When you think about Greece, you probably dream about one of its heavenly islands or the capital city of Athens where the ancient meets the modern; all of that is definitely worth visiting. However, Greece is much more than that, and one of these less-known, but certainly worth-exploring places is the region of Messinia. If you’ve never heard of it, and especially if you’ve never been to Greece at all, it may be enough to spend a weekend there, just to get the grip of the ambiance and to decide if you want to see and experience more. So how can you make sure that you get the best from your two-three days in Messinia?
Sail Along the Coast
Sailing is one of the most popular ways of spending your time in Greece and there are some solid reasons for that – beautiful weather and breathtaking landscapes are among them. You can admire the view of coastal cities or even go to one of the many Greek islands to find your own paradise, swim with dolphins and turtles, go for a fishing trip or a snorkeling adventure or try exploring the gulf. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced sailor or not – these are waters for everyone, whether you want to start sailing on your own, you’ve been doing it for a long time or you simply want someone to take you on a cruise. You can spend the whole weekend on a boat or use it only as your means of transport.
Eat Local Food at the Food Market in Kalamata
Kalamata is the capital of the whole region of Messinia. You can find numerous tourist attractions there and one of the absolute must-see places is the central food market. More than 400 producers sell their food there from Wednesday to Saturday allowing you to taste their fruits, vegetables, honey, different types of cheese (e.g. sfela cheese, a semi-hard one made of milk of sheep or cows), and many more, including the Kalamata specialty – olives.
Kastro (or the castle of Kalamara) is situated on a pine-covered hill and it really dominates the whole city. It was built in 1208 by Geoffroi de Villehardouin, a Frank knight who conquered the region. Even though it’s over 800 years old, it survived the terrible earthquake that destroyed a great part of the city in 1986. Because of the view, it’s very often visited in the evenings by people who want to admire wonderful sunsets. However, it’s also worth coming a little bit earlier to explore this peaceful haven.
Reconnect with Nature
Gialova Lagoon is one of the top destinations in the whole Greece and there’s no one who wouldn’t be impressed by its views. And it’s not only beautiful – it’s also among the most important wetlands in Europe being a stopping point for birds that migrate from and to Africa. It’s a place for you especially if you’re into bird-watching – over 250 different bird species have been recorded in this area. This is also the place of habitat of the African chameleon. You can visit the Ornithological Society and follow one of their nature walks – you may be able to walk through 8 different ecosystems on the same day!
Visit Nestor’s Palace
The peak of its powers was over 3000 years ago but it keeps impressing people as one of the best preserved Mycenaean palaces – it was mentioned by Homer in his Odyssey. It’s situated 17km north of Pylos and has an amazing view of Navarino Bay. The world started talking about it as late as during the 1930s and 1940s because of the excavations. With the new roof installed a couple of years ago, you still have a chance to admire a well-preserved throne room, its large circular hearth, marble baths and items used all these years ago to store olive oil.
Learn Something Through Fun in Archaeological Museum of Messenia
Even if you’re not a big fan of history, it would be a shame to visit a country with such rich cultural history without getting to know it a little bit. And thanks to places like the archaeological museum in Messenia, you can do it without reading too much and solely through fun. You can explore this partially interactive museum and its tons of archeological findings dating back to prehistoric times and the Byzantine era, or see hundreds of items relating to Greek mythology.
Go to a Dance Festival
If you’re a dancer, you’ve always enjoyed watching professional dancers or you simply like beautiful music shows, try planning your trip for July when a 10-day dance festival takes place in Kalamata. Leading artists from all over the world come to Greece every year to take part in this event. Apart from concerts, shows and performances, you will be able to attend numerous workshops aimed at both professional dancers and people who only enjoy dancing from time to time.
Feel inspired yet? Greece is not only about ancient ruins in Athens or laying on a pretty beach – there’s a lot of history to explore there, tons of wonderful places to admire and many activities to enjoy. You should at least consider it as your next holiday destination!