Surrounded by the Myrtoan Sea is the hidden medieval town of Monemvasia. The town in not accessible by car and is carved on a huge rock facing the sea. The locals spoil you with fresh olive oil from the beautiful olive trees surrounding the mainland. This castle town was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
We flew into Athens International Airport and rented a car for our 3 hour trek to Monemvasia. When we arrived it was past dark and the bridge which linked Monemvasia to the mainland was packed with guest. You must park alongside the rock and parking is sparse. Once you walk to the castle entrance, the town is solely explored by foot. A narrow alleyway greets you with beautiful shops and local restaurants. I will warn you – you will do A LOT of walking. Pack light because depending on where you stay there are many stairs to get there. We booked an airbnb that was carved into the castle. It was such a cool experience and you can’t pick a bad place. Views are abundant and getting lost through the town leads you to some of the best overlooks.
This image was taken at the foot of the bridge facing Monemvasia. There are a few buildings at the bottom of the rock but you actually drive up and around to reach the castle entrance. We ate the most amazing Greek homemade gyros from this little pop up shop located beside Castello. Castello is a sweet shop that has outdoor patio seating facing the castle town.
Like I mentioned previously – pack lightly! The walkways are narrow and uneven which does make it slightly difficult to pull a suitcase. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The buildings hold so much history and the cobblestone streets are beautiful. You can actually hike up to the top of the fortress and view the entire town. I definitely recommend either an early rise or sunset hike as it is pretty treacherous.
You can enjoy plenty of sights throughout the area. One of the things Monemvasia is well known for are the churches. It is said that a total of around 40 churches existed in Monemvasia in the past. Presently, there are around 15 churches, including Christos Elkomenos, the gothic-tinged Panagia Myrtidiotissa, and Panagia Chrysafitissa.
Of course there are plenty of delicious restaurants to eat at and an abundance of wine to enjoy! The locals loved entertaining us and introducing us to so many new Greek dishes. We took a dip in the ocean during the afternoon and watched the stunning sunset.
A couple of my favorite restaurants included Enotiko Cafe, Matoula Restaurant, and Marianthi. Definitely try the moussaka and souvlaki! You can also view the Airbnb we stayed at here. It was centrally located and had easy access all around.
Honestly you couldn’t go wrong! Monemvasia is definitely a site to see and worth the trip outside of Athens. You can hire a private driver for around 300 USD if you prefer to not rent a car. I highly recommend the visit during your next trip. You can also stay at the Kinsterna Hotel, located about 15 minutes from the castle entrance. The hotel is famously known and has such a relaxing atmosphere.