Best Castles in Greece You Need To Visit with the Kids
- Monemvasia Castle (Laconia)
- Methoni Castle and Bourtzi (Messenia)
- Koroni Castle
- Pylos (Messenia)
- Palamidi in Nafplon (Argolis)
- Monastery of Patmos
- Astypalaia Castle
- The Fortress of Koules (Heraklion)
- Fortress of Rethymnon (Rethymnon)
- CENTRAL GREECE
- The Castle of Nafpaktos
- Ioannina Castle (Epirus)
For most people, traveling to Greece is synonymous with being on a beautiful beach, tasting Mediterranean cuisine, or visiting the numerous archeological sites across the country. That said, many visitors are unaware that Greece Greece is also home to some of the most incredible castles in the world, constructed during the Byzantine, the Venetian, and the Ottoman period.
If you’re planning a Greek family vacation, you might want to consider including in your itinerary a stop at one of those castles. Your children and their imagination will thank you later on! Do you need help with making it happen? We’ve got you covered!
Castles in the Peloponnese
Beautiful nature, plenty of archeological sites, Byzantine churches, heavenly beaches and picturesque villages; these are just a few of the things that make the Peloponnese such an ideal destination for holidays with the family. However, there’s so much more to discover. Like the wonderful castles constructed during the Byzantine period. And these castles alone are so worth planning a road trip across the Peloponnese peninsula!
The castle town of Mystras is one of them. Located just a few miles from Sparta, in the region of Laconia, Mystras is one of the most popular castle cities of Greece and a place of great history. A visit to the archaeological museum will help you understand why. Visit the well-preserved Byzantine churches, such as the church of Saint Dimitrios, where the last Byzantine Emperor was crowned, walk by the impressive strong walls and enjoy the breathtaking view. Just don’t forget to put on some good shoes!
Monemvasia Castle (Laconia)
In Laconia you’ll also get to see the Monemvasia Castle, one of the most important and most beautiful medieval fortress-cities in Greece. It is built on a rock that is connected to the mainland with just one narrow road, which helped the city stay protected from raids. And this “one way” is what Monemvasia means.
Methoni Castle and Bourtzi (Messenia)
The Methoni Castle in the port town of Methoni, Messenia, is among the largest and most impressive ones in the Mediterranean. It was built by the Venetians in the early 13th century, on a rock that penetrates the sea and is separated from the mainland by an artificial moat. Strolling around, you’ll discover the huge gate with the celebrated symbol of Venice, the Ottoman bathhouses and a lot more. And you’ll literally feel like travelling back in time.
This medieval castle in the Peloponnese region of Greece was built by the Venetians, and paired with nearby Koroni Castle is known as one of the Eyes of Venice.
On the south part of the walls, you’ll find Bourtzi; a small fortified island where inhabitants were imprisoned and executed by the Ottomans, when they occupied the castle in the early 16th century.
We love Methoni castle for the sheer size, and also the very unique Bourtzi section. It looks like something from the Lord of the Rings!
Koroni Castle (Messenia)
On the southern edge of the Messinian Gulf, about half an hour’s drive from Methoni, lies one of the finest examples of the Venetian fortress architecture, the Koroni Castle. It may not have remained intact, but it awaits with plenty of surprises; tombs, underground arched tanks for the rainwater, an octagon tower, a 12th century Byzantine monastery, and a magnificent view to the sea.
The city of Pylos in Messenia awaits you with two castles; the Frankish Paleokastro (old castle) and the Ottoman Neokastro (new castle). The first one was built in the 13th century, while the second one in the 18th century. And both are amazing.
Palamidi in Nafplion (Argolis)
Nafplion is well known as one of the prettiest towns in Greece, and it is also home to a series of fortifications and castles.
It takes climbing 999 steps to reach the top of the Palamidi Castle. And it’s definitely worth it! The breathtaking view over the Argolic Gulf and the city of Nafplio will compensate you for sure. And imagine how fun climbing up with your kids can be and what an amazing long-lasting memory you will create for them! The fortifications here are another reminder of the Venetian period of the Peloponnese.
The Greek island of Rhodes seems to have castles and fortifications everywhere! If your family has never seen a castle before, prepare to be amazed by your time here!
The feeling of strolling around the streets of the Medieval Town of Rhodes, where time seems to have stopped in the middle ages, is difficult to describe. Being the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe, it is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage network.
The imposing Palace of the Grand Master is a medieval castle found at the end of the Street of the Knights in the Old Town of Rhodes, and one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in the country. Beautiful mosaic floors, antique furniture from the 16th and 17th century and a medieval atmosphere your kids will love!
For many, Acropolis of Lindos is the most impressive site in Rhodes. On the summit one can find the ruins of the goddess Athena Lindia temple from the 4th century BC, as well as the Propylaea, the great Hellenistic Stoa and a Byzantine chapel. And it is framed by some mighty Byzantine fortress walls.
Monastery of Patmos
The popular Monastery of Patmos is found on another beautiful island of the Dodecanese. The monastery is fortified with impressive, thick walls and towers from the Byzantine period and has a beautiful yard your kids will love.
Another castle of unique beauty and great interest lies in a different island of the Dodecanese. Astypalaia Castle is a Venetian fortification with two Byzantine churches on top of an ancient Greek temple, with several columns still visible today. Now imagine the blue of the Aegean Sea all around. Can you think of a better destination?
Crete is undoubtedly one of the most diverse and fascinating destinations in Greece. Among the plenty of experiences that the island has to offer lie two imposing castles; The Fortress of Koules in Heraklion and Fortezza in Rethymno.
The Fortress of Koules (Heraklion)
The Fortress of Koules is a massive fortress with two floors, built by the Venetians in the early 13th century. Its outer walls are almost 9 meters thick. However, it is believed to have had many weak points, as it was built at a time when fortification architecture was still a new thing.
Fortress of Rethymnon (Rethymno)
The Greek island of Crete has some beautiful castles, and the fortress of Rethymnon deserves its place among the best of them. Originally built by the Venetians, and adapted by the Ottomans, it has a distinct star shape.
Fortezza of Rethymno is built on top of a low hill above the town. The views from the ramparts are lovely.
The hill is known as Paleokastro, which suggests it was once home to an older structure. If your kids have never seen a real medieval castle before, this fortress is a must-see! Just make sure to stop by early in the morning, as the heat can be quite overwhelming.
The Castle of Nafpaktos
Cross the Corinthian Bay over the magnificent Rion-Antirion Bridge and you’ll find yourselves in the picturesque city of Nafpaktos or Lepanto. Overlooking the city, you’ll see the wonderful Castle of Nafpaktos – a grandiose fortification with a great history going back to ancient times. And once you’re up there, you’ll get to enjoy your favorite beverage in the most amazing view.
Ioannina Castle (Epirus)
The northwest of Greece is a popular destination for people who want to see some of the unique natural beauty and traditional villages for which it is well known. When in the area, a day spent in Ioannina is highly recommended.
The old town section of Ioannina is contained within the walls of a much larger fortification. The castle of Ioannina is on a rocky peninsula on the lake. The castle dates back to the late Ottoman period with many elements of the earlier Byzantine fortification.
Would you like to take your Greek vacation planning a step further? Take a look at our Design Your Own Trip feature, and we can help tailor your perfect family vacation in Greece!
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