If you’re looking for a more authentic experience during your Greece vacation, and the chance to explore the Peloponnese region of the mainland and Greece’s original capital city — Nafplio — then you’d be hard pushed not to enjoy the traditional country getaway at Opora Country Living, a rustic lodging experience in the heart of rural Greece.
Opora Country Living is more than just a place to stay. A family run business, I was lucky to be hosted here by the owners and experience for myself what Opora’s concept is.
Nestled in 99 acres of olive and orange groves and farmland, with views spreading across to the sea, Opora is located 4 miles from Greece’s original capital city of Nafplio, and outside the local village of Pyrgiotika — which offers several delicious tavernas where only locals frequent. The cluster of Opora’s accommodation options is built with local materials using traditional hand-made techniques, drawing on architecture influenced from the past.
Let’s take a look at what Opora offers, as well as the wider area.
Relax On The Farm
The first thing that will strike you upon entering Opora is its tranquil setting. Lush olive groves and orange trees abound. Indeed the family harvests their own olives to make oil in season and make their own preserves from the oranges and fruits on the land. It’s all served up at breakfast time in your room with a selection of warm breads, thick pancakes, and the egg dish of the day. (Be sure to advise of any dietary restrictions at the time of booking.) It’s enough to set you up for the whole day right through to dinner time.
Taking time to explore the farm itself for a couple of days is recommended as there’s so much.
Open year-round, in the summer months you can relax by one of the two infinity pools in the unique country setting. In the winter, snuggle up in your room or master house with an upstairs bedroom and downstairs living room and a roaring log fire. There’s excellent wi-fi throughout all the stone rooms/houses, if you can’t tear yourself away.
A wander around the farm’s property will bring you to their tiny onsite chapel where small weddings can be hosted and catered to. You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the aesthetic setting of it.
From April through to October — considered to be busier tourist months — a therapist can visit the property to offer a choice of massage treatments, such as reiki, Antistress full body and reflexology; all costing extra.
Keen to learn more about local gastronomy? Cooking classes can be arranged in-season using exclusively organic and local produce with vegetables and herbs from Opora’s gardens as well as their fruit trees and olives.
Enjoy Wine Tasting Tours
A 40-minute drive from Opora and you’ll come to the ancient village of Nemea — famous for the Nemean Games which started in 573 BC and took place every 2 years in July — hosting athletic and musical events to honor the King of the Gods, Zeus.
The region is also very well known throughout Europe for its fine wines. The Palivou Estate, being the biggest in the region and, indeed, at 25,000 square meters, it’s the largest in the whole of the Balkan region and referred to as the “Bordeaux of Southeast Europe.”
The family run winery itself is quite small and offers a selection of vineyard and winery tours, wine tastings and seminars, as well as lunch in the winery. It’s a perfect opportunity to combine ancient Greek history with culture and sophistication of the wines of the region.
A mere 4 miles from Opora and you’ll come to the small seaside Greek town of Nafplio — originally Greece’s capital from 1823–1834.
There’s plenty to see and do here to keep you busy for more than a day, such as strolling down the bougainvillea-clad, cobbled alleyways. It maintains its reputation as one of the most romantic mainland towns in Greece with the pick of one of the many tavernas that line the promenade and look out across the gulf as you sip your coffee and eat your lunch.
Sights include the Palamidi Castle — standing guard atop the town and used as a prison in the Greek War of Independence. Be warned: There are 857 steep steps to climb to the top, but the views are rewarding.
Or take a short boat ride out to the island of Bourtzi, where yet another Venetian fortress stands. It was once the residence for the executioners of the prisoners kept in Palamidi Castle.
From 1930–1970, it was converted into a hotel. Now it’s a tourist attraction that occasionally hosts musical events in the summer. Again, it’s worth visiting, especially for its views and island location.
Pro Tip: The parking in Nafplio is not ideal, so it’s best to leave your car at Opora Country Living and they can arrange a short taxi ride for you. With two or three of you splitting the cost, it’s not expensive, plus it takes the stress away of having to find a place to park.
A Perfect Base For Epidaurus
The Peloponnese is home to one of the most famous ancient theaters in the world — Epidaurus. The ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus — a mere 19-mile, 30-minute drive from Opora Country Living — was built in the 4th century BC and is famous for its exceptional acoustic quality. Even from the top of the 54-tiered amphitheater, you’ll hear a pin drop or whispered words from the stage at the bottom. The scientific reason for this phenomenon is because the amphitheater is made of limestone thought to suppress low-frequency noise and reflect back higher ones.
Every year in May, there’s the Athens/Epidaurus Festival, with theatrical and musical performances held across venues in Athens and Epidaurus.
It’s easy to reach by car and Opora Country Living can also provide a private transfer service if you prefer someone else to take the strain so you can completely relax.
Visit The Saronic Islands Of Hydra And Spetses
The Saronic Islands are a small chain of islands between Athens and the Northeast Coast of the Peloponnese.
Hydra is the Jewel of the Saronics and is famous for its donkeys and mules as transportation as no form of motorized transport is allowed (except the refuse and fire truck). The small island lends a quaint and traditional feel with its bustling harbor, Venetian-style architecture, swimming off rocky platforms into azure waters, boutique shops, and a bohemian vibe as it attracts many Greek and international poets and artists. Indeed, Leonard Cohen made his second home here and there is a bench dedicated in his honor on a footpath out of town — but blink and you’ll miss it.
Spetses also has a distinctly Venetian vibe with its architecture and horse and carriage transfer around the small harbor, plus more choices of sandy beaches to relax on.
Opora Country Living is perfectly placed to arrange day trips to both of these islands and offers a competitive day package.
Venture To Monemvasia Castle Town
Unique to the Peloponnese is Monemvasia, the Middle Ages Game of Thrones-esque castle town where houses are carved into the rocks jutting out to sea. It’s linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway and was deemed to be excellent at confusing invading pirates.
There used to be over 40 Byzantine churches of various sizes found in the old town walls, some still functional today with rare Byzantine icons, marble thrones, and frescos.
Today, the new town on the mainland has houses and small boutique hotels, and still maintains the atmosphere of the past. And it’s possible to walk to the old town along the causeway to see the ancient houses and churches.
This is another day trip Opora Country Living can arrange. It’s probably best to let them as it’s about a 3-hour-and-10-minute drive from the farm to the very tip of the Peloponnese Peninsula.
Getting To Opora Country Living And Exploring The Region
It is highly recommended you hire a car from Athens or, if you’re not comfortable driving that distance, take the very good and inexpensive regional bus service (2 hours from the center of Athens or Athens Airport) to Nafplio. You can hire a car from there.
The local village gas station where Opora is based — Pyrgiotika — does have one or two cars to hire, and at reasonable day rates too. Plus, unusually for such a small place, they have automatic cars. But note that this is a very small place, don’t expect a huge range to choose from.
There is great food in the village with a choice of about three to four tavernas, depending on the season as to if they’re open. As mainly villagers eat here, you are absolutely guaranteed an authentic experience. They do speak English and will delight in being able to practice.
Of course, Nafplio offers a fantastic array of food options, but these cater more to tourists.
Be sure to take out cash in Athens or Nafplio. There are no ATM machines in the local village. The gas station and tavernas do take cards — more likely Visa or Mastercard, not AMEX.
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