Sleeping and Dining in Kardamyli, Greece

We’ve landed in Greek heaven. One of those idyllic places you never want to leave. It doesn’t happen very often in our travels. Most places I enjoy for the time we are there and then I’m ready to move on, but the gateway to the Mani Peninsula seems to have it all – sea views, magical sunsets, hiking, a laid-back atmosphere and of course great food.

On a quiet Saturday morning under turbulent skies with howling winds, the drive from Olympia to Kardamyli took about 2 and half hours. The sun coming in and out from behind the clouds made the drive from the wet West to the stark and rugged East that much more dramatic. There is a good expressway just outside of Kalamata that suddenly stops just before you hit town and lands you once again on slower roads. Still, it’s a pleasant and scenic journey.

Dioskouroi Taverna

We arrived in Kardamyli at lunch time and were startled by the tour buses as we entered town. We naturally headed to the other end of the village and wound up at Dioskouroi Taverna. They were expecting a tour group but gave us a lovely table in the shade with views overlooking a small harbor where the waves were raging in the aftermath of the storm.

We ordered a simple lunch and loved every bite – Mani Greek salad with a crusty bread base, tomatoes, capers and small green olives, grilled sardines and black-eyed peas with spinach. Washed down with draft beer, it was the perfect lunch.

Pretty Kardamyli Is the kind of quaint village you want to hang out in, have a coffee, walk the streets on a lazy Sunday afternoon and then have a great dinner on the waterfront . This town has it all. It can get crowded during the day when tour buses are in town, but otherwise it’s a delight.

Hotel Vardia

We spent 2 nights at this fabulous location just above town with stunning views overlooking the town and sea.

Rooms are spacious and more of a small vacation apartment than a traditional room, including a living area with a kitchette and a large bedroom with a terrace facing the sea.

Sheets and towels are soft. Other amenities included a safe and mosquito netting which we did need for the odd flying pest. Unfortunately the wifi connection was spotty in the room and only marginally better in the lobby area.

There is a staircase that descends to the road and the ancient village below the hotel and pretty gardens on the non-view side of the building.

The breakfast buffet has a nice selection of hot and cold items including the usual yogurt, jam, breads, fresh fruit, baked goods, cereal, muesli and a big thermos of good coffee. They also fry up fresh omelets.



Harilaos, a sea front restaurant with a lovely terrace has friendly service and good wine. We started with the grilled octopus – not as tender as some but had great flavor.

Second we shared the Mani salad with potatoes, oranges olives and herbs. The sweet juicy oranges were lovely with the special perfectly cooked whole dorade. For dessert they serve a complimentary semolina cake that is not as sweet as some and for our tastes the quintessential ending.

Kastro Taverna

The Kastro Taverna located just outside of town to the north, this Rick Steves pick, hailed as a gourmet treat at regular prices, had a nice selection of menu items but was completely deserted on a Sunday evening. Although it was kind of creepy eating on the large terrace with just the cats for company, the service was very friendly and efficient. There was no written menu. Instead they told us what was available that evening which was a surprisingly broad selection of vegetable and protein items.

We started with the beet salad – a rarity that we thought we should take advantage of – sweet beets were prepared with their greens. For mains, I tried the rabbit in a flavorful tomato sauce. Although the meat was very tender and the sauce delicious, the rabbit pieces were not the choicest and a tad boney for my preference.

Don ordered the grilled dorade. We’ve tasted this dish several times at various restaurants and it is always well prepared. This time was no exceptions. Both mains were served with potatoes.

Dessert was a fruity cream pudding treat with crunching bits. I don’t know what it was but it hit the spot. Along with dinner we ordered a carafe of the house white wine – tasty and priced right. All total the bill came to 30 Euros, a real bargain for a lovely evening.

More Photos from Kardamyli:

May 21-23, 2016

For links to all the posts in this series see the Greece page. 

5 thoughts

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog and great pictures of Kardamyli. My wife and I are planning this same trip this May. We too are using Rick Steves guidebook.

    I’ve made some reservations already, but I’m wondering if you made all of your reservations prior to your trip, or if you made any of them as you arrived in town? I’m thinking of doing the latter. Any thoughts to share on that plan?

    1. Hi Terry, Thank you for the kind words. I did make reservations ahead of time, but many places it was fairly quiet and not necessary. I would say it depends on whether you want to get your first choice of hotel. If you are flexible it shouldn’t be a problem to just call or email a day or two before. The popular islands, however, Mykonos and Santorini were very busy at the end of May. It was a fun trip and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

  2. I just discovered your blog and it is timely because we are planning a trip for next May and hope to do much of what you did on your trip. My question is about driving in Greece. We keep hearing about bad roads, bad drivers, high risk of accidents, etc. What was your experience like, both on main expressways and on lesser roads around the Mani Peninsula? We would not drive in Athens but with the infrequency of bus and train options in Greece, it seems as though renting a car is a better solution for getting off the beaten path. Thanks.

    1. Hi Michele,
      We didn’t have any problems at all driving. Although we rented the car at the airport we didn’t drive in Athens. The roads were in relatively good condition and traffic was light in May. Parking wasn’t much of a problem and I don’t remember incidents of bad drivers, certainly no worse than anyplace else. I agree that driving offers a greater opportunity to explore out of the way places than public transportation. Thanks for writing and have a great trip.

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