An intro to… the Peloponnese Way - the 220km hike across the Greek Peloponnese peninsula. A not technically difficult but challenging trek that can be done in two weeks or paired with the Pindos Way for a longer walk.
Where is the Peloponnese Way?
On the Peloponnese of course! The Peloponnese is the detached, three-fingered landmass south-west of Athens, Greece. It is neither really part of the mainland, nor considered to be one of the Greek islands but can be thought of it as a region unto itself: a dense, varied, self-contained landscape of long sandy beaches and ancient cities, of rolling vineyards, hilltop hamlets and olive groves, market towns and unexpectedly wild mountain ranges – seven of them reaching around 2000m (6500ft) or more – all packed into an area the size of Wales, or of New Jersey, if that means more to you.
Why should I trek the Peloponnese Way?
It is the variety which makes the two-week hike such a memorable trip. On Mt Khelmós there are alpine meadows carpeted with flowers in May, high crags pocked with snowpack until June, and a river gorge threaded by a tiny, gravity-defying rack-and-pinion railway line. In rural Arkadhía, you’ll still find isolated shepherds’ hamlets and maquis-covered hills where time ticks at a slower pace. After a brush with modern life at Trípoli, you’ll escape again to the fir forests and historic monasteries of Mt Párnonas (or Párnon), then the citrus groves and ancient ruins of Sparta and Mistrás, before a final hurrah across the steep flanks of lunar Mt Taïgetos and down to the coast in sunset-facing Messinía.
Bet you didn't know that...
The name means the ‘island of Pelops’, after a mythical king venerated at Olympia.
How long does it take?
The Peloponnese Way takes around two full weeks - a bit more if you want to bag the summits, a bit less if you’re prepared to cab or bus the flatter stretches.
How difficult is the trekking in Greece?
Mountains cover most of Greece; many are over 2000m (6500ft) in altitude. They are hillwalkers’ rather than climbers’ mountains, but you do need to be in good physical shape to explore them. Routes – although not technical – are physically demanding because of the variations in altitude, the distances involved and the absence both of organised facilities for the walker and of restorative creature comforts. Meals and supplies – when available – are basic. Armed with map, compass and guide, and possibly also with GPS, you should not encounter too many problems. Indeed, our hope is that you will come to see the relatively uncommercial and primitive nature of these mountains as an essential part of their charm.
When should I go?
May–early June and mid September–October are the ideal times to trek the Peloponnese Way as the days are longer but the weather is not too hot. Peak summer season will be insufferably hot. April and November are feasible if you don’t mind the cooler weather and shorter days.
Where can I stay?
You should be able to stay in village guesthouses or hotels every night, with one night in a mountain refuge. This is ideal as it means you can hike light – no camping gear necessary – but you will need to check and book these ahead of time, as some have a habit of closing midweek, or randomly, or altogether.
The best bit of the Peloponnese Way
Enjoying a little of what the Greeks call ‘the Greek reality’ - a trek through the Peloponnese will remind you of the simpler things in life.