Van Life #6 – Exploring the Peloponnese & Central Greece

I have started a new blog series called ‘Van Life’ and it will mainly highlight wild camping and vegan tips in each country we visit. I really appreciate finding out information about this kind of thing whilst travelling to put me at ease and save time on finding wild spots and decent food.

After leaving island life behind (sad face) we docked at Kylini ferry port where we travelled down the coast towards Kyparissia. What a stunning beach area, a 10km sandy stretch of untouched nature. There’s a pine forest lining the beach which is one of the remaining beach forests in Greece and another special aspect of this beach is that it’s an important nesting site for Loggerhead turtles. In summer there can be up to 2500 nests here so if you’re here between May and September, then do respect the rules so that the turtles remain undisturbed.

As we were finding a wild camp spot near Elea beach we encountered our first nightmare with the van – we got stuck in sand! After the initial panic or trying to dig the tyres out with a stick, a lovely German couple came over with their huge truck to pull us out. The campervan community is great and people are always willing to help! We found another non-sandy spot under a pine tree and stayed here for 3 nights. There’s fresh drinking water and cold showers there.

After loving beach life in Kyparissia we headed further south to stay just outside the town of Kalamata. Not on the usual travellers itinerary of Greece but we needed a huge bag of laundry doing and wanted to stock up on supplies. We parked in a great car park near the beach and spent time in the town eating vegan goodies from Pi&Fi and Family Doughnuts. It’s not a dreamy beautiful Greek town but handy if you’re in the Peloponnese and need some services.

We left Kalamata for Athens in the evening around 18:00 aiming to arrive around 21:30, Pete was fine with arriving into Athens in the dark but for the record he did say “I’m sorry if it’s the worst decision ever but I’m sure it’ll be alright”. Well, most of the way there was on quiet toll roads then approaching Athens the traffic got more and more mental. We were aiming for a car park on Park4Night which was proving hard to find but luckily our sat nav and Google maps saved us and we arrived an hour after schedule. Didn’t matter because we’d made it and just in time to eat dinner whilst watching the Great British Bake Off final. It was all going so well until I was serving up our baked beans then the worst van life scenario happened… the police arrived and politely said we couldn’t stay there, nightmare!

We were both knackered but we hurriedly ate our dinner then punched a random campsite address into the sat nav outside of Athens. When we arrived at Camping Dionisiotis near Kifisia at around 23:00, the gate was closed and everything looked shut down but we could still see RVs parked up so we managed to open the gate and sleep in the car park. In the morning I went to check out the scrapheap, sorry I mean campsite (!), and a lady told me it was in fact closed. We were pretty relieved actually because it was a bit of a dive and you couldn’t leave the van without being barked at by about 5 big dogs. We quickly left and headed to Camping Nea Makri which was right by the beach. We could have actually wild camped in this town but opted for a campsite out of easiness and tiredness. It was only €20 for a night and you could get the KTEL bus to Athens for €3.20.

Athens was more crazy than I remember, but we managed to navigate ourselves to Cookoomela Grill which is a vegan gyros shop. I know this word gets used all the time but it really was amazing. I had the yellow gyros which was filled with homemade vegan mayo, avocado, mushrooms, potatoes, salad and yellow mustard. We also shared a portion of potato wedges loaded with vegan mayo and Pete had the lentil gyros which also looked incredible. We of course then walked to the Acropolis around sunset then found ourselves eating dessert at Lukumades. We shared a Vegano special and thank goodness we did as even though it was so good it was also so rich – little doughnut balls topped with melted peanut butter, chocolate praline sauce, dark chocolate sorbet and almonds. Errmyyguuud it was insanely good! The last bus to Nea Makri is 22:30.

After a relaxed morning at the campsite, we decided to start heading north late morning. The forecasted rain was coming and our extended summer had officially ended, autumn was here. We drove through orange leafed forests and made it to Lamia for lunch. We stopped here mainly because it had a Goody’s burger chain restaurant which recently started selling vegan burgers. They were awesome!

After driving through eerie cotton fields, we stopped in Kalabaka for the night in order to see Meteora in the morning. It was a drizzly experience but well worth it, Meteora is a must see if you’re in the area as it really is special place. After feeling wet and soggy from our hike around Meteora, I googled hot springs and came across Pozar thermal baths which is a naturally hot river where you can bathe in the warm pools. We were sold and stayed overnight too which was perfect for a morning dip before the weekenders showed up.

Sadly, it was time to say bye to Greece and we drove towards the North Macedonian border with an expensive decision ahead.

Park4Night wild camping spots:

Vegan food tips:

  • Stock up on food before camping at Elea beach as it’s pretty remote
  • Cookoomela Grill in Athens does the best vegan gyros
  • Pi&Fi bakery in Kalamata has spinach pies, potato pies and sugar donuts
  • AB Supermarket has a great selection of vegan foods like Vivera foods, vegan pesto, vegab cheese and dairy free milks, yoghurts and cream