The Mani Peninsula is a rugged and remote area at the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese. What it loses in greenery is made up by its dramatic cliff lines, white pebble beaches, and sea seemingly more clear & clean than glacier water.
The Peninsula is dotted with characteristic fortified tower houses like miniature castles or square church spires that once were necessary in keeping its inhabitants safe from pirates. Throughout medieval times, including the 500 year period of Ottoman rule, this area remained independent. The locals themselves remain hardy & still claim descendence from the Ancient Spartans.
This combination of hard barren geography, a historically isolated population & its fortified dwellings has given the area a distinct identity which is a real change when you travel into the area.
Its regional Capital ‘Cardomili‘ at the top of the Peninsula is a beautiful town. Built around a natural harbor, its secluded cafes & tavernas enjoy wonderful views. A good range of nice hotels & guesthouses for all budgets. From there continuing south along the West-coast road to the tip & returning along the East-coast is the obvious route to pass through all the main sites & places to stay. In any case, there are few if any main roads in between!
From Cardomili the East-Coast road into Mani brings you to probably its most impressive site, the Caves of Diros. These caves are extensive with large stalagmite filled multi-coloured rock chambers reflected in the eirie water. After walking through the entrance you are directed to a small underground shore where your personal boatman fits your lifejacket & escorts you by punt through the rest of the caves. Finally docking you emerge again by foot at the open sea. It’s an unforgettable experience & we especially recommend for families with children who will enjoy it immensely.
From the caves southward the villages of Mezopos & Gerolimenas are set around an ideal pebble beach. Further on the archetypal village of Vathia before the tip of the Peninsula is a must-see. The village of Marmari which has several small sandy beaches is also a perfect place for a swim.
Cape Tenaro at the tip is the southernmost point of mainland Europe. A 30-minute walk to the cape from the last parking area will see the ruins of a large Castle on Tigani (frying pan rock). In antiquity, Cape Tenaro which separates the Ionian Sea from the Aegean hid the entrance to Hades. On reaching it, & after the underworld experience of Diros, you may feel similarly & pleasantly removed from daily life.
4 of our most popular Mani-Tours are listed below, but you can see all Day-Tours, Multi-Day Tours, and Packages from our main menu, & ask us to tailor any further options you like.
The UNESCO site of Mystras, a Byzantine city-state that remains as it was when it was abandoned, is located just above the leg of Mani. With its streets, churches & fortifications all intact it will give you that ‘in the footsteps’ feeling of what it was like to live there centuries ago.
The village of Vathia is a small forest of tower houses & the quintessential Mani Village. It’s at the end of the Peninsula but worth the trip & has a great beach to enjoy also!