Last updated on February 15th, 2024 at 07:19 am

If you ever wondered what to do in Kalamata, this comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Kalamata is all you need to be inspired to add this vibrant coastal city to your Peloponnese itinerary.

From its Old Town that bears marks of the city’s rich history to its stunning natural surroundings to its precious local product – the famous Kalamata olives – to its endless opportunities for fun moments, the city of Kalamata has no shortage of wonders to offer the curious traveller who embarks on a trip to this lesser-known gem in Southern Greece.

Here’s what to do in Kalamata, one of the sunniest European cities, a destination that never disappoints.

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Sunset over the Messinian Gulf as seen from Kastraki Café-Bar-Restaurant.
A stormy sunset in Kalamata

Kalamata Travel Tips

Before going into detail about what to do in Kalamata, here’s a brief guide to help you plan your trip to Kalamata.

  • Where is Kalamata: Kalamata is the second-largest city in the Peloponnese after Patras. It’s located between the Messinian and Mani peninsulas, near the Taygetus Mountain and the Aegean Sea.
  • Best time to visit Kalamata: Located in Southern Greece, Kalamata enjoys more sunny days than the average Greek city. That makes Kalamata a whole-year destination with good weather and warm temperatures. Avoid the summer months, especially August, as both the heat and the crowds can be unbearable then.
  • How many days in Kalamata: You need two or three days to explore the city. That said, we recommend adding more days to discover the surrounding gems of the Messinia region.
  • How to get to Kalamata: The best way to get to Kalamata is by booking a direct flight to Kalamata International Airport. That said, direct flights to Kalamata Airport are very limited. Most of the time, it’s easier to catch a flight to Athens instead. From Athens, you can rent a car and drive to Kalamata via the famous Corinth Canal. This is the best option if you want to explore the greater Messinia region. Due to the horrible old road network, Kalamata was hard to reach until recently. Thankfully, that’s now changed and, nowadays, Kalamata is an easy 3-hour drive from Athens. Another good option is to hop on the X93 bus from Athens Airport to get to the KTEL Bus Station and catch a bus to Kalamata. You can buy your bus tickets online through the official website.
  • Where to stay in Kalamata: Kalamata is home to several luxury hotels, such as the BlueBlood Hotel. The latter is housed in a gorgeous neoclassical building on the Central Square. Alternatively, the 4-star Hotel Elite City Resort on the beachfront is yet another great choice.
  • How to get around Kalamata & Messinia: Apart from the Castle area, Kalamata is a flat, totally walkable city. The main Kalamata attractions are in or near the Old Town, the port and the beach. You can walk or take a taxi or public bus to get from one area to another. Here you can find out more about tickets and public bus stations in Kalamata. To explore the surroundings of Kalamata, it’s best to rent a car.
  • Before you visit Kalamata, read about the 1986 Earthquake that forged the city’s character and impacted the lives of locals for generations to come.
View of Hiliometro from its starting point. Small boats are moored along the jetty.
Melancholic yet pretty, this is Kalamata

Before you find out what to do in Kalamata, check out this useful Travel Resources section:

Top 20 Things To Do in Kalamata Greece

1. Taste Top-Quality Olive Oil & Kalamata Olives

Kalamata is famous for its extra virgin olive oil and superb olives and for good reason. The symbol of Greece since ancient times, the olive has been cultivated for thousands of years. Intertwined with Greek culture since the ancient Olympic Games, when an olive wreath was the prize for winners, the olive was used to produce anything from cosmetics to prime-quality olive oil.

As Greeks, we’re proud of our olives and we make sure they’re always on our table. Among the numerous varieties of Greek olives, Kalamata olives are the most famous. They’re also our favourite type of olives.

A bowl full of Kalamata olives. Kalamata olives are of deep brown colour, big and almond-shaped.
In Kalamata, you’ll try the most delicious olives

If you visit any local market in Greece, you’ll rarely stumble upon Kalamata olives. The most common type you’ll find at the markets is Kalamon olives instead. The names look and sound similar but there’s a difference. The Kalamata olive is a PDA product that only grows in the Kalamata region in limited quantities. The Kalamon olive is a similar product that can grow anywhere in Greece.

Homer’s Liquid Gold and Hippocrates’ Great Healer, olive oil is yet another product not to miss in Kalamata. You might think that olive oil comes from the shiny big Kalamata olives. It doesn’t. Kalamata olive oil is extracted from the small olives of the Koroneiki variety, ideal for the production of extra virgin olive oil.

A very old olive tree in an olive grove.
Olive trees that have been around for centuries

To cut a long story short, among the top things to do in Kalamata is to visit one of many dreamy olive groves. There, under the whispers of the olive trees, you’ll learn everything about olives and olive oil production. At the end of your visit, you’ll enjoy an olive oil tasting that will help you learn how to tell the different types and qualities of olive oil apart.

Hands down, this olive oil routes tour led by Dimitra, a passionate olive oil expert, is one of the best tours we’ve ever joined. Make sure not to miss it.

An olive tree next to the ruins of Androussa Castle overlooking the Messinian landscape.
The gorgeous setting at the Olive Routes Estate

2. Wander Around The Old Town of Kalamata

At the foot of Kalamata Castle, Kalamata Old Town is where most of the city’s tourist attractions and historic sights are located. It’s a fascinating blend of remnants that date back to the Byzantine period, the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Rule. Wander around its narrow streets, lined with cosy restaurants and coffee shops, and feel the vibes of a small Greek town where locals greet each other as they go.

After sightseeing around the stunning historic quarter, make a stop at a typical Greek kafeneio (or kafenio) to taste some staple meze dishes of local cuisine. For delicious traditional dishes, we recommend Thiasos, a quaint kafeneio in the heart of the Old Town.

Riganada consists of a few bread slices with ground tomatoes, local cheese, basil leaves, olive oil and oregano on top.
Riganada is a simple yet mouthwatering meze dish you can try in Kalamata

3. Step Inside The Byzantine Church of The Holy Apostles

As you’re wandering around the Old Town, it’s impossible to miss the historic Church of the Holy Apostles. One of the most gorgeous churches in Kalamata, it was initially built in the Byzantine period. It was expanded in the 17th century, during the second Venetian rule.

This is where the Greeks led by Kolokotronis, Papaflessas and Mavromichalis liberated Kalamata from Turkish occupation on the 23rd of March 1821, igniting the Greek War of Independence.

4. Don’t Miss The Victoria Karelias Museum of Traditional Greek Costumes

Housed in one of the city’s most eye-catching neoclassical mansions, the Victoria Karelias Museum comprises a large collection of traditional costumes from all over Greece.

Featuring user-friendly digital means, this modern museum displays over 80 complete traditional outfits from the 19th century onwards. The museum’s atmospheric three floors give you an idea of what clothes and accessories Greeks used to wear both on mainland Greece and the islands.

For more information, visit the museum’s website.

A woman mannequin wearing a traditional red and peach outfit at the Victoria Karelias Museum, one of the best places to visit in Kalamata.
One of many beautiful displays at the Victoria Karelia Museum

5. Climb Up The Castle of Kalamata

Set atop a hill in the northern part of the city, Kalamata Castle was rebuilt by the Frank occupiers on the ruins of an ancient acropolis called Fares in the 13th century. After the Frankish occupation, the Castle of Kalamata changed hands between the Ottomans and the Venetians. In the 18th century, the castle was abandoned. Its history is very similar to that of Palamidi Castle in Nafplio.

Unlike other castles in the Peloponnese region, such as the splendid Monemvasia Castle, Kalamata Castle feels a bit neglected. However, it’s worth the easy climb for the panoramic views of the city.

For more information about opening hours and ticket prices visit the castle’s website.

A small church behind pine trees at the top of Kalamata Castle.
Wandering around the Castle of Kalamata at sunset is one of the best things to do in Kalamata

6. Walk To The Church of Ypapanti

A short downhill walk from Kalamata Castle, the imposing Church of Ypapanti awaits. Inaugurated in 1873, the Metropolitan Church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary & The Presentation of Jesus at The Temple of Jerusalem, called Ypapanti in Greek.

View of the Ypapanti Church's upper part. The church's walls are yellow with white outlines. Small parts of the roof are covered with tiles and there are domes of silver colour.
The Church of Ypapanti dominates Kalamata’s skyline

Ypapanti Church was built at the spot where the damaged icon of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus was found. The historic icon belonged to the small church that stood there before. This church was used as a stable during the Ottoman occupation. Every year, big celebrations take place on the 2nd of February, followed by the procession of the icon.

The interior of Ypapanti Church. A stripe of strong sunlight illuminates the temple. On the left, there is the historic icon of Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.
Don’t miss the chance to step inside one of Kalamata’s must-see churches

7. Stroll Along The Hiliometro of Kalamata

One of the best places in Kalamata for a relaxing walk is the so-called Hiliometro. Completed in 1901, the Port of Kalamata contributed to the city’s growth back in the day. The Greek word for kilometre, Hiliometro is in essence the port’s jetty. It may or may not have a length of one thousand metres but this doesn’t take away any of its charm.

Take a relaxing stroll along the Hiliometro for superb views of the city and the surrounding area.

View of people walking along the concrete Hiliometro jetty, as seen from its top part. There is a lighthouse at the end of the jetty. If you're wondering what to do in Kalamata, this walk is a must.
There’s nothing quite like a stroll along the so-called Hiliometro

8. Spend an Afternoon Along The Promenade

The city of Kalamata boasts a fantastic promenade. It starts from the Port of Kalamata and ends on Kalamata Beach. You can spend an afternoon basking on the beach, tasting delicacies at one of the local restaurants and cafés near the port or just strolling along the promenade.

The pebbled shore of Kalamata beach.
Walking along the beachfront on a cloudy afternoon is a must if you’re wondering what to do in Kalamata

9. Wander Around The Municipal Railway Park

Completed in 1986, just before the devastating earthquake, the Municipal Railway Park is a unique outdoor museum where you can see the city’s disused train station, old cargo cars, passenger cars, wagons and other railway exhibits.

An old-fashioned white-blue train at the Municipal Railway Park.
The Municipal Railway Park is the city’s former railway station, now a unique open-air museum

Located between the main square and the port, the open-air museum is also a recreational park with basketball and volleyball courts, a small lake and a café for drinks and snacks.

An orange kitten is loafing in front of a black-red train at the Municipal Railway Park.
It’s also the perfect place to hang out with cute kitties

10. Visit The Archaeological Museum of Messenia

Built on the site where the city’s market used to be before the 1986 earthquake, the Archaeological Museum of Messenia is yet another of Kalamata’s many interesting museums. Situated a few steps from the Church of the Holy Apostles, the museum showcases the history of Messenia from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era.

The museum features exhibits from the four former provinces of the region: Kalamata, Messene, Pylia and Trifylia. Among the exhibits, there is an impressive Roman mosaic floor, objects from daily life and offerings excavated from Mycenean shaft graves.

11. Don’t Forget The History & Folklore Museum of Kalamata

Housed in the 19th-century neoclassical mansion of the Kyriakou family, the History & Folklore Museum displays objects and artefacts from the 1821 Greek Resistance. On the ground floor, you can get a glimpse of Greek rural and pastoral life through agricultural exhibits.

However, the most impressive section of the History Museum is situated on the upper floor. It’s dedicated to the first printing house in Greece that was in Kalamata.

12. Enjoy The Views From Kastraki

Situated in a prime location on the slopes of Taygetus Mountain, Kastraki Café Bar Restaurant is a great place to enjoy the sunset. Although recently built, Kastraki resembles a real Byzantine castle. It has a small open-air amphitheatre, ideal for enjoying a drink or dinner with splendid views over the Messenian Gulf and the Messenian Peninsula.

You can get to Kastraki after a short drive or taxi ride from the city centre. There is enough parking space if you get there by car.

View of the Kastraki outdoor area with panoramic views over the Messinian Gulf.
Kastraki during the closing party of TBEX 2023, a content creators event we attended in May 2023

13. Buy Local Products From The Farmers’ Market

There is no chance to visit any place in Greece without stumbling upon a farmers’ market. Kalamata boasts a large municipal central market where many a local producer from all over Messenia set up their stalls twice a week and sell their goodies. From fresh fruit and vegetables to olives, honey and local cheese, here you will find the best quality local products to take with you back home.

As mentioned above, after the 1986 earthquake, the farmers’ market was transferred from the Old Town to the new municipal building behind Kalata Castle. The market takes place every Wednesday and Saturday. If you’re wondering what to do in Kalamata as a local, this is the place to be.

14. Savour Delicious Galaktoboureko

Open since 1910, the historic Skiadas Pastry Shop on Ypapantis Street never stopped making some of the best galaktoboureko in Greece. We’ve mentioned galaktoboureko before, in our Naxos travel guide. As it’s one of our favourite Greek desserts, we try to sample galaktoboureko everywhere we travel around Greece.

Step inside the old-fashioned pastry shop and order two pieces of this mouthwatering galaktoboureko each. Devour the first piece on the spot while it’s still warm and eat the second when you’re back at your hotel after it gets cold. Let us know which version you liked the most in the comments to contribute to the eternal Greek debate. Should galaktoboureko be eaten cold or warm?

The fridge at Skiadas pastry shop filled with different types of old-fashioned pastries.
Old-fashioned desserts on display at the Skiadas Pastry Shop – the galaktoboureko isn’t pictured here or anywhere else because we devoured it before we had a chance to take a photo

15. Discover Kalamata’s Street Art

Inspired by the Greek War of Independence, a street art masterpiece by the Greek street artist Skitsofrenis decorates a wall just a stone’s throw from the Church of The Holy Apostles. Skitsofrenis is a renowned Messenian street artist with artworks all over Greece. Wander around Kalamata’s streets and discover more of his masterpieces. This map may help you in your street art hunting.

A street art masterpiece of Skitsofrenis in the Old Town depicting the heroes of the 1821 Greek War of Independence. Checking out the city's amazing street art tops the list of what to do in Kalamata.
Street Art inspired by the Greek War of Independence

16. Learn Recent Greek History at The Military Museum of Kalamata

Situated between the Church of Ypapanti and the Victoria Karelias Museum, the Kalamata Military Museum attracts visitors interested in the modern history of Greece. Uniforms, weapons and military objects narrate Greek history from the 1821 Greek Revolution and the Balkan Wars to World Wars I and II and the present.

17. Enjoy Some of The Best Beaches Near Kalamata

One of the main reasons to plan your trip to Greece is that it has some of the best beaches in the world. Kalamata and Messenia are no exception to the rule. For starters, Kalamata is one of the few Greek cities with a gorgeous long sandy beach right in the city. Spend a day on Kalamata Beach, swim in the crystal-clear waters, do some water sports or just relax at one of the beach bars.

Besides the city’s beach, the region is home to one of the most popular beaches in Greece. An hour’s drive from Kalamata, the semi-circular shaped Voidokilia is a unique exotic beach with turquoise waters.

Other beaches on the Messenian peninsula are Chrani and Agios Andreas. On the Mani peninsula, take the seaside route that leads to beautiful beaches and small fishing villages such as Verga Beach, Akrogiali, Sadova and Kitries.

View of Voidokilia beach from the sandy shore. The turqoise waters are crystal clear and the beach is surrounded by dramatic rocky cliffs.
The exotic Voidokilia Beach, one of the top places to visit near Kalamata

18. Get Into The Groove at Kalamata’s Dance Festival

Kalamata boasts an international contemporary Dance Festival that has taken place every summer since 1995. Every July, Kalamata and Costa Navarino host stages with contemporary dance performances and dancers from all over the world. Besides the performances, dance workshops for everyone, including children or people with disabilities, are held across the city.

If you happen to be in Kalamata in July, check out the Festival’s program here.

19. Take a Day Trip

While in Kalamata, it’s worth planning one or more amazing day trips to see more of the Messenia region. Messinia and the adjacent Mani regions are home to numerous places of great beauty. Here’s a very small selection of the best day trips from Kalamata:

Day Trip To Gialova & Voidokilia

For nature lovers, Gialova Lagoon features a unique ecosystem where migratory birds stop on their way to Northern Europe. Hiking enthusiasts can climb up to Nestor’s Cave and Palaiokastro while beach fans can relax at the nearby Voidokilia. If you feel you need more time to explore the region, splurge on one of the stunning suites at Costa Navarino, a 5-star sustainable resort in Greece.

Also, consider booking this tour for a half-day kayaking trip with lunch in Navarino Bay. You will have the opportunity to explore the islets, swim and snorkel.

Alternatively, you can book a hiking trip across the Gialova Lagoon area.

A wooden pier in Costa Navarino and Sfakteria islet in the backdrop.
Just before the night falls at Costa Navarino

Day Trip To Ancient Messene

Built on the slopes of Mount Ithomi, Ancient Messene is an easy day trip from Kalamata and one of the lesser-known archaeological sites in Greece, part of UNESCO’s tentative list since 2014.

Less than one hour’s drive from the city centre of Kalamata, the ancient city’s archaeological site includes all the essentials of an ancient Greek city. Mighty fortifications, a theatre, an Asklepieion, a stadium and so on. On your way back to Kalamata, a lunch stop at Ithomi Restaurant is mandatory.

View of the stadium in Ancient Messene and Mavrommati village on the slope of Mount Ithomi in the background.
The well-preserved stadium in Ancient Messene, one of the lesser-known historic sites in Greece

Day Trip To The Polylimnio Waterfalls

Hidden in the heart of the Messinian peninsula, Polylimnio is a complex of 15 fresh-water lakes surrounded by lush greenery. To get there from Kalamata, drive for 45 minutes until you arrive at this spot. Forget about flip-flops. Wear sturdy hiking shoes to descend the trail that leads to this hidden paradise.

Hiking Polylimnio Waterfall can be challenging. We highly recommend booking a tour with a local guide.

A small lake surrounded by lush vegetation at the Polilimnio waterfalls.
Exploring the Polylimnio Waterfalls is one of the best outdoor activities near Kalamata

20. Buy a Traditional Kalamata Silk Scarf

One of the most popular Greek folk songs is called Mantili Kalamatiano – Greek for Scarf from Kalamata. In the past, Kalamata boasted a thriving silk industry. Some of our fondest childhood memories involve our grandmothers wearing Kalamata scarves on their heads or necks.

The city is still famous for its silk scarfs. Nowadays though, Kalamata silk scarves are mainly used by folk dancers. In the following video, you can see how. If you want to buy a Kalamata scarf, your best shot is one of the craft shops around Ypapanti Church.

Now that you know what to do in Kalamata, we’re very curious to see if you would consider adding this lesser-known city to your Greece itinerary. We know that Kalamata is definitely worth visiting but let us know what you think in the comments!

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina
EDITING: Maria

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