Peloponnese archeology vacations

There are temples, palaces and amphitheatres all over the place in the Peloponnese so you’ll get your archeological kicks, whether you want to see the ghosts of games past or hear tales of Greek history’s goriest highlights. Yes, the iconic nature of some of them (Olympia, for example) means that you’ll have to contend with coach parties during peak season, but you’ll also find lesser-known sights that deliver all that atmosphere without the crowds. What’s more, local guides are incredibly knowledgeable and their passion catapults the characters and events of ancient Greece into life.

Traveling to the Peloponnese also allows local people to benefit from your stay, and . hoteliers, restaurateurs and shopkeepers will all welcome travelers with open arms. So, you could say that an archaeology vacation in the Peloponnese is not just about discovering what the ancient Greeks have done for us – it’s also about what we can do for local people and for ourselves.

What do archeology vacations in the Peloponnese entail?

Our archeology tours are either small group or tailor made. On small group tours you’ll join a bunch of likeminded amateur archaeologists to peruse the ruins, with free afternoons left for socialising, shopping, wine tasting or lazing by the beach. Transfers are usually made by bus, though you can opt for a walking, cycling, or even small ship cruise vacation that has ancient sightseeing as its main aim.
Alternatively you can go for a tailor made vacation that’s devised to suit your tastes and needs, so you can explore the ruins to your fill without having to wait for or worry about other people. Either way you’ll be accompanied by expert local guides and you'll visit locations that are off the typical tourist trail, where a strong pair of walking shoes are as essential as a Greek phrase book. You'll stay in small, family run hotels and guesthouses where home cooked meals and conversations with your hosts ensure that you’ll learn as much about the local culture as the ruins.
The majority of our small group archeological tours are point to point, meaning you’ll move on to a new destination every day or so, though you can also opt for a center based break, where you go out exploring by day but return to the same bed every night – the disadvantage here being that you can’t cover as much ground, so won’t pack in as many ancient sites.

Top ancient sites in the Peloponnese

Messini

Set overlooking a beautiful green valley, magical Messini is one of the most underrated archeological sites in Greece. Only a third of it has been excavated so far, but what has been uncovered is seriously impressive, including a grand ancient stadium, a 10,000 seater theatre and a fortified wall. It’s so well-preserved that it’s easy to imagine life here as it once was, made even better by the fact that the site is devoid of crowds.

Mycenae

Mycenae was built towards the end of the Bronze Age and it swiftly became one of the mightiest cities in Greece. Tours of Mycenae let you walk through the monumental Lion Gate before entering the ruined realm of King Agamemnon. Nearby Nafplio offers easy access to Mycenae, plus it has the bonus of its very own Venetian fortress.

Olympia

The site of the ancient Olympic Games was founded in the 8th century BC and could seat up to 40,000 spectators who'd come in droves to watch athletes battle it out, with chariot racing in the purpose-built hippodrome a particularly big draw. Key sites include the Temple of Zeus (built later in 5th century BC), the Temple of Hera, the Olympic flame altar and the antiquities held within the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.

Nestor’s Palace

The best-preserved Mycenaean Palace in Greece, Nestor’s Palace is a mere 15-minute drive north of the seaside town of Pylos. It’s mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as a powerful court that took part in the Trojan Wars, and a visit here is fascinating. Some of the palace’s walls and foundations are still standing, and there’s a raised walkway from which you can gaze down on them – including a bathroom with a fully intact ancient tub.

Sparta

Set at the base of Mount Taygetus, the scattered remains of the ancient state of Sparta (431 to 404 BC) sit alongside the fortified citadel and 13th-century monasteries of Mystras – the most important Byzantine archaeological site out there. It’s a steep climb up to the statue of Leonidas and one of the largest ancient amphitheatres on earth, standing tall on top of the Sparta Acropolis.

Tegea

The Arcadian settlement of Tegea, situated just outside Tripoli in the center of the Peloponnese, dates back some 2,500 years, and was one of the ancient Greeks’ most important centers for worship. It features the ruined temple to the goddess Athena Alea, the second largest on the Peloponnese. Nearby Tripoli makes for a great base if you’re visiting Tegea and also features Arcadia’s ancient antiquities within the city’s archaeology museum.

Other historic sites

It’s not all about the ancients. There are a host of Byzantine and Medieval sites across the region, from walled towns to castles to churches.

Methoni is a pretty seaside town with a popular beach, next to which you’ll find the most impressive 15th-century Venetian fortress in the Peloponnese.

The rocky promontory of Monemvasia – long called "the Gibraltar of Greece" – is crowned by a medieval citadel and church, which loom over the car-free cobbled lanes and beautifully restored stone houses.

Fascinating Mystras is a Byzantine ghost town whose streets are lined with the remains of homes both humble and palatial, as well as some of the most beautiful churches in all of Greece.

Nafplio, meanwhile, has numerous Venetian and Turkish buildings, twisting labyrinthine streets and a chic veneer that draws Athenians in at weekends to pose in cafes and bars.

If naval history’s your thing, visit Neokastro, a 16th-century Ottoman fort with wide ranging views over Navarino Bay, the scene of one of the most important battles of the Greek War of Independence.

Our top Peloponnese Vacation

Peloponnese vacation, cultural tour in Greece

Peloponnese vacation, cultural tour in Greece

Varied historical sight seeing of the northern Peloponnese

From US $2160 13 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 26 Apr, 10 May, 26 Jul, 6 Sep, 20 Sep, 4 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Peloponnese or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

When to go

Summers in the Peloponnese can be baking hot and there's little or no shade in and around many of the archaeological sites. Best advice is to go on an archaeology vacation at any time other than July and August; March and April or September and October are ideal. However, if you don't mind packing waterproofs and long sleeves and heading out in November, December and January, you’ll have the ancient sites all to yourself.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Ronny Siegel] [Entail: Joyofmuseums] [Top sites (Messini): StaTu] [Best time to go: Jean Housen]
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