Dubrovnik

Less than an hour’s drive from Athens in the country’s southernmost region, Peloponnese is a wide peninsula linked to the mainland by bridge. It’s renowned for its unspoiled landscapes that once helped it keep invaders at bay, including soaring snowcapped mountains and vast rugged gorges, part of what draws visitors of another kind from around the world today. It also hosts frequent cultural events, including many festivals along with fascinating ruins, like Olympia the site of the very first Olympic Games in honor of Zeus.

Peloponnese Overview

While it’s often skipped by visitors to Greece, Peloponnese is really a must-experience destination, especially for those who are interested in the myths and temples of Greek gods and the ancient beginnings of the Olympics. This region boasts three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Olympia, Mystras and Mycena/Tiryns. It’s the essence of myth all immortalized in Greek legend as perhaps the mythical heart of Greece. In fact, it’s from Peloponnese that Paris of Troy is said to have eloped with Helen. It’s not hard to imagine, with the jaw-dropping scenery that giving nature enthusiasts of all types lots to love. Not only are there towering mountains, but glistening lakes, magnificent falls that cut into deep gorges, valleys filled with vineyards or citrus groves, cypress forests and extraordinary sandy beaches edged by turquoise waters.

The dining on Peloponnese is some of the very best you’ll indulge in while in Greece, while the region’s vineyards mean you’ll be able to find plenty of outstanding vino to go along with it. Here it’s easy to fuel your exploits for discovering the many fascinating treasures here from Mycenean palaces and Byzantine cities to Venetian, Ottoman and Frankish fortresses along with the unforgettable scenery.

Peloponnese History in a Nutshell

The peninsula has been inhabited since prehistoric times, with its modern name derived from ancient Greek mythology, meaning “Island of Pelops” for the legend of a hero who conquered the region. The first major civilization here and throughout Europe was the Mycenaean civilization which dominated in the Bronze Age. Its destruction was just before the turn of 3000 BC, with destruction noted during archaeological research of palaces and cities throughout the region. Excavations have confirmed the legend of Homeric Mycenaean. In Pylos, ruins there match the references for the well-known King Nestor’s palace in the peninsula’s western region.

The Greek Dark Ages followed with little in the way of written record found for this period though we do know that around 1200 BC, Aetoli and Dorian arrived to construct Sparta, Argos and Korinthos. In 776 BC, Olympia hosted the very first Olympic games, a time when the Peloponnese was one of the centers of ancient Greece and saw some of the country’s bloodiest battles fought on its grounds. In the early 5th-century, it was the site of the Peloponnesian War, with the entire Peloponnese, other than Sparta), joining the expedition under Alexander the Great against the Persian Empire. It collapsed under the expansion of the Roman Republic with the rest of Greece in 146 BC, with Romans razing the city of Corinth, massacring its inhabitants. While the peninsula continued to be prosperous, it was cut off from the affairs of much of the Roman world, becoming provincial backwater. While Corinth was virtually destroyed it managed to regain some of its former status when Julius Caesar founded a colony at the site in 44 BC, which lead to the region becoming an important trade and administrative center. Not long after, following a visit by St. Paul, it was the center of early Christianity in Greece. But in fell in decline once again, when the Alaric and Germanic Heruli tribes attacked in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

Under the Byzantine Empire, the Peloponnese suffered numerous repeated attacks by these warrior tribes from the north. In the 13th-century, it was it was taken by the Franks, who held it for some 200 years before it was reverted to the last Byzantine emperors and then conquered by the Turks in 1460. Patras, in the northern Peloponnese, has continued to gain commercial importance ever since the end of the War of Greek Independence which took place from 1821 through 1829. Throughout much of the 19th and early 20th century, the region became economically isolated and increasingly poor. Much of the population emigrated, moving to larger cities in Greece like Athens, or to other nations like Australia and the U.S. It was significantly impacted by World War II and the Greek Civil War, but things improved here and throughout the country in 1981 with its accession to the European Union.

Peloponnese At A Glance

Average Flight Time from the UK to Peloponnese 4hours 45mins

Population of Peloponnese
630,000

What to See in Peloponnese
Take a cable car and enjoy spectacular views, Discover the City Walls, Discover the magic of the Old Town, Game of Thrones tour, Sea Kayak Tour, Lokrum Island

Towns or islands to visit near Peloponnese  Daytrip to Montenegro or Bosnia Herzegovina, Mljet National Park, Korcula Island, Lopud Island, Sipan Island

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Trips Including Peloponnese

Things to do in Peloponnese

Archaeological Site of Olympia, Greece.

Step into Ancient Olympia

The top site in all of the Peloponnese is Olympia, the very place where the Olympic Games where held every four years for at least 1,000 years and the Olympic flame is still lit for the modern games. While not much remains of the facilities and temples thanks to its destruction by Theodosius II and a number of earthquakes that followed, there is plenty enough to provide a glimpse of its former glory. The site includes remnants of the stadium that hosted the contests and the Temple of Zeus, which was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: a huge gold and ivory statue of the king of the gods.

Ancient theater

Listen to the Acoustics in the Great Theatre of Epidaurus

. The Theatre of Epidaurus in the ancient city of Epidaurus was constructed in the 4th century BC, considered one of the finest ancient theaters on Earth, holding as many as 16,000 spectators back in its day, lauded for both its beauty and symmetry. Other than the skene, it still looks much as it did so many centuries ago, thanks to careful restoration and preservation work. The acoustics are so good that you can hear someone talking at normal volume in the orchestra from the very top row. The theater continues to host performances today through summer’s Epidaurus Festival.

Ancient City of Corinth

Stroll Through the Ancient City of Corinth

Established in the 8th-century BC, just a few hundred years later Corinth was home to a population of 90,000, wielding vast power and wealth through the Classical and Hellenistic periods. It was destroyed by Romans and later rebuilt as a provincial capital. Excavation work has been ongoing since the late 19th-century, with the impressive Fountain of Peirene, the Temple of Apollo, agora, foundations of the theater and ancient streets all unearthed and can be viewed today

Mycenae

Visit the Ruins of Ancient Mycenae

Located in the barren foothills of Mt Zara and Mt Agios Ilias, the Mycenae Kingdom was once the most powerful in Greece. For 400 years, 1600 through 1200 BC it controlled the Argolid and influenced other Mycenaean kingdoms as one of the main centers of civilization for all of Greece. Using a description of the Lion Gate written in the 2nd century AD by Pausanius, Mycenae was located by Venetian General Francesco in the early 18th century. The image of a pair of lionesses flanking a column is the only piece of monumental sculpture from Bronze Age Greece that’s managed to survive. The site also includes the Tholos tombs, including the Treasury of Atreus which includes what was known as the ancient world’s largest dome, weighing 120 tons alone.

Polylimnio Waterfalls

Be Mesmerized by the Polylimnio Waterfalls

The peninsula is home to many breathtaking natural sights although these waterfalls at the Polylimnio Gorge in Messenia may be the most impressive of all as a true nature lovers’ paradise. There are cascading falls and tranquil emerald pools surrounded by lush greenery for swimming or cliff diving, right outside the city of Kalamata.

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Dubrovnik’s Amazing City Walls

The mighty, durable defensive City Walls of Dubrovnik have endured wars, earthquakes, and the test of time. Throughout history, the Dubrovnik City Walls have never been breached. Constructed in the 12th century, the walls reach a thickness of 6 meters in places and wall heights of up to 25 meters. There are 4 gates, 17 towers, and at least 120 cannons. As you stroll around the perimeter of Dubrovnik, you will be amazed by the sheer size of the City Walls, and the beautiful views.

Cable car in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s Cable Car

For truly spectacular views, the Dubrovnik Cable Car ascends 778 meters during a 4-minute ride. At the destination plateau of Mount Srd, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of Dubrovnik’s Old Town and the Elaphiti Islands. You can dine in the restaurant while enjoying the views, or relax in the coffee bar.

Originally built in 1969, the cable car is your vehicle to panoramic views of the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea. On a clear day, you can see 40 miles all around. Truly a memorable destination and a photo opportunity you won’t want to miss.

Virgin Mary Ascension Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik's Old Town Allure

Dubrovnik’s Old Town offers the chance to explore what an actual medieval town was like. Dubrovnik, nicknamed by the famous poet Lord Byron as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Dubrovnik was at its most powerful during the 15th and 16th centuries, rivaling even Venice in prominence. A devastating earthquake in 1667 destroyed almost all the public buildings in Dubrovnik, but miraculously, the city walls remained intact, and Dubrovnik’s churches, monasteries, and palaces were preserved.