Get back to basics at Agios Nikolaos - the perfect retreat in which to while away your cares.
Get back to basics at Agios Nikolaos - the perfect retreat in which to while away your cares. In this pretty little harbour town, life proceeds at its own easy pace, while the sun shines and the sea swishes at the white stone harbour wall. Book a break here to relax and truly get away from it all.
Who holidays in Agios Nikolaos?
Holidays to Agios Nikolaos will appeal to anyone who appreciates the authentic Greek lifestyle and an unhurried holiday in a peaceful place.
Head southeast down the coastal road of the Peloponnese peninsula from Kalamata, through groves of olives named after the area to find the small hamlet of Agios Nikolaos. Life here revolves around the waterfront where a number of fishing boats bob in the sun and a cluster of kafenion offer strong Greek coffee and cool beer to accompany the endlessly fascinating Greek pastime of watching the world go by - albeit at a snail's pace. The waters of the Messinian Gulf are held in a calm embrace between the harbour wall and the breakwater, in front of a small town of stone-built dwellings with terracotta roofs. It's a picturesque place to pass the time and let your thoughts wander where they will.
A leisurely fifteen-minute stroll from the harbour will bring you to Pantazi beach, a pretty sandy bay fringed with pine trees where the sea is crystal clear. A beach bar serves drinks and snacks at tables in the tree's shade - the perfect antidote to everyday stresses and strains. Sunbeds and parasols are available for rent and there's a shower to wash off the sand before you leave this little slice of paradise. In the summer a bus makes regular trips up and down the coastal route stopping at the numerous beaches along the way, where you¿ll forget about everything but the warmth of the sun on your skin, and the clear blue skies overhead, invoking daydreams of a life of leisure. Hop on to pay nearby Riglia a visit - a small traditional Greek village.
When the spirit moves you, there's much else to see in the way of history and culture, or the wonders of nature. It could be a boat trip to the magical caves of Diros with a stop off for lunch in the fishing village of Karavostasi, or a fascinating stroll around the medieval town contained within the walls of a 13th-century fortress at Methoni. In total contrast to your tranquil holiday base, there is even an overnight trip to Athens taking in some of the most renowned tourist attractions in Europe and the hustle and bustle of this most vibrant of capital cities. Click on Things to See and Things to Do for other fascinating options.
The evening sunset in Agios Nikolaos sets fire to the horizon, bestowing an amber kiss on the sea, with the promise of another glorious sunrise to follow and an endless day of taking it easy.
Things To Do
Popular activities during holidays in Agios Nikolaos include:
Horse riding: Trek through the Mani along mountain gorges to discover unique geological formations and fabulous landscapes. Led by experienced, competent instructors, this is an activity which can be enjoyed by all the family, and can be preceded by some instruction for novices or nervous.
Windsurfing: Take yourself off to the resort of Finikounda, between Koroni and Methoni, to join in the windsurfing which takes place on the pretty beaches which stretch in either direction along the coast from the village.
Ride the Diakofto-Kalavryta Railway: Hop aboard this diminutive train for an unforgettable ride on the rack-and-pinion cog railway through the arresting Vouraikos Gorge, a journey which rises over 700 metres in 22.5 kms. Built by Italians in the late 19th century, it is one of only a handful of equivalent tracks around the world, and a remarkable engineering feat of its day. No need to be fearful of deterioration as the entire rails, cogs and trains were replaced between 2007 and 2009. The journey takes just over an hour passing through seven tunnels and stopping at the picturesque village of Zachlorou on the way. The scenery is beautiful, and the destination, Kalavryta, a lovely mountain resort with invigoratingly fresh air and natural springs. It has a delightful, tree-shaded square and is a popular weekend retreat for Athenians.
Boat trips from Pylos around the Bay of Navarino and to Sfaktiria Islet: Stops can be made at memorials to Admirals of the Allied ships and Napoleon's nephew and British casualties are also buried here. When the sea is still, boats will often pause to allow sight of wrecks of sunken Turkish ships, visible through the clear water.
Birdwatching: A protected area since 1997,The Gialova Lagoon, covering 700 hectares at the northern end of Navarino Bay is home to up to 20,000 waterbirds, and birds of prey, particularly between autumn and spring, and the Hellenic Ornithological Society has recorded sight of 265 of the approximately 400 species to be found in Greece. There are two walking trails which take you through a range of avian habitats, and an information centre converted from an old pump house.
Bungee Jumping in the Corinth Canal: It's a little way distant, but bungee enthusiasts will have the jump of their life and should not miss the chance if holidaying in the Peloponnese. Jump into one the world's most historical places for a mind-blowing experience.
Things To See
Historical and Folklore Museum of Kalamata: For an illuminating insight into the old days of Kalamata, pay a visit to this well-run museum for a wander among its collection of artifacts, clothing and household objects.
Caves of Diros: Located near the village of Pyrgos Dirou a few kms south of Agios Nikolaos, these magical caves are estimated to extend to 14 kms. Inhabited by Neolithic man, the caves were abandoned after an earthquake in 4th century BC and remained undiscovered for century after century, until 1895 in fact. Famous for their variety of stalactites and stalagmites and a sparkling underground lake, these have become a popular tourist attraction and visitors will be taken 1.5 kms into the caves. The tour is quite short and so it is a good idea to combine a visit here with a something else. See our excursion, below, which adds in a visit to the fishing village of Karavostasi.
Archaeological Museum of Messenia, Kalamata: This is the one to take the children to: it's a family-friendly museum which leads you along a trail through Greece's ancient history with displays divided into different provincial regions, showing sculptures, mosaics and more.
The Mani: This area is imbued with the unique Maniot culture which grew largely out of the lawless, feuding families living among the Mani's magnificent terrain. Explore the rocky highlands by the road which loops down the west coast from Areopoli to Gerolimenas, and back up by the east road. Walk the footpaths winding into the barren scenery, marvel at the sheer cliffs slicing into the sea and admire the tenacity of spring wildflowers defying their rocky beds to find nooks and crannies in which to flourish. Visit the narrow streets of Areopoli, the capital of the Mani, to see a variety of reminders of the area's warring past, and numerous examples of the amazing Tower Houses.
Pylos Town: Though a little further afield, the journey is worth it as this is one of the most attractive coastal villages in Greece, located 51 kms southwest of Kalamata. It enjoys a huge natural harbour protected by the Islet of Sfaktiria with an attractive central square at the waterfront - the beating heart of the town. The town is overlooked by two castles, one either side of the bay, and pine-clad hills. Nearby is the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor, one of the best preserved of all Mycenaean palaces.
Methoni: Travel a further 12 kms south along the coast from Pylos and you come to Methoni, one of the seven cities Agamemnon offered to Achilles. Nearby is a 15th Century fortress surrounded by sea on three sides, and a moat on the fourth. It contains an entire medieval town - hours can vanish in its exploration. The town is named after the stones on which a castle at the end of the peninsula, named the Bourtzi sits, and which continue along the seabed to the uninhabited island of Sapientza. Fortified in 369 BC, some of the original walls can be seen a little above sea level in the castle side overlooking the stone pier. It was later used by the Byzantines and by pirates. In 1209 it was taken over by the Venetians and became one of the most important fortified cities in the Mediterranean.
Cave of Kastania: About 17 kms northeast of Neapoli in the southeastern area of Peloponnese is this extraordinary cave containing rare stalactites and stalagmites. They are estimated to be around 3 million years old, (each centimetre takes around 100 years to form) and occupy 1500 sq metres of cave, visible from an illuminated 300 metre circuit. An awe-inspiring trip.
Katafigio Cave: If you're put off by the journey to Kastania, see the stalactites in Agios Nikolaos own local cave attraction.
Mountain Villages: There are numerous enchantingly traditional villages to be explored, where you can observe locals going about their daily business seemingly without a care in the world. Join them for an ouzo or a coffee me gala (with milk) in one of the authentic tavernas.
Festivals: A number of festivals take place in the region, particularly in spring and summer. Notable is the Kalamata International Dance Festival in July which draws crowds with traditional dance and music, and the Festival of Ancient Olympia in July and August.
Popular excursions during holidays in Agios include:
Diros Caves by Boat: A magical trip down the coastline of the Mani with friendly Captain Yiannis. Transfer to a small punt boat for your trip through the caves. Stop in the fishing village of Karavostasi with time for a meal or swimming.
Mountain Village Night: An opportunity to see some of the beautiful Maniot mountain scenery, with a stroll around Pyrgos and a drink with the locals in the centre of the village. Visit Kastania for a traditional Greek meal, live bouzouki music and dancing.
Mystras: Travel one of the most scenic routes in Greece, taking you inland to the beautiful ruined Byzantine city of Mystras, a World Heritage listed site and one of the most important, historically, in the Peloponnese; this is where the artistic and cultured Byzantine Empire finally gave way to the invading Ottoman army, nearly 1000 years after its foundation. See the ruins of churches, libraries, palaces and more. A few kilometres distant, spend some time in Sparta perhaps comparing the modern town with what remains of the ancient. Surrounded by olive and citrus groves with the snow-capped (until late spring) peaks of the Taygetos Mountains in the background, there are some stunning vistas to be enjoyed, as well as visits to the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil.
Lazy Day Cruise: Join Captain Yiannis aboard Poseidon for a fun day out swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. Stop at the pretty fishing harbour of Kitries for lunch, included in the price of the excursion.
Athens: A fascinating tour for all culture lovers: en route to Athens stop off at Mycenae, Nafplio, Epidavros and the Corinth Canal. All in all, it is a great-value trip which takes in some of the most famous sites in the world, including Athens Acropolis and Parthenon, and includes a bed and breakfast overnight stay in the capital city.
Ancient Glories: Visit two of the most celebrated sites of the Ancient World, Olympia the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the ruins of Delphi, in the shadow of beautiful Mount Parnassus, this trip includes half-board accommodation overnight. Visit the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games as well as the Archaeological Museum.
Kardamili Cruise: Relax with a glass of wine as you cruise round to the beautiful historic village of Kardamili. The trip includes a guided tour of the historical old quarter, allowing time for a meal or a browse in the antique and jewellery shops of the quaint high street.
Places on these excursions are limited and so, to find out more details or to book, speak to your representative at the Welcome Get Together the day following your arrival.