If you are looking for a slow-travel mountain retreat in Greece to enjoy a tranquil and rejuvenating family vacation with kids away from the crowds and close to nature, your destination is in the Peloponnese: Abeliona, an authentic village surrounded by historical landmarks and filled with fascinating stories and myths deriving from Greek mythology amidst an abundant nature is the ideal place to slow down and restore your balance.
By Eleni Fotiou, travel journalist, founder & travel specialist at ΜΑΜΑΚΙΤΑ Family Friendly Greece and family travel advisor for Greece and Italy with Travel 12 and KimKim.
One Week Slow Travel Itinerary in the Peloponnese with Kids
A few minutes’ drive from the great temple of Apollo Epicurius, Abeliona is the “hub” of the Apollo Trails. Trails in Greece are not paved for hikers; they are paths actually “beaten” for centuries by shepherds and pilgrims connecting mountain villages and spiritual centers of the ancient world. Today, hiking these paths awakens our inner quest for natural life and pure values, away from the urban hectic life; our need to reconnect with our roots, to contemplate our innocence and to rediscover the world of idyllic bliss, our paradise. And there is no better place for that than Abeliona, whose traditions derive from the Apollo power to lighten and cure, and Arcadia, the land symbolizing Utopia (Et in Arcadia Ego), where the natural and the supernatural have always coexisted harmoniously.
Slow travel in Greece with kids and enjoy nature at its best while river trekking and swimming under the Neda waterfalls; experience rafting the divine Lousios river, walk the Apollo trails, swim along the Olympian riviera, admire the wondrous church of Saint Theodora, and live a simple life in the Arcadian unspoiled villages. Sit back and relax at the retreat, experience a yoga session in a yurt amidst the woods, slow down and enjoy the most vibrant nature all year round: a colorful winter, a blooming spring, a refreshing summer and a rising… fall!
Brief Slow Travel Itinerary in the Peloponnese with Kids
- Day 1: Slow Down & Restore your Balance
- Day 2: Apollo Temple & Trails
- Day 3: Lousios River & Arcadian Villages
- Day 4: Hike & Bike in Abeliona
- Day 5: Savor the Messinia Beaches
- Day 6: Neda Waterfalls & River Trekking
- Day 7: Farming & Tasting
Detailed Slow Travel Itinerary in the Peloponnese with Kids
Day 1: Slow Down & Restore your Balance
Slow down, connect with nature and the natural pace of life in the picturesque and seemingly “ageless” village of Abeliona. Wander in the cobbled streets, walk in the chestnut forest, cool yourself in the springs and fountains. After your walk, experience a yoga session in the yurt amidst the forest and enjoy local tastes at the Abeliona restaurant, which is decorated with authentic scenic props used in films created by the awarded Greek “Poet of Cinema”, Theo Angelopoulos. And when the sun sets, sit back and relax in the living room of the retreat with your book, your table games and a cup of mountain herbal tea.
Day 2: Apollo Temple & Trails
Today, visit the Temple of Apollo Epicurius, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as the “Parthenon of the Peloponnese”, dedicated to the God of light, music and the cure. The Temple is an architectural masterpiece as it combines all three classical orders used in ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. With a different orientation from any other Greek Temple, it is speculated that it was designed in a way that the Apollo Statue -once standing inside – lightens with the first sunrays as reflected upon the golden Eagles standing on the opposite peak of Mount Lykaion. For the sake of history, this Statue was lost sometime in the 4th century BC after it was transferred to Megalopolis, the then newly built Arcadian “capital”.
After a 15 min scenic drive from Abeliona, you will reach the fascinating site. After your visit, you can hike back through a descending flagged mountain path of 7.5km (4.5 miles), following the opposite route of Pouqueville, the French explorer and Philhellene, who visited Abeliona and the Apollo Temple in the 19th century.
Day 3: Lousios River & Arcadian Villages
Experience the divine Arcadian river Lousios, where Zeus the father of Olympian Gods bathed after his birth, according to Pausanias the Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD. Rafting in Lousios is a unique family experience for spring and summer months. It is also a great way to discover the hidden natural wonders of the area, to admire the stone arch-shaped bridges and to have fun whilst swimming and jumping in the crystal-clear waters of the waterfall ponds.
In the afternoon visit the historical monasteries of the Lousios Gorge, from Timios Prodromos to Ancient Gortys and the monastery of the Philosopher, or relish your time in the stone-paved squares of the neighboring Arcadian villages, built by the notorious craftsmen of Lagkadia and literally untouched by time, such as Andritsena, Elliniko, and Karytena, the latter with the beautiful castle, which is an ideal place to watch the sunset.
Day 4: Hike & Bike in Abeliona
Enjoy your day at a relaxed pace in Abeliona. Imagine that until only some years ago, the fastest way to reach Abeliona from Athens was to take the slowest Greek train up to the village of Diavolitsi and then walk about 7 hours and 33,5 km!
You can enjoy horse-back riding amidst the woods, mountain or e-biking, or walking to the Tritseli fountain through a fascinating and kid-friendly 3,5 km path that passes from the chestnut forest and the stream with the biggest leaves you have ever seen.
If you are fond of exploring some more demanding routes of the Apollo Trails, you can hike to Neda springs (about 5km), to Neda village passing from the Sanctuary of Pan (10 km) or to Mount Lykaion and Lykosoura, the most ancient city in the world according to Pausanias, one of the most challenging paths in Greece.
Day 5: Savor the Messinia Beaches
Savor the Messinia beaches along Kyparissia Bay, the second largest nesting habitat of the loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean. Swim on Agiannakis beach, where you can also visit the Archelon Environmental Center, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece, hosted in the old train station. The Archelon Center operates with the help of foreign volunteers during summer months. They will talk to you about their job and they will guide you to the nests, where you will have high chances to see the birth and the journey of the sea turtles to the sea. At the Agiannakis beach, the chance to swim next to a sea turtle is high. Don’t panic. Just try to avoid collision!
In the afternoon and on your way back, visit the unspoiled village Sidirokastro, mostly unknown to travelers -and to local Greeks I would bet. Sidirokastro is an “open-air sculpture museum”, as it is decorated by numerous statues, created by Kostas Georgakas, a Greek artist and sculptor. Enjoy your walk, climb the 88 stairs leading to the church of Saint Nicholas to admire the views, and then relax and enjoy your meal or coffee in the one and only tavern of this small place.
Day 6: Neda Waterfalls & River Trekking
At the foothills of mount Lykaion lie the springs of a beautiful “female” river called Neda. According to Greek mythology, Neda was a nymph, a goddess of water and one who nourished Zeus. Near the village of Neda, you will discover “neraidorema” (fairy creek), which is the end of the river trekking organized route or a place you can also visit on your own to admire the waterfalls and swim at the crystal natural ponds. Bear in mind that crossing the gorge on your own can be tricky and dangerous, so you are recommended to trust the professional river guides.
Day 7: Farming & Tasting
It is said that “where climate favors viticulture, civilization was born”. Abeliona literally means “covered in vineyards”, a term that describes the village as it was before the years of urbanization, when the vineyards were abandoned. However, due to the persistence of some forward-looking locals in love with their land, Abeliona’s wine preserves its distinct characteristics.
Today, participate in the cultivation, harvesting and farming, enjoy the fruits of your hard work and thus taste the most delicious farm-to-fork meal you have ever prepared along with local wines. This is your chance to appreciate your time with your beloved ones, the views, the smells, the colors, the sounds, the tastes and the people, in order to return home richer in knowledge, understanding and value.
What kids say about it!“Abeliona is located in the heart of a forest and it is maybe the most colorful place I have ever been to. There, you feel free. You can hunt mushrooms, trace cyclamens and many other strange plants with the biggest leaves you have ever seen. You can collect walnuts or chestnuts and you can play wherever you want. I want to go again to play seek & hide in the stream and the wooden bridges. This place is like a film scenery.”
Check also the slow travel itinerary in Mani, Greece with kids here.
Need some help in trip planning by the best family travel agents in Greece? MAMAKITA family travel specialists can customize this Slow Travel Itinerary in the Peloponnese and Greece with Kids according to your preferences, age of kids, travel pace and budget or extend it to Messenia and/ or Ancient Olympia. Enjoy your family holidays in Greece without worrying about family friendly accommodation or kid-friendly tours and activities by making your request here.