Vathia is a mountainous village in Mani, Peloponnese. This settlement, which has been a ghost village for many years, is now one of the top attractions in Greece.
The village is on the top of a mountain overlooking the Aegean. The whole town planning gives the impression that the visitor enters a castle. Vathia was built as a fortress to protect the people from hostile attacks coming from the sea (e.g., the pirates). Tall tower houses built close to each other, with small alleys in between, create an imposing and mystical atmosphere.
The village is 2 km from the sea, at an altitude of 180 m. From Vathia you can have a breathtaking view of the sea. It is mesmerizing in the sunset, as the colors on the sky and the sea change.
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A Guide to Visiting Vathia Village
Things to do in Vathia
Vathia is considered a unique sample of the traditional architecture that characterized the whole area of Mani in the 18th and 19th centuries. It makes the village famous and brings many visitors every year. You should stroll around and observe the buildings and the architectural details that are the main attraction of Vathia.
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The houses are called tower houses, and most of them are square with two or three floors. The windows are small because in times of war were used as loopholes. There, the locals defended the settlement when the Turks or pirates attacked. The tower houses are unique samples of the traditional fortification architecture and are famous around Greece.
Where to stay at Vathia, Mani
Around the beginning of the 20th century, Vathia was abandoned, as the locals searched for jobs in the bigger cities. As a result, it slowly became a ghost village. Luckily, in the ’80s the Greek state invested in the village and maintained the houses that had started to collapse.
Many of these renovated houses became guest houses and Vathia started to regain life and attract tourists.
Recommended places to stay in Vathia:
Vathia Tower of 1894: This holiday home in the village of Vathia features 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio.
Tainaron Blue Retreat: Situated on 19th century stone tower with unobstructed sea views the hotel is just 2 km away from Vathia village and offers an outdoor pool with hydrotherapy and rooms with many amenities like Nespresso machines.
Things to do around Vathia, Greece
Vathia is very charming, so many visitors stay in the village and take day trips to the surrounding area. You can visit famous coastal villages like Marmari, Gerolimenas, and Porto Kagio. Tainaro cape, Areopoli, and the cave of Diros are destinations that you can reach in less than an hour’s drive.
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After a 10-minute drive, you find Marmari, a small coastal village with two sandy beaches. These are the only beaches with sand in the whole area. The waters are crystal clear and attract many people. There are a few houses around and a big hotel. At the beach, there is a bar that offers loungers to its clients. The waters are shallow and safe for kids, so many families spend their day at Marmari.
Another famous location, close to Vathia, is Gerolimenas, a port in Grosso cape. It is a picturesque cove, which once was the most important port in the area. The name ‘Gerolimenas’ means ‘Sacred Port’ (GR: Ιερός Λιμένας) which shows how important it was for the locals. There are no shops, restaurants, or bars in the village, but it is worth visiting and strolling around its charming alleys.
If you are looking for a relaxing day at the beach, then you can drive to Porto Kayio, a quiet coastal village with turquoise waters. The beach has one part with loungers which you can rent. The other part is free for those who come with their equipment.
At the port, some taverns serve fresh fish and the traditional dishes of Mani. Once is a tavern of Mani you should ask if they serve the local dishes. You should try the typical pork called ‘siglino’ and the traditional sausages, or the omelet called ‘kayiana’. Mani has its types of pasta as well. Which locals cook in different ways.
If you like hiking, you can take the path from Kokkinogeia to the Tenaro cape, the southern end of the European mainland. Following the pathway, you will see archaeological evidence of the ancient Greek temple of Tainarios Poseidon and the Oracle of Poseidon. According to tradition, the entrance to the world of the dead is in this area.
You will also see the old chapel of Asomatos on your way. The path brings you to the Tenaro cape, with its beautiful lighthouse. From this spot you can admire the view of the open horizon and, when the atmosphere is clear, you can even see the shores of Africa!
If you drive 30 km north from Vathia, you can find the Diros caves. They are among the most beautiful stalactite caves in Greece. The length of the Diros caves is 14 kilometers and was only discovered in 1900. The tourist route is 1,500 meters long, of which 1,300 meters you can explore by a boat and 200 meters on foot.
A little further from the caves is Areopoli, the biggest town in the area. The old town has traditional stone houses, small taverns, and shops. The center gives you a happy feeling as colors and flowers come from every corner. Areopoli, with a population of about 1000 habitats has everything you need: doctors, schools, shops, and markets. You should visit this place when you are in Mani!
How to get to Vathia, Greece
The closest airport to Vathia is the Kalamata airport, 125 km away. There are rental agencies outside the airport, where you can rent a car and drive to Vathia.
Coming from Athens or Patra by car, you follow the Olympian highway. Exit the highway at A7 and follow the signs that take you to the provincial road that connects Areopoli to Gerolimenas and then Vathia.
There is no public transport in Vathia. Shuttle buses do not do daily itineraries in the area. Hitchhiking is not very common, and hardly anyone picks up hitchhikers from the road. Thus, having a car is a precondition for visiting Mani. The area around Vathia has so many places to see, and having a car is convenient for your day trips.