Immaculately Restored Villa of Famous Greek Poet Sikelianos

Sikelianos Villa, set in the seaside town of Xylokastro, was once home to famous Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos.

Having been declared a historical monument of Greece, by former Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, the stunning residence recently received an immaculate renovation that blends harmoniously its grandeur with contemporary design. The unique Greek holiday villa now offers guests a secluded stay with 360-degree views of the Corinthian Gulf and the lush pine forest of Pefkias.

Located only an hour and fifteen minutes away from the centre of Athens, this expansive property is one of the most beautiful seafront escapes closest to the Greek capital. Plus the perfect base to explore many ancient historic wonders of Greece- with Mykines village only one hour drive from the villa; it’s just two hours from Ancient Olympia and Delphi.

Sikelianos is the perfect stay for guests in search of a private and bespoke getaway; and here you can enjoy breakfast on your own terrace or inside the nearby resort’s beautiful gardens. Along with the dreamy landscape comes a private beach, a pool, delightful dining choices, a spa and a wellness centre, which are all connected to the villa’s resort. 

The idyllic Venetian Villa was built by the famous poet Angelos Sikelianos himself, and his American wife Eva Palmer, on their return to Greece in 1912. It’s hosted countless celebrations dedicated to art and poetry while having welcomed numerous intellects of the 20th century up to the mid-1930s; including famous Greek artists such as Palamas, Kazantzakis and Karyotakis who were very close to the couple.

The construction of the villa began in 1912 and ended in 1916. It was the couple’s first architectural attempt, and the estate combines a variety of designs from different eras, including columns that draw inspiration from Classical Greece, windows from the Byzantine era; while all terraces have strong Venetian influences.

The 50 square metre private property consists of a master bedroom with a king-size bed, ensuite, a very spacious bathroom, a living room and a dining area. Each room has a fireplace carved ornately from stone, as well as large, tall windows overlooking the estate’s lush, fragrant gardens. From its three fully furnished terraces, guests can enjoy the sea view and the evergreen pine forest.

Right at the heart of the villa’s charming gardens guests can enjoy a late lunch or dinner at the delightful restaurant that features authentic Italian cuisine and a fairytale ambience. The outdoor dining experience under the moonlight that blends harmoniously with the timeless elegance of the candle-lit terraced villa- is a perfect way to end your evening here. 

About Angelos Sikelianos 

Angelos Sikelianos was a Greek lyric poet and playwright. Born in March 1884 on the island of Lefkada where he spent his childhood, in 1900 Angelos registered with the Athens Law School but never graduated. In the course of the following years, he travelled extensively and devoted himself to poetry. Critics claim Sikelianos’ finer lyrics are among the best in Western literature. His poems are inspired by Greek history, religious symbolism as well as universal harmony. From 1946 until 1951, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A: Sikelianou, Sikia, Xylokastro

Luxury Seaside Hotel Set in Mani

Nestled in a historic olive grove and boasting breathtaking sea views and private gardens; 100 Rizes Luxury Seaside Resort offers guests an eco-chic natural hideaway. 

Inspired by the region’s striking stone buildings, this luxury hotel blends modern comfort with the feel of a traditional Greek village. Enjoy views of the majestic Laconic Gulf with a glass of wine from your private suite. Stroll among the 100 scented olive groves that lead you to the freshwater pool. Or make your way to the boutique hotel’s sandy beach, which is only a few footsteps away. 

Location

Just three hours drive from Athens, only 1.5 hours from Tripoli and one hour from Sparta, 100 Rizes gives guests the opportunity to travel around Mani and visit the breathtaking sightseeing in south Peloponnese. It’s located 20 minutes from Gytheio, the main town, overlooking a private cove next to Kamares beach; only 3km away from the historical village of Skourari and 20 km from Areopolis town the capital of Mani.

Style & Feel

Consisting of four luxury designed buildings and 30 rooms in total, extended in a typical area of Mani’s wild landscape, this traditionally built hotel is the perfect mix of old world meets new. Honouring Mani’s distinct architecture, the elegantly designed interior spaces with modern aesthetics gives the visitor the impression of a traditional village, with stone buildings, upscale luxury facilities and all modern comforts. 

Rooms 

The 30 rooms continue the hotel’s nod to its natural surroundings. Exposed brick walls give each one a cosy, rustic-chic feel and frame glimpses of water, trees and sky. With earthy tones and soft materials, the rooms are warm and inviting. 

Insights Greece - Luxury Seaside Hotel Set in Mani

Food & Drinks 

The Lupino Restaurant blends traditional and contemporary Mediterranean dishes prepared with the best local products and exquisite ingredients. Here the chef invites guests to a gustatory experience through the heritage and flavours of the Mani peninsula. You can enjoy cocktails, classic aperitifs and a customized selection of snack menus offering tempting delectable light meals and freshly prepared salads. Dishes served during lunch are bright, fresh, stunning and complete, ensuring to satisfy any craving; and wine lovers can discover the best wines from the exclusive list.

Ideal for…

Couples, business trips and anyone who wants to explore the beautiful Mani area. Not only is the hotel in prime position for relaxation, but it’s also only a short drive to some of the peninsula’s most alluring sites. Discover the spectacular flooded Caves of Diros. Walk along the seafront before savouring just-caught octopus in a taverna in Gythio. Swim in sapphire waters in Limeni. If you’re after on-the-doorstep seclusion, head to nearby Skoutari. It is the ideal getaway for guests seeking peace, seclusion, privacy, quality service and strict hygiene. 

Facilities & Services 

  • Outdoor pool
  • Indoor heated pool
  • Private beach area with Sunbeds & Umbrellas
  • Spa treatment rooms 
  • Sauna
  • Restaurant 
  • Bar 
  • Lounge
  • Gym facilities
  • Manicure & Pedicure room
  • 24-hour front desk 
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Bar
  • Sun terrace
  • Garden
  • Luggage storage
  • 24-hour business centre
  • Heating
  • laundry services

A: Anatoliki East Mani, Peloponnese 

Exclusive Culinary Experience at Amanzoe

As summer comes to an end, Greece’s countryside comes to life, with olive groves and vineyards appearing in full flourish.

And for those wishing to experience the beautiful Autumn season first-hand through a unique culinary journey, Amanzoe, Greece’s most luxurious resort, has introduced a new pop-up restaurant series with acclaimed guest chefs serving exclusive menus based on the heritage of Greek cuisine created with fresh produce from Argolida and the Peloponnese.

Hosting acclaimed guest chefs, who have shaped Greek gastronomy; Amanzoe’s next event will take place on Saturday, October 16th, 2021, with leading chef Dimitrios Dimitriadis taking over in the kitchen and presenting his guests with a progressive, creative and unique menu based on the heritage of Greek cuisine.

Dimitrios and his team will mix traditional and modern techniques, discussing the conception of each dish with their guests for an interactive experience. 

One of the most renowned chefs in Greece, Dimitrios was born and raised in Larissa, where his career choice and passion for food were heavily influenced by his grandparents who were farmers. After finishing school, he began training at the Hotel Management & Culinary School of Rhodes and has since worked as Head Chef in numerous Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe.  

Dimitris now works as Head Chef at Artisanal in Athens, a modern garden restaurant characterised by its distinct Mediterranean style with clear references to modern Greek cuisine. Bringing his expertise to Amanzoe, the evening’s menu will showcase techniques from across the continent with a stylish and contemporary feel.

Guests can choose to accompany each dish with Greek wine while enjoying the elegant atmosphere of the library setting. 

Insights Greece - Exclusive Culinary Experience at Amanzoe

About Amanzoe

Set in a land of classical ruins, azure seas and olive groves on the coast of the Peloponnese, Amanzoe, one of Greece’s most luxurious resorts embraces the architecture and soul of ancient Greece and is ideally placed for exploring the region’s rich culture, cuisine, and natural attractions. The aromatic scent of lavender and rosemary unfolds with the heat of the day and spectacular views stretch across a vast expanse of Aegean. 

For more details head to aman

A: Kranidi 213 00, Greece

48 Hours in Nafplio

Nafplio, just two hours from Athens, is one of Greece’s prettiest towns and one of the most popular spots in the country for year-round weekend getaways. Whether you’re interested in historical sites, eating, shopping, or just relaxing- add Nafplio to your list! 

From taking a short boat ride over to Bourtzi to explore, renting a bicycle to wander, tasting freshly-made gelato, eating at one of the charming restaurants in the back streets, or enjoying a drink as you catch the beautiful sunset- you can’t help but fall in love with this romantic destination. 

What makes Nafplio so special?

Nafplio is packed with a rich history as it was the first-ever modern-day capital of Greece. It is home to Bourtzi, a historical castle in the middle of the harbour, and Palamidi a wonderful fortress. 

What should I not miss? 

Nafplio is also well known for its history with the komboloi, which are the famous Greek worry beads. Learn more about them at the Komboloi Museum, which is the only one of its kind in the world and is housed in an 18th-century home. Make sure you also step inside the Archaeological Museum housed in a Venetian building on Syntagma Square. The permanent exhibition features statues, jewellery, costumes, sculptures, ceramics and rare artefacts from the Neolithic Period.

Where are some good places to eat in Nafplio? 

Nafplio has many traditional taverns that are ideal for those who love indulging in classic Greek dishes and some of our favourite eateries include: Karamalis, To Omorfo Tavernaki, Kavalaris Corner Mezedopoleoi, and Pidalio. Also make sure to check out: Taverna Old House, Zournal, and Taverna O Vasilis. For casual dining try Trendy Grill or Menta, Arapakos for seafood, and Scuola for pizza and pasta. 

For something sweet? 

If you are in search of some good desserts around town, we recommend Pergamonto, which serves traditional Loukoumades (Greek honey puff donuts). For gelato check out Antica Gelateria di Roma and Gelarto. And for a variety of Greek sweets head to Central Boulangerie Bakery

Where do I go for a drink?

There’s a range of all-day cafes and bars where you can grab a great coffee or a luscious cocktail. When you’re in the mood for a drink, make your way to Kontogiorgos Café, Xenon Café, Arti, Teori Oldtown Bar, BluBlanc Beach Bar3 Sixty, Alkioni Wine Bar, Mediterraneo Wine & Deli, Sokaki Café, Teory, and Yacht

If I want to spoil myself?

Book yourself in to have an Ancient Greek massage at Panta Rei – or if drinking is your way of relaxing- head to Karonis Distillery Exhibition and Shop. Established in 1869, the spirit producing company is one of the oldest in Greece. The current owner makes ouzo, tsipouro, liqueurs, and brandy with the same passion as his forefathers.

Historical Hotel at the Tip of Mani Peninsula

Housed in a fully restored 19th-century building complex, just off the southernmost tip of Mani’s charming countryside, Kyrimai Hotel combines traditional architecture with contemporary comforts. 

With views of Mani’s crystal-blue sea as well as its breathtaking landscape, staying here allows guests to appreciate the pleasures of living a slow and simple life. 

Location

Kyrimai Hotel in Gerolimenas is about a two-hour drive from Kalamata, the second-largest city of the Peloponnese. This picturesque fishing village is filled with οld stоnе buildings set by the blue sea. While staying at Kyrimai, you can also visit some of the beautiful nearby destinations including Sparta, Mystras, Monemvasia, Kardamyli, and Limeni.  

Style & Feel

Dating back to 1870, this beautifully restored property offers a historic feel, with its elegant country chic decor that’s showcased throughout the rooms. The interiors boast traditional Maniot stone-and-wood period architecture, with majestic stairways, arches and pretty gardens situated in an enviable position, on the edge of the sea- offering a breathtaking view of Gerolimena’s Bay. Throughout the property guests will come across antique furniture, numerous exhibits, hundreds of old books and other antique pieces that highlight Greece of the late 19th century.

Rooms 

As the charming rooms and suites have been built so close to the sea, Kyrimai offers its guests a unique experience- as they wake up to the sounds of gentle waves crashing onto the property. The quaint rooms combine traditional materials such as wood and stone, with modern, elegant furnishing; and also wonderful vistas of the surroundings.

Food & Drinks

Combining traditional tastes with a sense of creativity, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant serves delightful dishes that have become loved by locals and visitors who can’t get enough of this Maniot eatery. There is no set menu as the talented team prefers using recipes depending on the fisherman’s catch of the day and other fresh ingredients they can get their hands on. There is also a great wine list and in the winter months, guests gather around the bar in the lobby for cocktails and Greek wines.

Amenities

The outdoor pool is unheated and family-friendly. It’s nestled on the water’s edge, with comfortable sun loungers and plenty of umbrellas, which also run down the stone jetty that leads out to a private beach. Kyrimai also offers on-site parking, free WiFi throughout, plug adaptors, and beach bags for its guests. 

Ideal for…

Couples, families, foodies, and anyone who wants to explore the beautiful Mani area. The hotel can also help organise water sports activities such as diving guided tours, hiking trails, boat trips, sea kayak trips, and electric bike trips- making it a great getaway for those looking for some adventure along the way.  

Facilities & Services

  • Private beach 
  • Pool
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Wifi
  • Free toiletries
  • Free Parking
  • Room Service
  • Breakfast included

A: Gerolimenas, Mani, Peloponnese

Inside One of Greece’s Most Beautiful Homes

Designed and built in the 1960s and set in Kardamyli, a charming seaside town in the Peloponnese, the Patrick and Joan Leigh Fermor House is considered one of Greece’s most beautiful properties. 

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, was born in London in 1915 and passed away in 2011; he was a well-known author, scholar, and war hero, who is also celebrated as one of the finest travel writers of his generation. As a member of the British Military Mission to Greece, he played a prominent role in the Cretan resistance during the Second World War. A true Philehellene; Sir Fermor was a great admirer and lover of Greece and spent a long time looking for the perfect spot along the Aegean Sea to build his dream home. 

In the 1960s Leigh Fermor and his wife Joan chose to spend the rest of their lives in the Peloponnese. It was here in the olive-tree-filled countryside that Fermor ended up building a charming stone house with the assistance of his architect friend, Nikos Hatzimichalis. 

Design and Layout 

Boasting an authentic charm, the villa features traditional white-washed walls, exposed stone, and pebbled floors. Outside you will find a massive Mediterranean garden of cypress and olive trees, as well as wildflowers. The property also features a pool and a private stretch of beach.

The Main House comes with three suites, the writer’s studio right next to it, which is formed into the Traditional House, as well as the Guest House, adjacent to the Main House. 

Staying at the Patrick and Joan Leigh Fermor House

This historical house can be rented as a whole villa, encompassing the Main House, Traditional House, and Guest House, to accommodate parties of up to ten people. It can also be rented as individual self-contained suites, the Traditional House and Guest House, each sleeping up to two people, and the Main House, sleeping up to six people.

Donated to the Benaki Museum 

In 1996, the couple donated their house to the Benaki Museum, with the Museum’s mission being the couple’s expressed desire that the house will remain open to the public and host writers and researchers. The restoration works at the building and the landscape surroundings were completed so that the original character of the property is meticulously preserved. Aria Hotels, in collaboration with the Benaki Museum, have undertaken operation of the property during the three-month rental period with particular sensitivity to its unique legacy, offering guests a rare residential experience of authentic Greek hospitality.

What’s nearby

While staying here, guests can visit the Tower of Mourtzinos, in the historic village of Old Kardamyli. Close by are charming cafes, the church of Agios Spiridon, which dates from Byzantium, and the historical Museum of Greek Culture. There are also plenty of beaches to choose from including Ritsa, Chalikias, Salio, Dolphins, Kalamitsi, Foneas, and Neo Proastio. 

For more details about visiting, head to ariahotels.

Complete Guide to Elafonisos

Don’t expect any major sightseeing, must-sees, or special activities in Elafonisos. This tiny island that’s like a little piece of paradise is the destination to spend endless hours on the beach, taste fresh Greek food, and a place where you can truly relax. To sum it up, there is no room for stress on Elafonisos!  

What you need to know before you arrive

-There is only one gas station on the island with prices up to 20% above the rest of Greece. 

-There is no bank branch on the island, only two ATMs for withdrawing money (in fact, one operates only during the summer months).

-The only pharmacy on the island is located in the port of Chora (tel. 2734 061363). 

Getting there

You can reach Elafonisos either by car or bus. There is only one access to Elafonisos, from the port of Pounta, near Neapolis in southern Peloponnese. You should follow the route to Tripoli and Sparti, then you reach Monemvasia and finally Molaous region. From Pounta, you can get into the ferry in your car and in 10 minutes you will step foot on Elafonisos. 

Where to stay- Either in Chora or on Simos beach.

Tips for getting around

Transportation in Chora is by foot. On the contrary, you need a car or motorbike for the beaches, as there is no public transportation on the island. Alternatively, you can take a taxi. There are two taxis in Elafonisos. Mr. Giannis (tel. 0030 6983065066) usually takes the transportations from Athens to Elafonisos and vice versa. For transportation within Elafonisos, you can call 0030 6951484989. 

If you are fit you can also rent a bike, since the farthest asphalt point from Chora, is at 6 km.

Best time to visit

During summertimeJuly is the best month, in my opinion, because, there is enough life on the island. Mid-September because the beaches are not so crowded, the weather is good and the prices reasonable. If possible, avoid August because that’s the peak season for all Greek Islands. Even then, Elafonisos feels way less crowded than other islands.

Climate- Elafonisos has a typical Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry, and the temperature is mild in the winter.

Where to sleep 

Capari Suites enjoys a privileged location in the greenest part of Elafonisos, offering beach and mountain views. It also has a swimming pool. 

-The stone-built Elafonisos Resort is located at a distance of 500m from the beach. It also has a swimming pool.

-Faros family hotel is ideal if you want to stay in Chora. The owner is very friendly and the prices even “friendlier”. 

-If you are into camping or just don’t want to leave Simos Beach, you can stay at Simos Camping Elafonisos. Located right on the beach, it provides all the necessary facilities, including restaurants and bars.

Where to eat Antonis Tavera, next to the picturesque fishing boats, you can taste delicious dishes with fresh fish and exquisite seafood, based on traditional recipes with local virgin olive oil, cooked with care from the mother of the owner. 

Quarter, an Italian restaurant on the coastal road with pizza made in a wood-burning stove with fine handmade dough and fresh handmade pasta.

The Butcher’s Grill for delicious souvlaki, a variety of meats, and ribeye.  

For typical Greek souvlaki also try Trakena.

Ta nisia tis Panagias, is a traditional restaurant with a terrific view and a gorgeous sunset. We recommend the shrimp spaghetti, fish soup, or rooster in red sauce. 

What to eat- The fresh fish is abundant on the island and especially lobster, which is a local specialty and is cooked in various ways at the tavernas of the island.

Where to drink

Stin Akri, an all-day café-restaurant with delicious breakfast and brunch options during the day and tasty cocktails at night. It is located opposite the church-a landmark of Elafonisos.  

Where to swim 

-Simos is the most famous beach in Elafonisos. And not by chance. Located on the southern side of the island, Simos with its exotic waters and the vast golden sand seems like paradise on earth. Part of this beach is naturist.

-The bay of Lefki is found on the way to Simos, on the southern side of the island. -Sarakiniko is a large bay with soft sand and crystal water. It is located next to the popular Simos beach.

-Kalogeras is a nice beach near Kontogoni Cape. It has crystal water and part of a submerged ancient town is found close to this beach.

-Kontogoni, a long beach on the northern side of the island, close to the port.

-Ta Nisia tis Panagias, a similar scenery to Simos with sand dunes and turquoise waters. From there you can see the islets ta nisia tis Panagias (Greek for Virgin Mary islands) that gave name to the beach. 

-Pavlopetri beach is on the coast of Laconia facing Elafonisos rather than on the island itself. Located a stone’s throw from Pounta Port, it’s super easy to visit either before taking the ferry to Elafonisos or on your way back from the island. Apart from crystal clear waters and endless stretches of golden sand, this beach offers visitors the unique opportunity to swim among the ancient ruins of the oldest submerged city in the world.

-The seabed between Pavlopetri Islet and the homonymous beach is dotted with an ancient settlement’s ruins dating back to 2800 BC. The remains of this ancient city are visible with basic snorkelling gear.

Discover history  The first historical examples of the culture of Elafonisos are very old, because of the oldest submerged state in the world, Pavlopetri. The important position of Elafonisos was an advantage for pirates and barbarians to attack the ships passing through Elafonisos and Kythira. Moreover, this position was responsible for the occupation of the island and its domination by a number of peoples such as Arabs, Franks, and Saracens.

The island took its recent form after the devastating earthquake of 375 AD, which destroyed Pavlopetri city and divided Elafonisos from the rest of the Peloponnese. The first name of the island, as it is depicted on maps of antiquity, is Onou Gnathos, which means donkey jar, apparently from the shape of the island, and today’s name due, as the name reveals, to the existence of deer on the island.

Must visit villages – Elafonisos is an hour from the castle of Monemvasia and a little over an hour from Gythion. 

Cultural traditions 

Elafonisos, despite being a small island, has many local traditions and customs. Some of the most important are: 

Feast of Saint Spyridon (Patron Saint of Elafonisos) on 12th of December. People of Elafonisos honor the protector of the island, at the Holy Temple of Saint, at the port of the island. 

Every summer during a three-day celebration, from the 6th to the 9th of July, Elafonisos honors the anniversary of its liberation (6th of July, 1850) and celebrates the religious anniversary of the inauguration of the Holy Temple of Agios Spyridon. During these days a number of events take place such as the Festival of Traditional Dances with dance groups from Greece and abroad, which started in 2016. 

During the last ten days of August, Elafonisos celebrates the feast of fishermen. The event includes local dances from dance groups, live music, and plenty of food and fish in honour of its visitors. Often there are also presentations and projections of the folklore and nautical history of the island. 

Insider tips- When there is a strong headwind, go to Lefki beach.

Ideal time to spend here? 3-4 days in order to completely relax by the beach. 

Favorite part? The exotic beach of Simos with golden sand and pure water, what else? 

What to avoid? In July and August, don’t even think of arriving without booking a room in advance. 

Top activities 

Scuba diving and snorkeling: Τhe undersea wealth is enormous and the waters remain unexplored. 

Water sports and kite: Ideal winds and points near the beaches create the perfect conditions for Elafonisos to be named as an ideal place for surf, windsurf and kite.

Hiking: Elafonisos has six hiking and three cycling routes. If there is one you should certainly experience it’s the one that starts from Chora (the port) and ends at the highest point of the island, the village of Vigla. From here you can enjoy the stunning views of Cape Tenaro, Kythira island, and Cavo-Malia. 

Where to shop 

-“Lafonisi Gift Shop” for fun summertime shopping. 

-“Dia Chiros” where Frini Manafi creates handmade jewellery and handmade interior decorations.  

-“Para thin Alos” where you can find nice men’s and women’s clothes and accessories.

What to see 

-The main church of the community is Agios Spyridonas, which is built on a tiny separate piece of land which is connected by a bridge over shallow waters to the rest of the island. –

-The church of Panagia Katonissiotissa (Assumption of Mary) built on a hill in the ruins of an old Byzantine temple in 1895. In the interior of the sanctuary, there are old hagiographies. Yοu can find tombs and another finding of Mycenaean civilization around the church. 

The Cave of Simos located next to the beach of Simos. According to the legend, the island was born from there. You can reach it through a smooth path from the road. Beware of the bats inside. 

Lake Strongyli, located on the beach of Pounta is one of the most important wetlands in the Peloponnese. During Spring you may see flamingos, reeds, mallards, and the rare, endangered species of sea cedar.

Take a day trip to

The stunning castle town of Monemvasia and the countless hidden gems of Southern Lakonia, such as Kastania Cave and Cape Maleas. A trip to Elafonisos can also be combined with Kythira, an off-the-beaten-path island off Southern Peloponnese’s coast.

What to do

-Elafonissos Town is the main village and center of activities for the island. This is where many accommodations, taverns, and shops are found. The ferry from Neapolis arrives there.

-Moreover, one of the best things to do in Elafonisos is to drive (or cycle or walk) the island’s ring road. The latter connects all villages and beaches, offering breathtaking views at every turn. It takes less than half an hour to drive the full circle.

Alternatively, you can experience the tour of Elafonisos by boat. You will have access to magical waters, otherwise inaccessible. Search for the cave of Carandrea. 

Can’t leave until

You take some underwater photos. Get a camera suited for diving pics because these emerald waters are so clear and beyond imagination. 

Special thanks to the Municipality of Elafonisos and the Mayor Mrs. Efstathia Liarou for the realisation of this press trip. 

5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

There is an array of lovely villas scattered across Greece and to help you search, we’ve rounded up five of our favourites- from Paxos to the Peloponnese- that we think you will love as much as we do. 

Liodentra Villa, Peloponnese

These twin sister-houses set on a huge olive grove with direct access to the beach, are located in the heart of the Mani Peninsula, in the Peloponesse. A ten-minute walk from the village centre and just a stroll through the grounds from Ritsa beach, Liodentra captures the timeless charm of the area, while combining very contemporary comforts. The matching main villas, Ena and Dio (‘One’ and ‘Two’), are fully furnished with elegant and earthy décor that features character and colour.

Each has a kitchen, living room, and double bedroom on the ground floor, a sitting area and twin bedroom above, and a timber decked alfresco dining terrace overlooking the twelve metre swimming pool. The adjacent annex offers privacy for the fifth en suite bedroom, and all are air-conditioned. Perfect for two families or a group of friends.

Sleeps 10  | 5 Bedrooms | 6 Bathrooms | Swimming Pool 

Insights Greece - 5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

Villa Alamo, Crete

With a chic and contemporary design and state-of-the-art facilities, this is a wonderful luxury villa for anyone planning a getaway to Crete. Alamo offers guests the opportunity to experience authentic rural Crete; enjoy the island’s best beaches, explore the little lanes of local villages, stroll along Chania’s harbour-front, and come home to a stunning modern design, all in a single day. In a hilltop setting with views of the sea and White Mountains, this is one of three villas that make up the small Adeste complex. A short stroll from the Venetian village of Kokkino Chorio, it is just 1.5km from the caves of unspoiled Koutalas beach and the famously atmospheric streets of Plaka, in a remarkable landscape crisscrossed with hiking trails.

The villa features indoor/outdoor living with glass walls opening onto gorgeous terraces, that boast a décor palette of chalks and clays, blues, and greens.  Each bedroom comes complete with contemporary en suite facilities and its own furnished balcony. A cool-toned sitting room adjoins a big and bright kitchen diner. And outdoor facilities include lounging and dining areas, and an inviting private pool with views down to the bay.

Sleeps 6 | 3 Bedrooms | 3 Bathrooms | Swimming Pool 

Insights Greece - 5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

Villa Cassandra, Crete

Overlooking views of Chania’s famous lighthouse, this elegant 10-person villa is a glorious getaway on the north coast of Crete. Basking in the blues of the Aegean Sea, it’s all about the views at this upscale house in northern Crete. Just ten minutes by car from Chania’s gorgeous harbourfront, Villa Cassandra is a standout villa for 10 that combines a range of contemporary comforts with an architectural sophistication.

Along the upper levels of the house is the large master bedroom that has its own private plunge pool. Downstairs, the kitchen and dining areas come with high-end appliances, accompanied by a queen-sized double bedroom with a sofa bed and direct access to the outside pool terrace. On the lower ground floor, there are two more double bedrooms – both spacious with en suite bathrooms and views overlooking the surrounding gardens. A gym and exclusive spa area – equipped with a Turkish steam bath and sauna – complete this lower level. Outside and the private pool terrace is ideal for entertaining; with an infinity pool, furnished relaxation area, and an outdoor kitchen equipped with a pizza oven and built-in barbecue.

Sleeps 10 | 5 Bedrooms | 6 Bathrooms | Swimming Pool 

Insights Greece - 5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

Alati Bay, Paxos

This luxurious and refined villa has direct access to a secluded beach. When you arrive at Alati Bay you are transported into a magical world with shady grounds that fan out around the impressively designed villa. Offering stunning sea views that entice you to explore the beach at the bottom of the garden, there is a sense of peace and wellbeing- ideal for those who want a quiet getaway. Services include daily maid service, cook and mid-week linen change. The villa also boasts garden gate beach access, a jacuzzi, and a private mooring buoy. 

Sleeps 14 | 7 Bedrooms | 7 Bathrooms | Swimming Pool

Insights Greece - 5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

Ataraxia, Corfu 

A beautifully built stone-clad villa with commanding sea views and a panoramic pool overlooking magical  Avlaki Bay and Kassiopi Town, Ataraxia is the perfect place for families or friends who want to explore this Ionian island.

Wide-open vistas spread out to the majestic views, down over the olive tree-carpeted hills to the coast below, and both the interiors and the ample terraced exteriors are filled with an atmosphere of pure tranquility. Services include: Daily maid service and mid-week linen change.

Sleeps 10 | 5 Bedrooms | 5 Bathrooms | Swimming Pool

Insights Greece - 5 Breathtaking Greek Villas to Stay at

 

Celebrating 200 Years of Greece’s Independence

Tomorrow, March 25, 2021, marks an incredibly special day, as Greece celebrates its 200th Anniversary of Independence. 

On March 25 every year in Greece and among the diaspora, Greek Independence Day is commemorated with parades, ceremonies and celebrations- marking the country’s Revolution of 1821, against Ottoman rule. 

Celebrations may be different this year, with many events being cancelled due to restrictions, however, this historic moment is nonetheless just as important for Greece and will be honoured not only here but worldwide, as iconic landmarks across the globe are set to illuminate in blue and white. 

The year 2021 marks the bicentenary since the start of the Greek Struggle for Independence, which is a huge milestone.

Insights Greece - Celebrating 200 Years of Greece’s Independence

Festivities in Greece

March 25 is usually celebrated with rich Greek traditions and culture, including festivals with folk music, dancing and national costumes paraded around the country. From main cities to remote villages, locals celebrate this day with food and wine, with the traditional dish of the day being Bakaliaros Skordalias (fried salty cod with potato and garlic mash), which is made and served at festivals, taverns and family gatherings. 

Due to the country’s current restrictions, usual parades for the general public will not take place, however, a few very special events will mark the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence, starting from this evening, March 24. This will include a reception at the newly re-opened National Gallery of Greece with special guests given a tour of the gallery. On Thursday, Greek Independence Day, soprano Anastasia Zannis will sing the national anthem as the Greek flag is hoisted at the Acropolis site in the morning. A liturgy will follow at Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, before a wreath-laying ceremony at the Unknown Soldier Monument at Syntagma Square.

An impressive traditional military parade will then take place in the centre of Athens and will be attended by official guests; including foreign dignitaries and royals from the UK. 

Happy Greek Independence Day, Xronia Polla! 

*Images of Evzones at Syntagma Square by IN+SIGHTS GREECE © (Copyright) 

Cruising the Historical Corinth Canal

The Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece, is one of the oldest and most striking manmade canals in the world; not to mention a very important navigational route that connects the Corinthian Gulf with the Saronic Gulf.  

This narrow canal where the Peloponnese begins was a key strategic and trading point in
ancient times that linked the Ionian and Aegean seas. The canal’s position in fact separates the peninsula of the Peloponnese – converting it into an island – from the Greek mainland. And, while the famous canal is quite narrow, it’s a vital lifeline for ships wanting to enter the Aegean Sea.

History of the Corinth Canal

Insights Greece - Cruising the Historical Corinth Canal

Named after the Greek city of Corinth, the Canal has steep limestone walls that soar about 300 feet from the water level to the top of the Canal but is only 70 feet wide at sea level. Ships must be narrower than 58 feet wide to transit the Canal. This small size was appropriate when the Canal was built in the late 19th century, but it is way too small for today’s cargo and passenger ships.

Facts About the Corinth Canal

Spanning a distance of 6.3 kilometres, the canal helps ships save a journey of 185 nautical miles. Before the construction of the canal, ships passing through this 
area had to endure a circuitous and a roundabout route in order to enter even the Mediterranean and the Black Seas in addition to the Aegean Sea.

Construction of the Corinth Canal

After centuries of attempts to create the canal, the Roman Emperor Nero made the first effort in 67 AD but the canal was actually completed by French engineers in 1893. The first documented ruler to propose a canal was Periander in the 7th century BC. He eventually abandoned the canal plan but built a portage road, named the Diolkos or stone carriageway. This road had ramps on either end and boats were pulled from one side of the isthmus to the other. The remains of the Diolkos can still be seen today next to the Canal.

Insights Greece - Cruising the Historical Corinth Canal

Crossing the Bridge

If you have your own car you can cross the bridge on the way to Corinth from Athens, take the exit with a sign that says “Tourist Exit” and drive over the canal to the other side. Visitors can stop and park next to the Isthmia ‘sinking’ bridge on the old National Highway, which links the Peloponnese with Athens. There are a couple of taverns close by, where you can sit and enjoy a coffee or late lunch. From here you will see the bridge submerging under the water, and then reappearing again once the vessel has sailed by. 

Visiting the Corinth Canal

This dramatic gorge is one of Corinth’s most visited spots and if you’re after an adrenalin rush, you can even bungee jump down it. The canal mostly sees the presence of small vessels, cruise ships, and yachts, as it has become one of the major tourist destinations in the country, enabling visitors to take short trips through the canal. In today’s world of mega-ships, the Corinth Canal is primarily used by small cruise ships and tour boats.

Insights Greece - Cruising the Historical Corinth Canal 

Cruising Through the Corinth Canal 

Visitors have a few options to see the Corinth Canal up close. Cruise lines with small ships transit the canal on eastern Mediterranean itineraries. Otherwise, several private companies depart from Piraeus, the port of Athens, and offer a cruise through the canal. Many cruise ships from Athens also offer a half-day excursion to the Corinth Canal; guests board buses in Piraeus for a 75-minute drive to the Corinth Canal. From there, a local tour boat takes visitors through the canal. These tours offer plenty of chances to see the canal from the top edge to the water level.

Cover image coopersontours

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

Mani, Home to One of Greece’s Top Boutique Hotels

Having only recently opened its doors, Bassa Maina Villas & Suites in Mani has already managed to become one of the top boutique hotels in Greece, combining elements of traditional architecture, modern design and local culture. 

Location 

Bassa Maina is located in the middle of the three peninsulas of southern Peloponnese -the Mani peninsula. This mountainous region is incredibly beautiful, with its dreamy fishing coves, fortified villages, emerald waters, and captivating sunsets. The area where the hotel is built is located in a non-populated part of the region, approximately 2000 meters above sea level. There are many natural attractions, monuments, and villages close by, including scenic Areopoli, with the stone houses and cobblestone alleys, Limeni, with its beautiful fish taverns right by the water, and the stunning Diros Caves.

Insights Greece - Mani, Home to One of Greece's Top Boutique Hotels

Style & Character 

Unspoiled and brimming with rural charm, these seaside villas are where to escape if you’re looking for some downtime. The sheer beauty of the landscape that surrounds Bassa Maina gives it a serene feeling, drawing a unique setting of peace, relaxation, and much-desired calmness. Its fine architecture and chic interior design are truly impressive, while its location in a secluded area of inner Mani ensures privacy, and makes it an ideal destination all year round. 

From linen to decor, and from light fixtures to fabrics and colour schemes, everything has been carefully selected and meticulously designed to create a warm, cozy environment that inspires a deep sense of relaxation and an ability to switch off from the stresses of everyday life. 

Insights Greece - Mani, Home to One of Greece's Top Boutique Hotels

Room Types

The range of nine amphitheatrically built luxurious villas and suites, with private terraces, and a home-like ambiance allows guests to enjoy serenity and privacy without feeling disconnected. All villas and suites are built according to the local traditional architecture and have been decorated and furnished with hand-picked items, rich fabrics, and high-quality materials. The spacious rooms are cozy and make you feel as though you are in a house, not a hotel. All rooms come with unobstructed views to the Mediterranean, each one has its own layout, private terraces, exposed stone walls, beamed ceilings, comfortable beds, and designer furniture and decor, while some also include a fireplace and outdoor heated Jacuzzis. All villas have private entrances and are bathed in natural light and also feature fully equipped kitchenettes.

Insights Greece - Mani, Home to One of Greece's Top Boutique Hotels

Food & Drinks 

CROCUS, the main restaurant boasts views from its outdoor space, which is nothing short of breathtaking, while its cozy indoor lounge is incredibly inviting and warm; ideal for the colder months. Simple and authentic recipes from the Peloponnesian region are prepared here based on carefully selected local, fresh and organic ingredients. There is also a great selection of Greek wines to choose from that can accompany each dish.

Facilities

The complex includes a restaurant, bar, guest lounge with incredible sea views, a boutique conference venue for up to 50 people, a small business centre, and outdoor space in front of the restaurant that can be used for weddings and other events. 

Ideal For…

Insights Greece - Mani, Home to One of Greece's Top Boutique Hotels

A romantic weekend, a business conference, solo travellers, and anyone looking to explore the Mani region; with a desire to return to a relaxing spot each day as you feel close to nature and just a footstep away from beautiful surroundings.  

Services

  • Free parking 
  • Free WiFi 
  • Concierge service
  • Fitness Centre  
  • Luggage storage
  • Pool/beach towels 
  • Business Centre
  • Library 
  • Conference Venue 
  • Express check-in/check-out service