The Menalon Trail – Hiking Peleponnese
One of the best hikes in Greece in the heart of the Peleponnese
A very well maintained and signposted hiking trail is the Menalon Trail in mountainous Arcadia, at the heart of the Peloponnese in Greece. It’s a certified hiking path with a length of 75 km (46.6 mi) through a stunning part of Greece and is considered one of the best hikes in Greece. Walking this trail you will cross canyons, mountains, rivers, forests, monasteries hanging on cliffs, traditional villages, stone bridges and ancient Greek ruïnes. The good thing is that the hiking trail is divided into eight sections, starting from 5.6 km (3.5 mi) length. Of course, you don’t have to walk all the trail to experience this amazing part of Greece.
Hiking the Peleponnese along this certified hiking path will touch all your senses!
Hiking the Lousios Gorge – Arcadia Greece
We have strolled around enough in this area to know that it is dotted with historical places, breathtaking views and peaceful scenic villages with delicious food. It is hiking in Greece at it’s best! If you stay in the nearby villages of Stemnitsa or Dimitsana you can decide to take a short hike through a part of the stunning Lousios Gorge and you will already have an unforgettable experience. Besides the impressive nature and the Lousios River that runs through the gorge, you can visit two very unique places: the monastery of Prodromos or the “secret school” in the old monastery of Philosophos.
Walking the Lousios Gorge in Greece & Greek Monastery Life
The monastery of Prodromos is built into the rocks and hanging from the cliffs since the end of 1600. The monastery played an important role during the Greek War of Independence of 1821. It served as a hospital, but also as a refuge for the Greek revolutionaries that were fighting against the Turks. A visit to this monastery will bring you back in time and place. Just like a visit to the “secret school” of the old Monastery of Philosophos. At this remote place Greek boys were secretly educated by priests during the Turkish occupation.
Best Hiking Trails Europe – Menalon Hiking Trail in Greece
The Menalon hiking trail visits a total of nine villages (Stemnitsa, Dimitsana, Zygovisti, Elati, Vytina, Nymfasia, Magouliana, Valtessiniko, Lagadia) . The hiking path is certified by the European Ramblers Association (ERA). This means it’s recommended to hikers by the organization as being a coherent, interesting and safe hiking trail. It complies with all environmental protection regulations and for the period of the certification the maintenance of the trail is ensured. It’s the only hiking trail in Greece that received this certification so far.
In the past all paths and trails, an extensive network running through these mountains, were used by farmers and their workers going to the land and monks going to their monasteries and hermitages. Another important use of the paths was to visit and trade with neighboring villages. For thousands of years donkeys and mules carried their owners and products along these trails. Now they have turned into some of the most stunning hiking trails in Greece.
The Eight Sections of the Menalon Trail in Arcadia Greece
The Trail is divided into eight sections. Each section differs in difficulty and passes different parts and different villages. It crosses the Lousios Gorge, the western part of Mount Menalon, the Mylaon River Valley and the southeastern parts of the Gortynian Mountains. If you want to walk all of the Menalon Trail it will take you around five to eight days to complete it. Of course you don’t have to hike all of the Trail, you can choose the section or sections you like, or even just a part of a section. The easier sections are even recommended for family hikes.
Menalon Trail Starts from Stemnitsa Greece
The Trail starts at one of the highest located villages in Greece, Stemnitsa, at an altitude of 1.050 m (3.445 ft). Stemnitsa has the looks of a Medieval village with its tower houses, its stone mansions and cobble-paved alleys. Built at the edge of the impressive Lousios Canyon, Stemnitsa is the perfect base for a day-hike or multi-day hike in this area.
The Lousios Gorge and River is about 15 km (9.3 mi) and is very popular among hikers. Even if you walk only this part of the Trail it will be an unforgettable experience.
The eight sections of the Menalon Trail are:
- Stemnitsa – Dimitsana: 12,5 km (7.8 mi), about 5 hours
- Dimitsana – Zigovisti: 4,2 km (2.6 mi), about 2 hours
- Zigovisti – Elati: 14,9 km (9.3 mi), about 5 hours
- Elati – Vitina: 8,5 km (5.3 mi) , about 2,5 hours
- Vitina – Nimfasia: 5,6 km (3.5 mi), about 2 hours
- Nimfasia – Magouliana: 8,9 km (5.5 mi), about 3,5 hours
- Magouliana – Valtesiniko: 6,6 km (4.1 mi), about 2,5 hours
- Valtesiniko – Lagkadia: 13,9 km (8.6 mi), about 5 hours
Observations on Hiking the Menalon Trail
When you decide to hike the Menalon Trail or sections of it independently you should be aware that some parts of the trail are pretty demanding. There are for example some pretty steep uphill climbs and landslides may have created treacherous paths. You should wear good footwear. On the longer hikes you should take enough snacks and water with you because some paths are really remote.
Unfortunately, you can’t hike and always stay at the villages at the end of each trail as some villages just don’t have accommodations. You have to take a taxi to the start point of a section, and at the end of a section you will take a taxi to a village with accommodation. This is not a huge obstacle and many hikers have done it this way. There are signs with taxi numbers at the beginning of each section. You can even stay in the same accommodation for the whole time if you like.
If you have a car you just drive to the end of each section each day. You park the car and take a taxi to the start of the section and walk back to the car.
Villages that have hotels and guesthouses are: Stemnitsa, Dimitsana, Vitina, and Valtesiniko. Make sure to book well in advance because there are just not that many accommodations along the Trail.
Organized trips and tours where you walk sections of the Trail are also available. The good thing of an organized trip or tour is that the touroperator will arrange your accommodation. Take a look at our list of the best Menalon Trail Trips & Tours.
How to get to Stemnitsa Greece from Athens or Kalamata
To get to Stemnitsa is easy by car. From Kalamata International Airport it’s 78 km (48.5 mi), which is a drive of around 1,5 hours. Via Athens International Airport it’s 226 km (140.4 mi) , a drive of around 2 hours and 40 minutes. Google Maps will help you to get to Stemnitsa.
By public transport it’s harder. From Athens you will have to take a bus to Tripoli. From Tripoli there are buses to Dimitsana and Stemnitsa, and even to the other villages, but very few. The most efficient way is to take a taxi from Tripoli.
A company called Arcadia Bus provides transportation services from Athens and Kalamata to Arcadia. We don’t know the company, but you can get in touch with them via phone and email on their site.