A visit to the Peloponnese peninsula is an experience one should not miss when planning a trip to Greece. From small seaside towns to mountainous villages and renowned archaeological sites, Peloponnese is a feast for all the senses. On the South-East of the Peloponnese in Argolida, lies a small fishing town of Tolo, which over the years has become a popular tourism destination for visitors who seek a lesser crowded escape. We’ve compiled a list of all the reasons to visit Tolo, Greece.
Our Top Reasons to Visit Tolo, Greece
Tolo is a perfect holiday destination for all ages, its relaxed vibe and close proximity to some of the most prominent archaeological sites of the Peloponnese attracts many families and couples alike. On our recent four day escape to Tolo with Travel Bloggers Greece we experienced the best the region has to offer.
1. Discover the history of Ancient Asini
The remains of a prehistoric settlement located on a hill overlooking Tolo’s bay is one of the area’s highlights. The fortified city dating back to 2nd and 3rd century B.C. was discover by Swedish archaeologists led by Axel W. Persson, some 90 years ago along 25 Mycenaean tombs that were filled with artefacts that accompanied the dead on their way to the Underworld of Hades. Among the findings was a figure of King of Asini which is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion.
This archaeological site is where literature, archaeology and religion come together. Here you will also find a collection of black and white photos which have been taken from the personal photo archive of Giorgos Seferis, a Greek Nobel laureate who wrote a poem dedicated to the King of Asini in the summer of ’38.
This area is also a botanical garden where you can find different plants and flowers. Remains of the fortifications are visible until this day. Evidence shows that perhaps under the threat of Argos, Asine was fortified for the first time at the end of the 8th century B.C. Over the centuries Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and the Italians repaired and reinforced the wall, attesting to the strategic significance of the site.
Other traces found here are two small Roman baths as well as a water supply system. An elaborate cistern partly carved into the rock is visible in the southeastern section of the Lower tower. In one of the caves visitors can admire a collection of photos depicting scenes from WWII. The entrance to the archaeological site after 15:00 is free of charge.
2. Admire the view of Tolo from Agia Kyriaki
Perched on the hill overlooking the Tolo Bay and the nearby Romvi and Koronisi islands, the blue dome church dedicated to Saint Kyriaki is where one can admire the beauty of the area. Come here at around sunset and watch the sun dip into the horizon.
3. Water Fun: Go Sailing and Scuba Diving
One of the best ways to experience Greek summer is on a day trip to the nearby islands with a sailing yacht or a speed boat.
Tolo sailing offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to explore the Argosaronic gulf on either a day trip excursion or multiple day sailing trips. During our stay in Tolo we sailed to the nearby islands of Romvi and Daskalio. We anchored the sailing boat in Daskalio, a small uninhabited island just behind Romvi which is home to a tiny church that was used as a secret school (krifo scholio) for children during the Ottoman rule so that the kids would not lose their connection with the Greek language, religion and culture.
We swam in the beautiful crystal clear waters and enjoyed a delightful lunch made up of freshly grilled souvlaki skewers and salad served right on the beach.
For those who want to explore the natural wonders of the underwater world, Intro Dive offers a selection of PADI Certified courses where you can receive the relevant qualifications, if you are not already certified. Alternatively put on a mask and flippers and you are all set for snorkelling. The team of Intro Dive can arrange all your activities while you enjoy your holiday in Tolo.
4. Visit the Monastery of Agia Moni (Zoodochos Pighi)
Situated a short distance from Nafplion (3 kilometres) this beautiful monastery is dedicated to the source of life. Built next to a spring of natural water, this 12th century monastery operates as a nunnery.
According to mythology it is believed that the spring is the place of the mythological Kanathos, where the goddess Hera would annually renewed her virginity. It is recommended to visit the church on Sunday and to follow the liturgy.
5. At the Karonis Distillery learn all about the art of Ouzo
The family run ouzo distillery has been operating for the past 145 years, today it is managed by the 4th and 5th generations of the Karonis family. A wonderful experience not to miss — as you uncover all the little secrets of what makes ouzo such a special Greek drink.
Visitors can learn all about the process of ouzo making, from start to finish. Apart from the ouzo the distillery also produces tsipouro and mastic liquor as well as cherry liquor made from local Arcadian cherries. Have you ever tried a Greek version of limoncello? Here at Karonis Distillery the family produces their own version of lemon liquor.
6. Try the Liquid Gold of Melas Epidaurus Olive Oil Domain
The Peloponnese terrain is ruled by olive trees, literary speaking since the ancient times the whole of the area was known for its olive oil production and trade. Almost every household owns their own olive trees. One of the must do activities when visiting Tolo – is spending some time visiting an olive oil mill. The olive oil is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and is known to be the elixir of health since antiquity.
A visit to the Melas Epidaurus Olive Oil Domain will introduce you to the modern day olive oil making process, from cultivation to packaging and consumption. We started our visit from the organic olive grove and learned all about the method of treatment and prevention of decease, harvesting and all the stages of production.
7. Meet a Beekeeper
If you were ever curious to learn all about how bees maintain their colonies and produce their honey, then a visit to meet Dimitris Kontomourtos is a wonderful opportunity to delve deeper into this natural production. Dimitris is the second generation of beekeepers and has followed in the footsteps of his father. For the occasion we were dressed in special suits and made our way to meet the Queen Bee.
Dimitris explained everything from how the bees source their food, how they sense danger, how they chose the Queen Bee and what’s her role in the production process. The role of bees in our environment is more than just the honey that they produce, they are actually a sign of how healthy our environment is and are a vital part to the ecosystem. This is a great activity for any age group, especially children.
8. Follow the footsteps of Asklepios at Epidaurus
Epidaurus, the small ancient city on the Argolid peninsula is the most famous healing centre in the Greek and Roman world. The place crowned as the birthplace of medicine and the cult of healing deities since the prehistoric times. People would come here seeking help from the almighty god of medicine, Asklepios and as such the sanctuary became one of the richest of its time during the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.
Epidaurus was the holistic healing centre where patients would come to heal their mind, body and soul. The ancient theatre was built in order to entertain people prior to them being medically treated as therapeutic fun was part of the treatment process. The ancient theatre of Epidaurus until this day is considered a world class attraction and every summer it host the Athens -Epidaurus Festival where visitors can admire acclaimed ancient dramas, operas and other performances. The acoustic system is impeccable. Inside the museum at Epidaurus you can explore the collections of artefact and statues which have been carefully preserved. Among the collection items are also several example of tools which were used for operation procedures such as eye surgery.
Epidaurus also host a unique monument known as Tholos which is a circular structure, which was only seen in several historical sites. It was compared to the building perfection of the Parthenon and regarded as an exceptional masterpiece. Other examples of Tholos are found in Delphi, Ancient Olympia and Athens.
After a visit to Epidaurus stop for a lunch break at Taverna Vagias for a Greek meal. We enjoyed freshly grilled meat and salad.
9. Admire the Lion Gate of Mycenae
The archaeological site of Mycenae was one of the greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization which played a crucial role in the classical Greek culture. Mycenae inspired some of the worlds greatest writers such as Homer and the all time classic Odyssey.
According to Greek Mythology the city was built by Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae and when he left the city of Argos for Tiryns, he ensured that the one-eyed giants, Cyclops would construct the walls of Mycenae, and make them so heavy that no human could ever lift. The Lion Gate is a perfect example of such construction.
The history of this glorious city continued for centuries, yet it is best known thanks to Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, who led the expedition against troy during the Trojan War, mentions of whom can be found in Homer’s Iliad. Although many of the excavations from Mycenae are housed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens, the smaller museum onsite offers a great opportunity for visitors to admire the artefacts that tell the story of this great elite civilization – and as Homer describes in the Iliad, Mycenae is “rich in gold”.
10. Stroll around Nafplio
Nafplio, one of the most romantic cities of Greece, and the first capital of modern Greece is located a short 20-minute drive from Tolo. Enjoy an afternoon strolling around the picturesque streets lined with Venetian and neoclassical buildings, followed by a walk along the seafront promenade where you can admire the stunning views of Boutzi which greets visitors with its dominating presence. This small Venetian fortress is the most photographed site in Nafplio. In the summer you can reach Bourtzi by a small boat which departs from the port.
For stunning views of the city and the surroundings climb up 999 steps to the Palamidi Fortress. Did you know that in Nafplio like Athens also has a Syntagma Square and a Grande Bretagne Hotel?
Nafplio is both an important historical and cultural center, don’t miss a visit to the Church of Agios Spyridonas, in from of which Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated.
This city is so spectacular no wonder that Harvard University has established its centre for Hellenic Studies right here.
11. Pay a visit to the King of Tomatoes
Juicy, sweet and red tomatoes will definitely keep your tummy full on your holiday in Tolo because the region is known for some of the best tomato producers. On our visit to Tolo we got to explore the production process by visiting the tomato greenhouses of Papadrianos. We learnt all about the different varieties, cultivation process and how to keep pesticides away. Definitely a fascinating experience.
12. Try the local Pilsner — Toliani
Beer lovers should try the local pilsner beer called Toliani, which is a special double fermented beer, made with water from the mountain peaks of Erymanthos in the Peloponnese, greek barley malt, hops and yeast. Very refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.
13. Wine Tasting at Nemea
Nemea, one of Greece’s most famous wine producing regions of Greece is located a 50 minute drive from Tolo. Here visitors can also admire the ancient site of Nemea, a religious sanctuary which hosted the pan-Hellenic games every two years. The region is famous for its indigenous Agiorgitiko grape variety, which is an integral part of the cultural heritage of the town. If you are a wine lover make sure not to miss the Nemean Wine Roads on your trip to Greece. At the end of August the Great Days of Nemea Festival takes place where you can enjoy great wine, food and music as every winery opens its doors to visitors.
14. Visit nearby Hydra and Spetses on a Day Trip from Tolo
Spend the day exploring two of the most famous islands in the Saronic Gulf — Hydra and Spetses. The picturesque island of Hydra which is car-free is a wonderful destination which became famous in the 1950s following the filming of the Hollywood movie – Boy on a dolphin starring Sophia Loren. Wander around the cobblestone streets and admire the captains mansions, take photos of the charming donkeys and cats, as well as pay a visit to some of the island’s notable museums.
In Spetses you will get to explore the Museum of the dynamic figure Laskarina Bouboulina, who was a heroine of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Also a wonderful way to experience the island’s charm is on a horse-drawn carriage. In September Spetses hosts the Armata festival which marks the battle in the strait between Spetses Island and Kosta during the revolution of 1821. This fabulous event is one of a kind.
Where to Eat in Tolo?
Tolo’s seaside location means that you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh seafood and beachfront dining options. Here’s some of our top picks.
Akrogiali Taverna Tolo
This family-run beachfront taverna is one of the oldest in Tolo. Founded in 1955, taverna Akrogiali is located on the main beach of Tolo and serves a generous selection of seafood and meat dishes. Opt for one of the tables set right on the beach and enjoy the best of the Greek summer with your toes touching the sand.
Here we tried fresh calamari, aubergines cooked in red-tomato sauce, a selection of dips like the famous Tzatziki, Greek salad and small fried fish.
Golden Beach Hotel & Restaurant
Located right across from the beach, this all day cafe and restaurant is a great choice at any time of day. The menu consists of traditional Greek dishes, refreshing salads and starters as well as seafood delights. Try the aubergine soufflé and pasta with shrimps. If you like beer pair your mean with the local Pilsner Toliani.
Maria’s Restaurant Tolo
Voted as one of the best in the Peloponnese and you will understand why once you devour their cuisine, Maria’s Restaurant is your choice for a more refined dining experience with stunning sea views.
The restaurant has both an outdoor and indoor dining area, but if you are there during the warmer months try to book your table closer to the water to enjoy a romantic evening with your significant other.
From fresh, mouthwatering salads that are a feast for all senses, to seafood appetisers with a twist, cheese bites served with homemade jam and sensational sea-food spaghetti served with fresh clams, you will be spoiled for choice. For those who like mussels don’t forget to order a portion, or maybe two.
This all day cafe and restaurant enjoys a prime location on the sandy beach of Tolo. During the day escape the sun’s rays under the shade of big umbrellas while enjoying the stunning views of the nearby islands of Koronisi, Platia and Psili. The menu consists of breakfast and brunch options, fresh fruit juices and smoothies, meze selection which pairs well with ouzo as well as traditional classic Greek dishes.
Try the Ormos special, which is octopus stiffado cooked in red tomato sauce, and served with lava beans. Also don’t miss the opportunity to try the tomato fritters, they are delicious.
Where to Stay in Tolo?
John & George Hotel Tolo
This four star hotel is located in the older part of Tolo, a short walk from the towns main beach, shops and restaurants. The hotel offers stunning views of Romvi and Koronisi islands as well as the small boat harbour. This family run hotel offers 58 rooms and 4 apartments, the Superior rooms on the top floor feature expansive balconies which are perfect for relaxation and have an automated tent roof, which you can adjust based on your own preference.
Our room was spacious featuring two twin beds and a sitting area, with a separate walk in closed and bathroom with a bathtub. Breakfast can be served in the indoor area or outdoor right by the hotel’s swimming pool. There is also a pool bar and restaurant where you can enjoy a refreshment or snack throughout the day. Visit the hotel’s website for more information.
Tours, Transfers and Souvenirs
For private tours and transfers around the area contact Christos Didaskalou. Tours and Transfers organised our transfers in Tolo and beyond during our 4 day stay. Website: www.tours-transfers.gr
For personalised olive wood hand crafted gifts and olive oil products check out Olive Tree boutique. Website: www.olivetreeboutiquetolo.com
For transfers from Athens, we used the services of Zafiris Tours. Website: www.zafiris-tours.gr
*Travel Bloggers Greece were invited to experience Tolo by the Tourism Association of Tolo. All opinions expressed are always my own.