While not always considered to be on the classic Greek Island-Hopping Itinerary, Kalamata is an underrated gem that’s definitely worth a visit. Kalamata — yes, that Kalamata, from the olives — is a coastal port town on the south of the Peloponnese that boasts beautiful beaches, ancient seaside architecture, a warm culture, and thousands of acres of delicious olives. Here are the seven most crucial things to do when visiting Kalamata, Greece.
Archeological Museum of Messenia
It’s no secret that Greece lays claim to some of the most rich cultural history in the entire world. And Kalamata specifically, a city in the Peloponnese peninsula, is no exception.
Paying a visit to the Archeological Museum of Messenia will have you transported back in time. Browse the aisles of archeological finds dating back to prehistoric times and the Byzantine era or wander through the tons of gems relating to Greek mythology. If you haven’t got your full museum fix, check out the Folklore and History Museum, a site that pays homage to more recent history and its involvement in the printing industry.
The Old Town of Kalamata is sure to be on your itinerary as it’s an excellent central meeting spot and is within walking distance of a few great stopping points. Aside from just appreciating the ancient city walls, neoclassical buildings, and the unique architecture of ancient Messene, you should definitely check out the following: the Byzantine Church, the Church of Ypapanti, and the Municipal School of Music.
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Visit the Railway Museum
The Railway Museum in Kalamata is a massive open-air museum that displays an important aspect of Greek society. The first significant long-distance route in the country stretched from Athens to the Peloponnese and was finished in the late 19th century. Today you can visit to check out the vintage carriages, rail cars, and freight wagons that were used back in the day.
Visit a Beach
Flanking the coastline of Kalamata is Navarinou, its primary coastal road. Kalamata is blessed with a virtually unimpeded stretch of sand, so visitors can pull over anywhere and set up shop where they please.
That being said, there are a few excellent standout spots, including beaches that have received the reputable “Blue Flag” certification, a stamp of approval by the Foundation for Environmental Education as a symbol of excellent quality, safety, and sustainability. Be sure to check out Kalamata Beach, which is walking distance from the city center; the Beach of Verga, which caters to younger crowds with beach bars and nightclubs; the Beach of Almyros, where you’ll find surfers and beach volleyball players; and the Beach of Mikri Mantineia, which is great for families. For a more thorough rundown, check out the 10 Best Beaches in Greece.
Go to a Dance Festival
For those with an interest in dance and art, try to plan your trip around the Kalamata International Dance Festival. Taking place for a whopping 10 days during July of each year, leading artists from around the world to put their talents on display.
In addition to the concerts and performances, the festival also hosts workshops and talks aimed at dance students, experts, and casual booty-shakers alike. If all the dancing has you yearning for some cathartic activity, check out the 7 Top Yoga Retreats in Greece.
Stroll the Central Market
The perfect Mediterranean climate of Kalamata gives way to some of the most delicious produce in the world, and there’s no better way to dive in than visiting the city’s central market. Bright colors, friendly people, and interesting new flavors are all on the agenda. Try spanakopita, spinach pie, or their special mountain tea brewed with wild and fragrant herbs. The prices are very reasonable, and the ambiance of people drinking coffee and reading newspapers will give you a very “Greek” experience.
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Sample Fresh Kalamata Olives
Speaking of fresh produce, if you come to Kalamata for one reason, it has to be for the olives. Olives are to Kalamata like beef is to Kobe and the arepa is to Colombia — it’s a food that has become a symbol of the place’s identity.
A great way to spend an afternoon and evening in Kalamata is to hop on an olive tour. Learn about the entire process of how one of the world’s most widely utilized foods is planted and harvested. Discover why only 20% of the olives are actually used in the final product, along with other interesting facts. And, of course, all the while gorge yourself on delicious organic olives. If you’re keen to know more about the region’s affinity with olives, this olive oil tasting experience is a culinary delight.