Travel advisor Jay Ternavan, a Greece expert on Travel + Leisure's 2023 A-List, shares his love of a less-visited peninsula on the Mediterranean.

On my first visit to the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, I don’t remember what exactly prompted me to jump in a rental car and start exploring. I do remember the route: it was a narrow road through a quintessentially Greek landscape, bathed in spring afternoon sunlight. To my left, an orange grove stretched for as far as I could see, filling the air with the sweet scent of orange blossoms. On the opposite side, a forest of centuries-old olive trees turned from green to silver with every breath of a light breeze. I felt the urge to pull over and take it all in. Only one thought lingered: I wanted to share this share this place with the travelers I work with at JayWay

The Peloponnese peninsula is abundant in turquoise-water beaches, UNESCO-listed archaeological sites, and medieval castles. In my opinion, it also features one of the most flavorful regional cuisines in the country, along with a wealth of local customs and traditions. And while the area has much in common with Greece’s famous islands, the Peloponnese has the benefit of fewer crowds (and far fewer of the islands’ seemingly endless ferry rides). Thanks to its geographic diversity, the peninsula can feel like Greece in miniature, where magnificent seascapes, dramatic mountain passes, small villages, and dynamic cities combine. 

During that first trip, I drove for several days. My stays alternated from sun-drenched seaside towns that dared me to do nothing but lie on the pebbled beaches and read a book, listening to the sound of the waves, to wellness resorts in the lush countryside, offering more peace and tranquility.

On some days I forgot about my rental car completely as I hiked along the same footpaths that descendants of ancient Spartans tread for centuries, occasionally stopping at half-hidden coves for a refreshing dip in crystal-clear waters. On others, I dedicated my time to learning about the region's history. I met knowledgeable guides who quickly came to feel like friends as we visited sites from the ancient ruins of Olympia and Messini to the imposing medieval town of Mystras to Nafplio, the first capital of Greece. Nothing gave me more pleasure than talking to locals, sometimes over cups of steaming hot coffee or glasses of wine made from local grapes.

As an A-List travel advisor, I can't recommend a trip to the Peloponnese peninsula enough. This diverse region showcases the best of mainland Greece, often with an island feel. I doubt I'll ever find another place that can awaken such powerful emotions in my soul whenever I return, or evoke so many heartwarming memories at the sheer mention of its name. 

Jay Ternavan is a member of Travel + Leisure's A-List of travel advisors and creates custom trips across central and Eastern Europe. Contact him at 800-344-5785 or [email protected].

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2023-09-24T13:00:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd