Today we embark on the first leg of our trip across the Peloponnese where Kardamyli is our first stop. Kardamyli is another recommendation that came to me through the Matt Barrett Greek Travel Guide Facebook group. I had heard that Kardamyli is a very pretty and unspoilt village that is really worth the visit. Located in the outer Mani it is approximately 4.5 hours from Athens with 1 change of bus at Kalamata but see more detailed travel information in Travel Tips below.
I was very much looking forward to the bus journey. A window seat offers me hypnotic views across the rolling landscape. After leaving Kiffissou bus station we headed out to Corinth past rather industrialised areas of Athens. I was looking forward to passing the Corinth Canal but had been told that the bus flies over it in a matter of seconds. I was prepared!
Maybe I’ll have the opportunity to go back to Corinth one day and observe the mechanics of the canal as ships and boats pass through.
As we began to travel across the Northern Peloponnese I become absolutely engrossed in the landscape which to me seems quite unique compared to the rest of Greece. Beautiful lush valley’s surrounded by majestic mountain ranges some of which are still capped in snow is absolutely captivating. And olive trees – thousands of olive trees, more than the eye can see!
After changing buses at Kalamata bus station I am delighted to see my first Maniot Tower. Ever since I saw a photograph of Vathia and it’s fortified town I wanted to visit the Mani. Unfortunately this trip will only take me to the upper Mani and not the deep Mani where Vathia is located but I can already feel that the Peloponnese is a place I am going to return to.
Shortly after we leave Kalamata the bus begins to climb the short fat peninsula that takes us through various small mountain villages of which the largest seems to be Kampos. The bus stops at each village to let passengers disembark many of which are local women who have been into Kalamata to shop. Laden with bags and boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables and loaves of bread, Kalamata is clearly worth the 1 hour bus ride to shop for essentials. I would say that if there is ever a disadvantage to using public transport as opposed to driving it is this – the inability to stop and explore wherever you like. These little villages are charming and I’d love to be able to spend some time there exploring.
Before long the bus begins to descend and from the bus window I can see what must be Kardamyli below. I am in awe of the view and really looking forward to seeing what treasures unfold.
I was advised that there is one bus stop in the town but what I failed to remember at the time is that the buses will usually stop anywhere upon request. This isn’t a problem because Kardamyli town is small and once it went over the small bridge I knew we were close to Katerina’s Studios. When we arrived at the studios we were met outside by Sotiris who gave us the warmest of greetings. He had been keeping his eye out for us in case we got lost – though I think that would be difficult to do.
Katerina’s Studios is well located with a 2 minute walk to both the beach and the shops and cafe’s. Sotiris told us that he had designed and decorated all of the rooms himself and we were amazed at all of the little extras he’d provided us with including a bottle of wine, bags of snacks and some sesame seed bars. The room is charming with a small balcony offering views over the olive groves to the sea.
Despite the long journey I’m eager to get out and explore and Sotiris gives us directions for the main highlights of the area.
The one thing that you can’t fail to notice when you are in Kardamyli is the stunning Taygetus mountain range. It is early April and there is still snow on its cap and it is absolutely captivating. As I wander down the main street, each alleyway offers a different vista of the mountain range which is truly magnificent.
One thing that can never truly be captured by words is smell. Hanging in the air wherever you walk is the smell lemon blossom and jasmine and one the one scent that always evokes the image of Greece for me is the smell of ripening figs. Wherever I smell this it will always take me back to Greece.
It is so wonderful to be back in Greece and especially to be back by the sea. To take advantage of this, we decide to eat in Taverna Gialos that sits right on the beach. To the sounds of the crashing waves on the pebble beach, we watch the sunset and tuck into our first proper Greek meal of the trip!
When leaving Athens for the Peloponnese by bus, it is useful to know that Kiffisou Bus Station is a little out of town, especially if you are staying centrally such as Monastiraki. You can get there by bus but it is much easier to go back taxi which cost 8 euros from the Attalos.
The KTEL bus timetables are available online though not always easy to find. For the buses to Kalamata you will need the bus service that covers the Messinia area. We opted for the standard travel bus that left at 9.15am as the express that left at 10.30am would not have got us to Kalamata for our connection to Kardamyli.
Because the KTEL websites are frustrating to navigate you can find the information in a clear format on some of the travel agency’s websites such as this:
When you arrive at Kiffissou Bus Station you will find different ticket kiosks that serve the various destinations. Look for the kiosk that serves your destination. The tickets cost 24.30 euros each for the one way trip to Kalamata (2017).
The bus was scheduled to arrive in Kalamata at 12.30pm in time for the 13.00 connection to Kardamyli. It did in fact arrive at 12.50pm which was cutting it a bit fine but the standard bus makes requested stops along the way. On our bus there were many students returning home for the Easter holidays so it made several stops in neighbouring villages as we approached Kalamata. I find it really useful to have Google maps open to give you any idea of where you are and close you are to your destination. I ‘star’ various locations on Google maps which means that I don’t have to search for my destination when I’m travelling – they are there ready and waiting and accessible as I travel. There is nothing worse than being on tenterhooks and worrying that you may miss your stop!
Along the way the bus makes a very short stop at Tripoli – maybe just enough time to nip to the loo but do let the bus driver know you will be getting back on again if you have to go.
Although the bus arrived a little late, we did have time to buy our tickets for the bus to Kardamyli. The buses are heavily reliant on making connections so I am sure that the bus would have waited anyway.
The cost of the bus tickets from Kalamata to Kardamyli is 8 euros each and the bus journey takes approximately one hour.