Categories: CULTURE VULTUREGREECE

Fun Things To Do in Monemvasia

For a small island only about 1000 square kilometers, Monemvasia packs in a lot of history and charm. It is one of the most perfect romantic weekend getaways for couples or a great place to travel with friends and family.

The island was originally settled in the 6th century by the Byzantines. It soon became an important trading port for the empire and supplied products to another of my favorite sites in Greece, the Byzantine city of Mystras. During the nearly 8 centuries of Byzantine rule, the population swelled to 40,000 people at one point. Amazing to imagine if you visit today.

After the fall of the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul), Monemvasia was the only Byzantine city not conquered by the Ottomans. The Turkish-Venetian war of 1463 led the citizens of Monemvasia to surrender to the papal rule and then to Venice. The city became known as Napoli di Malvasia under the Venetians and was a key trading hub for wine produced in the Peloponnese. So much so that during the Middle Ages wine shops in Venice were known as malvasie.

The Weekend Guide to Monemvasia

Monemvasia is now a popular tourist destination especially in the summer and early autumn. There are plenty of hotels, shops and restaurants in the lovely medieval town. Most of the narrow streets can only be navigated on foot and by donkeys making it a charming place to wander and discover. Monemvasia is great to visit any time of year. In the late autumn and winter the island will be very quiet – you may have it all to yourself – ideal for romantic weekend getaways for couples. Easter week and August are busy, and summer can be very hot, but spring and summer are still beautiful times to visit.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Getting to Monemvasia & Getting Around
Things To Do in Monemvasia
Things To Do Near Monemvasia
Places to Stay in Monemvasia

Getting to Monemvasia & Getting Around

The island was once attached to the mainland but became separated after an earthquake in 375 AD. There was a bridge leading from the mainland to the island which was the only point of entry, thus the name Monemvasia which means “single entrance” in Greek. Now you can reach the island via the 200m causeway or by ferry in the summertime.

The closest airports to Monemvasia are Athens (AIA) and Kalamata (KLX). Although Kalamata is closer it is probably easier to reach Monemvasia from Athens if you do not have your own car. Check Skyscanner for the best flight prices and schedules to Athens or Kalamata.

How to get to Monemvasia? You cannot bring a car into Monemvasia but you can park along the causeway. The drive to Monemvasia from Athens is about 3 or 4 hours and 45 minutes from Sparti. It is also possible to take a shared taxi service that runs a few days a week from Monemvasia to Athens. You can get to Monemvasia by bus from Athens via Sparti or Molai, which takes about 5 hours in total and about an hour from Sparti.

It’s simple to get around in Monemvasia as the ancient streets are narrow. Transport is limited to pedestrian and donkey traffic. But keep this in mind when staying in Monemvasia with heavy luggage. The cobblestone streets are not very conducive to rolling suitcases. However some hotels will arrange for luggage transport from the city gate to your lodgings. But ask before you book.

Things To Do in Monemvasia

  • Climb the zigzagging pathway to the top of the island, a flat plateau where you’ll find the Byzantine church of Agia Sofia as well as remains of other Byzantine structures. The views are outstanding!
  • Head to the central square to visit the Christos Elkomenos church. It is a beautiful and peaceful small church with Venetian details. Did you know there are something like 40 chapels in this small village?
  • The tiny Archaeology Museum across from the church is worth a visit to see the building – a mosque – and chat with the curator.
  • Go for a swim in the deep waters below the castle. Portello on the rocky shoreline has a flat area for sunbathing and diving.
  • Have lunch or dinner at Matoula Restaurant. This typical Greek taverna is supposedly the oldest shop on the island. They serve fresh and tasty food. We enjoyed wine, cheese, tzatziki, olives, horta, salads, eggplant, grilled bread – all was delicious!
  • Craving a cocktail? Head to Enetiko Cafe & Cocktail Bar. Their terrace has an amazing view.
  • Enjoy a unique experience at Byron’s Wine Kamara, tasting local wines and enjoying appetizers while chatting with owner Byron.
  • Check the top hotels on the island for the most elegant Monemvasia restaurants.

Things To Do Nearby Monemvasia

  • Check out the amazing Kastania caves
  • Visit a local winery like Malvasia Wines
  • Head to the beach! Kourkoula is a long pebble beach near the island and Ambelakia Beach in Xifias has a great view of the island. For the best sandy beach nearby make your way to Plytra, complete with sunbeds, umbrellas and restaurants.

Places to Stay in Monemvasia

For a limited time,  if you register at Booking.com using this link and then reserve using the links below you can get $20 cash back! It’s a special offer from Booking.com.

Relax while enjoying the stunning views at Malvasia Traditional Hotel or charming rooms at Hotel Byzantino in the town center. Kellia Guesthouse is a charming B&B with affordable prices, and a delicious farmhouse breakfast included.

Moni Emvasis Luxury Suites is a luxurious guesthouse located near the entrance to the town which has an elegant onsite restaurant and attentive staff. It would make a perfect romantic weekend getaway.

There are many Monemvasia hotels to choose from. You’ll even find apartments and rooms for rent on sites like AirbnbUse this link to register and you can save €30 off your first reservation!

I hope this Monemvasia travel guide helped you to make your plans to visit this special place.

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Get more Monemvasia travel tips from these books:

Also check out Monemvasia,  Hip Greece and Monemvasia Tour before your visit to Monemvasia island. Have fun!

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Looking for a great backpack to take on your travels? Check these out.

 

 

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