Hiking in Mani

Unique experiences in nature-trails of Mani will fill your soul and mind with unique images and rejuvenate you.

Route 1 Karavostasi – Monastery of Mani Spileotissa

Vsitors can taste the unspoiled nature in a natural path walked the first eight centuries ago by pirates of the season. The route ends in the peaceful and welcoming environment of the monastery Spileotissa that calms the soul.

Distance: 3.200m
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
Difficulty: **

Route 2 Karavostasi – Kelefa Castle – Monastery of Spileotissa

Starting from the well preserved cobbled Karavostasi of Kelefa leads visitors to the imposing castle that overlooks the bay of Itilo. From there descend the canyon of Mylolagkadou on other side a unique bridge that comes from the depths of time allows the walker to reach the Monastery of Spileotissa.

Distance: 1.600m
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty : ***

Route 3 Karavostasi – Kelefa – Prophet Elias

It is incredible the satisfaction of a look at the entire leg of Tainaro from the top of Prophet Elias, approximately 1000m from the surface of the sea. The opportunity to confront both the Laconia and Messinia bay makes you feel like king of the world.

Distance: 15.000m
Duration: 3 hours και 30 minutes
Difficulty: *

A few words about Itilo

Itilo is located 80km south of Sparti. It is considered one of the most beautiful and graphic towns of Mani. It is near to Limeni bay, at 240m. altimeter. Itilo is a really big temptation for the visitor.

It took its name after Argio Itilo son of Amfianakta. To Omiros is refered as one of Achaias towns which were governed by Menelaos.

Eastern of Itilo, in the ambit of Githio the mountain Saggias expands, while at the north, rises the south foot of Taigetos Mountain.

Although the half region of Itilo is hilly, the region of the beaches is flat and you can enjoy all the wild beauty around.

Itilo distinguishes for its graphic and unique landscapes. You will love the tasteful local food and the warm hospitality of the residents. One more of the characteristics that visitors adore is that there are located 67 traditional settlements which are made of stone.

Visit the archaeological beauties of Itilo such as: the castles of the area, the Byzantine and Post- Byzantine churches with the amazing hagiographies, the impressive towers, and the romantic paths witch are made of stone.

You should also visit the churches of Saint George, of Memorfosis Sotiros, The Assumption and the Dekoulou abbey.

Itilo has a variety of interesting speleological and scientific sights. You will be amazed from the rich natural decor that the caves have. Thousands of visitors every year visit the caves of Dirou which are located at this area.

The unique flora and fauna as well as the smells of the thyme and the sage will impress you.

At Itilo you will enjoy your swim and the sun at the beautiful beaches with sand or with pebble. It is a magic place that worths to visit.

History

Itilo is a very pretty village located seven kilometers from the capital of Itilos Municipality, Aeropolis. It is named afters the mythical hero Itilos who was from Argos and was the son of Amfianakta.

Itilos has been continuously inhabited since antiquity, since the time of Homer up until now. Specifically, from the time of Homer, sources mention that Itilos was part of Menelaos’ Kingdom. Remains of ancient relics and inscriptions have been salvaged, especially around the beach where it is believed a temple of Serapidos once stood.

During the time of Turkish rule, eminent families settled there such as Byzantine Komninos (Stephanopoulos) princes and the Medicis or Giatrianis. The period between 1672 and 1674 saw waves of refugees. The Giatriani family emigrated to Tuscany and the Komninos-Stephanopoulos family moved to Genoa.

Members of both families settled on the island of Corsica. In the village square, there is a plaque with an inscription proclaiming Itilos as a sister town with the Corsican town of Cargese.

In 1770, the admiral of the Russian navy, Thedoros Orloff, anchored here. Along with the Mavromichalaios family, Orloff started the 1770 revolution. The relevant agreement was signed at the Dekoulou Monastery.

On the west part of Inner Mani, the ground’s morphology is rugged. It is a unique area, very picturesque with mountains that stand in the middle of the peninsula. With hanging rocks and cliffs that drop down into the crystal clear sea, fiords and caves have been formed along previously sandy shallow beaches or beaches with white pebbles and deep waters.

The climate is dry but is mainly cool in the hours of the morning which is conducive to the cultivation of a range of fragrant plants and trees of low vegetation.

The air is pollution-free. The area is sparsely populated by 5,000 permanent residents in the winter. The rejuvenating fresh air combines aromas from the sea with sage and thyme.
Narrow, winding roads and dozens of paths lead to a magnificent view. There are about 85 settlements made of stone, most of which feature towers and tower houses made with stone and built in rare, traditional country style architecture. Scores of Many types and styles of Byzantine churches (and monasteries) dating from the 10th Century are scattered all around the region, built and designed magnificently (works of art made by simple craftsmen that many modern builders and architects would envy today).

All over Mani, there are olive trees, prickly pear plants, wild pear trees, locust trees, kermes oak trees, a wide diversity of plants and many different types of fragrant shrubs and nettles.

The peninsula is also home to many types of rare animals such as the large and rare jet-black raven which, when it flies overhead, casts a dark shadow like a religious bishop over towers, tower houses, alleys, courtyards and anything else that is found in its flight path.

When it crows its supremacy, it can be heard over the endless calm of nature along with the sounds of scores of other wild birds, eagles and others. The fearful jackal appears in small groups here and there from dusk to dawn.

It makes its presence felt with a whiny sound like a symphony of strange violins. It comes out to hunt for its food, moving with other members of its species as if taking part in a mass demonstration. Moving in such a group gives jackals the courage they would normally lack when moving individually.

The Archaeological Museum of Mani with its vast collection is open to visitors. Here, one will find a rich collection of finds from every age, from the Stone Age to the Byzantine period. In Mani, visitors can also discover caves such as the one at Diros, the richest cave in the world and there are many castles such as the Maini and Kelefas Castles.

NO MATTER how a visitor chooses to spend their time when in Mani (as the Greek newspaper, Kathimerini (the Daily) wrote on 21/11/1993), they will immediately get the feeling that they are participating in something new and unique.

Also, when someone enumerates all the features found in this area – which happens wherever we go – they will find something else, a certain innocence; an innocence that Mani has managed to maintain. Those endless and huge rocks, Mani’s stony landscape, seem to include the hearts of all those men and women who were born on this land. It is an epic written in stone.

If we were to comprehend what Mani means – and we should – it is imperative to take every measure in order to protect its mountains, its sea, its rocks and its castles. We must record and defend its language and its dirges so that we can give it life through art. We must do all that we can so that the area does not become corrupted by tourism. We must save Mani’s soul.

Mani is like a border area. It has its own borders and they are worth protecting.

Location

Distance of 3.30 hours from Athens, while the path after Gytheio introduces the traveler to a much different culture of Mani called to know.

A culture which blends with the diverse landscape of stone towers, the wild natural beauty and untamed sea, identifying the unconquerable nature and bravery of its people, showing visitors the reasons that Mani was always free and unconquered.

HOW TO GET HERE

  • By car in less than 3:30′ enjoying the natural beauty of the route
  • By bus: Athens / Piraeus – Sparta – Gythion – Areopolis (280km.) daily. Route Athens – Sparta (3 hours), Sparta – Gythio 35 ‘(44km.) and Gythion – Areopolis 25’ (28 km)
  • By plane: From Athens or abroad with Charter flights to Kalamata. Kalamata airport is 90km. from Areopolis.

DISTANCES

Athens (288 Km)
Sparta (80 Km)
Kalamata (75 Km)
Kardamili (38 Km)
Gythion (36 Km)
Kotrona (24 Km)

Beaches in Mani Peloponnese

Here is a list of beaches in the area of Mani Peloponnese:

Kalogria Beach:

One of my favorite but during high season, it’s always crowded. It is organized with white sand and crystal waters. Perfect for families.

Stoupa Beach:

Located opposite the main walking road of Stoupa, full of restaurants and shops it’s an organized beach preferred by families.

Delfinia Beach:

Another favorite less crowded with small pebbles and nice waters. It’s not organized so you should carry whatever you need with you.

To faraggi to Fonea:

Another favourite beach with big stones and a big rock dividing it in the middle. It is not an organized beach, but there is a beach bar operating on site. If you are lucky, you can find some shade under the rocks.

Ritsa Beach in Kardamili:

A big beach with white pebbles and olive trees.

Karavostasi Beach:

A beautiful beach with big pebbles. There is a beach bar on site.

Limeni:

It’s not actually a beach, but you can descend a couple of steps and swim in the turquoise waters. One of my favorite as well.

Gerolimenas beach:

A pebbled beach with cold water

Neo Itilo

Neo Itilo is a village located around a magnificent sandy beach 2 km long. In the sea waters of the area has been discovered an ancient shipwreck with amphora, probably dating back in the second century BC

Where to eat in Mani Peloponnese

Kardamili:

Kyria Lela A taverna I have eaten a couple of times located in Kardamili. It is located in a courtyard under vine leaves and overlooking the sea. It has excellent Greek traditional cooked ( mageirefta) food. Don’t forget to try the Politiki salad.

Kariovouni or Arachova:

It’s a village in the mountains near Stoupa. In the square of the village and under the plane trees you will have the most amazing souvlaki (skewered pork). We have been going there for years. If you visit at night, take a jacket with you as it gets chilly.

Limeni:

To Magazaki tis Thodoras: Located on the bay of Limeni with tables overlooking the sea and tower houses is among my favorites. The owner Thodora is super friendly and polite. We had some fantastic fresh fish and salad. You can also taste a variety of dishes based on the local cuisine of Mani. Here you can also sit for a coffee or an ouzo while you swim in Limeni.

Areopoli:

Barba Petros: You will find it in the alleyways of Areopoli, It has a beautiful yard for lunch and tables on the alley at night. I recommend Siglino ( a traditional food of the area made of smoked pork), fresh salad, and mpiftekia. We didn’t like the lamp it was full of fat.

Greek Salad and Siglino (smoked pork)

Top Places To Visit In Mani – Peloponnese Greece

The region of Mani is located in Southern Peloponnese, and it expands in the prefectures of Lakonia and Messinia. It is an area of great history and beauty and offers visitors a variety of activities. I am very lucky to have spent many summers and weekends in the area, as I have a lot of friends from there. I have stayed in both prefectures, Lakonia, and Messinia, not only in friend’s houses but hotels as well.Limeni:It’s a picturesque fishing village with excellent fish taverns and beautiful tower houses. Here you can admire the tower house of the Mavromichalis family, which played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence. The village is perfect for swimming as well. Although it doesn’t have a proper beach, a few steps are leading to the turquoise waters of the sea. I had my first bath of the season there earlier in June.

Limeni village
Limeni village

Areopoli: Areopoli means the city of Ares, the ancient Greek god of war. It is the capital of the area, and it was declared as a traditional settlement. At the center of the town, there is a big square with the statue of Petrobay’s Mavromichalis. Around the plaza, there are some beautiful stone alleys, with many preserved tower houses, churches, shops, taverns, and bars.

Gerolimenas: In ancient times, it used to be the most important port of the area. Now it’s a traditional fishing village with lovely restaurants and a pebbled beach.

Vathia:The traditional settlement of Vathia is located on the top of a hill with incredible views. It is a scenic village with around 70 tower houses that are all abandoned. During the 19th century, it was a community full of life. Vathia is among my favorite places in Mani; I love walking around the abandoned tower houses.

Vathia village
The traditional settlement of Vathia

Diros caves:

It is a perfect place to visit with children; they are going to love it.There are three caves, but only one, cave Vlyhada is open to the public. It is one of the most impressive lake caves in the world. It is full of impressive stalagmites and stalactites. A big part of the route is made by boats and a smaller part on foot.Tickets cost: Full: 12€ and Reduced: 8€

Cape Tainaron:

Cape Tainaron or Cape Matapan is the southernmost point of mainland Greece. According to the legend, the cave that you can still see today is the gate to the underworld and home of Hades, God of the dead.

The ancient Spartans built a lot of temples in the area with the most important one being the temple of Poseidon, God of the sea. You can also walk to the lighthouse at the end of the cape; that is now in disuse. It takes around 20 minutes, but it’s better to ask the locals before you go because sometimes of the year the area is full of snakes.

Gythio:

It’s a charming town amphitheatrically built with many neoclassical buildings. It used to be the port of ancient Sparta until it was destroyed in 4th century AD. Now it’s the largest town in Mani. There are some excellent tavernas on the waterfront and from the port you can catch a ferry to Kithira Island or Crete (a few times per week).

Gythio:

It’s a charming town amphitheatrically built with many neoclassical buildings. It used to be the port of ancient Sparta until it was destroyed in 4th century AD. Now it’s the largest town in Mani. There are some excellent tavernas on the waterfront and from the port you can catch a ferry to Kithira Island or Crete (a few times per week).

The Archaeological site of Mystras:

The castle town of Mystras is the most important Byzantine monument in Greece. It was also declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Center. The town of Mystras was built amphitheatrically around the castle in 1249.It was conquered by Byzantines, the Venetians, and the Turks until it was abandoned in 1953. There are many Byzantine churches inside the archaeological site worth seeing along with the Acropolis and the town walls.

Tickets: Full: 12 €, Reduced 6 €.

The castle town of Monemvasia:

Although it is not very close and you probably need 1 to 2 hours driving depending on where you are based the castle town of Monemvasia makes the perfect day trip of Mani. For more information read my post: Monemvasia, a Greek castle town.

Central square of Monemvasia

Stoupa:

Stoupa is a charming village and popular tourist destination. There are two lovely beaches in the village Kalogria and Stoupa beach. There is also a variety of restaurants, bars, shops and hotels in the area. Stoupa is also a popular destination for families.