Few parts of the world can rival mainland Greece for breathtaking landscapes, ancient footpaths, glorious wild flowers, mountain streams, deserted beaches, remote monasteries and welcoming shepherd villages – all in one compact package. And, if you’re looking for a spectacular, varied and manageable hiking route, few parts of Greece can match the Peloponnese*.
This village-to-village route, put together after years of research and launched in 2017, runs from the north coast to the south in 14 hiking days – or more, if you include optional detours and peak ascents.
Covering 225km, it crosses four 2,000-metre (6,500-foot) mountain ranges, passing remote monasteries, myth-steeped caves, river gorges, and a rack-and-pinion railway on its way from Diakofto to Pantazi beach near Stoupa.
The trail is manageable for anyone who has basic map-reading skills and some trekking experience in semi-wild terrain. Buy the excellent Cicerone guidebook and the relevant Anavasi maps, book your accommodation using the links here, get a flight into Athens or Kalamata, take a train or bus to the trailhead, and off you go.
April-May and September-October are the best months. And if a fortnight is too long, it splits easily into two halves at the midway town of Tripoli, well served by buses.
You’ll need the usual equipment: a comfy midsize rucksack (45-60L, larger if you intend to camp), lightweight hiking clothes, good waterproofs, sun protection, sturdy boots and (I dare say) a good supply of Compeed. A smattering of Greek helps, of course, as does some initiative and an open mind. Tents, karrimats and cooking equipment are optional; there is – for now, at least – a hotel, guesthouse or refuge at every overnight stop.
If that’s not enough, my Philhellenic friend and co-writer Tim Salmon has put together a longer and wilder hiking route along the backbone of mainland Greece, called The Pindos Way, running from Amfissa to Albania. This joins up with my route at the Gulf of Corinth to make a truly unforgettable 5- to 6-week trans-Greece trail!
*Bold claims, perhaps, but having led trekking holidays for 15 years in over a dozen countries, including 10 years scouring Greece from top to bottom, I hope you will allow me them. Read more about me here.