Staying at Chara Houses in Mani

Staying at Chara Houses in Mani, promises a unique and enriching experience, combining stunning natural beauty with rich history and traditional charm. 

If you are looking for a memorable getaway in the Peloponnese that’s filled with relaxation, adventure and cultural experiences, these authentic seaside homes are the perfect choice for a beautiful escape – from June through to late October, as the weather in this charming part of mainland Greece remains hot and sea temperatures stay warm through to autumn. 

Located on a stunning stretch of coastline, Chara Houses, only steps away from the beach, is a private and gated property that features five spacious homes that can accommodate up to seven guests, making it perfect for family holidays, friend group trips- or yoga, artist and writers retreats.

Featuring traditional Maniot architecture that blends in perfectly with modern comforts, the exterior is characterised by colourful facades, stone walls, wooden beams, and terracotta roofing, while the cozy interior is a haven of warmth and relaxation. Boasting three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen – Chara Houses is ideal for longer stays. 

You will also find plantation shutter windows, Juliet balconies, and covered terraces that offer panoramic views of the nearby lush gardens with hammocks and plenty of space for play, and most importantly the nearby sea, reminding guests they are mere moments away from the quiet and sandy Kalamakia beach, where they are also given their own umbrella and sunbeds – allowing for endless hours of swimming and sunbathing every day. 

What makes family-run Chara Houses so special is the serenity, and fresh, invigorating air filled with the scent of the sea and wild local herbs; not to mention its attentive host Lazarus, who ensures guests are comfortable, and always happy to share where to savour fresh local cuisine, including some traditional seaside fish taverns that are within walking distance. As well as revealing other nearby places to discover, such as Areopoli and Gytheion town, and the picture-perfect Limeni fishing village, or the famous Diros caves, which are only 25 minutes away. 

Once a week, Lazarus also hosts BBQ nights for his guests, where they can experience an authentic village-style gathering filled with local homemade dishes using fresh vegetables and herbs from the property’s pristine garden.  

And if that’s not enough, what will make this stay most memorable is waking up each day to the peaceful and gentle sound of waves lapping against the sandy shore and the golden rays of the sun illuminating the azure waters of the Mediterranean, which is guaranteed through to September and October, making it the ideal time to enjoy more outdoor activities such as kayaking and cycling in Skoutari Bay, horse riding at Charia village, and strolling around Vatheia village – also perfect for those who want to avoid the peak summer crowds.

Each house comes with…

  • Private parking 
  • Wi-Fi
  • Airconditioning
  • Washing machine 
  • TV
  • Housekeeping every 3 days
  • Linen & towels

A: Skoutari, Mani, Laconia 


Travel Guide to Kalamata

Discover our complete travel guide to Kalamata including where to eat, drink, stay and swim around this beautiful city in the Peloponnese. 

Filled with a unique identity, historical depth, and urban beauty, Kalamata, built at the foot of Mount Kalathi, is a city that captivates you from the moment you wander its streets. Behind her, Taygetos rises imposingly, while in front of her, the Messinian Gulf stretches out, in stunning shades of deep blue. 

Only 2.5 hours from Athens, it’s a wonderful destination you can visit all year round – with plenty to discover! 

Must See + Do

Bike riding is a trend…

Renting a bicycle in Kalamata offers visitors the opportunity to explore the picturesque seafront promenade. Navigate through charming streets, visit historical sites like the Kalamata Castle, and immerse yourself in nature at the Municipal Railway Park, making it a must-do experience for adventurers and culture enthusiasts alike.

Go up to the castle…

Explore the historic Kalamata Castle, and admire the panoramic views of the city and surrounding area.

Relax on a beach….

Kalamata’s urban centre is close to one of the most beautiful beaches, known for its crystal-clear waters and variety of water sports- here you can try your hand at kayaking or windsurfing. 

Wander through Kalamata’s Old Town…

Discovering traditional Greek architecture, local shops with handmade creations and cozy cafes.

Hike the scenic trails of the Taygetos Mountains…

Enjoying breathtaking views along the way. 

Discover the local gastronomy….

Sample the world famous Kalamata olives and extra virgin olive oil- a local delicacy renowned for its flavour. Also make sure to experience the local wine scene with tours and tastings at nearby wineries, showcasing indigenous grape varieties.

Cultural Hotspots

Kalamata Castle- Perched on a hill overlooking the city, Kalamata Castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. The castle has a long history dating back to the Byzantine era and has been renovated several times over the centuries.

Benakeion Archaeological Museum- This museum houses a collection of artifacts from the region, including pottery, sculptures, and jewellery dating back to ancient times. It provides insights into the area’s history and civilization.

Church of the Holy Apostles-  This Byzantine church is one of the oldest in Kalamata, dating back to the 12th century. It features beautiful frescoes and architectural details.

Old Town- Wander through the narrow streets of Kalamata’s Old Town to discover charming cafes, traditional tavernas, and historical buildings. The area is known for its Venetian architecture and vibrant atmosphere.

Eat & Drink

Coffee + Brunch

Platea- In the heart of Kalamata’s central square is a neoclassical gem, housing a cafe that tantalizes both the senses and the palate. The menu combines traditional Greek flavours with contemporary culinary techniques. 

Flirt- Also in the city centre, Flirt stands out for its top-notch coffee, refreshing cold-pressed juices, and creamy milkshakes. Here you can enjoy brunch classics such as poached eggs, bagels, and Flirt’s daily homemade pies. 

Blossom– Escape to a cozy brunch haven, where you can savor fluffy pancakes, savory avocado toast, and steaming cups of freshly brewed coffee. 


To Limeni- Enjoy expertly prepared seafood delicacies amidst a charming seaside setting.

Mple Kanarini- Chef and owner Konstantinos Vassiliadis collaborates with local fishermen and farmers to create unique and fresh dishes depending on the season. 

Foino- For a long, lazy lunch check out this new bistro that has already received many accolades thanks to its delightful, fresh and creative dishes (made using locally sourced produce) that pair perfectly with their carefully curated wine list. 

Kentrikon– With its rustic charm and warm hospitality, this taverna offers classic Greek dishes infused with contemporary flavours.

Vagias Taverna –An old-school taverna where you can taste local, authentic Peloponessian dishes.  


Οinopantopoleion- About a decade ago Panagiotis Chrysomallis decided to turn his father’s old wine and grocery store into a modern restaurant, which has now become one of the city’s most popular food spots thanks to its traditional Greek flavours made with locally produced ingredients. 

Kardamo- Indulge in dishes like fava beans paired with onion jam and pork paste, tacos featuring kokoretsi and horiatiki, rooster served with noodles and mizithra cheese, alongside a tempting pork burger. While the menu primarily celebrates meat, vegetarians can also find satisfying options to enjoy.

Τzimis- If you are looking for the best souvlaki in town, head to this iconic spot where you’ll find soft pita filled with savory meat and accompanied by a generous portion of crispy patates tiganites. 

Κreopoleion 29- This is a paradise for meat lovers as you’ll find a variety of meat choices, alongside fine, fresh ingredients that come from the family’s farms in Taygetos or small producers in various parts of Greece. Beef is the star, but there is no shortage of other kinds of free-range meats. 

Bakeries + Patisseries

Athanassiou- If you would like to try traditional Greek sweets, including diples (layers of crisp phyllo pastry and sweet honeyed nuts) head to this family-run pastry store that also serves local figs with chocolate and walnuts!  

Mamas Sweethouse – Perfect for an afternoon sugar hit, especially if you love waffles, pancakes and other homemade cakes. 

Fraggeas- A traditional bakery with daily handmade pies including tiropita and spanakopita. 

Αll – day bars 

Αnasha- The carefully crafted cocktail menu perfectly compliments the summery vibe of the seaside location, seamlessly blending into its natural surroundings. 

Ego Bar- This all-day bar is where you’ll find all the locals heading for a swim and afternoon aperitivo. 

Secada- Chic all day-bar that serves craft cocktails and fresh seafood dishes.


Bottiglia- If you are in the mood for some signature cocktails and laid-back tunes. 

Luna Lounge- This cool bistro-lounge serves daily special cocktails and homemade burgers. 

Le Jardin- Begin your evening with cocktails such as the fresh melon featuring gin, mint, melon, and lemon or a classic mojito. 

Bistroteca -Also in the centre of the city, this is a great place to grab a drink after a spot of shopping nearby. 

Make sure you take home

Olive oil- Kalamata is known for its high-quality olive oil. Tip: look for extra virgin olive oil produced locally for a taste of the region’s finest.

Local wines- The Peloponnese region produces some of the best wines in Greece and here you’ll find some great local drops. 

Kalamata figs- These locally produced figs are naturally dried and can be found at most food stores in town. 

Handcrafted items- Kalamata is known for its talented artisans who create beautiful pottery, ceramics, and textiles. Many stores with handmade creations are located in the historical centre. 

Best Beaches

Paralia Kalamata- Covered in fine, pebbly sand, sloping into shallow and warm waters, this beach is renowned for its breathtaking views of the mountain and the Messinian Bay. 

Santova– Only 14 kilometers from Kalamata and located in the northern part of Kitrion Bay, it features fine sand with small pebbles at the water’s edge, as well as plenty of beach bars, making it perfect for swimming or lounging.

Verga– Just a short drive from Kalamata’s main beach, it’s the ideal spot for an afternoon dip and a seaside cocktail. 

Stoupa– With fine sand, turquoise waters, and countless sun loungers, this popular spot in Western Mani is located in front of Stoupa’s main street. 

Mikri Mantinia- a pebbled beach located just 10 km from Kalamata, it’s a lovely Blue Flag awarded beach where the Taygetos mountain range meets the sea. 

Best view…

Is from Kastraki, an all-day bar-restaurant that offers the best panoramic view of the Messinian Gulf. A replica of medieval and Byzantine castles, it features stone seats and cushions, where you can sit back and enjoy the city views from every corner. Undoubtedly, the best time of the day to visit Kastraki is during sunset. 

Local gem…

The Kalamata Municipal Railway Park is a local favourite that houses a collection of historic trains, engines, and railway artifacts that provide an intriguing look into the region’s railway history. The park is both a museum and a recreational area where visitors can walk among the historic trains, see the exhibitions, and learn about the role of railways in Kalamata’s history.

Ultimate day trip

Ancient Messene– Just a short drive from Kalamata lies the ancient city of Messene, one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Greece. Explore the ruins of this ancient city and marvel at its impressive architecture.

Koroni– Discover the ancient ruins of Koroni Castle, indulge in a seafood lunch at a local taverna, or head to a pristine beach in this charming coastal town for a refreshing swim. 

Where to sleep

Grand Hotel-  Nestled in the heart of this vibrant coastal city, the hotel exudes a timeless charm, blending modern sophistication with traditional Greek hospitality.

Messinian Icon- Perched gracefully along the sun-drenched Kalamata Beach, Messinian Icon Hotel effortlessly blends contemporary luxury with the allure of the Mediterranean. 

Grecotel Filoxenia- With its traditional Greek-inspired architecture and great service, every detail is curated to immerse guests in a world of sophistication and relaxation. 

Costa Navarino- This luxurious destination is renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage. With world-class resorts like The Romanos and The Westin, it offers relaxation and exploration opportunities. The resort is approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Kalamata and is close to the airport.

Getting there

By plane: Kalamata International Airport (KLX) offers domestic and international flights. You can check with airlines for direct flights or connecting flights through Athens or other major European hubs.

Βy car: If you’re already in Greece or nearby, driving to Kalamata can be a scenic option. From Athens, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive (approximately 240 kilometers) via the National Road Athens-Corinthos-Tripolis-Kalamata.

Βy bus: Intercity buses connect Kalamata with other major cities in Greece. KTEL is the main bus operator, offering routes to and from Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and other cities. The bus journey from Athens to Kalamata takes around 4-5 hours.

Main Image Courtesy of Secada Bar 

Immerse Yourself in the Graceful Movement Retreat 

If you would like to start your summer drenched in sunshine, solace, and serenity, you may want to learn more about The Graceful Movement Retreat, where you can immerse yourself in five days of yoga and pilates classes taught by former classic New York ballet dancer Jennifer Dimitriou.

Realign Retreats has teamed up with The Graceful Movement to create the ultimate holistic getaway at Euphoria Retreats – a leading wellbeing resort tucked away in a lush hillside in the Peloponnese.  

In early June, guests are invited to experience a unique movement practice along with award-winning spa facilities, and authentic cuisine – making this retreat a complete haven for anyone in search of relaxation and self-discovery. 

We recently spoke with Jennifer Dimitriou and Elena Falida about their upcoming retreat that’s designed to cultivate a deep connection between the body, mind and spirit.  

Can you tell us a bit about your unique teaching style? 

Jennifer: It’s a fluid and elegant mix of yoga, pilates and ballet-inspired movement that’s especially focused on developing good posture, whole-body strength and mobility through graceful movements. My passion is to get as many people as I can to move well on and off the mat. I teach to my audience not to my agenda and I am a stickler for teaching good form because without that, the work is not effective; people get injured, and they won’t want to come back. Also, I never script anything, all of my classes are different and sometimes there’s more of a focus on one of the movement methods including yoga, pilates, or ballet barre. For me, the most important aspect of teaching is watching people transform. I believe in exchanging and creating good energy. Lastly, I’m a performer, so I love to move people – getting them out of their heads and into their bodies, which means a lot of laughing and fun. I want them to walk out feeling inspired and ready to take on their day spreading good energy.

What will be the main focus for your upcoming retreat? 

Jennifer: We all need different things, but retreats are a time to give back to yourself, to release stress, to move, to breathe, to eat well, to enjoy, to learn something new, to take away what you need, and to leave the rest. It will be a retreat with a community of like-minded people coming together yet finding their individual selves.

Do you recommend a certain level of yoga experience or is it suitable for all? 

All levels are welcome. 

Why did you choose Euphoria as the location for your retreat?

Elena: Euphoria was a natural choice as it represents the highest example of a holistic wellness experience in Greece. The unparalleled wellbeing centre of Euphoria, with its impeccable facilities, creates one of the world’s ultimate healthy gateways. On top of that, a sense of tranquillity permeates Euphoria’s Byzantine architecture and monastic interiors, which is ideal for our guest’s experience whereas the surrounding private forest offers a restorative role of nature at your fingertips. 

What can guests expect from the overall experience?

Elena: Fundamental to any stay at Euphoria is an exploration of their spa facilities, which is not just an architectural wonder but also the discovery of the most astonishing array of facilities – from swimming pools to exquisitely designed steams, saunas and much more awaits to introduce guests to the world of deep relaxation and self-exploration.

Then there’s Euphoria’s contemporary GAIA restaurant, which serves pure, authentic food that comes alive through the energy of the mineral-packed soil of the Peloponnese. Offering a blend of regionally inspired contemporary Greek and Mediterranean dishes, the emphasis is on simplicity, healthy living and full flavour.

In addition, guests will be immersed in The Graceful Movement method daily, where they will be guided (step by step) by Jennifer into the connection of the mind with the body. 

Overall guests should expect to find themselves unfurling into a natural new rhythm, in tune with everything around them. After just a few days at our retreat, they will notice how a healthy routine of moving your body, eating clean nourishing food, and sleeping deeply after basking in sunshine with a like-minded community begins to make a tangible difference.

Will there be time to explore nearby areas? 

Classes will be offered once or twice a day, so there is plenty of time to explore the beautiful resort and its top-notch spa, go hiking, or just sit by the pool and read.

What are you looking forward to most about hosting this retreat?

Jennifer: I absolutely love teaching smaller intimate groups such as retreats and workshops. It’s usually a great group that wants to be there and to practice. Also, I travel to Greece every summer, as my husband is Greek Australian, so it’s one of my favourite places to be in the world. I’m also really looking forward to staying at Euphoria – even though I’m working, it’s also a very inspiring time for me to take time for myself.

The Graceful Movement Retreat 2024 

Travel Guide to Ancient Epidaurus

A trip to Ancient Epidaurus in the Peloponnese is the ideal two-day excursion for lovers of theatre, history, nature and tranquility. 

Epidaurus offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the ancient world while gaining a deeper understanding of Greek history and culture. Discover the best places to eat, drink and explore when heading this way! 

Perfect place for: couples, history buffs, and a wellbeing retreat. 

Where to stay: There are plenty of family-run hotels and apartment-style accommodation available around the main town. And if you prefer boutique or luxury hotels, we recommend you stay in nearby Nafplio, which is only a 30-minute drive. 

Must See + Do

Enjoy your day at the beach, try traditional dishes at quaint taverns, walk around the archaeological sites and explore the enchanting streets of the village, where ancient ruins and traditional homes intertwine. And never leave Ancient Epidaurus until you’ve seen a theatrical play (preferably at both theatres).  

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is not only a theater built in the 4th century BC, but a large archaeological site that’s known as the best preserved in all of Greece. Worth visiting in its entirety, Epidaurus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular spot, offering visitors the chance to explore its rich history, architecture, and natural beauty. The theatre is still used for performances, including ancient Greek dramas and modern plays, with plenty to watch during the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

We recommend a tour of the entire archaeological site. Within it, you will also find the Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus, which hosts important finds from the excavations of the Asklepiion and the Theatre. 

The Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus is also a must. Located in the heart of the town, you can walk here and admire the most peaceful and dynamic scenery, which includes the ancient theatre, ancient olive oil trees, and stunning sea views. 


Kalamaki is probably the most beautiful beach in Epidaurus. You will find it in Palaia Epidaurus by walking for 5 minutes on a paved path that starts from Vagionia beach. The pine trees reach the coast and diving in its waters is pure magic. Gyalasi beach is the most popular in the area, as you can spend all day here under an umbrella and sunbed while enjoying a light lunch and refreshments from the beach bar.

Εat + Drink

Breakfast + Coffee

Start your day with an espresso or fresh juice from Koilon Café or Stork Café, which has a delightful brunch menu and incomparable views of the Saronic Gulf. And for those searching for something sweet, we suggest Agnanti tou Saronikou. 

Lunch + Dinner

Epidaurus is famous for its traditional taverns where all dishes are cooked using locally produced oil and fresh ingredients from the area. We highly recommend To Perivoli Tis Gogos, where you can dine under orange and mulberry trees, and also try Mouria for fresh seafood, and Ta Klimata, which serves authentic dishes in a lush green courtyard.

Dishes + Delicacies

Try the extra virgin olive oil from local producers, as well as anything made with orange, as the Argolida region is the biggest producer of oranges in Greece. As for traditional dishes, Epidaurus is known for its pork or lamb cooked with mountain herbs and of course, don’t leave without tasting local wine and spoon sweets. 


Best view

Try catch the sunset from the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus– as the sun sinks into the sea,  the light reflects off the olive leaves and bathes the ancient marbles of the theatre! 

Local gem

A well-hidden treasure that few know about is the Sunken City of Ancient Epidaurus. At the edge of the town’s beach, in the quietest spot far from sunbeds you will find these submerged ruins, revealing the existence of the ancient city. Just two metres deep, you can snorkel and swim among vessels, allowing you to dive deep into history. Tip: just watch out for spiky sea urchins!

Ultimate day trip

Visit the beautiful town of Nafplio, which is only 30 minutes away by car. As you drive along you will marvel at the gorgeous scenery, including the stunning countryside. We also suggest you stop off at nearby local vineyards to sample some of the best Greek wines on offer. 


Getting there: by car or bus from Athens it takes around 2.5 – 3 hours, depending on the traffic. 

Make sure you take home: souvenirs from the Epidaurus theatre box office and cute postcards from local souvenir shops in town.

Best time to gοfrom June to August, when the Athens Epidaurus Festival is held.

Ideal time to stay: 2 days (weekend is preferable). 

Getting around: You can easily walk around the town, however, if you want to see nearby attractions we recommend hiring a car. 

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 

Mini Guide to Pylos 

A pretty seaside town located in the Peloponnese, Pylos is surrounded by lush vegetation, breathtaking natural landscapes, ancient monuments, and fabulous authentic taverns serving fresh local dishes from the region. 

Must see: Three Admirals’ Square remains one of the busiest places in Pylos. This is the main focus of the town square, as it’s 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 town 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, where you will find numerous archaeological findings from the site of the Palace of Nestor; also head to the Archaeological Museum of Messinia, where you’ll discover collections that focus on the Mycenaean civilization. 

Eat: There are so many wonderful places where you can try local dishes and delicacies, including Hilopites (handmade pasta) with Myzithra (local cheese), Spinach with black-eyed peas, and Sausages seasoned with oranges, Barbounia (mullet) and Liopita (olive pie). Some of our favourite taverns are Fifty/Fifty for perfectly grilled calamari and other seafood dishes; O Koukos for traditional oven-baked dishes accompanied by local wines; Poseodonia for great grilled food and amazing views of Navarino Bay; and Aetos for the freshest fish and salads! 

Drink: Kookoonari Beach Bar is close by and is the perfect spot for kicking back and for listening to crashing waves, taking in stunning sunsets, and sipping on sherbet-coloured cocktails; or for a casual drink with the locals, head to Ethos Café Bar in the town square.  

Extra tip

Definitely take a boat trip around Sfaktiria and Navarino Bay. Cruises start off from The Marina – the harbor of Pylos, where you can spend the entire day exploring remote little beaches and bays at your own pace. 

Getting there

The quickest way from Athens to Pylos is by car and it’s around a three-hour and fifteen-minute drive. KTEL Messinias operates a bus from Athens to Pylos twice daily (five-hour trip). 

Historic Corinth Canal Set to Reopen in Summer 

Greece’s Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport has announced they expect the Corinth Canal to reopen for navigation from the 5th of July.  

The 128-year-old canal has been closed to traffic since February 2021, after a series of landslides made it unnavigable. Following its closure, the Greek government commenced vital restoration works worth 30.6 million euros.  

The famous canal that separates the mainland from the Peloponnese can accommodate small cruise ships and is crossed by several bridges, including a motorway and railway.

Also known as the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal connects the Ionian and the Aegean Seas, making the passage of cargo and passenger ships between the two much quicker and safer.

As Greece opened up to tourism and yachts last summer, visitors who passed through from the Ionian to the Aegean Seas on yachts and cruise ships had to take the long and costlier route around the Peloponnesian peninsula; however this year the Greek Development & Investments Ministry is hoping to see the Corinth Canal open in July through to the end of October. 

A press release issued by the Corinth Canal SA states, “We would like to inform our customers and partners that the restoration works are in progress and that according to the official schedule of the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport, the canal will be available for navigation from the 5th of July until the end of October 2022, where restoration work will continue.” 

To see the Corinth Canal, visitors can drive to it, take a bus, or board a boat cruise that goes through it – boat trips run from Loutraki. 

New World-Class Golf Courses Opening at Costa Navarino 

Costa Navarino, in the heart of Messinia, is ready to kick start the new 2022 season with two new signature golf courses- the world’s first International Olympic Academy Golf Course and The Hills Course- both set to open on February 20.

Offering panoramic views of the Bay of Navarino, the new Olympic Academy Golf Course has been designed by José Mariá Olazábal – boasting stunning sea, mountain, and river views as a backdrop to your tee shots.

Situated over 125 hectares overlooking the historical bay of Navarino and the Ionian Sea, the International Olympic Academy measures 6,366m in length. The 18 holes hills course, par 72 has been designed to challenge the best golfers in an enchanting environment with dramatic views and memorable sunsets.

The Hills Course is the second golf course at Navarino Hills and overlooks the rural landscape of Messinia, with rugged mountains and small villages. Measuring 6,280 yards, this 18-hole course par 72 completes the challenging experience designed to challenge the most experienced golfers in a different landscape setting.

They will be joining The Dunes and The Bay Course, which are 18-hole signature courses surrounded by Costa Navarino’s five-star hotels and resorts – making it a prime location for golf connoisseurs with four signature golf courses within a 13km radius. 

Costa Navarino is steadily raising its profile as a prime, sustainable destination in the Mediterranean by offering a world-class golf experience on the four signature golf courses in Greece. Each course bears the signature of a different world-renowned designer and offers a unique combination of challenges and rewards for golfers of all levels.

A series of international tournaments are hosted each year, including Messinia Pro-Am, Aegean Pro attracting professionals, amateurs, and golf lovers while also creating a vibrant intercultural golf hub. 

Costa Navarino Golf Resort

Image by Gerrit Kleinfeld  | Costa Navarino 

Mandarin Oriental to Open at Costa Navarino

The first Mandarin Oriental resort will open its doors in Greece at Navarino Bay, an integrated resort area at Costa Navarino, in the region of Messinia, southwest Peloponnese, amidst a breathtaking 140-hectare natural landscape, overlooking the historic Bay of Navarino.

Insights Greece - Mandarin Oriental to Open at Costa Navarino
Greece’s first Mandarin Oriental to open at Navarino Bay

Set to open in 2023, the beachfront luxury resort will feature 99 guest rooms, including 48 spacious earth-sheltered pool villas, all with outdoor terraces and stunning sea views, along with five restaurants and bars. Crafted by renowned Greek architects, Tombazis & Associates Architects and K-Studio, the unique design is aligned with Costa Navarino’s sustainable principles, featuring planted roofs blending into the natural topography of the land and the use of local materials.

Additionally, this ultra-premium resort is set to feature a 1,500 m2 spa and fitness centre with a stunning 25 m indoor-outdoor pool and sweeping sea views, complemented by state-of-the-art heat experiences and Mandarin Oriental’s signature wellness therapies in specially designed indoor treatment rooms and outdoor pavilions.

The project is owned and developed by TEMES, a leading developer and operator of high-end tourism and real estate destinations in Greece.

“We are delighted to be opening our first property in Greece in Costa Navarino and look forward to sharing this striking combination of unspoiled landscape, olive groves, pristine beaches, and authentic Greek culture in the region with our guests,” said James Riley, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental. “We are pleased to partner with TEMES, the group that has been responsible for the creation of Costa Navarino as a bourgeoning tourism destination.”

Insights Greece - Mandarin Oriental to Open at Costa Navarino
Located in the heart of Messinia

“Mandarin Oriental is renowned for delivering exemplary service and exclusive experiences in some of the most noted properties around the world,” said Achilles V. Constantakopoulos, Chairman of TEMES. “We are proud to have the Group bring their hospitality expertise for the first time to Greece, signifying the further growth of Costa Navarino, which is becoming a top international destination to visit and to live”.

Guests of Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino will also benefit from the destination’s other resort areas, and experience a vast range of outdoor activities, from biking and hiking to rock-climbing, tennis, and water sports, as well as three more signature golf courses. Additionally, a variety of dining venues and leisure activities are available across Navarino Dunes and Navarino Waterfront.

Moreover, Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino will be adjacent to Navarino Agora, an open marketplace with retail, artisanal street food, open-air cinema, and authentic local experiences by day and night.

Mandarin Oriental, Costa Navarino 

1920’s Industrial Winery Converted Into a Seaside Retreat

Set on the Peloponnesian peninsula, right on Koutoura beach, Dexamenes is an architecturally award-winning hotel that has been transformed from a former 1920s industrial winery into a standout seaside retreat. 

Boasting stunning surroundings filled with sunflowers, watermelon fields, olive groves, vineyards, and citrus trees, this tranquil spot is the ideal place to unwind, in between visits to nearby archaeological sites, wineries, and historical sites.

Dexamenes is about an hour from Patras city, right next to the town of Amaliada, allowing easy access to the Unesco World Heritage-listed Ancient Olympia – the birthplace of the Olympic Games, as well as the nearby forested mountains of Elis. 

Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil

This beautifully designed museum located in Sparta invites visitors to discover the rich culture and history surrounding Greece’s famed olive and olive oil production – from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. 

Housed in a two-storey, industrial stone building the Museum of Olive and Olive Oil is a place where you will also learn about olive oil’s many uses as this area is one of the main olive-producing locations of Greece. 

Insights Greece - Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil
Learn all about Greece’s famous olive

For each historical period, guests are able to learn about the contribution olives and olive oil have made to Greece’s economy and the way in which Greeks use it in their everyday life- from its health and beauty benefits to its influence on Greek mythology, religion, art, and technology.

On the lower floor, you will find post-byzantine technology of the olive mills and a section about domestic and industrial soap-making. In the open-air exhibition, visitors can get up close to the three different oil press machines, one prehistoric, one Hellenistic, and one from the Byzantine era.

The upper floor highlights the first testimonials of the olive as well as its contribution to Greece’s economy and shows written testimonies dating back to the 14th century, on Linear B inscribed tablets, while there are also exhibits of rare fossilized olive leaves approximately 50.000-60.000 years old, that were found in Santorini. 

Insights Greece - Sparta’s Museum of Olive and Olive Oil
View different oil press machines

Throughout the space, you will also see an impressive wooden double press with a winch from the neighbouring village of Xirokambi, and an olive press from the island of Lefkada, which documents the survival of animal power in the 20th century, as well as models representing the functioning of engine-powered olive presses. And at the end of the visit, you will be given details of archaeological sites to olive oil production in the Peloponnese if you wish to continue your journey of olive and olive oil discovery. 


Hours: 10  am to 6 pm (March 1st – October 15th)

10 am to 5 pm (October 16th – February 28th)

Admission Fee: 2€

Address: Othonos-Amalias 129, 23100 Sparta

New W Escape to Open at Costa Navarino this Summer

The new W Escape Costa Navarino resort featuring 246 stylish rooms, suites and villas, as well as private pools, restaurants, a sunset bar and a beach club is set to open on the Navarino Waterfront in Messinia, this summer 2022.

Marriott International, Inc. on Thursday announced it has signed an agreement with TEMES S.A., a leading developer and operator in high-end tourism and real estate, to debut the W Hotels Worldwide brand in Greece with the opening of W Costa Navarino. Expected to open in summer 2022, W Costa Navarino is anticipated to mark the latest addition to the expanding W Escapes portfolio in Europe following locations in Spain, Switzerland and Portugal.

The new W Escape in Greece will be located on the Navarino Waterfront, the newest integrated resort of Costa Navarino. The 13-hectare beachfront destination is designed by renowned Greek architects, Tombazis and Associates Architects. W Costa Navarino’s design is inspired by the region’s traditional residential areas and is set to use local, natural materials such as stone, wood and reed. The distinctive interiors will be led by London-based MKV Design.

The Escape is expected to feature 246 stylish rooms, suites, and villas, many with private
pools staged in the Bay of Navarino with stunning Ionian Sea views.

‘‘We are thrilled to build on our fantastic relationship with TEMES S.A. to open W Costa Navarino, strengthening MarriottInternational’s presence in this Mediterranean paradise,” said Candice D’Cruz, Vice President Luxury Brands, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International. “Joining our portfolio of coveted W Escapes around the world, W Costa Navarino will add a distinct take on modern luxury to Navarino Waterfront. We look forward to welcoming free-spirited travelers to this new luxury playground.”

The new resort will also feature five dining venues including a destination beach club overlooking a long sandy shore, designed by Athens-based K-Studio. The ‘Culinary Square’ is the hotel’s playful take on a deli food market- with individual outlets offering guests all-day dining options. Other planned amenities include a sunset bar and the signature W Living Room. Guests will also be able to enjoy experiences and dining at neighbouring venues in Costa Navarino; including the new Navarino Agora, an open marketplace with retail, street food, open-air cinema and exciting events throughout the day and night.

Tennis courts and a water sports hub are part of the vision for guests to enjoy at W Costa Navarino, along with access to the destination’s four signature golf courses and an array of outdoor programming including biking, hiking, rock-climbing and sailing.

W Escape Costa Navarino