24 Hours in Kalamata

Whether you’re staying in Kalamata for a mini break by the sea or stopping by on your way to picturesque destinations like Kardamyli, Mani or Pylos, don’t miss these spots to swim, eat and play.

Grab your morning coffee at: Flirt

Located in the heart of Kalamata town, Flirt (Φλέρτ!) is anything but traditional. Serving up quality coffee by Athenian roasters Area 51 as well as cold-press juices and milkshakes, there are also brunch favourites like poached eggs, bagels and Flirt’s homemade pies of the day. While Flirt is a great place to kick-start your engine for a day of adventure, once you get a peek at its sleek Art Deco surrounds, you’ll also be tempted to head back in the evening for a negroni or two.

Take a relaxing dip at: Ego All Day Beach Bar

Since opening in 2020, Ego presents a decidedly modern and comfortable setting in the midst of the endless stretch of beach bars on the Main Street of Navarinou. Cushioned sun beds and attentive service staff make for a relaxed start to the day (insider tip: the early bird gets the sun bed) and the bar menu has a great selection of food options like tacos, salads, burgers and more. 

Continue your fun in the afternoon sun at: Verga beach

A short drive from Kalamata’s main beach, Verga beach is a great spot for an afternoon dip and beachside cocktail. Bustling beach bars like GinGer, Abat Jour and Almyra sit side by side in the heart of Verga beach and will draw you in with their sun beds, beats and relaxed smiles of fellow sun worshippers. 

Take in a magical sunset at: Kitries

Drive further south from Verga beach to the small town of Kitries, where the landscape is decidedly green and lush on one side and enveloped by the sea on the other. Gaitanaro’s and Mimi’s are stalwarts of the beach, known for their Kritharoto Thalassino (orzo with seafood)whereas next-door neighbour Kitro is a great option for lovely mezedes including a standout tirokafteri that’s whipped to perfection with a hit of hot red peppers. Wherever you choose to stop, you’ll be treated to an exceptional sunset view.

Drink your cocktails at: Le Jardin

As the name suggests, this tiki bar is set in a pretty garden with lush leafy surrounds and accents of marble and earthy colours. Cocktails like the Fresh Melon with gin, mint, melon and lemon or classics like the Zombie or Mai Tai will get your night started in the best way possible.

Boogie with a view at: Arossa 

Once you’ve made the drive from Kalamata town over to upper Verga, and walk through the entrance at Arossa, you’ll be glad you did. This impressive open-air club is perched up high, with a sweeping view of Kalamata down below. At Arossa, the DJs seem determined to bring smiles to the many revellers, and the bar staff serve up quality cocktails with impressive speed. This is where you’ll dance the night away until the early hours of the morning. 

End the night right at: Souvlakia o Tzimis

No trip to Kalamata is complete without a stop at this classic, located in the heart of Kalamata town. Tzimis opens at around 1pm and in the words of the staff there “we don’t have a close time, we’re here until the last person awake needs a souvlaki”. Tucking into a pillowy pita packed with meat and a generous serve of patates tiganites just might be the perfect way to end your day in Kalamata.

Main image by Ego All Day Bar 

7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece

We take a look at some of the best Easter holiday destinations around Greece that you really shouldn’t miss!

Lamb on the spit, folk music, free-flowing wine and plenty of good “parea” and “kefi” -add to that a beautiful location with interesting Easter traditions and you have yourself a wonderful trip to look forward to!

Patmos

Greece’s holiest island, where St John the Evangelist wrote The Apocalypse, is especially ideal at Easter for fans of Greek Orthodoxy. In the picturesque Chora you can see the local re-enactments of the Last Supper and Washing of the Disciples’ Feet; during the liturgy, a priest from the monastery of St John the Theologian, who re-enacts the role of Jesus, disperses water droplets on the legs of two monks, representing Christ’s disciples, after which there is a procession through the town. On Easter Sunday on the Dodecanese Island, it’s well worth attending the atmospherically rich Second Resurrection church service, during which the gospel is read in seven languages. 

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Leonidio

Leonidio, a seaside town in the eastern Peloponnese, carries out the unusual tradition of releasing hundreds of balloons into the sky at midnight on Holy Saturday, as soon as the priest chants ‘Christ has risen’ (Christos Anesti). The tradition, which began in the late 19th century, is vibrant and colourful, offering a unique experience that even schoolchildren are involved in preparing from the start of the year. The town’s Epitaphios (the funeral bier of Christ, containing a large icon depicting the burial of Christ and heavily decorated with flowers) processions are also very scenic, as locals decorate streets with thousands of bitter oranges (between 2-3,000) that have been hollowed out and lit from the inside with candles. On Easter Sunday Leonidio holds the Feast of Love ceremony in its main square with Tsakonian dances and more balloons released into the sky.

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Monemvasia

Also in the Peloponnese is the magical seafront fortified town of Monemvasia, where on Good Friday the epitaphios procession passes through the medieval cobblestone roads past candle-lit chapels and houses, including the once governor’s mansion (during the Venetian era) Ardamis Guesthouse. Throughout the Easter period, in Monemvasia, you’ll hear the echoes of church liturgies echoing through the streets. On the afternoon of Easter Sunday, the town carries out a tradition of re-enacting the burning of Judas, usually in a captivating ambience. 

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Image by Polina Paraskevopoulou
Rhodes

The island of the Knights has an Easter tradition that involves tree stumps being gathered and stacked into a huge pile of wood that is set alight on Holy Saturday, a few hours ahead of the Insurrection ceremony. Called ‘Kalafunos’, this ritual represents the burning of Judas.

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Kalamata

Not for the faint-hearted, Kalamata’s ‘Saitopolemos’, a ‘war’ of lit cardboard tubes filled with gunpowder- is famous Greece-wide for how loud it gets, how long it goes on, and how many people choose to participate despite annual accidents and even deaths. Thought to date back to the end of the Ottoman occupation and honouring Greeks who fought in the War of Independence, the event is certainly polemical. In Kalamata the burning of Judas tradition is actually a blowing up of Judas and takes place in the areas of Avramogiani and Rachi. 

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Corfu

Famous for their clay pot-breaking tradition, Corfu’s locals annually enjoy (often joined by Greek and foreign tourists) throwing their water-filled vessels, decorated with red ribbons, off balconies onto the street, where they smash into smithereens. The custom, thought to have begun during the Venetian occupation, is followed by a musical procession by the Ionian island’s brass bands, with a performance of a musical piece titled ‘Fear Not, Greeks’. 

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece
Hydra

One of the jewels of the Saronic Gulf, Hydra makes a great Easter getaway. The island enjoys a unique tradition of having the epitaph enter the sea on Good Friday in the fishing village of Kaminia, which is 10 minutes from the main port. This tradition is a way of blessing the waters and the seafarers. After the procession, people gather around to eat seafood in nearby tavernas and houses.

Insights Greece - 7 Top Easter Destinations in Greece

 

Lufthansa’s New Flights to Greece for Summer 2022

Lufthansa has released its 2022 summer flight schedule, which offers an expanded portfolio of new European destinations, including direct flights from Munich to Kalamata, as well as new flights to the Greek islands of Samos and Skiathos.  

Lufthansa’s summer flight schedule will launch on March 27, 2022 and the airline also announced frequency increases on current routes and the resumption of services. It will now serve over 160 destinations in Europe, with more destinations from its Frankfurt and Munich hub.

According to Lufthansa officials, the number of intra-European connections from Frankfurt and Munich will almost reach the 2019 level with around 5,000 weekly flights.

In Europe, Lufthansa is offering six new holiday destinations from Munich- Kalamata in the Peloponnese, Menorca island in Spain, Varna on the Black Sea, Billund in Denmark and Bergen in Norway are new destinations in northern Europe. Starting in April, Air Dolomiti will also fly from Brindisi in Italy.

Starting with the 2022 summer flight schedule, the company’s Eurowings Discover will also be taking off from Munich with a summer schedule that features 12 Greek islands with the addition of sunny Samos in the Northern Aegean and stunning Skiathos in the Sporades.

Lufthansa also notes that it continues to offer all customers maximum booking security and flexibility. This enables risk-free vacation planning, as all fares can still be rebooked. Customers can find the latest information on entry requirements at Lufthansa.

Image: Samos Island 

Visiting Mystras, the Former Byzantine Capital 

Situated at the foot of Mount Taygetos, Mystras is a truly spectacular place to visit. Spread over a steep mountainside and surrounded by olive and orange trees, this former Byzantine capital city is home to the single most compelling set of medieval ruins in Greece.

Location

The Byzantine Castle of Mystras is located on the southern side of the Peloponnese, close to Sparti Town. The Castle is surrounded by Byzantine walls and boasts an imposing palace on top of the hill. This area is famous for its Byzantine churches with impressive frescoes inside. At the foot of the hill is the modern village of Mystras, featuring traditional architecture and wonderful platies (town squares). A visit to this area can be combined with trips to nearby Monemvasia and Gythio.

Insights Greece - Visiting Mystras, the Former Byzantine Capital 
Mystras Tower @comeandiscovermani

History of the area

The Castle Town of Mystras was very strong during the Byzantine times and in the last decades of the Byzantine period, it said that it was the second most important town after Constantinople. Mystras, the ‘Wonder of the Morea’, was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249, by the Prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the stunning medieval ruins, surrounded by breathtaking landscape. It’s also been named as one of the most important historical sites in the Peloponnese. 

What you will find here

Explore the well-preserved Byzantine churches, the remains of the Palace, and strong walls. On top of the castle hill is the Palace of the Despots, as well as the many sacred Byzantine chapels with fascinating architecture and valuable frescoes. Below the Medieval Castle is a new village that has been constructed, here is where you will find many traditional hotels. This destination is also great for those who enjoy trekking, as the paths lead to many breathtaking spots.

Byzantine Churches

Insights Greece - Visiting Mystras, the Former Byzantine Capital 
Palace of Despots

The most famous churches are Agios Dimitrios, where Konstantinos Paleologos, the last Byzantine Emperor was crowned, and Agioi Theodoroi, which boasts beautiful frescoes. In the courtyard of Agios Dimitrios, you can visit the Archaeological Museum which is home to many Byzantine and ecclesiastical exhibits. In 1989, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.

The entire Castle of Mystras is filled with amazing churches of Byzantine style but only a few of them now remain open to visitors. Our recommendations are the impressive Monasteries of Our Lady Pantanassa, and of Οur Lady Perivleptos. 

Also noteworthy is the Holy Monastery of Vrontochion and its inner church of Odigitria, which features unique architecture. And although it is quite gothic-like, it’s combined with many elements of Byzantine designs. You can also view the rich frescoes that depict the miracle of Christ, produced by the talented painters of their time in Constantinople.

Where to eat and drink

Stroll through the square of the charming villages nearby and you will come across a variety of cafes and tavernas where locals and visitors gather and catch up for a coffee, late lunch, or dinner. Some of our picks for the best traditional eateries are Chromata and Pikoulianika, where you will taste local dishes and products that are the focus of their flavourful dishes. We also recommend Ktima Skreka, Palaiologos, and O Ellinas, who use vegetables from their own farm and also produce their own variety of olive oil. 

Insights Greece - Visiting Mystras, the Former Byzantine Capital 
Chromata @greeka

For a more modern setting try Palataki and Elia, which are located at Mystras Grand Palace Resort, or make a reservation at the Gaia Restaurant, which is found at Euphoria Retreat; here you can also grab a casual bite at the Chef’s Grill, which serves high-quality meats cooked to perfection. 

What to eat

The traditional dish of the region is bouzopoula, which is roasted pork. Lakonia is also known for its pasto (cured smoked pork) and orange flavoured sausages. For some traditional sweets try the Halvas Farsallon, pasteli and you can’t leave before trying some locally grown oranges and olives, as the area is filled with both! 

Where to stay 

Insights Greece - Visiting Mystras, the Former Byzantine Capital 

Mystras Grand Palace Resort & Spa seeks to blend harmoniously with the Laconian landscape through its stone-built lodgings interspersed with olive trees. This resort has a focus on wellbeing.

Kyniska Palace is a serene hideaway at the foothills of mountain Taygetos where nature, discreet luxury, and local myths are in perfect harmony.

Euphoria Retreat is one of Greece’s most loved hotels in the region as it’s the perfect place to relax, unwind and allow your mind and body some time to rejuvenate. 

Insider Tip: A visit here involves moderate amounts of hiking. We should also mention that the site has two entrances, one at the base of the site and another at the top (near the fortress). If you arrive by taxi from Sparta, you should ask the driver to take you to the upper entrance and from there you can walk down, rather than entering below and climbing up. Public buses travel to the site from Sparta on a daily basis. 

To get there

It is roughly a three-hour drive from Athens and there is about 50€ worth of tolls in a one-way trip. You can also drive from Kalamata in just over an hour and just under an hour from Tripoli.  

Cover image @discovergreece