10 Reasons to visit Kardamyli in West Mani
Lovely Kardamyli is a fishing village on the shores of the Messenian Gulf where everything just seems to blend into the wonderful natural surroundings. It belongs to a part of Mani that belongs to Messenia.
The village and surrounds are so beautiful that British architect and romantic, Charles Robert Cockerell, described it as being indescribably picturesque with a sensual smell of jasmine, wild herbs and sea that are picked up on the warm breeze. Add to that the charming art deco accommodation with old-world décor just waiting to welcome you.
If you’re going to be visiting Kardamyli, July is always a great summer month with average temperatures ranging between 21 and 30°C. There are just a few rainfall days in between all the sunny days. It’s a wonderful month for enjoying swimming and all the other water activities on offer.
Getting to Kardamyli
You can pretty much decide on a number of different ways to reach Kardamyli from Athens. Those flying into Athens can take a bus to Kalamata and from there they take a bus to Oitylo which stops in Kardamyli.
Bus schedules can be found here. It will take you just 55 minutes to get to Kardamyli by bus.
There are many international flights into Kalamata, and most people opt to take a taxi from the airport at Kalamata to Kardamyli. If you were to drive a rented car from Kalamata to Kardamyli, the journey is just 45 minutes.
If you’re visiting Kardamyli, it goes without saying that you will want to visit all of the Peloponnese.
1. Enjoy the relaxed village vibe in Kardamyli
Everybody’s favorite season in Kardamyli is between April and October, and with a host of awesome events taking place, you feel that each one is better than the last.
The Kardamyli International Jazz Festival is fantastic with concerts being held free of charge in open-air areas, cafes, bars, and restaurants around the village. Even if you’re in a bar that doesn’t have a live performance, their music is tuned to the jazz channel.
You could say that the relaxed village vibe centers around the high street where you find some of the nicest bars, restaurants, cafes, and upmarket boutiques.
Lovers of history and fascinating architecture will appreciate that some of the buildings in the main town are a couple of hundred years of age and built from stone found in and around the area.
Go off the main street and you’re taken down to the dazzling sea where more stylish bars and taverns are waiting to welcome you. There’s the right atmosphere for everyone in the village, and you can be in bars with laid-back crowds or in taverns where the crowd is vibey and upbeat.
For buying groceries, the village has supermarkets, kiosk, butchery, pharmacy, a few ATMs and hairdresser.
While in Kardamyli, you have to pencil in a visit to Mourtzinos Castle on your calendar of things to do. If possible, it can be a cool idea to book a tour to the castle so you don’t miss any of the important details.
It’s an historical structure of the 17th century. It used to be a house, sanctuary and a center of local goods but in 1967 it was ceded to the State and converted into a museum. Visitors to the tower can explore the history and tradition of Mani in this well-equipped museum.
2. Shop in cute boutiques
You don’t have to have a purse full of bucks to enjoy shopping in Kardamyli as there are cute little shops for every purse. Shopping can be anything you want it to be, whether you’re looking for trendy boutiques, organic food and wine or arty handmade glass and wood products.
The Olive Shop
You’ll find The Olive Shop on Kardamyli high street. The shop has been designed to suit the style of traditional Greek market shops.
Long wooden tables in the shop have been made by local builders. You’ll find the likes of Extra Virgin Olive oil and fine Greek wines from Greece.
Stellar Crafts n Stars
Stellar Crafts n Stars is a busy art shop located in Kardamyli. People love popping into the shop as it offers wonderful opportunities to buy gifts.
There are lots of cool handmade items from Greek artists. You can find ceramics, metal- and wooden goods, jewelry, beads, and more.
3. Old Town Kardamyli Museum
Old Kardamili is built on the slope of a mountain and is made up of tower houses built around the 18th-century church of Agios Spiridon with its 17-meter bell tower. There are also fortified houses and a small chapel – Saint Theodore.
The entire area belongs to the renowned family of captain Mourtzines-Troupakides. Old Kardamyli has a long history, playing an important part in the liberation of the country against the Turks. Upon going through the gate of the castle, you come across the Tower of Mourtzinos with its marble inscription.
There is a fortified enclave that has been converted into a beautiful museum. The entire area makes use of good information panels with explanations in English about traditional Maniot life.
4. Explore the Gorges
The magnificent Ridomo Gorge is just 10km from Kalamata and is described as a most remarkable natural phenomenon with its fascinating formations of limestone.
The gorge starts from the peaks of mount Taygetos and extends to the beach of Santova, becoming 2 meters narrow and 60 meters high. You’ll find many marked paths and they connect the gorge with the mountain villages around the gorge in the hills.
You can join a tour of this amazing gorge which will take you right to the bottom. Going uphill again can be quite exhausting as there are big boulders strewn across the paths. You are rewarded with the most amazing views and you may even spot some wide goats leaping around on the cliffs.
Then there is the old stone Pigadiotiko Bridge that arches over the gorge and is part of an ancient stone path that connects the small mountain villages.
The exquisite Viros Gorge takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Most times this amazing gorge is dry but during winter it can turn into a raging torrent.
The Gorge is one of many in the Peloponnese and is found on the slopes of Mount Taygetus. It stands out from the others because of its historical importance.
The Royal Route went through the gorge and was used by the Spartans during the Messinian Wars. It is huge, covering an area of 19 kilometers and filled with all kinds of the most beautiful trees. The gorge starts from the village of Agios Panteleimon and ends in the villages of Exohori and Tseria. Crossing the gorge can be a thrilling experience for those who revel in natural beauty.
There are marked paths but the going can become difficult in parts, strewn with rocks.
Ritsa is the main beach of Kardamyli and is reached by entering Kardamyli from Kalamata and turning at the church.
The beach with its white pebbles and crystal clear water is described as a shining gem. You don’t have to pack your own refreshments for the day as there are plenty of cafes and taverns where you can buy snacks and pick up some sunbeds too.
Sunbeds are in fact free and you can have your drinks brought down to you on the beach. There is also disabled access at the far end of the beach at the Elies Taverna.
Kalamitsi beach is found on the southern tip of Sithonia in a beautiful bay that has an opening to the sea. People love using this sheltered beach as it is well organized and the small village beside the beach offers wonderful rental accommodation.
It has restaurants and bars for ice creams and meals. Unlike Ritsa, Kalamitsi beach has fine sand which makes it a lot easier to lie on your towel.
It’s the perfect beach if you have small children as it slopes gradually down to the sea. It’s a great area for scuba diving too and there are even some scuba diving clubs in the village where you can take up a quick course.
Found on the west Mani, Foneas Beach is another favorite for families even though it has a small coastline of about 100 meters long. Small it may be but it gives you the opportunity to scuba dive, snorkel, rock jump or explore the caves.
The beach isn’t organized, so you may want to come prepared with your own beach chairs and umbrellas. There is a canteen where you can eat under the olive trees outside where light refreshments such as tea, coffee, cold drinks and sandwiches are served.
6. Sea kayaking trips
Sea kayaking – paddling a canoe through the water is such fun and you know you’re improving your aerobic fitness and strength at the same time too.
Of course, if you live in the area of Kardamyli, kayaking can be done as a hobby, but when you’re on holiday, you want to try everything out that is new. It can simply be riveting joining a sea kayaking tour as then you can be sure that you won’t be leaving an inch of the best parts uncovered.
Starting off at Kardamyli’s harbor, you get to paddle in warm waters, stopping over at hidden coves with magical rock gardens, pebbly sand, and spectacular rock formations.
Don’t worry if you’re completely new to sea kayaking as your guide will quickly fill you in on a few paddling techniques that will help you get along.
You’ll be amazed and delighted at the most beautiful beaches along the pretty shoreline. Exploring everything from a sea kayak is guaranteed to thrill. Along the way the guide will draw your attention to some of the sea life and you could spot some turtles.
A trip to the Blue Cave promises to be a highlight as this is a spectacular natural phenomenon where sunlight passes through a crack in the cave. It then reflects on the seafloor, providing the water with a stunning aquamarine color.
Of course, another highlight will be a swim into the cave, something people who don’t do this trip might never experience. There are lots of other surprises waiting for you when you go sea kayaking and having a picnic on a pebble beach might be one, although it’s for you to find out.
7. Go Hiking in Kardamyli
Those who know Kardamyli will tell you that even though a top activity is just to simply take in the magnificent views, others will rave about the various hikes that the area offers.
Of course, the village itself is worth wandering around in but its great to head out beyond the village and out into the wild unknown.
In fact, the village forms the base for many hiking trails in the Taygetos. It is the highest mountain in the Peloponnese, with a height of 2407 meters. It’s a fantastic place to hike through forests, gorges and ravines.
You may want to join a hike to the highest peak of Prophet Elias that starts from the Sparta mountaineering club at 1550m. People who have hiked here rave about the fragrant aromas of the shrubs and wild flowers.
At the summit is an area known as Immortal Ridge and the view is so magnificent that it could take your breath away. If you are part of an organized hike, there will be the promise of refreshments.
There are other hikes of course, and if you don’t have a whole lot of time, you might want to hike up to the villages above Kardamyli. The views as you look down to the village can never be captured in a photograph. The hills behind the village have many well-marked hiking trails that have thrilled many nature lovers and walkers.
8. Nearby Stoupa
The road from Kalamata is nothing short of spectacular. When you get to Stoupa, you’ll notice that its charm is the fact that there are no high-rise buildings or large developments.
It’s why it has a calm, laid-back feel to it and with its two beautiful beaches and backdrop of the Taïgetos mountains, you begin to see why this place is such a drawcard.
Kalogria beach is just stunning, and when you watch TV and see lithe, tanned bodies playing volleyball on the beach, it’s likely to be on this magnificent spot. The beach has featured in photo shoots for Playboy magazine and is the perfect place to don dark sunglasses and to simply ‘people watch’.
It’s a place for the bold and the beautiful alright, so maybe you’d prefer the main Stoupa beach which is a 10-minute walk away.
It has a wheelchair track that helps those bound to a wheelchair to get into the sea. It’s a beach that attracts families and it offers sunbeds too. There are cafes and bars opposite the beach and the entire area is a family-friendly environment.
In Stoupa, just about all the restaurants are family-run and the emphasis is on top quality products locally grown. You can try seafront tavernas such as 5 Brothers or Dionysos which is open all year round.
Stoupa also offers a lively cultural scene and there are numerous festivals throughout the year such as Celtic music nights, the Chestnut Festival in October, Literary festival and workshops and many others.
Stoupa also has a vibrant music scene and many of the taverns have live music. The Stoupa Life Facebook group can keep you updated on events.
9. Places to enjoy food and wine
Tikla Cuzina and Wine Bar
With its beautiful seafront setting near the harbor, Tikla is a sought-after dining experience in Kardamyli.
You won’t only find Greek fare here but also a Mediterranean menu too. Meals are prepared by skilled chefs who know how to suggest the best Tikla wines to accompany the delicious meals.
Tikla’s is open all day – the perfect place to chill any time of the day or evening.
People who eat regularly at restaurants in Kardamyli say that Gialos is a firm favorite. With its beautiful setting on Ritsa Beach, you can enjoy Mousaka, Soutzoukskia, fresh salads and vegetables. Everything is home-cooked for the delight of your tastebuds.
Wash it down with the best wines while you relax with some good music.
Aquarella Cocktail Bar
This trendy bar is great for cocktails as you wait for the sun to set. Then it changes from a cozy coffee shop to a vibey cocktail bar with a list of spirits from around the world.
Owned by Giorgos Choureas, it’s a place with loads of atmosphere as you enjoy good food, good company and good music.
Each summer a VW camper van is brought into the garden on a Thursday night from where cocktails are served. It’s all just part of creative ideas to spice things up and draw the crowds. In great demand and a Kardamyli hotspot, this delightful bar is open throughout the year.
10. Where to stay in Kardamyli
You won’t find any large-scale hotel and resort developments in Kardamyli and that is precisely what adds to its charm.
There is the family-run Kardamili Beach Hotel which is just 100m from the Ritsa beach. The hotel also has a pool and a cool sunbathing terrace.
The Patrick Leight Fermor House
The magnificent home, designed by the Fermors is found in Kardamyli and has stunning views of the Grecian coastline.
It has just recently opened up as a luxury accommodation for visitors to Kardamyli.
The main house has 3 suites and it can be rented as a whole villa to accommodate 10 people or it can be rented as individual self-contained suites.
The spectacular place is available to rent from June to August each year, providing visitors with an idyllic Greek getaway. The house comes with an outdoor swimming pool, terrace, private beach area, free wifi and sprawling Mediterranean garden of olive- and cypress trees and wild flowers.
Some people prefer a comfy guesthouse that blends in with the quaint historical village atmosphere and this is what the stylish air-conditioned Lithos Guesthouse offers.
It also offers a beautiful swimming pool, a sun terrace and magnificent views of the sea. There is free wifi throughout the property.
The guesthouse offers a true home-from-home feel. Guests will find a flat-screen TV with satellite channels in their bedrooms and well as a private bathroom complete with lovely aromatic toiletries. Bed linen and towels are top quality and a hairdryer is also included for guest’s convenience. Each of the cozy units come with a fully equipped kitchen. For availability and rates click here.
The family owned 4-star Diapori Suites with beautifully manicured gardens and cobbled pathways offer a fabulous stay for guests. Choose between exquisite rooms and suites with mountain- and sea views.
Everything about the hotel is high-quality. The luxurious hotel is just 1km away from Ritsa Beach. If it’s not beach weather, you can laze at the hotel’s sheltered infinity swimming pool and sun terrace for the day.
Other conveniences and luxuries include free wifi throughout the property, room service a buffet breakfast. For availability and rates click here.
When it comes to traveling to ‘bucket-list’ destinations, Kardamyli is high on the list for many people. These days, travelers won’t settle for a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of approach to holiday planning, and when it comes to a spectacular Greek getaway destination such as Kardamyli, they want things planned right down to the finest detail.
Kardamyli is extra special and you don’t want to be disappointed by doing what is expected of you. Choose your own unique Kardamyli experience so that this is the place where all your travel dreams really do come true.