Stoupa has, in the last several years, been discovered by summer tourists and expats seeking a place to retire in the sun. That said, it retains its village atmosphere and is unspoiled by high-rise hotels, condos and noisy discos. Itís an ideal family spot, yet active enough for all ages to enjoy.
Stoupa by Judy Tinelli
Stoupa boasts two crescent-shaped sand beaches, a rarity on the Peloponnese where most beaches are rocky. Small restaurants and cafes line the beach road of the main beach and, over the hill, Kalogria beach has its own loyal following. Perhaps those who put their beach towels on Kalogriaís sands are attracted by the fact that it
is here on this beach that Kazantzakisís story, Zorba the Greek, actually took place. While he placed the story in Crete, it actually took place in Stoupa and Zorba was a real character. Kazantzakisís house is located in a sylvan grove some meters up from the beach and, while privately owned, can be rented by true aficionados. There is a bust of Nikos Kazantzakis on the cliff overlooking Kalogria beach.
Stoupa can be called the gateway to the Mani, a unique and fascinating area of Greece, known for its tower houses, from which local feuds were carried out. There are tower houses in Stoupa and they become more numerous as you head down the Mani toward Vathia and Gerolimini.
While the beaches are crowded in the summer, life slows down considerably in the off-season. Because Mani is the southernmost place in continental Europe, the weather is mild year-round and, in winter, you can often experience the so-called halcyon days, sunny and warm.
Restaurants abound in Stoupa, strung along the beach or in neighboring villages. You probably won't go wrong with any of them, although most seem to have the same predictable menu. One excellent exception is Yesterday and Today, which sits just above Stoupa beach with a terrific view. Voula, the owner, goes well beyond traditional dishes or adds her own touch to them. Try the chicken filet with cream sauce. In nearby Kardamili, home of the late Patrick Leigh Fermer, every Philhellene's favorite travel writer, two restaurants stand out,
Elies along the beach and To Kastro on the main road.
To Patriko, on the beach is a pleasant bar, where you can have a coffee, a beer, or perhaps something stronger. Why not try an ouzo? It is traditionally served without ice but adding water is acceptable. Just remember, you add water to the ouzo, not vice versa. And be careful, it has a way of sneaking up on you.
There are many well-marked walking paths around Stoupa, from the easy to the challenging. In the latter category would be the walk up the Viros gorge. An excellent guide to walks in the area can be found at www.pelopswalks.com.
Swimming and sunning on the beach are the main activities in Stoupa, if you can call the latter an activity. There are also paddle boats to rent for the more energetic.
Hotels and Travel Information
There are several ways to get to Stoupa. If you are flying from another country you would fly into Athens and from there take the X93to the the bus Terminal A at Kiffissou street and take the bus to Kalamata. From Kalamata take the bus to Italo which stops in Stoupa. You can find the bus schedules from Athens to Kalamata at www.athensguide.com/practicalinfo and the Kalamata-Stoupa bus leaves at 7am, 13:15 and 18:15.
It will be a lot easier to take a taxi from the airport and if you are three or more sharing the cost it won't be that expensive. Contact George the Famous Taxi Driver for rates.
It seems silly to go to Stoupa and not explore the rest of the Peloponessos. You can rent a car from Swift Rent-a-Car and they will deliver the car to you at the airport and you can just get on the National Road and be there in three or four hours. Or if you are
in Athens your first night they will pick you up at your hotel and drive you to the National Road.
If you are combining your trip to the Peloponessos with the islands or other places in the mainland you may want to employ the services of a good Greek travel agency who can coordinate hotels and ferries and in many cases find special rates for you. To create an itinerary that includes Stoupa see Matt's
Create-an-itinerary form and you can get a price from Fantasy Travel, one of the best travel agencies in Greece.
Zervas Apartments: Only a 4-minute stroll from Stoupaís main beach and the village centre, with its amenities. Zervas family welcomes you in the picturesque village of Stoupa in the Messinian Mani. They maintain a courteous and friendly atmosphere by offering you quality comforts. This is a small family-run set of 6 self catering apartments, having recently been renovated to offer comfortable, well-equipped accommodation. The property is fully-enclosed, making it suitable for children, and is set in its own large gardens away from the road. Click for more info and booking