Greece is my favourite country. The people, the culture, the history, the food, and the sun – what’s not to love? I have to admit, however, that I’ve never visited the islands, though I hear they are quite nice. The Peloponnese – the mainland – is also quite nice: the rugged terrain, countless ancient ruin sites, the smell of fresh oregano wafting through the air… Excuse me while I book my next plane ticket to Athens!
But if big cities aren’t your scene and looking to get more of a sense of Greek culture, the towns listed below are sure to give you a sense of the generosity, vigor and pride of the Greek people and their way of life.
Nafplio is a medium sized coastal town in the Argolic Gulf. The city is rich with history from the Classical age to the nineteenth century during the Greek War of Independence. The city was once protected by fortress Palamidi that can still be explored today. At the foot of the Palamidi is a beautiful beach and boardwalk-style pathway that leads to the marina filled with open air restaurants. Check out my post of Nafplio here.
Delphi is most famous and religiously important for being the site of the ancient Oracle of Delphi at the Temple of Apollo. In an effort to honour the gods, Greeks participated in the Pythian Games. The evidence is clear from the presence of the gymnasium and stadium. Don’t neglect the modern city of Delphi with its narrow streets and welcoming people. If you’re looking to get out of the town, there is a hiking trail up Mount Parnassos that holds spectacular views.
Another coastal town, Methone is located on the south west coast of the Peloponnese. It is a quiet town, but the seafood is amazing due to its proximity to the water. The city was once heavily fortified and is still present today. Spend a day exploring Methone Castle and the Bourtzi, and imagine what life was like in the Middle Ages from the remaining evidence.
Epidaurus was once an ancient city, but today encompasses two modern cities near the ancient site. Epidaurus was the healing centre of Greece called the asclepeion after the healing god Asclepius. Additionally, the city is famous for its theatre that was built with perfect acoustics: there is no need for amplification. Try it out: sit at the top and listen to the conversations of people standing on the stage!
Pylos was a significant kingdom in Mycenaean Greece, with remains of the so-called “Palace of Nestor” excavated nearby, named after Nestor, the king of Pylos in Homer’s Iliad. The Ottomans used Pylos and its bay as a naval base in the 19th century. Pylos’ bay is formed by a deep indenture in the penninsula making it quite unique. That indenture came in handy during the battle of Sphacteria in the 5th century BC. The town of Pylos has a population of 2,767 people.
Although Mystras is no longer populated, it should still be on your must-see places. Mystras is a fortified town and a former municipality in Laconia. It is situated on Mt. Taygetos, 8km from Sparta. It was abandoned in the 1830s when the new town of Sparta was built. Mystras was built in the Byzantine style of architecture which means lots of lovely arches. You can make a day trip to Mystras from Sparta. It offers amazing views of Laconian country side.
What are you favourite Greek towns?
Interested in Greece? Check out the destination guide before you start planning your travels: Greece Destination Guide