Cascading down a hill towards a sparkling bay, Gytheio is the largest town on the Peloponnese’s Mani Peninsula. It’s located on the doorstep of ancient Cranae, a tiny islet where it’s said that Paris of Troy and Helen of Sparta spent their first night together. Gytheio is surrounded by pebbly beaches, castle-dotted hills and several ghost villages.
Things to do in Gytheio
Begin your visit at the Historical and Ethnological Museum, which is housed in the stone-built Tzanetakis Tower on the islet of Cranae. Its exhibits detail the history and traditions of the Mani Peninsula, including its numerous fortifications and the explorers who visited the region between the 15th and 19th centuries. Also on Cranae is the Gytheio Lighthouse, a 19th-century octagonal tower that was constructed from white marble and now houses the Maritime Museum.
On the northern edge of Gytheio is an ancient theatre that was originally built in the 1st century AD before being renovated by the Roman emperor Augustus. During the summer months, it hosts drama performances, cultural events and music concerts as part of the Festival of Gytheio.
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, you can relax on the pebbly shores of Mavrovouni, which is one of the most popular beaches on the Mani Peninsula. You can swim in the refreshing waters of the Mediterranean Sea, watch the windsurfers in action or dine at one of the tavernas that back the beach. Other popular stretches of sand include Selinitsa to the north of Gytheio and Ageranos to the south.
Getting around Gytheio
Gytheio is around 40 minutes’ drive from Sparti and just over three hours from Athens and Athens International Airport. Ferries connect from Gytheio to Kissamos in Crete. The centre of Gytheio is compact enough to explore on foot.