Best Things to do in Monemvasia, Greece
Found in Laconia, Greece, Monemvasia is superbly attractive just because of its extraordinary history and its most unusual setting. It’s on a small island off the east coast of the Peloponnese, and the only way the attractive Myrtoan Sea island can be accessed is through a short causeway or bridge. Here’s our list of the best things to do in Monemvasia.
Best Things to do in Monemvasia – You’ll find all the things you love in Monemvasia
It’s well worth delving into the illustrious history of this most amazing town. One thing is sure, holidays in Monemvasia are going to be superbly thrilling and anything but dull.
With its bars and taverns, you can become a night owl if you like, and listen to music over a drink or two. Emvasis Cafe – Cocktail Bar has splendid views from its balcony and it, along with the entire island, offers food, wine, romance, and passion – whatever you want to find.
How to Get to Monemvasia? – Four hours from Athens – discover the magic of Greece
From Athens, you can reach Monemvasia by renting a car or by bus. The buses leave daily from the station in Athens. You can set aside about 4 hours to get there. Once you’re there, you discover that Monemvasia has no streets, just gorgeously romantic cobblestone paths.
Those who love history will be blown away by all the buildings dating from the Venetian, Byzantine, or Ottoman eras. They’re painted in beautiful earthy colors with red-tiled roofs. The entire town is found on the island’s southern side.
The historic castle setting and magnificent sea views ensure a romantic setting for the perfect getaway. You’ll have an amazing time visiting the shops and taverns and getting to know something of the castle’s fascinating history and mythology.
Within the castle’s walls, you’ll find everything you need to enhance your stay – hotels, shops, bakeries, banks, cafés, souvenir shops, and more. It’s incredible to know that there are still some permanent residents in the castle.
There’s no driving of cars in the castle town
When heading to Monemvasia, take note: You can’t drive around in the castle town, which means you have to make use of the parking area provided outside the main gates. There are some parking spots lining the road towards the castle gate, however parking is limited.
10 Best Tours – Monemvasia, Greece
What kind of Monemvasia tour and activity suits you?
- Castles and historical mansions because the Monemvasia Castle is an absolute must-see.
- Cooking tours with traditional Greek cuisine.
- Trekking, hiking, and nature-loving tours.
- Culture tours – seeing the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the Corinth Canal, Mystras, the Church of Elkomenos Christos, and much more on Ancient Greece tours.
- Best beach tours and swimming at Portello
One thing is unmistaken – Monemvasia is a truly marvelous place for a vacation and offers the experience you want. We take a look at 10 highlights, although there are others that are also justifiably wonderful to experience.
1. Kinsterna Hotel
When you head to a magnificent destination such as Monemvasia, you have to be sure you stay in a place that makes the most of all that this island fortress offers. It’s precisely why the Kinsterna is such a sought-after boutique hotel in the southeast Peloponnese peninsula.
The luxury hotel, with all kinds of rooms, is beautifully decorated and has a wonderful atmosphere. It is set 7 kilometers outside Monemvasia, in the region of Lakonia, on a working olive and wine estate.
There’s plenty to do, but it’s essentially all about eating and simply chilling. At the hotel’s restaurants, Executive Chef Giorgos Hapsas, makes use of fresh products from the hotel’s own vegetable garden. What can be more romantic than sitting outside on lovely terraces with a glass of wine and taking in spectacular sea views and sunsets?
The 5-star hotel offers easy access to the beaches, and when your muscles are sore from all the activities, you can have them soothed and pampered in the spa, choosing between the indoor and outdoor treatment rooms. Click here to check rates and availability.
2. Monemvasia Castle
You can never leave Monemvasia without visiting Monemvasia Castle. This beautifully preserved medieval fortress has stood the test of time and still has stunningly unique architecture to boast with.
The castle is divided into three sections: the lower- and upper-town areas, as well as the Acropolis, and is built on a tiny rock island connected to the mainland by a bridge.
It’s fascinating when you consider that the medieval fortress town was founded way back in 583 AD and that it has been inhabited since that time. You can visit the splendid attraction all year long, although you may want to avoid July and August, as it is stifling hot and very crowded.
Enjoy some coffee at the delightful Enetiko Cafe’ with its stunning balcony views. Offering free wifi and vibey music, the menu of delicious Greek cuisine comes highly recommended. You can choose to sit indoors or outside—the atmosphere is always scintillating.
3. Walk around Chrysafitissa Square
Chrysafitissa Square is a popular open area in Monemvasia, although there is another square in the city too. It is the Chrysafitissa Square that is the larger of the two and it is the heart of the town, being the hub of the community for holding events.
This interesting square has a church with the same name and which has been dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Chrysafitissa Square is worth a look-see if you’re looking for accommodation in Monemvasia too as you will find some of the best hotels here.
The square is located in the east part of the town close to the East Gate, offering lovely views of the sea and the town.
4. Enjoy a delightful breakfast with the perfect view
Get your day off to a delish start in Monemvasia. You want to enjoy all things delicious. Apart from a huge variety of scrumptious foods to indulge in from the internationally renowned chef, everything the extraordinary Chrisovoulo cafe restaurant touches, turns to magical, sparkling sensations.
And so it will be with your brekkie. Breakfast is served between 09.00 and 11.00 am and you can take your pick between sweet and savory dishes while you allow gentle sea breezes to waft over you.
Favorite ingredients are fresh eggs and ripe tomatoes, olive olive oil and cheese – all made with caring hands and designed to fill you with hearty food.
It will be love at first bite when you opt to enjoy a wonderful breakfast with splendid views at the lovely Chrisovoulo Restaurant which carries with it a golden seal of excellence. The cuisine is based on local Monemvasian and Greek tradition. Take note that the popular restaurant is closed for the winter and it opens again in the beginning of April.
5. A day at the beach
In Monemvasia, you can choose from a variety of beautiful beaches. Because Monemvasia is built on rocks, there are no beaches inside the city, but there are some splendid beaches in its immediate surroundings.
Many visitors come to Monemvasia for a summer beach vacation, and they aren’t disappointed. The Monemvasia area offers a wide variety of sandy and pebbly beaches, all with crystal clear water. They’re perfect for sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling and people-watching behind dark sunglasses.
Fun in the sun starts at Vlychada, with its pebbly shore. You can make your beach outings seriously fun at this beautiful beach. It’s perfect for young children too, and you’re guaranteed a carefree day in the sun as it’s a quiet, protected beach.
We’ve mentioned this beach just because of its sheer beauty. There are very few facilities, so you need to bring your own beach chairs and umbrellas, but then you’ve virtually got the beautiful beach to yourself.
It’s a beautiful paradise, and to make it more appealing, there is a small canteen or snack bar that opens in the summer.
Pera Kakavos Beach
This lovely beach is found close to the port and offers magnifient views, not to mention the water being an inviting turquoise color. It’s such an inviting place to swim and visitors to the beach love the amenities that are available throughout the day.
They can enjoy traditional meals and snacks at the seafront restaurants and mini market. There are also taverns and bars as the sun goes under. The beach area offers some great accommodation options, all close to the port.
Pori beach in the Peloponnese region is particularly appreciated as a blue flag beach. It’s a large beach too, roughly 2 kilometers long, so it’s ideal for volleyball and for beach joggers and walkers.
The beach attracts anyone looking for a relaxed time lazing in the sun and cooling off in the sea. You’ll find loungers and thatched umbrellas, changing rooms, toilets, and a beach restaurant/bar with music. It’s a unique beach in that it provides spectacular views of both the castle and Old Monemvasia.
Swimming at the Portello
Right on the edge of the bastion walls of the fortress is a terraced area called the Portello. Portello means ‘tiny harbor’ and the waters here are crystal clear and deep. Swimming under the watchful eye of the castle citadel is certain to be an unforgettable experience.
6. The Monemvasia Lighthouse
The beautiful lighthouse of Monemvasia is outside the castle, with stone being the most important construction material. There was a time when this lighthouse played an important role in protecting the fortress, with its focal height of 17 meters.
Today, the lighthouse is closed because a new one has been installed, but it’s still a lovely, easy walk to the old lighthouse. It was built in 1896 and was at first operated with a dioptric oil lighting device with a red light that beamed out across the seas for 8 nautical miles. Later, a white beacon was used to flash a warning every 5 seconds.
To this day, the lighthouse still features its stone tower with a lantern. The lantern is romantically attached to the lighthouse keeper’s house. There is a marble-carved spiral staircase that leads to the lantern, where the light machines are.
Today, tourists love visiting the lighthouse, conjuring up romantic thoughts of a bygone history when the lighthouse was such an important part of protecting Monemvasia.
7. Hike to Upper Town
A great passion for anyone on holiday who likes keeping fit is to hike, and Monemvasia offers some great hiking routes. A hike to Upper Town does not have to be an endurance test for you or your children, but rather a fun activity.
Apart from the restored 12th-century church of Aghia Sophia at the very top part of Upper Town, the rest of the area is pretty much in ruins, but from the summit, the panoramic views promise to be breathtaking.
Make sure you have comfortable hiking shoes as the walk can be slippery in parts. You start your walk through the Upper Town and will be in awe of the huge, imposing cliffs that stand at about 1,000 feet. The walk to the top can be quite difficult for some, but it shouldn’t deter you. The awesome views from the top will be worth it all.
Fabulous walking tours promise memorable times
But that’s not all. Walking tours are a great way to see some of Athens’ top sites. A walking tour can offer you some very memorable times with a local guide.
These tours are a great opportunity for the first-time visitor to Monemvasia as it provides insight into the local history and culture of the place. Who knows, there may also be some tasting of local products along the way.
But there is also a network of well signposted footpaths around Monemvasia, so the traveler who loves the outdoors is in for a feast of delightful walks. Why not try the 1.9-kilometer lighthouse trail near Monemvasia, Peloponnese? It takes just half an hour to complete. It’s a popular trail, loved for its tranquility and beauty, with splendid views of the sea.
8. Monemvasia archaeological collection
Prepare yourself for an enthralling time visiting the museum of Byzantine sculpture and ceramics. The Archaeological Collection houses a fascinating collection of ancient artifacts and is located in the building of a former mosque.
Many people are enthralled by the human history of a place The archaeological collection of the fortress of Monemvasia is found in the main square in the lower town. The collection interestingly consists of items used in daily life as well as architectural sculptures from the ruined mid-Byzantine churches. You’ll find a fascinating collection of items dating from the 12th century.
Within the area of the castle, the remaining monuments such as churches, public buildings, houses, forts, etc. have drawn a lot of attention from visitors as it gives an idea of Monemvasia’s glorious and illustrious past.
The collection includes archaeological finds that shed light on human activity from the early Christian period to the Turkish occupation.
9. Shopping on Main Street
Isn’t it strange that often the best things to do in Monemvasia are simple pleasures like spending the day on the beach, eating at cozy restaurants, and shopping in quaint little shops. Everything is unlike anything you’ve seen back home.
When you’re on vacation, you’re always in a bright and cheerful mood, and some shopping is guaranteed to lift your mood even further. Shopping in Monemvasia is pretty uncomplicated too, as it’s essentially all done on the main street.
You’ll find a nice selection of cafes and restaurants, as well as some touristy shops where you can pick up some souvenirs, clothing items, jewelry, and some local organic products. These include the likes of extra virgin olive oil, Kalamata olives, wines, different honeys, dairy products, and fruit.
You will certainly need to put aside a few hours to explore Monemvasia’s interesting shopping scene. Shops that visitors always love are the Malva Gallery for its appealing posters and silkscreens as well as the wonderful Edodimopolio Honey Shop, where you can actually sample some of Monemvasia’s famous honeys and olive oil plus lots of other goodies. For an organized tasting we recommend booking Taste the best of Monemvasia
Decadent treats worth sharing
Family and friends back home will be relying on you to bring back sweets, or amygdalota, which is why you have to know about the confectionery workshop Charamis. It is known for these dacadent sweets.
The island’s famous almond sweets are too irresistible to turn down. In fact, when you stroll down the main street, you won’t be able to resist the delightful aromas wafting out of the confectioners’ stores.
10. Go sea kayaking
Why not explore the magic of gliding across sparkling water while enjoying views of Monemvasia from a completely different angle? Don’t let your inexperience of kayaking deter your opportunity because you will receive a thorough briefing on kayaking techniques and safety before setting off.
Sea kayaking in Monemvasia promises extraordinary views and the thrill of paddling under cliffs, walls and rocks on which this incredible fort town was built.
You’ll meet your guide at the small port of Monemvasia. The guide knows all the best spots on the sea to get the most spectacular views. Right on the edge of the bastion walls of the fortress is a terraced area called the Portello. Portello means ‘tiny harbor’ and the waters here are crystal clear and deep.
Swimming under the watchful eye of the castle citadel is certain to be an unforgettable experience.
After diving and swimming, you land at a beach for a delightful picnic, sunbathing and snorkeling. This fabulous outing is finished off by paddling back to the starting bay.
Best Day Trips from Monemvasia
Booking a day tour is the perfect solution to getting to know a place, and a day trip around Monemvasia can reveal a host of hidden gems. It can be easy for a new visitor to become overwhelmed as to what to see, and a day tour is a great idea as you have the ease of having everything organized for you.
On a guided tour you will get to see all the major points of interest without stressing about anything.
The cool thing about day tours is that the tour operator will fetch you from your hotel, show you everything this wonderfully preserved medieval town has to offer, and then still get you back to your hotel in the evening.
Some of the highlights on such a day tour will certainly be a trip inside the castle of Monemvasia, the archaelogical site of the Upper Town, the ancient submerged city of Asopos in Plitra, the natural sea lagoon of Gerakas, or something else.
The cool thing about these day tours is that the itinerary can be adapted to the traveler’s interests. Below you will find some of our recommendations for the best day trips from Monemvasia.
This small, nearby island between the Peloponnese and Kythira.is just 7 square miles in size. What better way to feel restored than by looking to the healing properties of nature. You reach the island by means of a 15-minute ferry from Pounta and then get to spend time on wonderful golden sand beaches such as Simos and Sarakiniko.
The sheer beauty of the island assures you that Elafonissos is a gem in Greece’s tourism crown and it has a variety of fabulous places to stay and even more welcoming places to eat.
You’ll love the picturesque harbor and the stroll along the promenade. Elafonisos is a Natura 2000 protected area,so its packed full of natural beauty. For starters, Vardia is the highest location on the island offering breathtaking views. There is also the underwater ancient city close to Pavlopetri to visit. Check out this half day tour to Elafonissos from Monemvasia.
Speaking of harbors, Gytheio is a harbor town in the Mani region on the southern side of Peloponnese. The lovely town at the sea is is characterized by its lovely, clean beaches and the wonderful fish-serving restaurants.
Nature lovers particularly love visiting the town as its Valtaki Beach has the famous Dimitrios shipwreck. More importantly, it is a nesting place for sea turtles. Set aside a car journey of an hour and a half to get there.
The beautiful Geraki village is found 40km east of Sparti and at the foot of Mount Parnonas. A medieval, 13th century castle stands on a hill above the village.
The castle is packed full of legends and traditions. The village itself has some interesting and valuable architecture and a long tradition in weaving. You’ll find many preserved Byzantine churches inside and in the nearby medieval settlement.
The Cave of Kastania, also known as St. Andrew’s Cave, is without a doubt one of Europe’s most extraordinary caves and a must-see while visiting Monemvasia. The caves are found near the village of Kastania on the southern tip of the Peloponnese.
This is a top tourist destination, covering an area of 1,500 m2. The cave formations are a sight to behold, made of calcium carbonate in the shape of crystals, creating lots of sparkly colors.
Thousands of years have shaped these amazing caves, and a tour will reveal the best. A spiral corridor takes you down to the First Chamber. There are lots of different chambers, one of which is the Water Chamber. This is a large room with a small pond, and it is this pond that led to the discovery of the cave.
There is also the Chamber of Mushrooms, a big room with stalagmites shaped like mushrooms. Other exciting chambers include the Chamber of Fir Trees, the Chamber of Candles, and the Chocolate Chamber.
If you feel like eating something, the best tourist attractions in and around Monemvasia always come with somewhere nice to eat. So why not try some of the local treats served in the cozy café right next to the cave. Guided tours every hour are available to enjoy, making your trip to the caves even more fascinating.
World Heritage Sites are those that are deemed to have outstanding natural or cultural value and the Archaeological Site of Mystras is one of these spectacular sites. It is found just 5km from Sparta.
There are so many amazing experiences to be had on a day trip from Monemvasia and this wonder was built as an amphitheatre in 1249 around the fortress by the Franks. Soon afterwards it was conquered by the Byzantines who established it as a center of trade and culture of the south Balkans. Later on Mystras fell into the hands of the Venetians and then the Turks, it was a desired destination due to its strategic and economic importance. The city was abandoned in 1832, with only this beautiful medieval ruin to observe.
A lot of restorative work has been carried out at the property. Mystras is divided into the upper and lower town, you will need approximately 2 to 2,5 hours to complete the tour. It is not suitable for people with mobility issues as the whole town is built on a hill. Wearing comfortable and sturdy shoes is recommended. Check out this private half day tour to Mystras from Monemvasia.
You can say that Sparta’s glorious past attracts many visitors interested in the history and culture of a place. After all, there are many preserved ruins and a Roman theater. It’s a beautiful city too, surrounded by mounts Taygetos and Parnon.
When you do research on what to do in Sparta, you get the idea that you need to set aside a lot of time to visit the city, as it is packed full of attractions and entertainment. A couple of its popular attractions include a visit to the Archaeological Museums of Sparta, the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil, and Mystras among many others.
There are so many amazing sites in Greece that are worthy of protection and which receive national and international recognition.
The amazing Petrified Forest is one of these. The extraordinary natural phenomenon lies southeast of Naples, the only one of its kind in Europe. The ancient trees and trunks date back millions of years. Ancient sea creature fossils can also be found there.
In Korakas village you’ll find the forest’s tallest tree trunk, with the nickname ‘Human’. There are fabulous walking routes and information boards to visit this most spectacular natural monument.
Caves of Dirou
The Glyfada Cave in Diros is another spectacular natural site in Greece. Those who have visited the caves will tell you that they can be considered one of the most beautiful sea caves in the world.
Located on the west coast of the Laconian peninsula, the spectacular caves have a rich history, going right back to the Neolithic period. The Caves of Dirou are made up of 3 caves – Alepotrypa, Vlychada, and Katafygi. The most amazing thing about the caves is that the explored part of the caves covers an area of around 33.000 square meters, but only a portion has been explored.
The cave opened to visitors in 1967, with the tourist tour being 1,500 meters in length. You can set aside about 25 minutes to follow the circular route.
There is also an area that is visited by boat, taking you through lit up caverns and tunnels with stalagmites and stalactites. The caves are perfect for a day trip and there are shops at the site for refreshments and souvenirs.
Food and wine tours
Monemvasia is known for its beautiful vineyards and olive tree groves, and you certainly want to experience olive oil and wine tasting during your time on the island.
At the Liotrivi Estate, it can be enthralling to listen to fascinating talks on how olive trees are grown and how olive oil is actually produced. This particular tour starts with a walk through the olive groves of the estate. Here you will learn about the way olive oil is produced and about the different varieties of olives.
You’ll be able to taste different olives and different varieties of olive oil. You’ll also be able to enjoy a traditional Greek lunch served with wines that are produced on the estate. Book your olive oil experience here.
A fantastic winemaking history
The Monemvasia area also has a fantastic winemaking history dating back to Byzantine times. You can be guaranteed a fantastic experience getting to know the world-famous wines of Monemvasia.
You will get to know the local varieties and their flavors with the wine tastings, which will include a plate with pairing dishes.
These guided tours can be combined with different experiences depending on what you prefer, but it is always a fabulous outing that includes a lunch with local products.
Where to Stay in Monemvasia
If you want to stay in Monemvasia, you have the need, and the island has the solution, offering visitors the most relaxing, affordable, quality places to stay. We take a look at some of them –
With fabulous facilities such as spa and wellness center, the lovely air conditioned Lazareto Hotel is beautifully positioned just 800 m from the medieval Monemvasia fortress. Once you’re settled into the hotel, you’ll love the comfortably stylish rooms that overlook the Mirtoan Sea.
The rooms look out for your comfort and convenience and each rooms comes equipped with a desk, TV and minibar. A wonderful treat is during the winter, enjoying breakfast in an elegant room complete with fireplace. Another perk is having free wifi in public areas in the hotel. For availability and rates click here.
Visitors to Monemvasia love that the stone built, air conditioned Likinia Hotel is situated right inside the castle of Monemvasia, and yet it offers splendid views of the Aegean Sea. The hotel provides its guests with free wifi and it also serves a delicious homemade breakfast.
Guests love relaxing with traditional home comforts such as the comfortable handmade furniture. The rooms can be warmed with a fireplace and there are also other welcoming gestures offered such as a bottle of wine and soft drinks. To check availability and rates click here.
Theophano art hotel
Theophano Art Hotel is another accommodation choice you can make if you love the idea of staying inside Monemvasia Castle. It offers wonderful views of the Myrtoan Sea from its rooftop terrace.
There are lots of small additions within the air conditioned hotel that attract guests and and the antique furnishings and works of art appeal to many guests.
The hotel is well positioned to top attractions such as Chrysafitissa Square as well as the Portello, an opening in the walls of the castle, allowing one to swim just 20 m from the hotel.
Byzantino Boutique Hotel
Byzantino Boutique Hotel also ensures its guests enjoy splendid sea views. There’s a lot to love about this stylish Monemvasia Hotel. It boasts with features such as beamed ceilings and wooden floors.
It’s air conditioned too, for your comfort and some rooms come with a fireplace. Other delight include fresh local products and free wifi in public areas. For your convenience, the stylish hotel also offers laundry and ironing services. Click here for rates and availability.
A getaway that is true to its superb surroundings
It’s not surprising that Monemvasia attracts visitors from Greece and all over the world. It’s a fabulous destination for every season, and the people who visit Monemvasia know that they are in one of the most incredible regions in the world.
The appeal of Monemvasia is enjoying the splendor of its nature, but there is also a wide variety of staggeringly different activities to enjoy in a place where you are ‘getting away from it all’