Coming back from Kardamili after a whole week of perfect vacation was not easy. It is actually shocking how little we did there, basically just eating and swimming, but one can get used to a laid back schedule pretty quickly… We were very happy with our choice, mainly because it turned out to be much quieter than the average touristy place in the middle of August (when 90% of Greeks go on holiday). The beach was pleasantly full, the restaurants too (no need to book, thank god) and the whole place is so tasteful and pretty, it is hard to believe how it managed to stay that way!
Don’t get me wrong, Greece has some stunning places to visit, but there is always those little details that bug me, which are more common than not: the litter at the side of the road, the ugly building in the middle of a beautiful scenery, the bad service, the overpriced hotel and most of all the bad food aimed to tourists.
Kardamili is the opposite of that. The village has retained its stone-built houses (mainly due to Gremans who bought them and restored them to their former glory), some of which date back to the 17th century, the beaches are very clean (despite the fact that there were no litter bins to be found anywhere near them) and devoid of rows of umbrellas, everyone is very polite and there is a wide selection of eateries in and around the village which have excellent food at ridiculous prices.
Our hotel, Kalamitsi, was really good, a group of stone built “houses” set in the middle of a 30 acre olive orchard with views to the sea, a small private beach on one side and a larger beach about 5 minutes on foot on the other. It was meticulously clean and our room had a little kitchenette where one could prepare breakfasts and light meals, as well as a lovely veranda to enjoy them.
Kardamili belongs to a group of villages known as the “Mani” occupying the middle “finger” of the Peloponnese, joining Kalamata on one side (Messinia) with Gytheion on the other (Laconia). You can easily explore a large part of the area from there (if you drive quite a bit around though) and see how barren it becomes once you get to the more southern parts, marvel at hundreds of Byzantine miniscule churches and the “tower houses”, the signature type of house of the area.
If you like greenery, good food, clean beaches and interesting historic small villages I think Kardamili would be for you. It is also very children-friendly, if you happen to have a family.
Kardamili Mini Guide
Where to eat
Our hotel owner gave us the following tips on food and they were all excellent choices.
Elies (Ritsa Beach): the food was so good there we ate three days in a row. Perfect after your swim at Ritsa beach, it features beautiful traditional Greek dishes, in a very modern atmosphere, with pastel tables under the olive trees. Extremely quick service, even when it is packed. In the evening it serves Italian food, but we never tried it. (tel. 27210 73140)
Lela’s : next to Avra, a Kardamili institution, it serves perfectly
cooked Greek traditional dishes with marvelous view of the sea. Go there early (before 9pm) to enjoy the sun set and find a table! (tel. +30 27210-73.730, 27210-73.541)
Avra: next to Lela’s, for all day coffee, drinks, light bites (salad, club sandwiches etc) and beautiful Mojitos all in a friendly atmosphere by the sea.
To palio bostani (The old vegetable plot), Stoupa (next village, by the sea): excellent, locally sourced food and seafood (the owner is also a fisherman) in a pretty setting by the extremely popular and noisy Kalogria beach. Better go there in the evening when the beach is not full, otherwise you won’t even be able to reach it by car! (tel. +30 27210-78282).
To Limani (the port), Agios Nicolaos village (the next one after Stoupa): very fresh fish in a beautiful seaside setting by a small port. Everything to accompany the fish (horta, fries, cried zucchini, etc. ) was perfect and the prices reasonable for fish (about 30 euro per person). (tel. 30 27210 – 77606)
Where to sleep
We stayed at hotel Kalamitsi, about 0.5km outside of Kardamili and were very happy with our choice. However, Kardamili has a wide selection of tasteful lodgings such as: Elies, Elaionas, Kardamyli Villas, Melitsina, Kripia