Kalamata – Capital of Messinia, Perfect Base for Exploring Stunning Nature

Kalamata, the capital and central port of Messinia, is placed amidst great natural beauty with indented shores, sandy beaches, green mountains and fertile valleys. It is situated at the site of ancient Farai and near other significant archaeological monuments. It has developed into a wealthy urban center thanks to its port and the exploitation of the fertile Messinian lands (olive oil, raisin and fig production).

Above the castle of Kalamata at sunset, Messinia Greece
Above the castle of Kalamata at sunset

Top 10 Things to do in Kalamata

  1. Explore the castle of Kalamata on foot
  2. Taste the world-famous local olives and olive oil
  3. Go on a daytrip to the famous Voidokoilia Beach and the nearby Gialova Lagoon
  4. Take a romantic stroll in the Old City known as Palia Poli
  5. Don’t miss the International Dance Festival which takes place every summer
  6. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Messinia
  7. Enjoy a cool drink and the panoramic view from Palaiokastro, the old Pylos Castle
  8. Visit the Modern Greek Art Gallery
  9. Discover King Nestor´s Palace and the archaeological sites of ancient Messini
  10. Go for an evening stroll along the seaside road at the shoreline of Kalamata

You will find Kalamata, a charming old town, beneath its castle on the southern shores of Peloponnese. Kalamata was destroyed by the Turks during the War of Independence and rebuilt in the 1830’s by French engineers. It was ruined again by an earthquake in 1986. The modern town is just a few kilometres from the beachfront where you will find plenty of hotels and restaurants.

Sheep grazing in the hills around Kalamata, Messinia, Peloponnese Greece
Sheep grazing in the hills around Kalamata, Messinia

Kalamata, the capital of Messinia is the second largest town in Peloponnese. It is famous worldwide for its olives and olive oil. It has a long, pebbled beach, good restaurants, a great shopping center, and a lively nightlife. Kalamata town has some most interesting museums.

How to get to Kalamata?

Sunset at Kalamata harbour, Peloponnese Greece
Sunset at Kalamata harbour

The city of Kalamata has an international airport and an important harbor. Ferries are available to places such as the Greek islands of Kythira and Crete. Kalamata is situated 238 km southwest of Athens. Kalamata Airport KLX receives domestic flights from Thessaloniki and seasonally from a great variety of European destinations. At the airport you will find taxis, car rentals, airport hotels and buses.

History of Messinia

You’ll find the port of Kalamata on the west side of Mount Taygetos. It is the chief town of the prefecture of Messenia and a port for the shipment of the agricultural produce of the region. It occupies the site of Mycenaean Pharai, a town of the kingdom ruled by Menelaos. In 720 B.C., together with the rest of Messenia, it was conquered by the Spartans. From 1204, under its present name, it became the residence, along with Andravida, of the Villehardouins. After periods of Byzantine, Turkish and Venetian rule it was sacked by Ibrahim Pasha in 1825. It still bears marks of the damages caused in 1986 by a severe earthquake.

History of Kalamata city

Kalamata, Peloponnese, Greece

Historic Walking Tour


Unlike many other Greek cities, Kalamata does not date to classical times. However, Messene, located some 25 km (16 mi) north-west of Kalamata and about 15 to 20 km (12 mi) from modern Messini, is an important ancient site. From 1681 on the Venetians ruled Kalamata. On 23 March 1821, Kalamata was the first city to be liberated from the Ottoman occupation of over 300 years, by the Greek revolutionary forces under the command of generals Theodoros Kolokotronis, Petros Mavromichalis and Papaflessas. In 1825, Ibrahim Pasha destroyed the city during the Greek war of independence. After this, Kalamata was rebuilt and became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean sea. It is not surprising that the second-oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille, exists in Kalamata.

Modern Kalamata

Today, Kalamata has the second largest population and mercantile activity in Peloponnese. It makes important exports, particularly of local products such as raisins, olives and olive oil. Although the city experienced catastrophic consequences after the earthquake of 1986, it has overall recovered its pace and is forging ahead successfully from a commercial aspect.

Places to explore around Kalamata

Kalamata itself is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece situated in a way that it  looks southwards to the Mediterranean Sea. It is, though, the surroundings of Kalamata that really captures anyone with their stunning beauty. The best way of exploring the local area is by far to rent a car, since public transport is not convenient.

Great travel routes from Kalamata by rented car

The Kalamata loop

Gialova – Pylos – Methoni – Finikounda – Koroni – Petalidi – Kalamata (about 140 km, 1 and a half hours drive all together)

View of Pylos Port, Peleponnese

Pylos and Methoni


Ancient Messini

(25 km, about half an hour drive)

The ancient city of Messini in Peloponnese, Greece

Ancient Messene


South-west coast of Peloponnese

Drive along the south-western coastline of Peloponnese (Nestor’s Palace – Gargaliani – Marathos – Filiatra – Kyparissia – Kaiafas) (90 km, about 1 and a half hours drive each way)

The Mani villages

Driving to the area of Mani (villages: Kardamyli – Stoupa – Agios Nikolaos – Itilo – Limeni – Areopolis – Vathia – Gerolimenas) (about 2 hours drive each way)

Diros Caves in Mani Peloponnese, Greece - photo by E. Fili

Diros Caves & Mani Villages


Mount Taygetos

Taygetos Mountain Mystras – Sparta – Gythio (about 2 hours drive each way)

Ruins of the medieval Byzantine ghost town - castle of Mystras, Peloponnese, Greece



Ancient Olympia

Ancient Olympia (110 km, about 1 and a half hours drive each way)

The archaeological site of ancient Olympia. The place where olympic games were born in classical times and where the Olympic torch today is ignited, Peloponnese Greece

Olympia Tours



Monemvasia (about 2 hours drive each way)

Monemvasia, the Medieval castle town built on to a seaside rock in Lakonia Peloponnese Greece



What to see in Kalamata?

Panoramic view of the old town of Kalamata, Messinia, Peloponnese Greece
Panoramic view of the old town of Kalamata, Messinia

Benakeio Archeological Museum

This museum houses artifacts from the Bronze Age to the Roman period. The museum is in a Venetian-style mansion which was damaged in the 1986 earthquake, but was restored between 1988-92. (closed on Mondays)
Benakeio Archeological Museum
6 Papazoglou Street, 24100 Kalamata, Greece

Kalamata Folk Art Museum

Kalamata Folk Art Museum has a good number of exhibits, ranging from Stone Age weapons to mirrors and coins from Venetian times. It also houses an impressive collection of mementos and relics from the Greek War of Independence.

Kalamata Railway Museum

Located in the southern end of the Municipal Park of the Railways in Kalamata, are the railway exhibits. Visitors can see the railway station, platform, water-tower, fountains for steam engines, as well as rolling stock.

Castle of the Villehardouins

Castle of the Villehardouins in Kalamata, Greece
Castle of the Villehardouins in Kalamata

Above the town of Kalamata is the castle of the Villehardouins. At the foot of the hill stands the convent of Agios Konstantinos, occupied by nuns who make hand-woven silks. In the Kyriakos House is a museum displaying items of local interest, mainly from the Venetian period and the struggle for liberation.
The Frankish castle has been turned into a park with a tourist pavillion, where one can have refreshments and enjoy a superb view of the area.
Not far from the convent of Agios Konstantinos is the church of Agios Charalambos, one of the most note-worthy Byzantine churches in the area.
Kalamata hosts a traditional folk dance festival every July in the amphitheatre of the medieval castle.

Kalamata – Weather and climate

Average day and night temperatures in °C in Kalamata Greece