Retreat for long term rentals
Price for guests, Nights
Price for guests, Nights
Estimated nightly price based on a weekly stay. Excludes fees (if applicable). Enter your dates to see the total cost.
Villa / 1 bedrooms / sleeps 2
Availability Your dates are available
Villa / 1 bedrooms / sleeps 2
Gargarou Retreat has 3 small detatched villas available for long term rental for 3 months or more for only €595 per month, perfect for a writers retreat, artists inspiration or time to rejuvenate. Gargarou Retreat overlooks the sea on a hillside between two valleys and has stunning views of natural beauty all around – across the sea to the Taygetos Mountains on the Mani, along the coast to the medieval port and citadel of Koroni, and over the surrounding valleys and olive groves.
We are on the Messinian peninsula, the South-West tip of mainland Greece that is part of the Peloponnese, a relatively unknown part of Greece, untouched by package tourism. Its rural Greece at it's best, an ideal place to stay for a long break if you want to experience real Greece.........and not a package holiday imitation.
Gargarou Retreat is in a quiet rural area of olive groves, 1km from a natural beach, with the main road 1km further inland so there is very little traffic noise. In fact, the villas are in our own olive grove, so you feel you are in the landscape, not just looking at a view.
The villa is ideal for individuals, couples or friends looking for somewhere secluded and 'off the beaten track' in natural surroundings. We limit booking to 2 people per villa so that there is a sense of tranquility here even at the height of the summer. Please note we only offer long term rentals of 3 months or more.
People often come to Gargarou Retreat when taking a sabbatical or having reached a point of change in their lives, enjoying the quiet, gentle pace of life in Greece, allowing time for relaxation and regeneration, time for themselves, to write, draw and paint, walk , practice yoga or just be!
For keen walkers there are many tracks through the olive groves where you can discover many small villages, abandoned ruins and beautiful valleys from the sea up into the hills. There are classes of yoga, qigong, meditation and dance locally.
Free broadband internet connection is available in each villa.
|Size||Sleeps up to 2, 1 bedrooms|
|Nearest beach||Gargarou 1 km|
|Will consider||Long term lets (over 1 month)|
|Access||Car not necessary|
|Nearest Amenities||1.5 km|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Kalamata 50 km, Nearest railway: Kalamata 50 km|
|Notes||Some pets are welcome - please contact the owner, No smoking at this property|
Features and Facilities
|Luxuries||Internet access, Sea view|
|General||Air conditioning, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron|
|Utilities||Cooker, Fridge, Washing machine|
|Rooms||1 bedroom, 1 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||Single beds (2), Dining seats for 4, Lounge seats for 2|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Private garden|
|Access||Parking, Not suitable for wheelchair users|
|Further details indoors|
The villa has a double/twin bedroom, a living/dining room, small kitchen, 1 bathroom and a small storage room and can accommodate 2 people. Both the rooms have double doors that open onto a terrace and the villa is surrounded by gardens with herbs and fruit trees in and with lovely views.
There is air conditioning/heating in the bedroom which reaches the living room too and have wi fi broadband connection in all the villas.
|Further details outdoors|
There is a shaded terrace and private garden area for each villa.
The villa is in a quiet rural area of olive groves and the main road is 1km further inland so there is very little traffic noise. In fact, the villas are set in our own olive grove, each having their own space and gardens with fig and orange and lemon trees, giving a sense of being in the landscape rather than simply looking at a view.
There are insect screens on the terrace doors.
The villa is available from August until mid December 2014, even though it says booked until October 3, we have a cancellation.
We only offer long term rentals of 3 months or more. The detached villa is in an olive grove with 3 other villas and the and the owners house. There is always someone responsible for maintaining the villa who speaks English and lives on site or close by.
Reviews from our guests up to October 2012
Below are reviews from people who have stayed with us since 2007, they have not been edited and all reviews we have received have been included. All reviews from people after October 2012 will go in the review section. They give a wonderful sense of what it is like staying at Gargarou Retreat for 3 months. This first one from a couple who came in 2013, their review went in Tripadvisor but not on Holidaylettings so included here.
“Unspoilt, unpretentious.....Greece at its best.”
We wanted to live in Greece and in a beautiful place for an extended period, but did not want to embark on months of travel that involved moving incessantly from place to place….so Gargarou Retreat was perfect for our needs.
Like everyone else who stayed at Gargarou, we too loved its quiet serenity, its views across the gulf to the Mani and south to Koroni. Surrounded by olive orchards, we chose 'Sage' as our abode…total privacy and a verandah that also looked to the north towards the small village of Kombi.
We wanted a place in Greece that we could return to after undertaking extended excursions to all the places in Greece that we wanted to see. Gargarou was perfect. Over the three months at Gargarou we were also able to afford three weeks in Crete and a visit to Santorini travelling via ferry from Gytheio; two weeks up to Ouranoupoli, Thessaloniki and back to Meteora and two weeks travelling down the Mani and then back up to Monemvasia before travelling via Sparta back 'home': because getting back to Gargarou was coming back 'home'.
Gargarou was where we 'lived'. It was where my partner joined a weekly drawing group to sketch the local villages; it was where we set out for day trips to nearby beaches and villages; it was the place from where we explored the local roads…sometimes more like goat tracks… into the hinterland and it was the place, where, over the three months we very irresponsibly befriended seven local cats. These were the 'animal substitutes' for our three dogs back in Australia. Gargarou was also where we cooked for ourselves when, amazingly, we craved something other than 'Greek” for dinner.
We were delighted that the Koroni Arts Festival regularly billed truly talented musicians that we enjoyed at totally unpretentious and inexpensive concerts in the grounds of the local public school….bliss. We got to know some of the shop owners in both Charakopio and Koroni and over time, though still very obviously tourists, felt more a part of this very beautiful and so far, unspoilt part of Greece.
Peter and Rachael made us very welcome. They have created a comfortable retreat in a beautiful part of the world. If you want affordable, unlimited privacy and quiet in a beautiful setting, in a location which allows you to immerse yourself, (or not) in all the delights that Greece has to offer, Gargarou is the place.
Stayed at Gargarou May to July 2013
It is with a very heavy heart that I left Gargarou Retreat after a 4 months stay. Only the knowledge of knowing that, God Willing, I'll be back next year, helped the pain…a bit.
The setting is fantastic, the villas charming, cozy and well equipped. The view over the sea and the surrounding hills a dream …Watch the colorful sunsets while sitting on your patio! I stayed in Gargarou during April, (still a bit wet for a few days) May, (the flowers were unbelievable, a mix of red, yellow, purple and white), June (the sea was getting warmer) July (everything was perfect)…
Yes, it gets warm hot in Summer. (The villas have AC if needed). You will enjoy various walks and it takes about 20 minutes to the village The paths are lovely, but. think about taking comfy walking shoes!. Sandals are nice but not always suitable for hikes. Don't forget sun screen, hat and sun glasses and if you left your camera behind you'll never forgive yourself! Harokopio has a very good supermarket and a few grocery stores. Also a few cafes and restaurants. But if your heart is set on a nice lunch by the sea, a bus will take you from Horokopio to Koroni in blink of an eye.( (or a taxi for 5 Euros)
All this says nothing about the always smiling owners. Rachael and Peter are the most helpful and charming people you'll ever meet. They want you to have a great time…and you will.
Alix August 2012
I found Gargarou when I needed it most: At a crossroads in life, all I desired was to get away from everything I knew and reconnect with myself, with beauty, with peace. Gargarou gave me just that. In my little Villa Sunrise, with a spectacular view towards the sea and mountains, I was able to come to my center.
The surrounding area provided gorgeous walks - my favorite was the walk into Koroni. The views one comes across on that walk are breathtaking. I would also highly recommend going on the Saturday walks led by Gill - it is a great opportunity to see the surrounding area and villages, and to meet amazing new people.
I loved the village of Harakopio - my favorite thing was to sit outside Cafe Art, drink a frappe, and watch village life go by. In this way I became somewhat familiar with various farmers and villagers who at first were wary of a stranger, but who, once they decided I could be trusted, welcomed me with open arms.
Everything I needed - bank, grocery store, bakery, health food store, pharmacy, hair dresser - were all either in Harakopio or Koroni. I truly lacked nothing.
The Villa itself is perfectly fitted out - again I lacked nothing: everything needed for comfortable living was available to me.
Furthermore, perhaps one of the best aspects of Gargarou are Rachael and Pete. They have built up a beautiful place, and care for it lovingly. They take such good care of their guests. Upon arrival, I was met in Koroni by Pete; he took me to get supplies, he answered any and all questions I had, and made me feel utterly at home. Anything that I needed was immediately taken care of.
Both Rachael and Pete showed such an interest and a caring for me and my well being, and I know that extends to everyone who comes to their property. They are truly kind and caring people, ideally suited to running a place of retreat for those who are searching, or those who need rest, or those who don't know what they need, but who at least need an escape.
Mary, Canada, September 2011
My visit to Gargarou was a dream come true, having promised myself a Sabbatical holiday for a few years before I actually made it happen.
I arrived in May full of nervous chatter which slowly subsided during the first few days of gazing across the valley from Villa Fig. There were spring flowers in abundance, deep red poppies, purple thistles, blue scabious and many more I can't name. Wandering through the endless olive groves carpeted with flowers was a treat to the senses. I really began to relax in the silence of the place, broken from time to time by squawking jays and other birds. As the sense of peace settled into me, so I became more energetic and enjoyed the walks either to the beach or by various routes into the village of Harakopio. This village contains everything you can possibly need during your stay but if you want more, there's a bus to Koroni or you can walk it in less than 2 hours.
Villa Fig is simple, unpretentious and equipped with everything I needed for my stay. The sunny terrace outside was a perfect place for morning coffee and evening ouzo! with uninterrupted views towards the mainland and Koroni. I spent hour after hour just soaking up energy, writing or reading or practising yoga. I joined in a weekly Qi Gong class, in an energy circle created by Pete and Rachael among the olive trees.
It was over all too soon, sadly the time came to say goodbye to it's healing peacefulness. I left feeling more emotional than expected, having been made so welcome by Pete and Rachael, who seem able to offer help in the most unobtrusive ways whilst leaving you to relax and unwind at your own pace. I've promised them, and myself, that I shall return very soon.
Barbara UK, May 2011
I stayed in Gargarou for half of my sabbatical (March -June 2011) and I regretted that I did not spend the whole time there.
I enjoyed every day. I could not wait to get up to sit out on the veranda in the freshness of the morning, bathed by the Greek light, surrended by the garden and with views of the glittering waters of the Messinian Golf and the Taygetos mountains beyond.
The location of Gargarou retreat is special and so are the owners Pete and Rachael. I said to them in more than one occasion how satisfied they should feel in providing visitors with such idyllic setting and excellent service.
If i were to make a recommendation it would take pages of description and praise for Rachael and Pete which would reduce the surprise and expectation that I feel a new visitor should experience personally.
I'm planning to return to Gargarou next spring.
Pilar June 2011
"Struggling to write past the half-way mark on my first novel, I decided there was only one thing to do – find somewhere peaceful and beautiful to finish it. That place turned out to be Gargarou Villas on Greece's Peloponnese coast.
From the minute I threw open the shutter doors at the front of the Sunrise villa to reveal a panorama of olive groves, vineyards, bright skies and the azure-coloured Mediterranean sea, I knew I had chosen the right spot. This view inspired me daily as I sat writing.
After five dreary summers in London, the prospect of three hot months in sunny Greece appeared ahead of me. Oh to feel the warmth of the sun on my back and breathe in the joy that feeling of sunshine brings to the soul. It was heaven.
The villas have everything you could need and made for comfortable living. I was in Sunrise for the first couple of months – my favourite because of the divine view, and then Sage for my final month, which is the most private and brings with it the delicious perfume of ripening fig trees close by.
The villas are only a 20-minute walk into the nearest supermarket or 25-minutes into the centre of Harokopio.
I hired a car in my last month so I could visit some of Greece's ancient sites and try more of the surrounding beaches in between my final push to finish my novel.
Throughout my stay, Pete and Rachael went out of their way to help if I needed anything and their warmth made me feel welcome.
Gargarou was the perfect place for my sabbatical to finish writing my book – quiet, picturesque, and inspiring and I can wholly recommend it if you are looking to do something similar or just have some time out.
Three months flew by and before I knew it I was (sadly) packing up to leave, manuscript in hand and more relaxed than I've been in years."
Heather, London UK August 2011
If you require peace & solitude allied to stunning views then this is the place. Pete & Rachael are there if you need them although never intrusive. Watching the sun rise and set on the longest day was a treat & I never tired of the vista across the Messinian Gulf to the Mani. Sometimes the mountains disappeared & on other occasions you felt you could reach out & touch them, so close did they appear. The villas are situated in plenty of room & all that you could wish for is available such as sun beds etc. Unlimited access to the web was a real bonus. Looking out to sea with a cool one whilst listening to Test Match Special was a real treat.
Harakopio - All that you need is 30/35 mins walk away. We frequented the central Art cafe & used the bakers immediately behind it. The lady owner is a real star who speaks no English so a good chance to practise ones' Greek. The fishmonger's is just off the square. We cooked some terrific meals using fish bought from here. Again the proprietress was very helpful. Bergers supermarket is the friendliest around here. We never missed the Sunday fruit n veg market. All good produce. Olives & olive oil bang on.
Kombi - Just one small cafe/bar (no food-just Amstel & peanuts!) open here during our stay. V quiet but worth the walk as it takes only 15 mins.
Koroni - Six years on from our last visit, pleased to say that it appears to have changed not one jot. A great place to just bimble around in. As with many sites in Greece the castle is open to all & free to enter. It is on a peninsular & views abound. There is another good fishmongers in Koroni along with deli's, supermarkets et al. Our two favourite restaurants were in Koroni, at opposite ends of the harbour; The Parthenon, next to the main cafe,has daily specials which are terrific value. It has an extensive menu & the family who run it are unfailingly polite & helpful. The last taverna, as you walk in the direction of the castle. the Fishermans, was also extremely good. An honourable mention must go to the Gyros parlour one road back from the front. As non-meaters we found their veggie gyros v tasty & filling. We visited June-August and all was nice 'n' relaxed with nowhere ever feeling too crowded or busy.
Pylos - A lively, big, bustling square. Good for people-watching. We picked up tasty sarnies here & it is a good jumping off point for visiting Gialova (we camped here on the way down- "Navarino Bay" campsite right on the beach) & the beautiful Voidhokilia bay. Pylos castle is well worth it.
Beaches - Our favourites were Zaga, in Koroni, (good snorkelling) & the tiny Coldwater bay further along this same stretch. A cave gives shade here all day &, out of season, you can have it to yourself all day. Closer to home Ag Triada & picturesque Kollinides.nr Vounaries, get our vote (do not be put off by hotel, the path to the beach is next to it). Chrani, on the Kalamata road, offers free sun-beds all day for the price of a drink. Can get crowded here in the season.
We had a wonderful time & would wholeheartedly recommend Gargarou.
Thanks, Pete & Rachael, for your hospitality & for providing such a divine place to stay awhile.
Frances and Nick, UK June to August 2011
Gargarou Retreat is a wonderful place to get away from the rat race to something really different. Coming from the States I was without a car, but managed quite well nevertheless. The nearby village, a half hour leisurely walk away on a beautiful path through olive groves, had all one really needed in the way of food and supplies. The villa was simple but beautiful inside and out, was fully equipped for comfortable sleeping and cooking, and had views from the terrace of the facing valley and the sea which never failed to amaze. I found, after settling in, a degree of peace very conducive to thinking, reading, and writing. The starry nights, the profusion of plants encouraged astronomizing and botanizing. There is also much of interest for amateur entomologists and geologists. The beach was about fifteen minutes away on foot, another lovely walk. I was able to swim well into December. Quite unexpectedly, the local expat community was sizable, diverse, and welcoming, and regularly put on book swaps, walks, dinners, etc. My stay extended into the olive season, and I was able to help out a bit with the harvest, which proved to be a great experience, and offered immediate contact with a still central part of Greek life. The Greeks themselves were almost invariably polite and honest, and many more of them speak English than when I had last visited almost forty years ago. Pete and Rachael, the hosts, are both lovely, gentle people. Another big plus, was finding that, with a kitchen and eating the local foods, I was able to spend less than I would have had to in the States for the time I was at Gargarou.
Bill, November 2010
I stayed in Gargarou Retreat from April to October 2010, a total of 7 months. The first impression I have about the place is the stunning scenery across the Tagetos mountain range in the Mani. It looks different everyday and at different time of the day. It is a bonus for me to see the sunrise, as indeed, I stayed in the Sunrise Villa. The Retreat is surrounded by olive groves, which is very close to nature. I did some circular walks and often felt very relaxed afterwards. I found it very calming and healing for me staying there.
No matter I am laying around, reading a book, listening to music; I felt a sense of tranquility in and around the villa. I also enjoyed lying and swinging under the olive trees with my hammock. It feels like a sanctuary, a paradise, with birdsongs and natural wilderness.
There is also a beautiful beach close by with very clear turquoise blue water. The beach has a gradual descend with very fine white sand, which made me feel safe. I have a small phobia for depth in the sea. It is very meditative to swim there, especially in the quieter early mornings.
It is also a short walk to the next village, Harakopio which you can access to the supermarket via a lovely track. It was filled with flowers in the spring time. If you like walking as me, you would enjoy the beautiful scenery along the coast to Koroni, the nearest seaside village. Koroni is like a gem with a castle and many pebbled roads to explore.
Pete and Rachael are very welcoming and would do everything they can to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable. If you come and stay, you would understand how wonderful and out of the world this place is.
Salina UK/Hong Kong, stayed April - October 2010
Woke up at 6 am and straight down to the beach – a beautiful walk with views across vineyards, cypress trees in the distance, culminating in a row of cottages nestling in olive groves overlooking the sea. Lovely just to sit on the sand watching the sun come up, with a small fishing boat on the horizon. The sea clear and blue, of course, and I have it all to myself.
Walk back up the hill to my villa 'Sage' and a cafetiere of coffee outside. Where shall I sit today? Overlooking the garden full of sweet smelling herbs and flowers or under the shade of the covered veranda, with a view of mountains and the sea.
After breakfast, a stroll to Harokopio. It's market day, so an opportunity to buy fresh vegetables, local wine, honey, olive oil, olives....... Then a Greek coffee with friends I have made through the local walking group – could sit here all day. This is the real Greece – a proper working village – it's like being back in the fifties – nothing much changed – I love it.
Several hours later, and after a siesta lulled by the sound of cicadas, I'm off to Koroni, the most beautiful town in the Peloponnese, and only ten minutes away by car/taxi/bus. (I suppose I could walk by the scenic route but perhaps I've done enough walking today). A leisurely drink on the square overlooked by the castle and then supper on the waterfront – the tables of the restaurant practically in the sea.
It's now quite dark, but back at Gargarou the little path leading to my villa is lit up by a trail of pretty lights. Perhaps I'll just sit outside for a bit, a cat on my lap, watch the stars and let the warmth wrap around me. I could get used to this!
Kathryn UK April - October 2010
"We came to Gargarou looking for some serenity from the everyday throngs of the modern world...and well we found that and much much more. We found a little piece of heaven filled with beautiful landscapes, the bluest beaches, and incredible food but the most precious and meaningful part of it were the people we met and befriended. From Pete and Rachael to the villagers of Harakopio, we felt so welcomed and ultimately at home. We have travelled the globe from Africa to South America but no place will hold what Gargarou does... our hearts.
Tommy and Jeannie" UK 2009
My time at Gargarou was all too short!
I had found the link to Pete's villas a couple of years ago and thought, that as a retirement gift to myself, it was just what I wanted and certainly what I would need after 38 years in the teaching service.
From the moment I arrived and saw what would be my daily vista from the terrace of Fig Villa, I was certain that I had made the right decision.
I made the first of what would be many walks down to the water and along to the beachfront at Peroulia. It was there that I spent many mornings, both in the water and on the sand. I would finish up on the terrace of the taverna and sit for an hour or two with a cold frappe. On occasions, I would extend my stay and have a bite of lunch and a cold beer before walking back to the villa for an even lazier afternoon.
The walk into Harakopia took about 30 minutes when I first started but became longer over the three months that I was there as I slowed down to match the pace of life I was now living. The walk along the dirt track was always made in the morning so that by 9.00 a.m. I was sitting in one of the cafes around the village “square”. I would order my frappe and take leisurely sips for an hour or so as the life of the village passed before me. The Sunday morning market was always on the agenda. Lovely freshly-grown vegetables at a fraction of the price I would pay at home. Although it was sometimes difficult to understand what the total cost was, I got by with a handful of coins and a smile that more-or-less said, “help yourself”.
When I was feeling a bit more energetic, I would make the walk over to Koroni to sit along the harbour's edge or explore the streets and the ancient castle. Lunch was always a difficult, but pleasant, choice. Over the three months that I spent at Gargarou, I tried to share my 'patronage' around so that I sampled as many of the Koroni cafes and tavernas as possible. Although there was a bus back to Harakopia, I always took to walking – either along the track or the much easier option of walking along the roadside.
I can recommend a stay at Pete's villas highly enough. If you are someone who can find pleasure in a simple life or just need to unwind and slow down, then this is the place for you!
Mark E, Australia. November 2010
The time we spent at Gargarou Retreat was precious. The first impression was that photos can't do justice to the view across the sea of the Taygetos mountains. Also, of the medieval citadel town of Koroni down the coast - particularly when lit at night. It's a prettily-farmed lush green corner of Greece. The beach is joyously underpopulated - you will sometimes have it to yourselves. It has clear turquoise water, which you can go out quite far in, and it still be shallow. There are a couple of decent tavernas on the beach which serve fresh fish daily. Our break was all about writing poetry (Ben), doing yoga (Becca), reading, walks, swimming... at dusk the gentle sounds of cricket song, and occasional hoot of an owl would set the mood for the gorgeous moonlit appearance of this rural region... Though nearby Koroni, with its medieval citadel and smattering of chic shops and restaurants (and one beach nightclub somewhere!) can provide a taste of the 'lights' if you need it
Ben and Becca, Devon UK 2009
I was only there for a few months but it was very sad to leave. I still think about my little villa and wonder who is in there and if they are looking after my little place properly. I think though that you guys ( Pete and Rachael) were the reason why I have such fond memories of my time there. You made me feel so welcome at a time when I was truly wondering why I had thought it be a great idea to travel to the other side of the world on my own to a place where I couldn't even speak the language. I will never forget that first day when you opened the French doors of the villa and I took my first look across the valley at the view from my new home. It was magic. My best memories of all the places I ended up visiting in Greece. And all that walking in to the village, down to the beach, over to Koroni. And always a smile and a greeting from anyone I met on my travels. No matter the language it's all the same in the end. If I ever get the chance I'm definitely coming back again.
Gayle, New Zealand 2009
Memories of Gargarou
If you are of a self-sufficient disposition, content with peaceful days and quiet nights, seeking eternal sunshine, in love with Greece, then Gargarou is for you. My home for three months in 2007 was Villa Fig, one of Pete and Rachael's simple two-room villas, with white-washed walls, high timbered ceilings, tiled floors, and French windows filled with views of the valley below and the sea beyond.
The dawn, radiant behind the distinctive leaf patterns of my spreading fig tree, would turn without fail from silver gold to sapphire blue. Every awakening at Gargarou made me feel glad to be alive. I'd close and curtain the French windows and shut the door to keep the bedroom cool. Then I'd open the ones next door, leaving them open all day between the kitchen and the south-facing, covered, stone terrace running the villa's length. The terrace was another room, affording a clear view of the ever-changing Mediterranean and the moody Taygetos Mountains beyond. It was quite easy to spend the day there, shaded from the hot sun, sketching, reading or writing, watching the way the landscape changed before one's eyes. In the air, raptors called and patrolled the air currents, searching for anything that moved among the patchwork of vineyards, ancient olive groves and dark cypresses. Sun would scintillate off the roof-top solar collectors of Koroni, the little seaside town in the middle distance at the tip of the Peloponnese and, as the heat rose, so did the song of the cicadas.
Along a level path that wound its way past olive trees, grassy meadows and smallholdings, lay Harokopio, an unspoiled inland village on the main road to Koroni. Butchers, bakers (and possibly candlestick makers), two pharmacies, a post office, three or four coffee shops or tavernas, several small grocers, a few apparel stores, and a bountiful vegetable and livestock market on Sunday mornings supplied everything I could possibly need only a twenty minute walk away. Summers are hot in Greece and siesta closes almost everything for three or four hours each afternoon. If I needed supplies, I'd walk the path to Harokopio in the morning, making sure to return to the cool of the terrace long before the sun was overhead. Or I'd go later, at about 5, after siesta. That was also the time I liked to take another path, down to the gentle shore of sandy Gargarou beach, to swim in the clean, warm waters of the Mediterranean sea as the sun sank towards the western hills. Returning to Fig, I'd shower, prepare my supper, and eat it out on the terrace, gazing out at the stars in the dark night sky. The full moon rose directly in front of me, from behind the grandeur of the Taygetos Mountains, on three occasions. Unforgettable!
Once a week, I'd head to Koroni, a 20-minute trip by bus from Harokopio or an hour and a half walk along the coastal path, for a watercolour class taught by a local artist in the early evening. Koroni is a lovely town to spend time in. It has a bank and a fishmonger and a few internet terminals and there are many small shops that sell absolutely everything. Or you can visit the convent within the confines of the Venetian castle on the hill, or explore the tip of the peninsula until you come to the long sandy beach that stretches away on the other side. For the price of a coffee, no-one bothers you if you spend all of siesta reclining on comfortable sofas arranged in spacious, shady marquees along the harbour front, catching up on letter writing, people watching or reading the papers, or if you are lucky, seeing turtles swimming in the deep, clear water.
Gargarou is the perfect place to be. To go from and to return to in your discovery of the strange and marvellous things Greece has to offer. It will be your home away from home, from the moment the sun rises, during each cloudless summer day, to the cooling moment when the cicadas cease to sing, meditative or waxing philosophical through warm starlit evenings, and sleeping deeply through calm, peaceful nights. You are sure to come away, washed clean in body, mind and spirit. I did.
Jackie Easby, 2009
The Messenia Region
Here are some of our favourite places to visit by car or bus:
The Polilimnio Waterfalls near Haravgi, about 45 minutes drive, are are series of lovely waterfalls and pools running through a small gorge. You can swim in the largest pool there.
Ancient Messini is an important site in a striking setting up in the mountains, about an hour drive away
Olympia, one of the largest and most beautiful sites in Greece, is about 3 hours drive from Gargarou. You can also
get there by bus from Kalamata. As well as the site with the stadium and Zeus Temple there is a lovely museum
Mystra is a large and well preserved Byzantine city near Sparta. It is about a 2 hour drive up into the mountains past Kalamata. The drive from Kalamata through two gorges is stunning, worth making the trip alone
Methoni is on the west facing coast of Messinia and is an hours drive. It has a medieval citadel (free entry) that is definitely worth a visit.
Pylos is another medieval town and port further up the coast past Methoni and is about 1.5 hours drive away.
A few kilometres further along the coast is Gialova, a small resort which has several good restaurants by the sea.
Nearby is the conservation area of Voidhokilia with a natural lagoon and wetlands (home to 20.000 water birds and African Chameleon), beautiful bay and the ancient site of the Kastro Navarinou and Nestor's Cave.
Nestors Palace is about a half hour drive further north and is another important site where tablets written in Linear B script were discovered linking mainland Greece with the Minoan culture in Crete.
A 15 minute walk through olive groves(1km) takes you to Gargarou beach, a natural and unspoiled beach, sallow sandy sea, backed by a wooded hillside. Further along at Peroulia beach here are 2 tavernas and a bar on the beach, one of them at Peroulia on the edge of the beach and another at Akti beach on a cliff overlooking the sea and across to the Mani, both serving delicious traditional Greek cuisine and fresh local fish.
The lovely medieval town of Koroni is 6 km -10 mins drive or an hour walk along coastal tracks. There is a Venetian castle on a hill overlooking the coast, and narrow streets, many too small for cars, zigzag up the hill behind the harbour. Along the harbour front there are many cafes, tavernas and restaurants. There are banks, bakeries, fresh fishmongers,supermarkets, pharmacies and a market on Sunday.
Past the castle, there are sandy Memi and Zaga beaches stretch for 2 km southwards where there are windsurfing facilities
If you are very lucky, you might watch loggerhead sea turtles swimming in Koroni harbour. Some of the beaches in the area are important nesting sites for the turtles
The local village of Harokopio is 1km away [20 mins walk]. It is a large traditional village with 3 restaurants, half a dozen tavernas and cafes, supermarkets, bakers, pharmacies, a post office, and many other stores - even 2 pasta makers. Gianni and Foulis restaurant has traditional oven baked dishes - you go into the kitchen to choose from what they have cooked that day . There is also a pizza restaurant and Nikos has very good grilled meat and fish - he also has Rose wine from his own vineyard that is very popular locally. On Sunday mornings there is a vegetable market where you can stock up with local seasonal produce for the week. Few tourists come to the village.
Kombi is a small village with a store and a good taverna open in the summer months. It is a pleasant 15 minutes walk away through the olive groves. Past Kombi and Gargarou beach you will find Vounaria and many churches. Towards Koroni, Agios Triada is the next village along the coast which has a lovely sandy beach. It is a 30-40 minute walk there.
For keen walkers there are many tracks through the olive groves where you can discover many small villages, abandoned ruins and beautiful valleys from the sea up into the hills. There is also a local walking group which many people coming to Gargarou have joined.
There are wonderful walks along the coast and there is sailing and windsurfing close by at Koroni and Agia Andreas.
There is an artist in our local village Harocopio who offers art classes and also offers guided walks of the area.
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8 Jan 2013
"A retreat you will want to come back to..."
I had the pleasure of staying in Villa Fig for three months from Sept 2012 to work on a personal writing project and loved if from the start. Pete and Rachael are terrific hosts and ensure that you have everything you need. With a fig tree bearing ripe fruit just outside my bedroom window, I knew I was off to a good start! First of all, there is the magnificent view of the Taygetos mountains - always changing and making sunrises and sunsets memorable. Then there is the lovely scented walk (about 20 min)along the ridgeway into Harakopio - a village with a supermarket, cafes, bakery and pharmacy as well as a delicious taverna run by Gianni and Fouli. There is a 10 min walk down to the beach. The coastline is always changing along here so if you walk further along you will come to Peroulia Beach which is very sandy and also has a fine taverna - only metres from the water's edge. Clear water swims were wonderfully refreshing. The water temp in September was 24 degrees and even on the 30th of November it was still 20 degrees and the day sunny! The nearest town is Koroni offering interesting old Venetian buildings, a castle & monastery and all manner of pretty cafes and tavernas, right on the water's edge. It is an hour's walk from your villa to your favourite table. The closest small village is Kombi and only a 15 min walk. There are 2 tavernas and a traditional Greek cafe. With all of these walks they are on very quiet roads/tracks so you very rarely encounter traffic. Occasionally Dimitry will go by on his tractor and give you a wave and that's about it! Further afield there are some superb walks organised by a local, Gill Tomlinson. They really give you a feel for these interesting, undulating landscapes dotted with cyprus trees, olive groves, vineyards and bamboo growing in the valleys. It is all very appealing and I sincerely hope the character of this part of the Peloponnese will remain without too many changes. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, met some wonderful people and found the peace and tranquility of the landscape was very special indeed. Pete and Rachael produce some of the best olive oil imaginable - with a little fresh bread and a glass of local wine, sublime! Thanks guys and I look forward to my return.
29 Dec 2012
"Perfect writer's retreat in rural Greece"
I write this with a certain degree of ambivalence: not because a word of it is untrue, nor because I have anything except good things to say about this idyllic spot in the Greek countryside, but because I don't want word to get around. I want Gargarou to be *my* secret. After seeing photos on a website, I usually brace myself, ready to be disappointed, when I walk into a hotel room for real - but not at Gargarou. The villas are as lovely as they appear in photos on the website: simply decorated and perfectly appointed, each exudes a serenity that I found very conducive to writing (the reason I'd packed my bags and left the UK). I stayed in Villa Jasmine, and woke up each morning to the fragrant smell of jasmine, not to mention the wild sage and rosemary all around the site, and stunning views of the valley and coast towards Koroni. Koroni is less than an hour's walk away, though you'll be too busy looking at the spectacular views of the Messinian Gulf to notice the time. The town is a pretty Venetian port, with harbour-side tavernas and a fortress overlooking the sea. Harakopio, the nearest village to Gargarou and just a 25 minute walk around the valley, is an unexpected delight, with friendly locals, tavernas and a lively Sunday fruit and veg market. And I want to tell you about Yanni and Fouli's taverna, or the roast pork at Nikos' Grill, or the view of the chalky Taygetos mountains against a violet sky, or the farmer who waves and shouts "yassas" from his porch, or the taste of the fresh figs from the trees, or the cats who curl around your feet - but I won't, because I want to keep something secret... I stayed from October to December, arriving in warm sunshine and leaving just as the winter set in, with a finished second draft of my novel. I am already planning my return.
21 Dec 2012
First of all i would like to say that we agree with all the other reviews that Gargarou has received giving deserving high praise to a wonderful place. We stayed at Gargarou’s Villa Sunrise from mid-September to mid-December 2012 for a much needed break. Having looked at the Gargarou website and read all the reviews and hardly hoping that it might be as great as it all sounded, it did not take long after arrival to realise that it was all true and more! Pete and Rachael are indeed great hosts and lovely people to be looked after by, to work with (we took part in their olive harvest) and just to know – they are warm, friendly, interesting and considerate beyond expectation. The villas are very comfortable with excellent amenities and the views from Villa Sunrise constantly stunning with magnificent sunrises, sunsets, moonrises (with moonlight across the water) and the occasional rare thunder and lightning storm. Our favourite thing to do was to walk down the road and tracks to Gargarou beach first thing in the morning, admiring the views over the valley along the way and swim in the warm, clear shallow waters – what a way to start the day! This would set us up with a feeling of blessed contentment for the rest of the day. We loved to walk between the olive groves up to the town of Harakopio. The views from the top of the valley of the sea and the Taygetos Mountains again magnificent. We really liked the small town of Harokopio, the Cafe Art, the small Sunday veg market, and all the local people who were very friendly. We enjoyed mouth-watering spit-roasted pork with a Greek salad at Nikos’ Grill on a Sunday morning washed down with a very nice home-made rose wine. Most often we ate at Gianni and Fouli’s restaurant just off the square, every meal we had different, very traditional and a delight! We also loved Koroni, less traditional but more beautiful than Harakopio situated by the sea, it is a lovely harbour town with a good selection of shops, tavernas and bars with a great castle and monastery to explore. During our 3 months stay we also took part in the Qi Gong (a sort of mixture of Tai Chi and meditation) classes that took place in Pete and Rachael’s gardens and run by Mick. The sessions always left us feeling balanced and even more happy and relaxed! We also took part on some of the walks organised by Gill across various locations with scenery to take the breath away. Both these activities we would highly recommend. Our time at Gargarou was one of the best experiences of our life. Leaving was very difficult but made easier by the fact that we have already arranged to return in 2013 and looking very forward to getting back. Ann and David Phillips
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