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Background of Panos Papadolias

Laconia… This place is so important to me! I will try to explain why. Have you ever heard the word very …laconic…, which is closely interconnected with the southern part of mainland Greece and wherein laconism was something every ancient Spartan pursued for? My name is Panos and I was born in this holy place, Sparta of the warriors and the heroes. However, I grew up and moved in Athens. 2011 was the year-catalyst, that I created my blog,, and was the reason to open a new chapter in my relationship with Laconia. Five years later, as a Sparta and Laconia guru, they often invite me to share the mysteries of this region of Greece. If I would put my opinion on Laconia in a sentence, I would say that “God created Laconia” – the main slogan launched for the advertising campaign of Laconia that I signed back in 2006.

Laconia Through The Eyes of Panos Papadolias

Mythical, unrevealed, colorful, traditional, magnificent and the list never ends; could you describe Lakonia in five words?

I could describe Laconia as a small piece of Greece because, within the 3,636 square kilometers, it feels like tasting the wonderful Greek mosaic on a small scale. Five words that describe it perfectly include versatile, historic, immaculate, inspiring and wild.

Lakonia is one of the most beautiful summer destinations of Peloponnese. However, the majority of visitors seem to overlook the wider beauty of the region of Lakonia. Could you please advice the travellers of Mysterious Greece on the best things they can do during their stay in Lakonia?

Laconia is no exception. Local people who work in the tourism industry are trying to satisfy all the needs of the travellers. What I would propose is to «break» this line and visit the hinterland of Laconia in order to experience her unique culture. The first thing travellers should definetely do is to walk with the Sparta Mountaineering Association, and other voluntary groups, and enjoy the contact with nature through its trails. Taste the Laconian local cuisine, which uses wild greens as a raw material. You will find such recipes in the taverns of the small villages. As for aromatic plants, search of tea from Parnon and oregano from Taygetus. If you decide to collect, respect the collection rules of the locals. Laconia is a place with intense religiousness. Seek to enter the churches of the villages! The celebrations also give the pulse of the community. Complete the experience and discovering the wonderful Laconian monasteries. At last but not least, search for local products. Oil, honey, oranges, local pasta, meats, onions and cheese.

From the fortress town of Monemvasia, the imperious villages of Mani, lovely Gythio town, and historical Sparta to the cape of Malias, the petrified forest in Agia Marina, the submerged settlement of Pavlopetri, the cave of Kastania and Simos beach in Elafonisos, Lakonia hides millions of mysteries. If you had to choose your favorite location in Lakonia, what would that be?

Taygetus Mountain, the peak of it is a must, an ideal escape for nature lovers and mountaineering aficionados!

Gerakas, the unique fjord formations of Gerakas, a rare phenomenon for Greece, is a diamond of Laconia that must be visited, which combines the land with the water element creating a peaceful environment!

Velanidia, the most picturesque village of Laconia! Where Parnonas Mountain fades away in the endless blue of the sea, a village combines the culture of the sea with the tradition of the hinterland.

Monemvasia from above. Just this. You have to live it!

Mani. Her wilderness will charm you instantly. Even more challenging, however, is to search for places that still mantain their authenticity, yet their untamed nature intact. Follow the small dirt roads and explore the villages/ghosts, and stop at the charming chapels that are scattered everywhere in Mani.

Gythio and its neighboorhoods. A lovely town for promenades in the seaside street! However, the streets above the harbor, reserved only to the travellers, recount the life and history of Gythio!

Neapoli. Its beauty, with the pristine beaches and its lovely streets.

The beaches of Lakonia are considered to be the most beautiful in the peninsula of Peloponnese. Which are you favorite beaches?

Laconia, from May to October, is offered for refreshing dives as the sea is never far away. I quote some of the most beautiful beaches of Laconia in a random order.

Tigania, ouside of Elia village, in the Laconic Gulf.

Vlychada, close to Richia village, in the Myrtoan Sea.

Alypa, between Kotrona and Kokkala, in the east side of the peninsula of Kato Mani.

Mavrovouni, next to Gythio, an ideal escape of windsurfers.

Nisia Panagias in Elafonisos island as well as Simos beach in Elafonisos are a must.

Limeni in Mani, a dive from the rocks is essential.

Agia Kyriaki next to Kyparissi village.

Karavostasi in Plytra, a charming corner for family situations.

Although summer in Greece is synonymous to swimming in crystalline waters under the Aegean sun, Lakonia is famous for its picturesque villages! If you were going to give advice to the travellers of Mysterious Greece, which villages would you recommend them to visit and why?

Geraki village. If the road brings you in this village, one of the most prominent places of Laconia, it is a must to make a stop! Geraki with its Byzantine traces and its hidden treasures is an ideal escape for travellers!

Kyparissi. Although it looks isolated, since Parnonas Mountain decelerates the hordes of travellers, Kyparissi is a place you will fall in love, a seaside village that resembles a colorful painting!

Karies in Northern Parnonas. The homeland of Caryatids of the Parthenon might be the ideal base for the exploration of this part of Laconia.

Georgitsi in Northern Taygetus, it is characterized as the balcony of Taygetus. Nothing else need to be said!

Velanidia, the most picturesque village of Laconia. An ideal base for exploring legendary Cavo Malias.

Although Lakonia is one of the most famous summer resorts of Peloponnese, it has an unexplored side unknown to the majority of people. If you were going to give advice to the travellers of Mysterious Greece, where would you recommend them to go to acquire a complete image of the beauty of Lakonia?

Undoubtedly, Laconia is full of attractions that fascinate visitors from all around the world. However, there are many unknown and unexplored parts in Laconia ideal for travelling lovers.

Discover Sparta. Everybody seem to bypass this historical city. Yet, Sparta will reward the persistent travellers!

Explore Monemvasia. This destination has many surprises. Unwind yourself and prepare for thrilling emotions!

Experience Arna, famous for the annual celebration of chestnuts! It is a village worth exploring!

The Bardounohoria, a historical place! Tiny villages where people struggle to survive. The charm of regional Greece. Panagia Giatrissa monastery with its beautiful views is a must visit!

Xirokambi and Anavryti, two key villages to explore the world of Taygetus!

Talanta, the village of the watermills. Tradition lovers must visit this lovely village!

The Byzantine fortified town of Mystras is the most important Byzantine monument in Greece. It is a valuable source of information regarding history, art and culture of the last two centuries of the Byzantium. Have you ever visited Mystras? If so, could you please describe your experience?

The archaeological sites of Greece are meeting places of history. Visiting the Byzantine town of Mystras, however, is a unique experience. It is itself a stunning experience, and I would suggest to dedicate a lot of time to discover the mysteries of Mystras. Start from the Upper Gate and the Castle of Mystras, and continue towards the archaeological site of the Lower Gate.
Please describe to us an unforgettable moment of yours in Lakonia!

Simos beach in Elafonisos is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. I still remember the winter day I visited this amazing beach. We were the only human presence, the sun was burning, the sea was crystal clear and the sand intact. The only traces were left from Common Kingfishers. I still remember this unique feeling!
What’s your favorite sunset spot in Lakonia?

The picturesque harbor of Elia village in the Laconian Gulf. One can enjoy the loveliness of the sea on the one side, and the massiveness of the mountain on the other side, while the sun is setting behind Taygetus!

Describe to us your top 5 List for things to do in Lakonia

  • Run in the Kastorio Mountain Half Marathon of Taygetus. Next to Sparta, in the charming village of Kastori, a unique experience awaits sport lovers. The best way to experience the Laconian countryside is to live intensely, and not behind the tinted glass of a bus!

  • Visit the climbing park «Zombolo – Kavo Malias» and the new climbing park in Kyparissi that offer breathtaking views and excitement to climbers!

  • Experience the carnival season of «Apokries» in Krokees and the «Vlach Wedding» in Daphni in order to experience the authentic spirit of the Greek carnival.

  • Make a journey in Laconia solely for its olive oil. If you have friends travelling with you, get involved in olive harvesting. Buy a bottle or two of biological Laconic olive. A visit to the Museum of Olive Oil in Sparta is essential!

  • Discover the summer program of Sainopouleion Amphitheater of Sparta. Characterized as the most beautiful theatre of Greece from the great Greek composer Manos Hatzidakis, this theatre offers a unique experience surrounded from olive groves on Taygetus and Mystras.

What’s your favorite cocktail bar with a view in Lakonia?

Its name is Veil. However, many of the loyal regulars still call it with its first name, Mystras Bistrot. It is located in the settlement of Pikoulianika, next to Mystras, and it is a meeting point with wonderful views to the Laconic valley.

Concerning the gastronomic experience of Lakonia, could you please advice us two to five of your favorite taverns and restaurants?

In Laconia, there is the rule «to find your favorite restaurant, you have to search». For this reason, we, the Lakonistas, search for great restaurants and lovely taverns that have it all. Therefore, we invite you to the following:

Neraida in Agios Nikolaos: A lovely combination of gastronomy and space with atmosphere.

Chromata in Pikoulianika: Lovely cuisine, with great identity and extraordinary views.

En Hatipi in Sparta: In a quiet neighborhood, En Hatipi resembles the old Greek cookeries that focuses on the Greek cuisine with style and creativity.

Hannover in Gythio: Hidden behind Gythio, in the lovely beach of Vathy, Hannover is a lovely spot with exquisite dishes made with traditional products from Laconia.

In the heart of Sparta, at the central square, it is a must to visit Kapparti for its mezes!

Kyrimai in Gerolimenas of Mani is not only an atmospheric hotel, since it is well equipped with an extraordinary restaurant and lovely dishes!

Collect mushrooms in Taygetus (with an experienced guide) and bring your basket to Kiki at «Balkoni tou Taygetou» in Georgitsi. She will cook an amazing dish you will never forget!

Faris Guesthouse in Taygetus is yet another meeting place for foodies! The mountain and the fresh air will tease your appetite while Giorgos Kokkoros knows all the tricks of the Laconian gastronomy!

According to your opinion, which is the must-visit monument in Lakonia?

Diros Caves, a natural masterpiece that offers a mystical experience, and Forty Martyrs Monastery, a few kilometers from Sparta, holds a pure spiritual experience.

Share with us your mystery!

A less known monument is the monastery of Palaiomonastiro in Vrontamas. In a wonderful place of nature, far away from culture, travellers will have the opportunity to discover an important place of memorial and martyrdom. During the early years of the 1821 Greek Revolution, the Turks, in a vast raid against the Greeks, arrived in the village Vrontamas and discovered that 300 people were confined in this monastery. Following an unsuccessful siege, the Turks pierced the rock and burn alive the inhabitants of the village. Although it is a creepy story, Palaiomonastiro is a mystery that deserves to be discovered.

This space is just for you! Please feel free to add anything you think that was missing from the questionnaire!

A few years ago, I had the chance of having dinner with the famous American writer Stephen Pressfilnt [ “Gates of fire”] in a tavern just outside Sparta. Steven was impressed from the imposing figure of the rock that was raised behind us, and he said: “It feels like that every rock and every stone in Sparts carries its own long history.” I think this phrase perfectly summarizes Laconia. Enthusiasts of are well prepared to experience authentic Laconia! The Greek-speaking audience, however, can always visit!