Our compass takes us 180 kms away from Athens, to the Peloponnese peninsula and its fertile Argolis prefecture, which hosts some of the most important archaeological treasures in Greece.
We head to the southern tip of Ermionida province and its beautiful natural harbor, Porto Heli, which will be the starting point for our travelling adventures in the area.
During the last few years, this small settlement has evolved into an elegant seaside resort, an up market destination in South East Europe, boasting deluxe resort chains which cater to foreign tycoons, international jet-setters and celebrities, who find here their own natural paradise.
Porto Heli is built on the west side of the homonymous quaint bay, where yachts and small boats dock for shelter.
The location is idyllic, offering unobstructed views of the neighboring countryside, beautiful pine-fringed bays, olive groves and forest land.
There is an organized marina, a quiet beach, an abundance of bars and tavernas and high- end accommodation choices, spread along peaceful coves and quaint bays.
The area is selected by some of the most deluxe international brands for its pristine beauty and unspoilt environment.
Some ideas for side trips:
Nafplion (40 kms): The first capital of Greece (1823- 1834), with its beautiful medieval Old Town, the aristocratic Syntagma Square, the Archaeological Museum, the impressive Palamidi fortress watching the town from an altitude of 216 m, Akronafplia historic rock at the foot of Palamidi hill, the Venetian small fortress Bourtzi which stands on the rocky islet in front of the waterfront promenade, are only a few of its notable attractions that will captivate your heart. Don't leave before visiting the first -and still unique in the world- Komboloi Museum.
Cultural delights: Epidavros historic town (Archaia Epidavros), attracts thousands of tourists, who flock here especially in the summer, to attend concerts and various cultural events of international prestige. The summer festival is held annually at the renowned Great Theatre of Epidavros, which is famed for its acoustics and is situated within the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The seaside village is plain and pleasant, surrounded by two natural harbors.
Archaeological marvels: Top attractions in Argolis Prefecture are the well-preserved archaeological site of ancient Mycenae, cradle of the Mycenaean civilization (1600 to 1100 BC) , its museum and the nearby Heraiontemple, dedicated to Hera, offering with stunning views of the Argolic plain all the way down to Nafplio and Argos. In the same area, it’s worth to visit Tirynth with the impressive cyclopean walls (dating from 1300 BC), around 10 meters thick, made of stones weighing up to 13 tons.
Island – hopping: Porto Heli is a perfect base for short trips by motorboat or yacht, to the nearby islands of Hydra (45 minutes), Spetses (10-15 minutes) and the islands which are scattered in the Saronic Gulf.
Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, is 124 kms from Porto Heli, about 2 ½ hours by car. The Temples of Zeus and Ηera, the Council House (Vouleftirion), the Prytaneion (administrative centre), the ancient stadium and gymnasium, the doric colonnade and the palaestra, the workshop of Pheidias, the Philippieion (one of the finest examples of ancient Greek architecture), the baths (Kladeos, Kronios & Leonidaion), the Hippodrome, are only a few of the amazing remains. Combine your visit to this sanctuary of ancient Greece with a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.
Caves and cave-churches: If you are into hiking and caving, check out Didima (dolines or big depressions in the ground), south of Epidavros: Megali Spilia (Big cave), which is very plain but with impressive dimensions (diameter of around 150 meters, reaching 80 meters deep) and Mikri spilia (Small cave), which hosts two small Byzantine chapels, the so- called "Cave Churches of Didima", Aghios Georgios (its murals date from the 13th c.), and Metamorfosis of Sortiros. Didima village, which is surrounded by two mountains, Mt Didyma (1110m) to the North-East and Profitis Ilias (775m) to the West, is a small settlement, dominated by the church of Aghios Nikolaos which was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Poseidon,. At 6 kms you will also find the wonderful beach of Salanti.
Water sports & activities: Off-road driving, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking in Taygetos Mountain, horseback riding and trekking at Katafiki gorge, are some of the mountainous activities that you might want to try. Those who love the sea, can opt for sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, paragliding, jet skiing and of course, diving! Crystal waters and a perfect underwater world with abundance of marine flora and fauna are a diver’s paradise. For first- comers, expert instructors and dive masters can train you and offer an unforgettable and absolutely safe scuba diving experience.
Get the Taste
A famous product in Argolis, is the artichoke (cynara scolymus), which is cultivated in fields in Iria and Kandia and is used as the main ingredient in local specialties, such as agginares à la Polita, agginaropita (artichoke & leek pie), artichoke lasagna (agginares pastitsio).
For starters, you can choose from a wide variety of “mezédes”, like an assortment of olives, cheese, grilled octopus or sausage, small meatballs, shrimp or fried small fish, pies and cheese fritter, fried peppers with cheese (Bouyourdi). Escort them with the national drink, “ouzo”, made from grapes, herbs, berries and spices.
The area is also famous for the fresh baked bread "zimoto", mouthwatering dish “Coq au vin”, pork cooked in greaseproof paper, fresh fish from Argolis Bay.
Fruits are also abundant: pomegranates from Ermioni, melons and apricots from Argos.
Sea & Sun
Our beach- hunting starts from Hinitsa, with golden sand and pine trees, southeast of Porto Heli, on the way to Costa. Hinitsa Bay is surrounded by green landscape and faces Hinitsa island (just 78.000 m2, 140 m. distance from the mainland), which is located between Spetses and Porto Heli.
Ververonda is a small village with clear water and beach bars, with a beautiful pebbly peach on its west, spreading from a small tavern till the little church of Virgin Mary.
Ververonda bay’s coastline is dotted with pebbly beaches, like Kyparissia, Korakias 1 & 2 and Costa (5 kms from Porto Heli), a sandy beach and departure point for Spetses island. On the way from Porto Heli don’t miss the small church of Aghios Emilianos, 500 kms before Costa, from which you can enjoy a nice view to Spetses.
Last but not least, Kounoupi, is an extension of Aghios Emilianos, a quiet and intimate bay with shallow waters.
Your tasty souvenirs, should include olive tapenade, Kalamata olives, dried herbs (celery leaves, oregano, thyme), pasteli (honey and sesame snacks), pure Greek honey, wine, the local “kephalotyri” cheese which is perfect for pasta and spaghetti or sausages.
Local craftsmen produce beautiful icons and handicrafts, which are an ideal present.
Nafplion is the center for komboloi (“worrybeads”) purchases. Buy authentic old “worrybeads” right from the source: the workshop of the Museum.
The kombolois made with beads from (amber, pearl, coral, bone, horn, nutmeg scented seed, semiprecious stones, cat's eye) have no religious purpose, but are a “companion” who helps you relax and will definitely be the perfect souvenir and token.
Porto Heli Port Authority: (+30) 27540 53333 Kranidi Police Station: (+30) 27540 21210 Kranidi Municipality: (+30) 27540 21136 Nafplio Tourist Police: (+30) 27520 28131 Health Centers: (+30) 27540 22222-22353