Marathopoli in the Messinia region is a quiet little seaside town with top-notch scenery surrounding it. The famous surfing beach of Lagouvardos is on the north side of the town and the world famous Costa Navarino Resort is to the south.
A three hour drive from Athens on brand new highway and you find yourself smack dab in the middle of olive country. The Messinia Region of the Peloponnese has been getting a lot of attention in recent years and I totally get it. Mountains towering over olive groves for days and golden sand beaches lining the coast. This place is magical!
This village has really seen a big change in recent years due to the increase in visitors from all over the world. Five years ago it was a sleepy seaside town with a handful of classic tavernas and a few traditional Greek cafes. Now there are boutiques, restaurants serving nouveau Greek cuisine and nightlife like this > Albatross.
Don’t worry, there is still plenty of traditional charm and a memorizing view of the island Proti (pictured above). What shape do you see- is it an alligator, a man laying on his back or something else?
Panorama is located at one end of the seaside promenade and has a great seating area overlooking the Ionian Sea. The service here is great and genuinely friendly. For me personally, that can make or break a dining experience. Here I have always felt welcome and they really go the extra mile to make everyone happy. Seafood pasta is my #1 recommendation.
Maistrali Restaurant is a classic Greek Fish Taverna. Catch of the day, kalamari, fried gavros (anchovies), grilled octopus… the list goes on! Enjoy a lunch here with some ouzo and seafood.
Riki is somewhat of a new-comer on the restaurant scene in Marathopoli, but has quickly won the hearts of the locals. Located off the beaten path, you will find seaside dining with an excellent view of Proti Island. The decor is a bit more modern and fun than the what you find up in the town just a few blocks away.
Faros Luxury Suites is a large, newish property located on a corner with the marina to one side and the coast to another. They have very spacious and modern rooms with various amenities. I could easily settle in here and stay for an extended period.
Edem Suites is located a few minutes out of town, directly next to Lagouvardos Beach. Finished in 2016, this place is brand-spanking new! We stayed in May of 2017 and absolutely loved the little villas. The suites have kitchens equipped with everything that you need, comfy beds and a great back patio seating area overlooking the pool and natural surroundings. The thing that I absolutely loved about this place was the sound of the waves in the distance combined with the sound of the wind going through the field next to us. Pure serenity.
Touted as the BEST SURF SPOT in Greece, Lagouvardos Beach is a happening place in the summer months. People will drive from Athens if the surf report looks good. Not a surfer? You can learn! You can rent surf boards, SUP boards and other fun water toys along the beach and even take a lesson.
During the summer months there are numerous beach bars set up for your snacking and beverage needs and various special events going on. It’s a pretty cool place to be!
Mati Beach/Hrisi Ammos (Golden Sand)
When you head south from Marathopoli, you start to enter Costa Navarino land. You’ll notice new developments popping up and roadside shops selling trendy things like Havaianas. I’d say that Koa Beach Bar is a prime example of this new level of ‘cool’ that has now become the norm in the area.
I am a pool person. So for me, this is the spot to be. The eternal conflict between Lagouvardos or Mati Beach is a real struggle that many have to face with when it comes time for hitting the beach. Just make sure you have enough time to spend a day at both!
You’ve probably seen an image of this beach on a screen saver somewhere. It is STUNNING! The name literally means ‘Cow’s Belly’ and was given based on the shape of the bay. To truly get the full view of this cow’s belly, you need to hike up to Old Navarino Castle.
This beach is a protected area, so you will not find any kiosks or canteens on its sandy shores. This should not deter you from making a day of it! Stock up at a local mini market and bring in your supplies for the day.
This little village has really changed (for the better) in recent years to match the tastes of the neighboring Costa Navarino clientele. I like Gialova so much that I even considered having my wedding there!
The seaside promenade is full of little cafes and trendy dining mixed with traditional tavernas. My favorite place to eat there is Elia. While dining, you overlook the town of Pylos across Navarino Bay with a few mountain peaks dotting the horizon. If you would like to stay right on Gialova Beach, I suggest Zoe Seaside Resort. A great property that is just a bit inland is Gialova Gardens.
My friend Celeste wrote a few wonderful pieces about her time in Gialova with her family, so be sure to check them out > Family Goes Out – Gialova
Pylos is larger than the two previously mentioned towns and extremely picturesque. Because of its location on a hillside, it resembles what you find on some Greek islands (like Hydra) where the port town slopes down into harbor. I haven’t spent a large amount of time in Pylos, but I have strolled along the harbor a few times and enjoyed a glass of wine or coffee over the years.
The movie Before Midnight was filmed in the Messinia region and you can spot the streets of Pylos in the film.
Messinia has long been a favorite spot for camping and nature lovers. When you visit, you will quickly notice many camper vehicles with license plates from all over Europe.
The new additions in the luxury accommodation category has really changed the game for what type of amenities, recreational activities and restaurants you will find.
Whether you fly into the Kalamata airport or drive from Athens, you will surely fall in love with this area.
Official Visit Messinia site > www.visitmessinia.com
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about this area of Messinia- contact me!