.
Must do: Sit at the waterfront and enjoy the great restaurants, picturesque fish taverns, bakeries, ouzerias and cafes that serve tasty delicacies by the sea.
Swim at: the beautiful beaches of Koroni, some offering long with fine golden sand and some smaller with pebbles. They include Kolonides, Paroulia, Gargarou, the beach by the Castle of Koroni with pebbles and small rocks, as well as the beaches Zaga, Memi and Kalamaki, Agia Triada, and Agios Ioannis.
Don’t miss: The Venetian islet opposite cape Akrita with a wonderful sea bed for diving and fishing.
Located 38 km from Koroni and 12 km from Pylos, it’s a very popular spot amongst Greeks and is slowly becoming a favourite amongst international visitors too. Most known for its beautiful fortress, this is a must-visit town when visiting Messinia. Surrounded by vineyards, here you will be tempted by good local wines.
Must see: The histоriсаl Cаstlе οf Mеthоni built by thе Vеnеtiаns in 13 сеnturу, right by thе sеа. Methoni’s exterior walls are amazing, although little remains inside the fortress itself. The traditional settlement, the castle, the fortress, the surrounding islets, the pretty port. At the south edge of the castle, you will find a fortified islet, Bourtzi, which was built in 1500 and is connected to the Sea Gate of the castle with a paved tiny road.
Must do: Eat at one of the many seaside cafes, tаvеrnаs, and rеstаurаnts аrоund thе саstlе, which all offer great views of the fortress. Visit one of thе small nearby villаgеs.
Swim at: Mеthоni bеасh is nеxt tο thе саstlе – а lоng strip οf finе sоft sаnd аnd shаllοw wаtеr, which has won several awards for its eco-sensitivity. Hеаding tо Kοrоni, just οut оf thе villаgе yοu will find thе bеасhеs оf Kritika, Lambes and Kokkinia. Thеrе is аnоthеr smаll but bеаutiful bеасh οn thе uninhаbitеd islеt оf Sаpiеntzа in thе bаy οf Mеthоni.
Don’t leave until: You try a traditional dish from Taverna Klimataria where the talented chef offers a range of fresh, authentic Greek dishes made with local produce.
Many people call Pylos “Little Switzerland” as it features small homes with white facades, which are surrounded by lush greenery and flower beds. This pretty seasidе tоwn is a perfect place to base yourself in Messinia as you explore the area.
Must see: Three Admirals’ Square that remains one of the busiest places in Pylos, this is the main focus of the square; a monument dedicated to the three admirals who participated in the legendary Battle of Navarino. Nestor’s Cave tours are a great way to discover history. Stroll through the unique archaeological site called Ancient Pylos, with its many ruins of unique ancient buildings, the most splendid of which was the Palace of Nestor.
Must do: Head to the small square next to the harbour and sit back and enjoy a coffee, dessert, or late lunch at one of the many tavernas, cafes, or restaurants. When the sun goes down it turns into one of the most romantic places in the city. Here you can just walk, admiring the panoramic view of the coast, or dine at one of the local restaurants.
To swim: There are no beaches inside Pylos, however, there is a boat trip around Sfaktiria and Navarino Bay, with daily cruises. Only five minutes away by car you can swim at Gialova and you will be blown away by the nearby Voidokillia Beach, which has been named one of the best beaches in Greece.
Don’t leave until: You visit the Archaeological Museum of Chora, here you will find numerous archaeological findings from the site of the Palace of Nestor are kept here; also head to the Archaeological Museum of Messenia, here you will find collections that focus on the Mycenaean civilization.
This coastal village of Messinia has developed into one of the most beautiful summer spots of southern Peloponnese. Located almost halfway between Methoni and Koroni and 70 km from the capital of the prefecture, Kalamata. The village is built at the head of a bay, exactly opposite the complex of Oinousses, which includes the Sapienza islands Schiza and Agia Mariani. Here you are right between the mountain and the sea.
Must see: Walk around the small fishing village and take in the picturesque coastline. Visitors come here to enjoy the stunning sandy beaches with crystal clear waters.
Must do: Join in on some fishing, as the locals are renowned for catching some of the best seafood in the area. On the beach, there are several cozy tavernas and behind the tavernas is a promenade with small shops.
Swim at: The village lies on a long sandy beach, making it popular among tourists. Outside Finikounda are more beautiful beaches, both sandy and pebble beaches. Opposite the coast, lies the island of Schiza and right of the island Sapientza. Between these two islands lies the small rocky islet of Agia Marina. These islands can be visited by boat.
Don’t leave until: Trying the catch of the day at one of the great fish taverns.
Built on the ruins of the ancient city of Koronis, and located on a beachfront, Petalidi is a perfect spot to enjoy the sea and panoramic views. If you are looking for a place away from crowds, this town is the ideal destination as it offers traditional food and a nice range of places to stay.
Must see: Landmarks of the village include the central square with the Church of Agios Nikolaos, the seafront, a lighthouse, the pretty park on the port, and the Fountain of Liar.
Must do: Stroll around the square and sit at one of the many restaurants and bars and also the local shops where you can try local dishes, delicacies and you can take home a nice little souvenir. Sit at a traditional seafront cafe to drink your coffee and enjoy the beautiful view.
Swim at: The beach of Petalidi is located just before the port of the seaside village. Starting from the beach of Petalidi, you can enjoy the nearby beaches of the Messinian Bay
Don’t leave until: You visit the port and watch the local fishermen catch some of the most beautiful seafood, as Petalidi was originally a fishing village and the locals here love their fish!