When most people think of Greece they think of unspoiled gorgeous beaches on one of the many islands. However, one of the most beautiful in the country and maybe the entire Mediterranean Sea is not on an island but in the Peloponnese region. Voidokilia beach is famous for it’s crescent shaped beach with a spectacular blending of colors. It is literally postcard worthy and should be on anyone’s itinerary if they are in the Peloponnese region.
We were fortunate enough to spend a day at Voidokilia beach while we stayed at the Westin Costa Navarino. It was a short 15 minute drive for us to get there from the Westin. This was our favorite beach and hike we did in Greece. Our Greek trip included a stop in quaint Stoupa, hiking the waterfalls in Polylimnio waterfalls, and much more.
Not only is the beach beautiful from the shore but here is a great hike that provides an unparalleled view of the famous beach, access to ruins of the Navarino Castle, and even the option to explore Nestor’s Cave. We recommend to not only enjoy the water but get some exercise in by hiking up the nearby hill for the view of Voidokilia beach.
How to Get There
Voidokilia beach is located in the Peloponnese region of Greece near the towns of Pylos and Gialova. The Peloponnese is not nearly as develop as many of the tourist hot spots in Greece but that is part of the charm. The closest major town to Voidokilia beach is Kalamata. From Kalamata it is about an hour drive to get to the beach. Simply just drive to Gialova and once you reach there head north. Follow signs for the towns of Romanos and Petrohori. Once through the town of Petrohori you can continue along the road which eventually becomes dirt and then the parking lot. The parking lot sits on the north side of the beach.
After you park it is a short two minute walk to the start of the beach. While the beach is beautiful from the sandy shore, it is an absolute must to explore the area to get a better vantage point.
On the north side of the beach you can hike up the backside of the cliffs to get a better view and see some ancient Mycenaean ruins. If you continue west from the cliffs you will get a view of another beach, Glossa, which happens to be a nude beach. The views from that beach are interesting… We would recommend not heading that way and instead enjoy the most better views of Voidokilia.
Back at Voidokilia, the majority of people only stay in the area near the parking lot. It can get crowded in this part but it wasn’t too bad when we were there. However, if you can continue further down the beach there are less and less people. It takes about 20 minutes to traverse the entire beach. The picture above is from the less crowded south side of the beach.
What makes Voidokilia beach even better is the amazing hike that takes you to the top of Old Navarino Castle and through Nestor’s Cave. Yes, the Nestor from Homer’s Odyssey. From the top of the castle you can see the entire beach, the nearby Gialova Bay, out to sea, the mountains and, of course, the postcard worthy Voidokilia beach. The hike starts at the beach, goes over some sand dunes, follows the edge of a lagoon, heads up a hill to the castle, and then back down to the beach.
At the end of the beach there are two options to for the hike. Neither option is very obvious but both will get you up to the top of the Navarino Castle. The option we took is to head straight into the sands dunes. As you end the walk along the beach veer left instead of going up the large sand at the end. There is not a clear path at first but just continue going through the sand dunes. As the sand disappears a clear path emerges that follows along the cliffs on your right and a lagoon on your left.
As a Michigander I really enjoyed the small sand dunes as it reminded me of the sand dunes up north in Michigan but with even more dramatic scenery. This was a very flat and peaceful part of the hike as you do have to get to the top of the hill where the castle sits.
Up the Hill
Eventually the trail along the lagoon hits a junction. At the junction there will be a parking lot in front, a trail to your left, and another trail to your right. Take the trail to the right and start your ascent up the hill.
This section of the trail has beautiful views of the channel linking the Gialova bay to the sea. As you continue on this trail, it gets progressively steeper and steeper. There is also almost no shade so be prepared with sunscreen and water.
Old Navarino Castle
After the steep part of the trail you will see the entrance of the 13th century castle. The castle is much larger than what you can initially see. Once inside the gates, the easiest and most scenic path is to hike along the castle walls. While walking along this section of the castle you will have great views of the sea.
From the first section of the castle you will need to get off the wall and walk up a short incline to get into the top section of the castle which affords those amazing views of Voidokilia beach.
The Views of Voidokilia Beach
The back section of the Navarino Castle provides the best view of the beach. You can get creative with the walls for some interesting photos! We thought the combination of the water and sand made a whale tail.
From the backside of the castle there is a back entrance and trail. This trail is a more direct route back to Voidokilia beach but is even steeper than the option to the castle. We recommend taking the lagoon and dune route up and the cave route down.
Traversing down this route will bring you to the entrance of Nestor’s Cave which was used to keep royal cattle. It is worth a quick visit inside the surprisingly large cave.
Voidokilia beach is a must stop for anyone staying in the Peloponnese or at the nearby Westin Costa Navarino. We highly recommend taking a hike or at least venturing up one of the close by cliffs for a better view of the beach. The views are absolutely incredible and pictures do not even do it justice.