There are two main types of olives that most people remember off the top of their heads: the black ones and the green ones. Kalamata’s claim to fame, then, is the black Kalamata olive, grown exclusively in the Kalamata region and exported around the world. Despite the fact that it’s a household name, the city itself doesn’t see much traveler love, and many people pass through quickly to get to the rest of Messinia and the Mani Peninsula. If you give the city a chance though, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of young people in Kalamata spending their days sipping frappe in one of the many cool cafés and spending their nights in the popular bars on the beach—two days here will give you plenty to see and do. For the culturally inclined, make sure to check out the diverse collection of museums in the Historic Center, the annual internationally recognized summer dance festival, and unique shopping finds—including silk scarves and, of course, olive products. If you have 48 hours to spend in Kalamata, this itinerary can help you get the most out of your stay.
Take a hike and sip some drinks by the beach.
Morning and afternoon: Take a day trip to the gorge for a hiking expedition
Before you take off on your 11 km (almost-seven mile) excursion, you’ll definitely want to grab a coffee. Once you’ve fueled up on caffeine, stretch those hammies and set off for a day of vigorously pleasant exercise and panoramic views of the Gorgeous Gorge. A guided tour is the way to go here—they know where to go (that’s always a good thing) and also where to snap some of the best pics.
Evening: Sip some drinks as you watch the sunset over the sea
Picture this: you’re sipping a cool, tropical drink at a waterfront restaurant as the sun sets the Mediterranean on fire as it dips into the sea. Sounds like a dream, right? Kalamata is home to many tiny restaurants nestled into little seaside coves, so it never seems as though they are crushed with tourists. Nibble on some olives (obviously) and sardines soaked in olive oil (trust us, they’re good), sip a glass of bubbly, and soak it all in.
Hit up a museum (and a castle) and spend a lazy afternoon at the beach.
Morning: Visit the Archaeological Museum of Messenia and Kalamata’s Castle
How old is too old to make use of a museum’s activity rooms? Kalamata’s Archaeological Museum is kid- and adult-friendly, with a main path that weaves through the museum like the Pamissus River, and four smaller roads that represent the four provinces of the Messenia Area. The artifacts are interesting and well-preserved, and include jewelry and figurines from tombs and other archaeological excavations.
After you’ve wandered the museum, head over to take a gander at the city’s castle. Before you enter, an informational plaque will offer you a brief description of the thirteenth-century edifice. On this plaque, the castle is described by some ancient military man as “weak,” which is, quite frankly, hilarious (but also kind of a good prime for what to expect). It’s a rather small building, with a couple of floors for you to walk around. The top of the castle is flat and shaded with pine trees, providing a good escape from the heat, and offers a lovely view of the city down to the sea, as well as mountainous landscape behind Kalamata. Despite being weak, the castle has been controlled by no less than the Byzantines, Franks, Slavs, Albanians, Venetians, and Turks.
If museums and castles don’t float your boat (hey, they aren’t for everyone), a private walking tour of Kalamata’s historic center is a great way to get a brief yet detailed overview of the city’s landmarks and the history behind them.
Lunchtime: Grab a quick lunch in Valaoritou Square
This cute little square in Kalamata is lined with coffee shops, pizza places, and cafes with outdoor seating, making it the perfect spot to grab a quick bite on your way to the beach. After all, you’ll need a full belly for all that lounging you’re about to do. Find a spot outside and settle in as you nosh on a slice of pizza loaded with Greek specialties like olives, feta, and olive oil.
Afternoon: Relax on Kalamata Beach
Two kilometers south of the city lies Kalamata’s beach, which is long enough to feel uncrowded and popular enough to have something for everyone. The beach is bordered by clear blue water, and dotted with restaurants, cafés, and tiki bars offering great drinks and free umbrella or beach chair use. There are also beach volleyball courts and floating inflatable play areas for kids. At night, the beach becomes a popular place for young people to hang out and grab drinks. If sitting around on the beach isn’t your thing and you’re feeling adventurous, try a sea kayaking tour for some awesome ocean views.
Evening: Dine on some authentic Greek food
If you don’t feel like hitting up the nightlife at the beach, head to this area of Kalamata for dinner. The restaurants here are like it you were Greek and coming home for dinner. Choose from a variety of traditional Greek meats and vegetables; the okra raguet and moussaka are to die for.