Uncovering Kantia the local retreat from Athens

Posted on February 18th, 2017

Following on from my posts about Athens and where we stayed in Kefisia, I’m sharing today the next leg of our Greek trip last summer. It’s a bit of a change from my Sunday photos on the farm but the area is so beautiful in a very different way to Cornwall, I wanted to share a little of what we enjoyed here and brighten up a Sunday in February.  

  Top tips for visiting Kantia in Greece with teenagers  

 

Booking a holiday independently from the UK in an area you are unfamiliar with is not easy, even in the modern age of the internet. We wanted a two centre holiday, beginning with a few days in Athens and finishing with a few days on the coast. For our coastal stay the area near Nafplion, in the Peloponnese region south of Athens, appealed having good reviews. We randomly selected a hotel in a little village called Kantia. That was back in February last year and we had a whole 5 months to wait before we would find out if our choice was a wise one.

 

Decorative boat planted with shrubs on the beach in Kantia

 

The Greek roads have been transformed out of all recognition in the 20 years since I last visited. A super new highway connected Athens with the Peloponnese and in our hire car, complete with sat nav; we reached our destination in under 3 hours. Stepping out of the car was like stepping back into the Greece I remembered; dusty roads, fabulous houses next to derelict ones, rooms to rent and a rather undiscovered beach devoid of all the touristy water sports.  Instead the beach supported just the odd Taverna every 200 yards or so, lemon trees, olive trees, the odd dog lying underneath and our little hotel just 30 yards up a dirt track from the beach.  This was clearly a place for the locals but with a Greek surname and a smattering of Greek it was just what we were hoping for.

 

Felix looking from the hotel to the beach

 

After confusion on arrival and a misplaced booking we were in. Thank God my ever prepared husband had the bank statements and emails printed out to prove we had booked and paid. I did feel sorry for the flustered owner, it is my one nightmare, that the booking system will fail and I’ll have a family arrive I’m not expecting. I’m pleased to say in 15 years it has not yet happened! 

 

View from the hotel to beach at Kantia

 

Our 4 days here were perfect. After an adequate breakfast we set out exploring the area in the mornings covering Nafplion, Mycenae and Epidavros retreating back in the afternoon for a swim and siesta around the pool or down on the beach.

 

I love this photo of my eldest and his Dad (Farmer Nick)  walking from the hotel to the beach together.

Farmer Nick and Ally walking to the beach in Kantia

 

 

We explored on foot and swam for miles before falling into one of the two tavernas each night to watch the sun go down, sipping ouzo and indulging in the local Greek food.

 

 

Dinner at a beachside Taverna in Kantia

Greek style squid is still one of my favourite meals

Squid at a Taverna in Kantia

Sun setting inland over Kantia

sunset over Kantia

Early Morning was my favourite time to swim when the sea was as calm as a pond 

Sunrise over the bay at Kantia

Tips and pitfalls of staying in Kantia

  • We stayed in the Candia House Hotel. It is a mid range hotel, nothing fancy, a little tired but friendly and welcoming and more than adequate. We ended up in the Presidential suit after confusion with our booking, which was a cut above the other rooms. It had a pool and wonderful views out to sea from our suite and the breakfast room / veranda. There is shady parking area for cars and rooms are serviced daily. I would book here again if returning to Kantia.

  • Pack light. We only travelled with hand luggage which saved us over £100 each and this was adequate in July. I never needed a jacket once; only swim wear, shorts, tops and a couple of floaty dresses.

  • It is suitable for children but be careful in the water as it shelves very quickly so younger children may find swim aids helpful.

  • My favourite time to swim was at sunrise and after dark when the sea was like a lake. A wind whipped up the waves during the day.

  • WiFi is excellent all around. There is free beach WiFi and it was free in the Tavernas and in our hotel.

  • You have to feel comfortable with the Greek style of eating. There is only Greek food on the menu and it is served Greek style, i.e. haphazardly when it is ready. We were happy to go with the flow and share everything, but if you like to order and eat your own it is not ideal as one dish may be half an hour ahead of another.

  • Watch out ordering wine, it is only local and pretty poor quality. I loved the old peasant wine Retzina, however this is no longer sold even in the supermarkets, the replacement is quite poor if you like a good sauvignon like me. Local beer is a better bet.

  • In the absence of good wine I developed a taste for the local Ouzo with ice. Watch out though as the little bottles I had were 75% proof and more like half pint sized!

  • The locals all speak excellent English and are very hospitable so asking anything is easy.

  • Kantia is a made up spelling from the Greek alphabet. Unfortunately every map producer has chosen a different English equivalent meaning you have to watch for signs to Kantia, Cantia, Candia and try them all in a sat nav!

  • We hired a car from Kafisia where were staying in Athens via Hertz rental and opted for the Sat Nav too. It was a 5 seater costing £320 for 4 days returning to Athens Airport which is well signed on the return journey. Petrol is a similar price to the UK.

Would I recommend Kantia?

If you want to experience the real Greece then this is a great holiday, however if you want modern resort facilities and a variety of cuisine this may not be for you. The beaches were quiet during the week but busy at the weekend as the Athenians came down for their weekend / day retreat. For me it was perfect and just what I hoped for my boy’s age 16 and 18. This year we are tied to school holidays again and will be enjoying the summer from home in Cornwall, however I hope to return with our younger children one day.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday