Mani: Three-day road trip for all tastes

Have you been told countless times about the majestic landscape of Mani but you have not yet managed to visit it? The combination of the sea, the tropical waters and the reflection of the wild natural scenery on them is the most successful recipe for an unforgettable road trip. Sun, stone and sea, the triptych that enchants with the impressive tower houses, the incredible landscapes of wild beauty, the picturesque villages and the traditional settlements charming all those who have managed to visit this unique and special part of Greece.

Whether it is the Messinian, or the Laconian side, the beauties of Mani are unique. It is no coincidence, you see, that one of the most “rough” places in the Peloponnese is celebrated internationally for its untouched beauty and its traditional element that remains unchanged in time. Summers may be the time when most people choose to make a road trip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in spring. So if you’re a road trip enthusiast then take notes as this is a destination that has so many places to see, so many beaches, so many bays and coves to swim in (if you’re adventurous enough) and so many picturesque and stunning villages (both mountain and seaside) that you’ll probably take a second three days to say you’ve lived the experience to the fullest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and start with the first one!

Starting from Kalamata, we cross the villages and beaches of West and East Mani to reach Cape Taenaro.


Your road trip can start from Kalamata. The capital of Messinia which in recent years has undergone an impressive renaissance with the redevelopment of its seafront, pedestrian streets and the existence of many cultural events. Take the exit towards Mani and Areopolis and then you will find yourself at the beginning of the Messinian Riviera, the coastal part of the region that is full of beaches and shops by the sea. After about 55 km you will arrive in Kardamili, which basically consists of two areas, the old and the new Kardamili. In the old one you will stroll through the archaeological sites and picturesque alleys while the climbing bougainvillea colours the austere landscape. You’ll enter Mani towers and Byzantine churches, travelling back to the time of pirates and corsairs. When you get to the new settlement you will drink your coffee and eat in the shops by the sea. After Kardamili, there are beautiful bays with clear blue waters, ideal for diving; if you are adventurous you can stop at Kalamitsi, beach, Foneas beach or Delphinia. If you are hungry and you want good Greek food in a beautiful orchard with olive trees, next to the sea, then you head to «Elies».


The road now turns away from the sea, which you won’t meet again until the beach of Oitylos. The route is of wild beauty. Just before you leave Messinia to enter the Laconian Mani, in the village of Thalames, you will meet a large plane tree on the road, under the dew of its leaves there is the homonymous tavern «O Platanos» with well-cooked dishes with local products. The next stop is in Limeni, the port of Areopolis. The seaside settlement is one of the most traditional settlements in Mani and among them you will also see the Tower of the Mavromichalis family, which today functions as a hotel.


If the Mani towers intrigue you then you will see several in Areopolis, the settlement with the stone alleys and the large square with the statue of Petrobeis Mavromichalis. The glorious and beautiful Areopolis belongs to the Municipality of East Mani, in the Region of Laconia and is built at an altitude of 256 meters. The locals boast that their place was never conquered by the Turks, while the first flag of the Greek Revolution was raised there and the first groups of the revolution were formed. The flag of Areopolis is on display at the National Historical Museum of Athens. For food we recommend the old traditional wine tavern, from 1950, “Barba Petros“. Our traditional stews, some a little tweaked, at its best. If the evening finds you in Areopolis you can have a drink on the main cobbled street.

Caves of Diros, Vathia Castle & Cape Tainaro

Continuing the journey south you will reach the Diros Caves. There are two caves in the area, Vlychada and Alepotrypa. There the tour is initially by small boats and then there is a walkable land section. In the caves you will witness a true wonder of nature. You will then continue south on the country road through the austere, barren Mani landscape to Gerolimenas.

Completely integrated into this wild landscape is the Kastropolitia of Vathia, a set of impressive 18th and 19th century tower houses. Moving on even further, you will have the opportunity to find yourself at the southernmost tip of mainland Greece, at Cape Taenaro. This is where the drive ends. You will need to walk 2.2 km on an easy path through dry stone walls, low bushes, thyme and oregano. But the view of the sea, the peace and quiet of the landscape is worth it. You will also see the lighthouse, built by the French in 1882 and first opened in 1887.

To conclude, if you decide to make the road trip in “one breath” then the distance from Kalamata to Taenaro is 129 kilometers, which is 2 hours and 50 minutes’ drive. Of course what we suggest is to take your time and make the most of all the 3 days you have available.