The tree covered Kyllini peninsula, on the northwestern part of Eleia Prefecture in the Peloponnese, is the gateway to the Ionian Islands.
With regular ferry connections to the Ionian islands, Zakynthos and Cephalonia, Kyllini harbor is our starting point to get to know some of the most popular attractions in the Western Peloponnese. Small towns (Andravida, Katakolon, Olympia) or bigger cities (Patra, Pyrgos), national parks (Strofylia National Park) and dense forests (Foloi oak forest), ancient ruins (Olympia) and temples (Apollo Epicurius), all form part of an exciting travel destination.
During your stay in Kyllini, you can enjoy plenty of activities which include water sports (wind surfing, kite surfing, jet ski), amazing boat trips for swimming in secluded beaches, fishing trips in nearby islets (Vrachos, Fournia, Analipsi, Kefalopetra, Kafkalida, Kalafates), but also lots of trekking paths to better experience the natural habitat and the pure atmosphere of the area.
In Kyllini, the most dominant image is Chlemoutsi castle, which offers a majestic view to the nearby Ionian Islands (Zakynthos, Cephalonia, Ithaki, Lefkada) and Eleia Valley. This is the best preserved Frankish castle of Peloponnese, built in 1220-1224 by William II of Villehardouin (ruler in the area between 1246–78), on top of Cape Chelonata, at 220 m altitude, near the village Kastro. Another important attraction in the area is the medieval town Glarentza, set on a small plateau, at the westernmost point of the Peloponnese peninsula. It used to be the most important financial and urban centre of the Crusader principality in the mid-13th century. Last but not least, Kyllini Springs, 9 kms from town, amidst forest and sand dunes, are famous from ancient times for their beneficial effects to the cure of rheumatic arthritis, bronchial and allergic asthma and complexion problems. It is one of the oldest and most complete spa spring complexes, not only in Greece but in all of Europe. Today it has been transformed into a cutting- edge hydrotherapy and spa centre. Very closely located is Kyllini Horse Riding Club.
Some ideas for side trips:
Panaghia Vlacherna or Vlachernitissa Monastery (around 13 c.) is the evidence of the flourishing period of the region during the Byzantine years and hosts displays of various historical documents and Patriarchal manuscripts. Also in Eleia prefecture, another notable monastery is Aghia Eleousa, built in the 9th century on the site where the icon of the Virgin (Panagia Eleousa) was discovered.
Ancient Elis: this is the location of the largest city and capital of the homonymous city-state of the prefecture of Eleia, on the north banks of Peneus River. Learn the history of the area, by visiting the archaeological site, with the ancient agora, the theatre, the residential sector, the cemeteries and the acropolis.
The temple of Apollo Epicurius (420-410 bC), at Bassae, 7 kms northeast of Figaleia, 118 kms from Kyllini, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was dedicated to the god of healing and the sun and it was designed by Iktinos, the architect who also designed the Parthenon. It stands on a hill at 1130 m above sea level, in the heart of the Peloponnese, between the prefectures of Eleia, Arcadia and Messinia and it is one of the best preserved ruins from classical antiquity, combining the Archaic and the Doric style.
Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, is located 72 kms from Kyllini. 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.
Zakynthos (also known as Zante) island, is just 28 kms from mainland. It is the birthplace of Dionysios Solomos, the Greek National poet who wrote the Greek National Anthem “Hymn to Liberty”. The island is famed for its vibrant night life and its amazing cuisine, elements that make up a very popular resort, especially to young travelers. It is also home to some of the most popular beaches in the world, such as the Blue caves, the beach resort town Laganas, the notable Navagio or Shipwreck Beach (a famous BASE jumping location), Tsilivi with its 4 km long beach or Gerakas, voted as one of the best beaches of Europe. When you are here, don’t forget to buy local products such as honey, olive oil, cheese, goat yogurt and dishes.
Get the Taste
Local tavernas tucked away in small bays or popular beaches, will offer you traditional Greek dishes and local recipes, such as “pork pie”, roasted pig in lemon juice, “Omatia” pork intestines and groat (milled wheat), cod cooked in various ways, “Patataliada” (mashed potatoes with cod), or “triftades” (small and thin pieces of pasta).
Sea & Sun
Eleia is known for a series of beaches which dot the coastline and offer pristine waters and natural landscape of unique beauty. Start from Kyllini Golden Beach, which spreads along 6 kms of exotic landscape.
Awarded a Blue Flag, it will amaze you with its clear and refreshing waters. Other popular beaches are Arcoudi beach and its small village, Glyfa beach with the lovely fishing boats and crystal blue waters and Thines Vartholomio beach, nearly 16.000 acres full of pine, eucalyptus and acacia trees.
Don’t miss the 22 km² Strofylia National Park which is part of the Natura 2000 network and includes Strofylia forest and the adjacent Kotychi lagoon, the largest lagoon in the Peloponnese, a significant site for the wintering, breeding and migration of water birds and various fish species.
In Eleia prefecture, the “Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Eleia – Olympia” is promoting Greek traditional products, through its retail shops in Pyrgos and Zacharo, from which you are advised to buy olives, olive oil, local wine and currants.
From Andritsaina choose homemade noodles (hilopites) and trahana (type of couscous), from Varda and Manolada, fruits and vegetables, as the area is well known for the cultivation of tomatoes, strawberries and melons. From Lambia you can buy meat and dairy products.