One of our favourite ports
We were delighted by our first cruise to Monemvasia. What a lovely port it is. It was most definitely our surprise port of the year.
The town of Monemvasia is located on a small island in the southeastern Peloponnese. The island was separated from the mainland in 375AD by an earthquake and is now reached via a 400m causeway which separates the new and old towns.
It’s only a small place, so it’s not generally visited by the larger cruise ships and tenders are required.
Cruises to Monemvasia tender port
The tenders dock at the new town, which has a pleasant sea front with several bars and restaurants. There is also a small pebbly beach with a little sand, good for paddling or swimming if you don’t mind the stones.
If you want a good swim there are also places to swim off the causeway with steps down to the sea.
The main attraction, however, is the medieval old town situated on the Rock or ‘Gibraltar of the East’, separated from the mainland by the causeway. At 100m above sea level this can clearly be seen from the ship; a fabulous view for a day resting on board ship if you are not up to the tender trip.
From the tender drop off point, the old town is about a 20 min walk, partly up a slope as you reach the rock. If you are not feeling energetic there is a local bus service which charges 1 euro each way. You can buy tickets for this at the ACS travel agent opposite the bus stop. This service does stop between 2 and 3pm during term time to collect children from school, so time your trip accordingly, particularly if even the downhill walk back to the ship does not appeal.
Once through the gates of the old town (see picture below) you can enjoy a gentle meander through the attractively restored cobbled streets – sensible footwear is a must for this as the paths are quite uneven. There are numerous souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants, many with outside terraces overlooking the sea. Several of these are located just inside the walls and so are available to enjoy even if you are not up to walking too far uphill.
Monemvasia is divided into a lower town and upper town. To see the full extent of the town you would need to continue uphill towards the upper town. Don’t miss the main square for good views, the archaeological museum and the interior of the Church of Elkomenos Christos, which houses a famous icon of Christ given to the church in 1700.
Much of the upper town, consisting of ruins, was closed on our visit, but there is clearly a lot of renovation being done with several attractively rebuilt and renovated hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants.
Above the town, castle walls can be seen leading up to the Goulas Fortress.
Cruise lines sailing to Monemvasia include Seabourn and Windstar.