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Hidden Gems
The Menalon Trail 81

Walking in Peloponnese: Menalon Trail

Overview

Ranked among the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe, the Menalon Trail is a 75 km long well-maintained hiking route, created by a group of local volunteers to shine a spotlight of this magnificent area in the Arcadian Region of Peloponnese. Starting in Stemnitsa, the trail straddles the Western Menalon massif and runs through the Valley of the Mylaon River to the lively town of Vytina and the village of Lagkadia. The trail passes through lush forests, across lovely stone bridges and through remote villages like Valtesiniko and Magouliana; monasteries built on cliffs and groves of walnut trees. Enjoy the local philoxenia (hospitality), amazing homegrown food and some exquisite wines.

  • Ancient fresco-covered monasteries in the Lousios Gorge
  • The open-air Water Power Museum in Dimitsana
  • The ancient stone bridge of Zarzi on the tranquil Mylaon River
  • The hidden hermitage of Sfyrida
  • Traditional mountain villages in this unspoilt and undiscovered corner of Greece

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Stemnitsa

Arrival in Stemnitsa from Athens or Kalamata airport. There are many restaurants, taverns, and cafes, and you will also have the chance to visit the Menalon trail office in the village’s central square for a briefing before setting off on your hike.

  • Accommodation: Guesthouse Tsarbou (Stemnitsa)
  • The guesthouse is situated in the centre of the village of Stemnitsa. The local tavern is just a few steps away.

Day 2: Stemnitsa to Dimitsana | 12.5 km

Start your hike from Stemnitsa after a lovely breakfast. The picturesque path zigzags down into the valley. Follow an old mule track to the impressive Prodromos Monastery, hanging on the high cliffs. Visit the monastery and continue along the path that traverses the gorge. Ascend to the Old Philosophou Monastery before continuing to the ‘New’ Philosophou Monastery. Follow the Lousios River’s course through lush vegetation towards Dimitsana, cross the river via the Tzani bridge, and come to the interesting Open-Air Waterpower Museum. In the area around it, you will find the watermills and gun powder mills that made the fame and wealth of Dimitsana, a town built on the ruins of ancient Theftis.

  • Walking for the day:  12.5 km, 5 hours, ↑830 m ↓950 m
  • Accommodation: Xenonas Theonimfi (Dimitsana)
  • A traditional guesthouse, now completely refurbished, combining traditional and modern elements. The owners Thefi and Irini offer genuine hospitality. The four rooms in the house are spacious with earthy and warm colours, traditional windows with interior wooden shutters. The baths have a whirlpool bath or hydro-massage cabin with steam bath place and hairdryer.

Day 3: Dimitsana to Elati | 19 km

Prepare for a long but extremely rewarding hike. Start with a gentle ascent from the Lousios valley to the outskirts of the pine forest. Enjoy splendid views over the Lousios river from the church of St. Paraskevi, with the settlements of Dimitsana, Paliochori and Zatouna standing out against the wooded landscape. Continue via footpaths and dirt roads through old agricultural fields to the mountain village of Zygovisti, which played an important role in the Greek War of Independence war of 1821. After a break at the local café, the route continues and straddles the Western Menalon massif. Pass the beautiful ravine to the country church of Agios Georgios and adjacent spring and follow the route uphill through dense forests to the Bilali Pass. Consider ascending to the Pliovouni summit, the highest peak of this route at 1643 m. Descend via small roads and paths, passing fountains and chapels, to the tiny mountain settlement of Elati.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km, 7 hours, ↑900 m ↓690 m
  • Accommodation: Anagnostou Homestay (Elati)
  • In the tiny remote village Elati, you will stay in the private house of the family Anagnostou. Mrs Vana will take excellent care of you. She speaks English – a unique opportunity to get to know the locals.

Day 4: Elati to Vytina | 8.5 km

After breakfast, visit the woodcraft workshop before descending from Elati to the riverbed of the Milaon River. Pass the Pirgaki Springs, followed by the stone fountain of Makrinou, which is a nice place for a short break. Further along the river, the vegetation becomes even lusher, and you find yourself surrounded by tall plane trees. Walk past abandoned watermills, cross a nice wooden bridge, leave the valley and walk uphill via a rocky path to the Artotsi Fountain. Nearby is the Agia Paraskevi church, from which you have great views over the valley and mountain. Shortly after, you will reach the picturesque village of Vytina.

  • Walking for the day: 8.5 km, 3 hours, ↑235 m ↓380 m
  • Accommodation: Aiora Suites (Vytina)
  • The small guesthouse offers 12 spacious rooms and a large public living room with a beautiful fireplace and large windows. The breakfast is excellent with many local delicacies and fresh products.

Day 5: Vytina to Nymfasia | 10 km

Today’s route starts from Vytina and takes you back to the Artotsi Fountain. Descend via the zigzagging path into Mylaon River valley. Pass the beautiful single arched Zarzi bridge and ascend to Old Vytina. Here you are back on the Menalon Trail, where the massive limestone boulder in the Mylaon River’s riverbed has created an impressive gorge. Cross a second stone bridge and descends into another gorge before ascending gently through rocks and shrubs. The trail takes you to the small village of Nymfasia and your accommodation next to Kernitsas Monastery through oak and spruce forests.

  • Walking for the day:  10 km, 3 hours, ↑400 m ↓580 m
  • Accommodation: Agropoli (Nymfasia)
  • The Agropoli guesthouse consists of 8 separate houses, each offering a one or two-bedroom apartments. The breakfast is being served in the central building and is prepared by the family. The views from the complex are breathtaking, and because it is located outside the village of Nymfasia, you really experience the peacefulness of the countryside.

Day 6: Nymfasia to Valtesiniko | 15.5 km

Start your walk by crossing the Kernitsa Bridge. From there you ascend via a steep path to the Holy Monastery of Kernitsas, one of the oldest monasteries in Greece. Continue through a dense pine forest and arrive at the Sfyrida Hermitage. Traverse the long steep slope of Kastro, passing the Gavros Spring, before entering the small settlement of Magouliana. At 1,250 m this is the highest inhabited village in the Peloponnese. Take a break at a local tavern before leaving Magouliana behind. Follow the path along a riverbed to the village of Valtesiniko, well-known for its woodcarvers.

  • Walking for the day:  15.5 km, 6 hours, ↑465 m ↓900 m
  • Accommodation: Valtesiniko Studios (Valtesiniko)
  • Valtessiniko Studios are built in Valtessiniko, at an altitude of 1 150 m. The complex offers 10 2-storey units, each with warm and homely decor and fitted with Coco-Mat mattresses. All rooms include a seating room with fireplace, and their private balconies enjoy scenic views of the slopes of Mainalo and the snowy top of Helmos.

Day 7: Valtesiniko to Lagkadia | 13.9 km

Today’s hike starts by following a footpath along a ridge to the Byzantine Fortress of Valtesiniko, perched high in the mountains. Enjoy the stunning views of the small country church of Agia Triada. The route now traverses an extensive pine forest, and you gain some altitude before descending again to the Krya Vrysi fountain. Continue through fields and past a small spring to finally come to the Rapi Watermills, on the outskirts of Lagkadia.

  • Walking for the day:  13,9 km, 5 hours, ↑600 m ↓780 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Kentrikon** (Lagkadia)
  • Hotel Kentrikon belongs to the well-known Maniatis family in Lagkadia. The family runs a tavern as well. The hotel is built in a modern style and offers great service and an extensive breakfast buffet. It is conveniently located in the centre of the village near the central square and crafts shops.

Day 8: Departure

After breakfast, your arrangement comes to an end. Travel to Athens or Kalamata Airport. Extra night in Athens available upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this walking holiday, you will be staying in private en-suite rooms in family-run guesthouses, one night in a homestay and one night in a 2-star hotel. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

The overnights are on bed & breakfast basis. Every morning you enjoy a traditional breakfast with ingredients from local produce. Items for lunch are on purchase in the local mini-market in the villages. In most accommodations you can order a packed lunch; discuss with the hosts what they can make for you and what you like and pay for your lunch on the spot in cash. Evening dinner can be enjoyed in one of the local taverns or at some of the accommodations where you will stay for overnight.

Difficulty & terrain

Moderate walks with more strenuous options, 4-6 hours per day (excluding breaks) on hilly to mountainous areas using well kept, sometimes stony footpaths, dirt roads and occasionally cobbled footpaths (kalderimia). There is no section on asphalt road. The area is remote, and during the day you will be in pure nature, now and then encountering a local farmer. The villages where you stay overnight are of exceptional charm and beauty and offer excellent accommodation and good food. (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. We are also using a specialized app for walking and cycling holidays. We recommend all guests to download the app and create an account on which we can upload all the information needed for the trip routes. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available throughout the year. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season. During April, May, October and November, you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20°-25°C(68°-77°F). The hottest months are June, July, August and September, with an average maximum temperature of 31°C (87°F). The coldest month is February, with an average maximum temperature of 15°C (59°F). The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended airports are Athens and Kalamata (charters only), which are well connected to the major UK and European airports.

By train or bus
  • Athens Airport: Take a shuttle bus from Athens Airport to the KTEL bus station Kifissou with OASA and then a bus to Tripoli. For more information, please visit KTEL Arkadias (hourly, travel time: 3h 15m) or Ktel Ileias (only 3 buses per day, travel time: 1h 30m). From Tripoli to Stemnitsa you can take a taxi (40 min). Private transfers can be booked in advance.
  • Kalamata Airport: A shuttle bus will take you to KTEL bus station Kalamata (10 min). Hop on the direct bus from Kalamata to Tripoli, more information available here. From Tripoli to Stemnitsa you can take a taxi (40 min).
  • Private transfers can be booked in advance.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights accommodation as detailed in the itinerary (private en-suite)
  • Breakfast each day
  • Luggage transfers
  • Detailed road book and maps (a digital copy, provided before the tour)
  • GPS tracks
  • Original map of the region, Anadigit 1:25 000
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
  • 10 € per booking contribution to the non-profit organization maintaining the Menalon Trail
  • Souvenir t-shirt Menalon Trail

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights available upon request

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