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North Peloponnese at a glance

Magnificent beaches in the North Peloponnese are not far from where the Olympic Games began nearly 3,000 years ago. And they are definitely worth a gold medal.  The coastline is sheer delight with mile after mile of smooth, golden sand that mostly shelves gently into the deep blue, crystal-clear, delightfully warm Ionian Sea.  It runs for 30 miles between two ports. Katakolon is a charming fishing village near Pyrgos and Killini is where ferries shuttle between the nearby islands of Zante and Kefalonia.

Some people believe that the loveliest beaches in Greece, a country famous for wonderful beaches, can be found on this stretch of coast. Five of the beaches have Blue Flag status, a European accolade based on cleanliness, safety and excellence of facilities.  Olympic Holidays uses hotels at Skafidia and Loutra Killini that are beside two of these superb Blue Flag beaches. They are family-friendly with great facilities, including a good choice of water sports - and they have wonderful sunsets.

Loutra Killini, Greek for “baths of Killinii, has been a spa town since ancient times when sanctuaries were dedicated to Greek gods. Now the tradition is continued by a modern hydrotherapy centre with thermal and mud baths in a pine forest that starts beside the beach.

Skafidia is a peaceful spot with sandy beaches separated by narrow headlands. The countryside is only a stroll away and a medieval nunnery with a strangely shaped tower is near the village.  A few minutes from Skafidia by car is Katakolon, a surprisingly sleepy stop for cruise ships.  The waterfront is lined with small shops and cafes where customers can watch the impressively large luxury liners.

Look out for the quirky “beer-bike”, a bar that is pedalled along the prom by the customers. It usually stops on the way for the bartender to lead traditional Greek dancing.

The station for trains to world-famous Ancient Olympia is about 200 metres from the port. The breathtaking archaeological site is 20 miles from Skafidia and about 40 miles from Loutra Killini.  It is packed with ruins of ancient temples and gymnasiums and still has the original grass-banked athletics ground. Visitors run where the first Olympic Games were held.

It’s a stunning spectacle in a stunning land steeped in history, myths and legends.

Where to stay in North Peloponnese

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Skafidia

Lovely Skafidia is a Village in Pyrgos in Ilia, which lies within in the Peloponnese Region of Greece.

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Loutra killinis

Loutra Killini lies on the western coast of the Peloponnese. An area of abundant myths and legends and one of Greece’s most unspoilt regions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far is the North Peloponnese from Kalamata Airport?

Pyrgos, the main town in the area, is 73 miles from the airport.  There are good main roads – much of the journey is along the scenic west coast - and the journey should take about 1hr 45mins. Skafidia is less than 10 miles on from Pyrgos and Loutra Killini is another 20 miles.

Is the Peloponnese a Greek island?

No, it isn’t considered to be an island even though it is separated from the mainland by water.  Bridges provide permanent links between the Peloponnese peninsula and mainland. However, Lefkas and Evia are called islands although they are also linked by bridges to the mainland. The difference seems to be that the Corinth Canal that separates the Peloponnese was made by man whereas it’s the sea that separates Lefkas and Evia.

Can you catch a train from Kalamata to Pyrgos?

Not any more.  Confusingly, some maps still show the railway line between Kalamata and Kiparissia and along the Peloponnese coast to Patras in the north. But the line stopped being used about 10 years ago. The only trains still operating are on the tourist link between the cruise port of Katakolon and Olympia.  It’s a 45-minute journey and the round-trip ticket costs about 10 euros. 

Best Time to Visit North Peloponnese

The weather and the coastline in this lovely part of Greece are a perfect match.  The sea is clean, blue and warm. The sandy beaches are endlessly long. And throughout the summer the Mediterranean climate is beautifully sunny and dry.

Here are the stats. Between May and September this part of the Peloponnese can expect to get 300 hours of sunshine every month. Temperatures will be in the high 20 degrees Centigrade during the day and are unlikely to drop much below 20 degrees overnight.

There may be 14 hours of uninterrupted sun per day in July and August when the temperature will nudge 30 degrees Centigrade and can creep even higher. A breeze off the Ionian Sea keeps conditions pleasant.

The sea temperature can rise to a bath-like 26 degrees in August. In June it’s about 20 degrees and in October still a comfortable 22.  There may be a few more showers in October, but rain is rare between June and September. The wettest months in this area are November through to February.

North Peloponnese Travel Advice

Two ports and a large town not far away mean there are buses, taxis, car hire firms and, unusually, a train service in this part of the North Peloponnese.  Generally, though, public transport is not geared up for tourists, which doesn’t matter a bit if you want to relax in the excellent seaside resorts.  However, you may wish to hire a car to explore the region which is crammed with attractions. 

Car hire:  Cars can be booked when you reach your destination or booked in advance. They can be collected at the airport or delivered to your accommodation.  A “young driver” surcharge may be made for drivers under 30.   

Bus services: Buses run from the port of Killini to Loutra Killini and the regional capital of Pyrgos. There is a bus service between Pyrgos and Ancient Olympia.

Train: There is also a railway link to Olympia. It starts in the cruise port of Katakolon, about three miles from Skafidia, and runs to Olympia via Pyrgos in about 45 minutes.  It is the oldest surviving railway line in Greece outside of Athens.

Taxis: Can be booked from hotels. Some taxi businesses also run excursions and tours. Agree the price first.

Ferries:  Enjoy some island hopping. There are several ferries every day from Killini to the Ionian Islands. Zante is an hour away and Kefalonia about 90 minutes. 

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