If you’re planning a trip to Greece and want to experience a place that’s a bit more untouched and unique than the usual suspects (Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, etc.), you might want to consider taking a day trip to the hidden fortress town of Monemvasia, Greece.
The island is located just off the East coast of the Peloponnese and is connected by a 700 ft. causeway. While at first glance Monemvasia doesn’t look like much, it is such an authentic Greek treasure and I recommend it to anyone.
Monemvasia Travel Guide
Located in southern Greece, Monemvasia is one of the country’s hidden gems. Although left undisturbed by flocks of tourists, Monemvasia still offers travelers the best of Greece. Here, you’ll be treated to coastal views, Byzantine churches, and authentic Greek charm packed into its narrow streets.
But what makes Monemvasia so incredibly unique is that, since it’s surrounded by a fortress wall, the town can only be accessed through one entrance.
How To Get There
See that road leading from the Peloponnese, around the island and into the city? That’s the only way you can get into Monemvasia.
But first, you’ll need to know how to get to that strip of road, also known as the only entrance to Monemvasia.
Since there isn’t an airport in Monemvasia, the closest and most convenient airport would be the Athens International Airport. From Athens, you can reach Monemvasia by public bus or car rental. However, the drive from the airport to the fortress town is a total of 4 hours each way. So if you aren’t one for long road trips, plan on spending the night in Monemvasia.
You can also take a ferry to Monemvasia. Visit this site for more specific travel options.
When you reach the fortress wall, you will see this entrance. At this point, I admittedly was a little doubtful of the town on the other side…
…But when you walk through the tunnel to the other side, you will be transported into a world of peach beige buildings, ancient Stucco roofs, quaint squares, and beautiful churches. I was completely blown away.
Here is Monemvasia’s main square, which houses the Elkomenos Christos Church and a small museum of archeological finds.
What to do in Monemvasia
There’s so much to explore behind the limestone with which the fortress is built. This charming medieval town is the perfect place to lose yourself. And if you need a few points of interests, here are a few spots that you should plan on visiting:
The Church of Agia Sofia
Nestled in the upper town is the church of Agia Sofia — one of the oldest and most important Byzantine churches in all of Greece. Established in the 12th century by the Byzantine emperor, Andronicus II, Agia Sofia sits on the highest point of Monemvasia. As a result, travelers are treated to unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea.
One of the cleanest beaches of the Peloponnese, Pori Beach was awarded a blue flag. This is the perfect place to take in the ocean breeze in peace.
Castle of Monemvasia
And of course, you shouldn’t leave without touring both the upper and lower towns of the grounds. While Agia Sofia is the main attraction of the upper town, the lower town consists of the sea wall and a mosque.
One of my favorite things about Monemvasia is that it offers an incredibly authentic Greek experience. Every inch of the town is the equivalent of a side-street in Athens, meaning that every restaurant here has amazing and authentic Greek cuisine.
You also won’t find nearly as many English speaking locals here and the quaint shops aren’t selling those gimmicky souvenirs found in Athens. Instead, locals offer gorgeous handmade jewelry and leather goods.
In terms of dining, I recommend sitting outside at Emvasis Cafe and enjoying a Greek coffee & this view:
And I recommend Matoula for lunch or dinner. Fish really does not get any more fresh than this, so make sure you order it!
While you’re here, walk the steep path up to the upper town of Monemvasia. While it’s an exhausting climb, it’s only 15 minutes and the view of the rooftops & the sea are beyond rewarding.
And go to the Kastania Cave. We didn’t do this during our day trip to Monemvasia and I seriously regret it (mostly because I have a weird love for caves).
Have any of you ever been to Monemvasia? Recently visited any secret towns like this one?
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