Gythio – Beautiful Port Perfect for Exploring Villages and Amazing Beaches

Near Gythio you will find the large, golden sandbeach of Mavrovouni famous for the endangered sea turtles Caretta-caretta laying their eggs here. Gythio is perfect as base for your expeditions to the Diros Caves, Monemvasia, and Mystras. You can also embark a ferry for either Crete or Kythira.

The picturesque fishing port of Gythio in Mani, southern Peloponnese Greece
The picturesque fishing port of Gythio in Mani peninsula

Gythio is a picturesque seaport in Mani peninsula on the southern side of Peloponnese. Built on the hillslopes of Mt Koumaros around a natural bay, Gythio is a major hub in the otherwise secluded and barren peninsula of Mani where ghost villages and a rocky, wild landscape make the setting. This ancient Spartan seaport is today it the largest and most important town in Mani.

Where is Gythio Greece?

Map of Mani Peninsula in Peloponnese Greece
Map of Mani Peninsula – Click to enlarge map

How to go to Gythio?

By car

You have different options to reach Gythio. If you rent a car in Athens, you can follow the National Highway linking Athens to Corinth. After the Channel of Corinth, you follow the Highway to Tripoli, and from there you continue to to Sparti. After Tripoli, the road is rural, meaning one lane in each direction. From Sparti you follow the signs to Gythio, it is another 40 km. The total distance from Athens is 270 km.

By bus

Another option is to reach Gythio by bus. The bus leaves for Sparti from Kifissos KTEL Bus Station in Athens. From Sparti you need to take another bus for Gythio. Timetables and Itineraries

Airports near Gythio

The nearest airport to Gythio Mani is Kalamata Airport KLX, which receives domestic flights from Athens and Thessaloniki and seasonally from a great many European destinations, like Heathrow and Gatwick during summer. At the airport you will find taxis, car rentals, airport hotels and buses. From Kalamata there is 140 km and 1 hr 45 m’s drive to Gythio in Mani.

Ferry routes from Gythio

Gythio port is small and serves just a few ferry routes, of which the most important is to Kissamos in western Crete via Kythira and Antikythera. This route connecting Peloponnese with Crete is carried out 3 times per week, all year round.

Gythio waterfront and the three parts

Aerial view of Gythio village and waterfront in Mani, Lakonia Peloponnese Greece
Aerial view of Gythio village and waterfront

The waterfront of Gytheio has three different parts. The central section consists of the habour with small fishing boats, cafés, shops and a few restaurants. During summer months the locals are scrolling the promenade with their families during the evenings. The small square there, known as Platia Githeiou is a great place for enjoying mezedakia at the ouzeri. Mezedes or mezedakia are a variety of delicious food served on small plates (seafood, salads, dips and such). Best consumed with ouzo or retzina wine (traditional Greek wine) and good company.

aerial view of the small islet of Kranai known for its old lighthouse and tower of Tzannetakis, Gytheio, Lakonia, Peloponnese, Greece
Aerial view of the islet of Kranai known for its old lighthouse and tower of Tzannetakis in Gytheio

Turning the corner on the south side of town you’ll find the coastal road ending at the tiny island, Kranai. On Kranai following the causeway, you can visit the Tzanetakis Tower, which houses the Ethnological Museum.
To the north side of the waterfront you’ll find the town hall which houses the Archaeological Museum. It is also an area where you’ll find cafés and restaurants – and nearby the ancient theatre built by the Romans during the first century.

Coffee with a view of Kranae islet next to Gythio port, Mani peninsula, Peloponnese, Greece
Coffee on Gythio waterfront with a view of Kranae islet next to the port

Ancient history of Gythio (Gythium)

Gytheio was the seaport of Sparta, which is situated about 40 km to the north. Gytheio used to be an important port until it was destroyed in 4th century AD, possibly by an earthquake.

Heracles and Apollo, the founders of Gythio

Ancient Theatre of Gythio
Ancient Roman theatre of Gythio

The reputed founders of ancient Gythium were Heracles and Apollo, who frequently appear on its coins. In classical times it was a community of Perioeci, politically dependent on Sparta. In 455 BC, during the First Peloponnesian War, it was burned by the Athenian admiral Tolmides who besieged the city with 50 ships and 4,000 hoplites. It was rebuilt and was most probably, the building ground for the Spartan fleet in the Peloponnesian War.

In Roman times Gythium remained a major port and it prospered as a member of the Union. As purple dye was popular in Rome, Gythium exported that as well as porphyry and rose antique marble. Evidence of the ancient Gythium prosperity can be found by the fact that the Romans built an ancient theatre which is well preserved today and is still used occasionally.

Gythio – What to see?

  • Historical Museum – you will find the Historical & Ethnological Museum on Kranae islet, in the Tower of Tzaetakis. With its three floors it is telling us the long history of Mani. Tzanetakis Tower is a fine example of the towers in Mani.
  • Shipwreck near Gythio – the Greek shipwreck Dimitrios is famous in its stunning location at the sandy beach, Selinitsa (or Valtaki) 4 km from Gythio. It is easy to reach.
  • Gythio Lighthouse – you will see the historical lighthouse of Gythio on the edge of Kranae islet. The islet is connected to the mainland by a narrow pathway.
  •  Ancient Theatre of Gythium – was originally built by the Romans. During the summer it is hosting festivals and cultural events. You will find it on a hill above Gythio Town.
  • Church of Agios Petros – is located right in front of the habour, on the islet of Kranae. You can reach it through the narrow pathway to the islet.
Ruins of the medieval Byzantine ghost town-castle of Mystras, Peloponnese, Greece

Castle-town of Mystras


Cranae, South Peloponnese
Kranae, Mani peninsula, southern Peloponnese

Kranae and other islands offshore of Gythio

Offshore of Gythio are several small islands, the most important of these being Cranae, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway built in 1898. According to legend, when Paris of Troy abducted Helen from Sparta they spent their first night in Cranae. When Gythio became the major port of Sparta Cranae became a resting spot for traders. After the rest of Greece enslaved to the Ottoman Turks only Mani remained free.

What to do in Mani Greece?

Vatheia village with old abandoned tower houses, Mani peninsula, Peloponnese Greece

3 Days Laconia Private Tour


Visit the Diros Caves

Diros Caves in Mani peninsula

When visiting Mani and Gythio in specific, don’t loose the opportunity of visiting the unique Diros Caves with one of the finest, if not the most beautiful lake cave in the world. You can find a more detailed description of the caves in my post about Mani. The Diros Caves are located approx. 18 km south of Areopolis and they are part of an underground river. About 5,000 meters have been exposed and are accessible by small boats and through narrow passage ways.

Road trip in Mani

Boats in the crystal-clear waters of Gerolimenas in Mani peninsula, Peloponnese Greece

Tour of Mani from Gythio


Wine tasting in Mani

Beaches near Gythio

The bay of Lakonikos is home to Loggerhead sea turtles, in Greece known as turtles Caretta-Caretta. They are nesting along the beaches of Evrotas, Mavrovouni, Selinitsa, Valtaki and Vathi, where sand dune restoration is taking place, actually the first of its kind in all of Greece. Find a list of the best beaches near Gythio here:

Snorkeling with sea turtle Caretta-Carettea  in turquoise colored waters of Mani peninsula
Young woman snorkeling with sea turtle Caretta in turquoise colored waters of the famous Foneas beach near Kardamyli
  • Mavrovouni beach – sandy and family friendly beach located 2 km south of Gythio. It is partly organized with many tourist facilities and a variety of watersports. It tends to get crowdy during the summer.
  • Selinitsa beach – famous for its shipwreck and the caretta-caretta sea turtles going here in the summer to lay their eggs. You will find it 2 km north of Gythio, easy to access. It is partly organized.
  • Trinitsa beach – sandy and family friendly beach located 7 km north of Gythio. It is partly organized with windsurfing and other watersports.
  • Ageranos beach – a secluded, sandy, and family friendly beach located 14 km southwest of Gythio. It is a long, clean, partly organized beach, quite popular during summer.
Two glasses og Greek frappé ice-coffee on the waterfront of Gerolimenas, Mani peninsula, Peloponnese Greece

Gythio & Mani from Monemvasia


Weather and climate in Gythio

Average monthly day, night, and sea temperatures in °C in Gytheio, Mani