Distracted by islands is an understandable response to Greece, the archipelago is vast and there’s plenty of potential for captivation. But that limited perspective could mean you miss the Peloponnese Peninsula, which would be a shame because few places in Europe are quite as magical.
Athenians love the Peloponnese for its unspoiled land of myth and legendary beauty, without urban grime, and within driving distance of the city. And UK families are growing increasingly fond of the region too; for much the same reasons, plus the added attraction of direct flights. Yet, for all its many fans, the peninsula remains tranquil, ridiculously beautiful, and has more than enough space for everyone, because it’s enormous. So if you’re still distracted by Greek islands, have a look at what you’re missing.
Choosing where to go on the Peloponnese Peninsula is almost as complex as navigating the Greek archipelago. But, simply put; west is best. And the north west coast is best of all for classical history, gorgeous beaches, landscapes drenched in vineyards and olive groves, charming villages, gracious towns, and fabulously long hours of unbroken sunshine.
Ancient Olympia, the Temple of Apollo Epikouros, and the Forest of Foloi, where centaurs were said to roam, are all found in the north west.
World Heritage sites and amazing beaches, north west Peloponnese is a natural playground for kids, and good luck convincing them to go sailing when they see the fun alternatives.
Kyllini is one of the north west’s loveliest areas. Lively and interesting, but never close to crowded, it’s a great choice for families, and also the place to find one of the most exciting resort concepts on the entire peninsula. Grecotel Riviera Olympia may not be as historic as nearby Ancient Olympia, but its inspired reinterpretation of family holidays, is something of a legend on the pretty north west coast of the Peloponnese.
Sitting in a lush, 500 acre woodland estate overlooking one of the longest and sandiest Blue Flag beaches in Greece, this is no ordinary resort, it’s a mega-resort, and just as exciting as it sounds. The landscape of pools alone covers over 4000m², not counting the enormous new Aqua Park, which just happens to be one of the largest resort waterparks in Europe now.
There are Kids’ clubs, of course, and they’re fantastically well designed. But Riviera Olympia also has summer camps, children’s themed experiences, fresh activities every day, and the type of non-stop entertainment aimed at delighting even the most demanding kids. There’s even horse riding on adorably cute ponies.
Beachfront means the resort sits right on the edge of two kilometres of shimmering sand overlooking the Ionian Sea. The water’s beautifully clear, calm and paddling-perfect for little non-swimmers, and a natural aquatic playground packed with water sports for more daring young guests.
If kids want to try something new, friendly multi-lingual instruction is available, right down to baby swim classes.
Greece is the land where they invented spas, but not all spas are the same, and very few are as exquisite as the 4500m² paradise of bliss at Riviera Olympia.
Even the name, ‘Elixir Thalassotherapy’, sounds like an invitation to forget everything for a few hours, and it’s hard not to, when you’re being soothed in a setting inspired by the magnificent Rotunda at Ancient Olympia.
Don’t feel any parental guilt about self-indulgence either, kids will be having too much fun to notice you’re gone. The resort also has several deliciously enticing restaurants, and cool bars, so you could think about taking the occasional evening off parenting too. In fact it’s almost compulsory, since you have a free night of babysitting every week of your holiday. Take your pick from three amazing hotels at the resort:
Olympia Oasis is young, fun and perfect for families who want all-inclusive to mean everything, from all-day children’s buffets to kids’ clubs, water sports, outdoor activities, and endless entertainment. Designed more like a colourful village than a hotel, Oasis even has a pretty town square with shops, restaurants, and cafés.
A five-star spa hotel could be seen as a selfish choice. But since it’s immersed in indulgent kid-shaped resort fun, think about Olympia Riviera Thalasso as well balanced family harmony instead.
Mandola Rosa sweeps you back to a gentler era from the moment you set eyes on it. Classically lovely, and exquisitely luxurious, it’s the hotel with a private beach, and gorgeous seafront villas. And while you’re enjoying full immersion in classic luxe, the kids have the rest of the resort to play with, so everyone’s happy.