The Peloponnese

The Peloponnese is that part of the mainland of Greece which helps give the country its distinctive shape. Its three southern peninsulas stick out like three fingers, as if warming themselves in the Mediterranean Sea. The Peloponnese is strictly speaking not even part of the mainland at all. Today it is severed from the rest of Greece by the Corinth Canal, and the road bridge at the top of the canal is the only thing that keeps the two parts connected.

Bourtzi Castle in NafplionBourtzi Castle in Nafplion

Even before the Corinth Canal was built the very name of the place shows that it was regarded as almost an island, as the name means the island of Pelops, Pelops being the grandson of Zeus. It contains some of the most famous archaeological sites in the country, such as Mycenae, Tiryns, the theatre at Epidavros, and ancient Olympia, the magnificent location of the original Olympic Games. A major highlight is also the ruined Byzantine city of Mystra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are many other attractions too, some of them well-known and some of them not so well-known. It has one of the loveliest towns in the whole country, Nafplion, the former Greek capital. See also which beach on the Peloponnese made our list of Six of the Best Beaches in Greece.

The Mani region of GreeceThe Mani

The Peloponnese also has the rugged Mani peninsula, home once to bandits but now of beach resorts, and old tower houses restored as traditional-style hotels. 

Here too is Greece's third city, Patras, and Kalamata, whose tasty olives are exported all over the world. Here's ancient Pylos, and Sparta, Tiryns and Argos, mountain villages like Andritsaina, and the unique and lovely little town of Monemvasia, hiding away on its offshore rock: the Gibraltar of Greece. 

MonemvasiaMonemvasia

The Peloponnese has dramatic mountains, good areas for walking, little-known archaeological sites for visitors to find for themselves, some fabulous beaches – and even the entrance to Hades. It's got everything, one of the very special parts of Greece.

As well as being where you'll find the site of Ancient Olympia, the Peloponnese is also home to The Nemean Games.

Other Peloponnese pages

  • The Nemean Games

    The Nemean Games, like the Olympic Games, take place every four years but, unlike the Olympics, anyone can apply to take part and run in the original stadium.

  • Patras

    Patras, or Patra, in the Peloponnese is Greece's third-largest city, home to Greece's largest Carnival, with many Roman and Greek remains, museums and churches.

  • Nafplion

    Nafplion in the Peloponnese was the Greek capital before Athens and today is a charming waterfront town with good restaurants, museums, shopping, beaches, old fortresses and a delightful atmosphere.

  • Mystra

    The ruined Byzantine city of Mystra sits on the top and the slopes of a hill that juts out from the plain and is one of the most remarkable places in Greece.

  • Mycenae

    Mycenae in the Greek Peloponnese was a royal palace and is famous for the royal tombs, Lion Gate, and was excavated by archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann.

  • Monemvasia

    Monemvasia in the Peloponnese is the Greek Rock of Gibraltar and is a huge offshore rock which conceals a tiny town connected to the mainland by a single road.

  • Monemvasia Book Review

    Greece Travel Secrets reviews the photography book Monemvasia with extracts from works by Yiannis Ritsos and Nikos Kazantzakis.

  • The Mani

    The Mani in the south of the Peloponnese is the most southerly part of the Greek mainland and famous for its rugged landscape, feuds, and tower houses.

  • Kalamata

    Kalamata in the Peloponnese is the area's second-biggest city and is world-famous for the quality of its olives and for the nearby site of Ancient Messene.

  • Epidavros

    The ancient theatre at Epidavros is one of Greece's greatest attractions, ranking alongside the Acropolis and the Palace at Knossos in Crete, and it is easily the finest theatre in Greece.

  • Corinth

    Corinth has four aspects to it, which are the Corinth canal, the modern town of Corinth, nearby Ancient Corinth, and above that Akrokorinthos or Upper Corinth.

  • Ancient Olympia

    Travel guide to Ancient Olympia in the Peloponnese of mainland Greece, home to the original Olympic Games.

  • Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese

    The Bradt Guide to the Peloponnese is the best book on the Greek region which includes attractions like Mycenae, Epidavros, Olympia, Monemvasia and Nafplion.

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