A Quick Guide to Kalamata, Greece

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Kalamata is a small coastal city in the south of Greece with a population of around 60,000 residents. It’s the second-largest city in the Peloponnese region of Greece, and the capital of the region of Messinia.

It’s often overlooked by tourists but it has plenty to offer.

Here’s a quick guide to what to see and do when in Kalamata.

Why go?

Kalamata promenade.

Kalamata is nestled deep in the Messinian Gulf, surrounded by a fantastic setting of olive groves and the Taygetus mountain range.

It’s a modern city with a small historic quarter and a Byzantine castle. It’s not much visited by international tourists so it’s easy to get a sense of local life in this easy-going and good-value little city.

One of Kalamata’s best features is its extensive pebble beach right by the city. It stretches for 2km and you’ll find a palm-lined promenade running its length. It’s a popular spot for an evening stroll or a run. 

The coastal road continues south and down into Messinian Mani. Along this road, you’ll find many beach bars, hotels, and tavernas as well as traditional fishing harbours such as Kitries.

Palm tree on Kalamata promenade.

Souvlaki restaurant at night.

Menu in Greek.

Thalassa Beach Bar.

How to get there and around

Check-in desks at Kalamata airport.

Kalamata has its own international airport (KLX Kalamata Captain Vasilis Konstantakopoulos Airport). It’s a small affair with just 4 gates (though expansion is planned).

Flights into Kalamata, both domestic and international, mainly operate during the summer.

It’s served by budget airlines including Ryanair and Jet2. Summer connections for 2023 included Athens, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Vienna, Milan, Nantes, Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Munich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Zurich.

The airport is a 15-minute drive from the airport into the centre of town.

It’s also easy to drive to Athens – the journey takes under 3 hours on good toll roads. For information taking the bus to Athens, see the KTEL Kalamata website.

There are local buses (minibuses) that serve 3 routes around the city. It’s challenging finding a map online, but rest assured you will be able to get a bus from the airport to the centre, and from the centre to the beach (at least during the day). A taxi from the airport to the beach is around €20-25.

Buses to local destinations aren’t that frequent. They exist but sometimes the times are inconvenient (or impossible) for a day trip. A car is almost necessary for exploring the surrounding area, especially beyond Stoupa. 

Check the KTEL website for timetables for local services.

When to go/avoid?

Kalamata can be surprisingly damp and chilly in the winter months. July and August are hot, humid, and very busy. May, June, September, and October are all lovely.

What to know before you go?

Museums and archaeological sites tend to close one day a week (often Monday or Tuesday) so check before visiting. Some businesses will close for siesta in the afternoon.

What’s the best way to get around?

A shady pedestrian street in Kalamata.

What to see if you’ve just got 1 day?

Outdoors seating next to a mural celebrating the Liberation of Kalamata in 1821.

As it’s a small city you should be able to see everything in one day. Most of the sites are clustered around the old quarter:

Grab a late lunch at one of the tavernas around the Church of the Holy Apostles and then head for the beach. It’s 2km from the historical centre and is walkable in half an hour but there are city buses if you prefer not to walk.

The beach is, at various points, a bit industrial, family-friendly, young and hip, rustic and traditional. For swimming and sunbathing, the nicest bits of the beach are half way to the east. Stop for a cocktail in one of the trendy beach bars such as Anasha or Thalassa before heading back to the port for dinner at a seafood restaurant.

What else to see if you’ve got 2-3 days in town?

The theatre at Ancient Messene.

There are a couple of really great day/half-day trips within striking range of Kalamata.

Ancient Messene is a 30-minute drive north and a really underrated ancient site. Only excavated relatively recently, the dig revealed a huge site that was covered in earth. The theatre and stadium are particularly impressive. Keep an eye out for concerts and events hosted at the theatre. 

The abandoned medieval hilltop village of Mystras is a showstopping UNESCO World Heritage site. It takes just over an hour to drive there.

Or if you prefer coastal delights keep driving down the coastal road to Kardamyli and Stoupa.

There are spectacular waterfalls at Polylimnio. Hiking is involved to reach the falls, your best bet is an organised tour.

And would it really be a trip to Kalamata without visiting an olive mill? The Olive Oil Routes tour includes a tasting session. 

Or eat the best of Kalamata with the Tastes and Tradition Food Tour

Read more: 10 Great Places to Visit from Kalamata

Close-up of an ancient bust in the museum for Ancient Messene.


What’s the beach like?

Tree and wooden decking on Kalamata beach.

Kalamata Beach is around 2km and consists of smooth grey pebbles in some parts, and coarse sand with small pebbles in others.

The sea is crystal clear and gets deep pretty quickly, but is usually calm as Kalamata lies in a natural harbour.

Some sections of the beach have loungers (some belong to beach clubs or hotels) but there are plenty of free and unorganised areas and some small trees on the beach for shade.

There are several Seatracs for wheelchair access to the sea along the length of the beach, but many sections of the beach require steps to access from the road.

During the summer there are plenty of family-friendly amenities such as an inflatable playground, watersports, and lifeguards.

Close-up of pebbles on Kalamata beach.

The beach at Grecotel Filoxenia Kalamata.

Where’s the best view?

Kastraki bar at night.

For sure, the best view in town is from Kastraki, a cafe-bar-restaurant-event space up in the hills overlooking Kalamata and its coast. Where else can you find a replica ancient theatre and Byzantine castle, complete with suit of armour, overlooking the sparkling sea?

It’s a memorable spot for a sundowner and worth the taxi price.

Best hotel?

Grecotel Filoxenia Kalamata.

As Kalamata is not a tourist hotspot it must be said that hotel options are a bit limited and somewhat dated.

Most hotels are located along the beach rather than in town. But try Vasilikon Hotel if you do want to be in the centre. 

This does mean that Kalamata’s 5-star hotels are pretty cheap compared to other destinations in Greece and make a seaside stay an affordable option when in town (just don’t expect Santorini-style interiors and service).

I stayed at the 4-star Grecotel Filoxenia Kalamata (pictured) and Elite City Resort (which I thought was better value). Both are towards the end of the beach and a fair distance from the city. Horizon Blu is a 5-star in this area.

It’s a good location if you’re looking for more of a beach break but you’ll probably want to use the bus to get into the centre of town as it’s quite a trek. There’s also plenty of space for parking in this part of town. Dining options around here are a bit limited though.

Elysian Luxury Hotel & Spa is by the sea but on the west side of town.

5-star Grand Hotel Kalamata is close to the port.

The pool at Grecotel Filoxenia Kalamata.

Book a table at . . . 

Kardamo, for a modern take on Greek comfort food.

Although there’s no need to book a table in Kalamata really, there are ample restaurants with fantastic Greek food that you can find just by wandering around.

For baked goods, Frangeas and Athanasiou. And for coffee and brunch, head to Blossom Owl.

Don’t leave without trying . . . 

The olives, of course! 

Smoked pork and oranges also feature prominently on the menus here, sometimes together.

Shop selling dried herbs and soaps in Kalamata.

Read more:

A Quick Guide to Preveza

Why Fly to Kalamata? 10 Great Places to Visit

A Quick Guide to the Costa Navarino

Image credits: All images © The Mediterranean Traveller