The ancient city of Sparta – the alternative Greek holiday destination


View of the city from the Valley of Sparta

The beautiful ancient city of Sparta is not always on the ‘to do list’ for tourists, but this is an alternative way to experience Greece without the crowds, and still explore its ancient history and wonders. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants to enjoy Greek cuisine and some awesome excursions on which you can either do solo ventures or join a group for a remarkable laid back look into Greek history and culture. If you’re looking to save some extra cash, there is the option of hiring a car and taking your time.

Have a browse through some of the top things to do in Sparta.


Byzantine ruins of Mystras

If you are interested in Greek history, pay a visit to the Sparti Lakonia archeological site. When it comes to the historical significance of sites, Sparta is second only to Athens, so you are sure to visit many famous ruins here. The archeological museum houses many ancient Greek artifacts. Another museum worth checking out is the Olive and Greek Olive Oil Museum. It is rather interesting, and you can learn practically everything there is to know about olive oil here.

One of the top archeological sites in the area are the Byzantine ruins of Mystras, the greatest attraction in Sparta. Here, you can visit the Byzantine church and fortress and spend the rest of the day hiking the trails around Mystras.

On the path towards the Acropolis, you can stop to visit the Byzantine Church of Christ the Savior. Some significant archeological finds were made here and are now housed in the archeological museum.

The Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia was built to display the historical items surrounding the history of the Greek goddess, Artemis. There are many exhibits which reflect the history that surrounded her role in Greek mythology.

For art lovers, there is the John Coumantarios Art Gallery. It is a small, intimate space which is a nice break from the outdoor excursions. Here you can walk through the hallways of this beautiful gallery and view a collection of forty of his artworks which are permanently on display. There is also a rotating exhibit which holds items from the National Art Gallery in Athens.

Tourists can also make a stop at the King Leonidas Statue. He was one of the most famous kings in ancient Sparta, and his statue bears significance to the “fading ruins of the Spartan legacy”.


Take a guided boat tour through Diros Caves

Just to the north of the statue, you’ll find the hill of the Acropolis, where the ruins of the ancient theater are located. It was one of the largest theaters in Greece, although many of the stones from the ruins have been used in other restoration projects.

Take a tour to the Diros Caves. You can make a day of it, and you will receive a guided tour through this unique network of caves. Most of the caves are part of an underground lake, and you will be taken to these impressive sites on your boat tour through five kilometers of caves. Although these tours are only in Greek, information guides are available.

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