Monemvasia was a complete surprise! We visited because our delightful AirBnB host Stelios from Chania recommended a visit there.
We arrived pretty late in the day because we decided to take the smaller roads versus the big expressway. Well the smaller roads took us over some really lovely mountain passes through super cute but very small towns.
The road was really winding and the canyons were very pretty but is was quite remote. Slow going! We predicted about an hour or so on the road and I think it took us four or five.
When we arrived Monemvasia seems like a cute seaside town with a big rock that has a fort on top. I thought it would be fun to hike up to the fort and check it out, we could easily be done by lunch time and maybe have a beach day after…
We started out early in the morning to see if we could hike up to the fort and when we went through the gate there was a super adorable gated city waiting to be explored! I could not have been more surprised. You can’t see the city at all from the town, it’s around the back. We walked all over the small alley like streets for a few hours. Unfortunately the fort at the top was closed for renovations while we were there. We did hike to the main fort gate and peaked through and it looked really fun. I was sorry we couldn’t visit but the town was really delightful.
If asked I would recommend booking two nights within the old city walls near the fort once its restored. Explore the city one day and the fort at the top on another. I do think you could do all in one day, but we found an alley that leads to the sea with a swimming platform so if you wanted to take two days, a refreshing swim after your day one of exploration be fantastic!
The only thing I can think of that would be a a drag is parking. No cars at all in old town and its pretty much on a hillside so plan on dropping off all your stuff at the gate, driving back to parking, taking a cab back to the gate or walking. you will then have to haul luggage to your accommodations. Of course if you can spend the money I am sure you could get help. I personally would elect to drop off stuff, park and walk back or catch the bus at the bottom. The walk from the bottom is not far really, maybe a half mile or three quarters of a mile on a gradual slope, but once inside its pretty narrow and steep-ish.
My three favorite things about Monemvasia are the big surprise of an old walled city on the other side of the hill, the lovely “front side” town, and the potential of a huge hilltop fort to be explored at a future date.
What I didn’t care for was all the octopus carcasses hanging outside restaurants. This is really common in this region and I know it is a part of the local custom, but I don’t want to eat octopus because I think they are smart. To be honest, I have tried octopus before many years ago and it wasn’t really good anyhow.