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.