Cycling Ancient Greece: Sparta to Kalamata Plus! Pylos

Cycling Ancient Greece: Sparta to Kalamata Plus! Pylos

Our bicycling tour of the Southern Peloponnese starts in ancient Sparta and covers the regions of Laconia and Messinia focusing on the Mani Peninsula, an area bursting with ancient and mythological history. The Mani Peninsula also has some of the most dramatic and varied scenery in Greece, much of it still wonderfully unexplored. You will bicycle through diverse landscapes including the lush, steep foothills of the Taÿgetos Mountains, pristine coastal coves dotted with tiny villages nestled amid olive groves, and arid landscapes peppered with abandoned stone towers in the south of the peninsula. We begin our cycling adventure in Mystras, home to one of Greece’s most beautiful archaeological sites, and ride along hilly coastal roads, staying in the picturesque villages of Gythio, Areopoli and Kardamyli, before retreating to the charming town of Kalamata.

***If this sounds great but you'd prefer a shorter tour, check out our 8-day Cycling Ancient Greece: Sparta to Kalamata , featuring the first 8 days of this tour.

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
May 4-15, 2020
USD$4975
USD$650
Space Running Out!
Sep 16-27, 2020
USD$4975
USD$650
Sold Out!
Oct 4-15, 2020
USD$4975
USD$650
Space Running Out!

* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Tour Style: Classic Book This Trip Now Hold-A-Space/Questions Request Custom Date Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
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Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 12 Days
  • Total Distance / 456 km (283 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 50 km (31 mi) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 3.0 Classic
  • Countries / Greece
  • Begin/End / Mystras/Pylos
  • Price / From USD$4975
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Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    UNESCO World Heritage site of Mystras, History of the Ancient Spartans, Mysterious tower houses of the Deep Mani, Cycling on quiet roads, Spectacular coastal scenery and views, Experience traditional Greek village life; A cooking lesson followed by lunch at your guides' home, Nestor's Palace.
  • Includes
    12 days, 11 night's accommodations; Breakfast daily; 7 group dinners with wine; Admission to the Archaeological site of Mystras with guided tour; A cooking lesson followed by lunch at your guide's home; Nestor's Palace admission; and the usual (see below).

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Athens International Airport (AIA)
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    41km / 620m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    3
    63km / 632m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    4
    49km / 922m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    5
    55km / 691m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    Longer optional ride available
    6
    47km / 667m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    7
    42km / 754m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    8
    Rest day
    9
    54km / 497m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    10
    49km / 942m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    11
    56km / 934m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 4.0
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    12
    Last day

    Tour Level Note:

Terrain Legend

Mostly flat Mostly flat

Rolling hills Rolling

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
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DAY 1: Welcome to Greece!

Highlights: Test ride through olive groves of Sparta, welcome dinner.

Meet this morning in Athens to transfer together to the town of Mystras, or the 'wonder of the Morea'. Mystras is just down the hillside from a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an ancient fortress considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval walled towns in the region. Built in 1249, the fortress sits on the slopes of the Taygetos Mountains overlooking Sparta and is where the last Byzantine emperor was crowned. Following your bike fitting, take a scenic test ride. This evening we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner together.

DAY 2: Mystras loop ride

Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras, foothills of Taygetos mountain range

Today we will take a loop ride through traditional villages and the land of the Ancient Spartans. We’ll pedal through the foothills of the Taygetos mountain range, these mountains surround the Evrotas river valley and created a natural defense - one reason Ancient Sparta was never sacked. After our loop ride we will take a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mystras fortress. The fortress was conquered by many including the Byzantines, Turks and the Venetians, and was finally abandoned in 1832.

  • Distance: 41km (26mi)
  • Gain: 620m (2034ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 3: Cycle from Mystras to Gytheio

Highlights: Ancient Sparta and Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil

We leave the foothills of the Taygetos this morning and travel south towards the coast to Gytheio. This colorful town features a waterfront promenade with several restaurants and cafés that are buzzing with activity until late into the evening hours. Enjoy dinner on your own tonight in one of the many local restaurants in Gytheio.

DAY 4: Cycling from Gytheio to Areopoli

Highlights: Coastal cycling and the Mani Peninsula

Today’s ride takes you along dramatic coastlines passing several traditional villages on your way to Areopoli, in the heart of the Mani Peninsula. Areopoli’s narrow, winding city streets, restored pyrgi (fortified tower homes), and its delightful village plazas make this traditional settlement a charming place to call home for the next two days.

DAY 5: Areopoli loop ride

Highlights: Byzantine churches, tower houses, Vatheia

We are in for a special day, as we ride from Areopoli to Gerolimena. As you cycle past Byzantine churches and sleepy fishing coves the quiet roads of the peninsula gives you a taste of peaceful Mediterranean lifestyle. Cyclists looking to add more miles will have the option to take longer ride back to Areopoli along the east coast of the peninsula.

DAY 6: Cycling from Areopoli to Kardamyli

Highlights: Messinia, olive groves, Old Kardamyli, visit with a local farmer

A beautiful descent leads us to the picturesque fishing village of Limeni. After Limeni we have a challenging climb, but will then be rewarded with a stunning descent into Kardamyli during the second half of the ride.

DAY 7: Cycle from Kardamyli to Kalamata

Highlights: Olive groves as far as the eye can see, home of the Kalamata olive

We have a challenging climb over a mountain pass today, but will be amply rewarded with a seemingly endless downhill all the way to Kalamata. Tonight, we will introduce you to Kalamata’s rich culinary traditions and famous local products.

  • Distance: 42km (26mi)
  • Gain: 754m (2473ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Rest day in Kalamata

Highlights: A day off bikes, olive oil tasting, cooking lesson, traditional lunch at your leader's home

Following a walking tour in the historic part of Kalamata, we’ve planned a hands-on cooking experience with your local tour leader's family, after which we will enjoy a traditional Sunday lunch. The rest of the day is yours to spend either at the beach or in town.

DAY 9: Cycling from Kalamata to Vounaria

Highlights: The Peloponnese coastal route, views of the Taygetos mountain range, Beach-front hotel.

We cycle west along a scenic coastal route passing several traditional villages that compete for our attention. The destination today is the small village of Vounaria. Our hotel this evening is perched above a beautiful beach, and offers fantastic views of Mount Taygetos and the bay of Messinia.

DAY 10: Cycling Chrani to Pylos 

Highlights: Castles of Koroni, Methoni. Castle of Pylos

We pedal on a fabulous route around the Western side of the peninsula past Koroni, home to one of the last inhabitable castles in Greece. We’ll then cycle past Methoni, another picturesque castle town of the Peloponnese, and finally to Pylos, known for the famous naval battle of Navarino in 1827. This afternoon, we'll explore Pylos on foot.

  • Distance: 49km (31mi)
  • Gain: 942m (3090ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Lodging:

DAY 11: Pylos loop ride

Highlights: Nestor's Palace, Voidokilia beach (one of the most impressive beaches in all of Greece)

Our last ride will connect not only some of Pylos' most beautiful sites but will also allow you to appreciate the various periods of this region's history, from the Mycenaean period to the Middle Ages. The Palace of Nestor, home of the king of Pylos, who took part in the Trojan War, is one of Greece’s best-preserved Mycenaean palaces. Towards the end of our ride, we will have a chance to enjoy a swim at one of Greece's most beautiful beaches. We’ll celebrate the end of our bike ride in style tonight with a special dinner together.

  • Distance: 56km (35mi)
  • Gain: 934m (3064ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 4.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 12: Farewell!

Highlights: Transfer to Athens

Our adventure ends today with a transfer back to Athens.

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Welcome to Greece!

Your tour starts with a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle pick-up in downtown Athens on Day 1 (your spot is already reserved on this shuttle):

Note:

There will be a reminder note at the Meeting Hotel's front desk about the shuttle pick-up. The transfer will take around 3 to 3.5 hours and the driver will stop along the way for a quick snack and bathroom break.

We will be glad to arrange your pre- and post-tour stay at the Meeting Hotel for you upon request. Note that we will not sleep there as a group and the stay there is not included in the tour price. We have a special arrangement with the hotel and would ask that you contact us for details as soon as possible.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Athens (ATH)

How to get to the Meeting Hotel:

  • Taxi (45 min/EUR 40)

Or public transportation:

  1. Metro Blue Line from the Athens Airport to Syntagma (Consitution Square), change to Red Line (direction Elliniko) and exit at Acropoli station (1 hr/EUR 10)
  2. Walk from metro station to hotel (3 min)

For more travel planning tips, including our packing lists, visit our Travel Planning Pages.

Day 12: Departure Information

Farewell!

We spend our last night of the tour in Pylos, about 170 miles from Athens. 

The tour ends on the final day with a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle drop-off at either
  • Athens Airport (ATH); arrival at *1:30 p.m. (3.5-hour transfer)
  • or back at the Meeting Hotel (see arrival instructions); arrival at 2:00 p.m. (4-hour transfer)

Shuttle reservations 30 days prior to the tour start are required. Reserve by emailing us. If you can't make the shuttle, you will be responsible for your own transportation.

*Note: Book your flight out of ATH after 3:00 p.m.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To Do Today!

3–6 Months Prior to Departure

  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed. As you make your plans refer to the Getting To and Away sent to you in your booking confirmation email it provides meeting times and the starting and ending hotels and shuttle information when applicable.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights. Please refer to the Getting To and Away sheet you received in your Reservation Confirmation Email.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program www.experienceplus.com/training.
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 Weeks–2 Weeks Prior to Departure

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your Getting To and Away information and one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Bicycles

Your bike comes with a pack for the rear rack, lock, cyclometer (bicycle computer), a spare tube and patch kit and pump. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages and straps available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet. Daily Routine (Procedures and Logistics)

Daysheets

Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

At breakfast each day we will make the "Master Route Map" available so you can highlight your map for the day's ride. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.

Hotels

We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.

Photos

We'll be taking photos throughout the tour and we encourage you to do the same. Please note that we may use these for promotional purposes. Please inform us if you prefer images of you not be used. We realize that many of our travelers are great photographers and often people want to share photos after the trip. We'd love to see and share your photos from the tour with the world so if you don't mind the possibility of being famous (at least in the ExperiencePlus! world) send us a link to your tour photo gallery, or upload your favorite 20 - 30 pictures to your tour departure gallery - we'll send you the link to that online photo gallery in your final email!

Classic Tour Style

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic Tour Style page.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • This tour gets full marks in all the things that make a bike tour great. Breathtaking scenery? Check. Interesting/challenging rides? Check. Great food & drinks? Check. Fascinating history? Check.

    Nathan H., Fort Collins, CO - May 2019
  • Spectacular scenery, good food, wonderful beaches. Lots of hills--long but not especially difficult. Be prepared for warm weather--it could be hot, even in late September.

    Susan C., Berkeley, CA - Sept 2019
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