Monemvasia, Laconia, Greece.
Located on a small island off the east coast of the Pelopnnese, Monemvasia was founded in the sixth century as a defence against seafaring enemies. Surrounded by the Myrtoan Sea, the small castle town was only accessible by boat until 1971, when a 200m causeway was constructed to connect it to the mainland. Characterised by history-drenched squares, sparkling waves and a tightknit community, it makes for a great day trip or lazy weekend escape from the crowded streets of the capital.
A perfect day in magical Monemvasia might begin with an early-morning stroll through the narrow passageways, followed by a visit to the world-renowned Monemvasia Winery, where a heavenly sun-soaked tasting session awaits. Spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the golden sands of the town's beach, before enjoying a traditional Greek feast.
Set aside a few hours to explore Monemvasia's thriving shopping scene - with their colourful, artfully arranged window displays, the town's independent boutiques draw in visitors from far and wide. We love Malva Gallery, for its bold contemporary prints, silkscreens and posters, Edodimopolio Honey Shop, where you can sample the area's famous honey wine and olive oil, and Anastasia Livieratou Jewellery, whose wooden cabinets are packed with a diverse array of the maker's handcrafted trinkets and accessories.
Where to stay?
Bed down at Likinia Hotel. Situated inside the castle walls, the property flaunts sweeping sea views and a minimalist design approach across all of its 16 spacious bedrooms. Picture handcrafted furnishings, whitewashed walls, wooden beams and arched windows. While there's no spa or state-of-the-art swimming pool, you've got the nearby Monemvasia Beach to splash about at.
Where to go for dinner?
The stylish Chrisovoulo Restaurant & Bar is our go-to spot for expertly prepared traditional Mediterranean dishes. Menu highlights include feta cheesecake, homemade sausage, vegetable risotto and seafood platters piled high with the bounty of the surrounding sea.
And for a drink…
Head to Enetiko Café & Cocktail Bar. The sleek, sea-facing venue is arranged across three floors, complete with a huge outdoor courtyard filled with wooden tables, lanterns and flower-draped beams. Visit in the morning to taste-test the brunch menu, then skip next door to Peinakothḗkē for generous scoops of gelato. Cocktail lovers, however, should save their trip for sunset.
Who to take with you?
That friend who enjoys some downtime after partying. They'll appreciate the town's tranquillity after having lived it up with the cool kids in Athens. You won't find any up-all-night hangouts here; instead, flit between family-run tavernas and secluded coves.
Essentials to pack
Bookworm? Who likes travelling light? Plough through your summer reading list while avoiding any excess baggage charges with the Kindle Paperwhite tablet. Literary lounging mode, activated.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Gatwick to Athens International Airport, from where it's just shy of a four-hour drive to Monemvasia.