With a major archaeological site and three museums (one on archaeology, one on the history of the ancient Olympics and one focused on the excavations themselves), Olympia is not to be rushed through. Set aside at least half a day to to enjoy its treasures: the restored monument to King Philip II of Macedonia, the statue of Hermes crafted by Praxiteles, the splendid west pediment on the Temple of Zeus (depicting intoxicated Centaurs abducting Lapith women), and so much more. Open daily 08:00-20:00, Tel. (+30) 26240.225.17).
2. Kaiafa tranquility
Located on Kyparissia Bay, Kaiafas is renowned for its lake (which is also used by waterskiing enthusiasts and clubs) and its sandy beach (with pretty lilies growing everywhere), which is quieter and more untouched that other parts of the bay.
3. Sunset at Kakovatos
Just south of Kaifas, Kakovatos is another sandy stretch of beach, best known – as is most of the Ileia coastline – for its spectacular sunsets and good seafood tavernas.
4. Nemouta Waterfalls
Nerotrivi, Haratsari, Ai-Yiannis are just some of the cool natural pools and waterfalls waiting to be explored in the Ileia hinterland. The area’s walking trails have not been signposted yet, so be on the safe side and contact Eco Action (Tel. (+30) 697.840.0540) for advice or to arrange a two-hour guided excursion.
5. A historic winery
Most wine aficionados recognize Korakochori as the home of the Mercouri Estate (Tel. (+30) 26210.416.01), which has been in the business of winemaking for over a century. Visits to the estate include a tour of the family-owned vineyard, which is like something plucked from a fairytale, and tastings that reveal the range of its wines.
6. Ancient technological marvels
Katakolo may be small, but it’s got a few cool surprises in store, like the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology (Tel. (+30) 693.183.1530). Among other great inventions and discoveries, you’ll see a Pythagorean cup and the wine mixing and serving apparatus designed by Philon. It is slated to open in late July.
7. The wise owl
Named after the Greek word for owl, Kukuvaya (Tel. (+30) 26210.421.81) is a gift shop in Katakolo where you can pick up special souvenirs such as educational games inspired by Greek mythology, three-dimensional puzzles of Greek animals, and handmade statues inspired by classical art.
8. Cycling through the oak forest
Filled with stately oaks and other grand trees, Foloi Forest is a very popular destination among nature buffs. If you’re new to the area, you can get a good idea of the vibe by following the route from the Environmental Museum to the village of Foloi (best done on bicycle, but also great on foot or by car).
9. Trout galore
Mylos (Tel. (+30) 26920.513.80) is a fish farm and taverna; the eatery is housed in an old watermill on the banks of Erymanthos River in Astra. Enjoy a meal of fresh trout and then hang out in the shade of the plane trees.
10. Wandering around Andritsena
Perched on the western slope of Mt Lykeo, Andritsena is a quiet force in the region, noted for its simple stone houses and a lack of annoying business signs. Take a walk around its streets and pick up some local products such as hylopites (noodles) and sausages from the small shops.
11. Temple of Apollo Epicurius
Keep your eyes peeled on the snaking road leading to the “Parthenon of the Peloponnese,” the first Greek monument to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1986. You’re looking for Bassae and the wonderful late 4th-century BC temple that is attributed to Iktinos. It may be hidden beneath a giant protective tent and surrounded by conservation equipment, but it – and its location – is no less awe-inspiring. Open daily 08:00- 19:45.