On our recent visit to Tolo, we found it combines many ideal qualities. This classic seaside village is just 2 hours from Athens. Moreover, it is one of Greece’s loveliest drives, taking us over the Corinth Canal and into the heart of the Argolid, one of the most famous sections of the Peloponnese. Some of the most famous ancient sights in Greece are within a short drive of Tolo. And so is the first capital of modern Greece – lovely Nafplion.
But in addition to culture and history, many visitors to Greece also prioritize quality beach time. The natural setting of Tolo is fantastic. The town stretches along a clean and sandy beach, with shallow, gentle (family-friendly!) waters. The Bay of Tolo is dotted with charming islands, for a romantic view from the shore. If you have a fantasy of eating fresh seafood on the beach as a full moon rises over a bay, well – we have that fantasy too. This is exactly the place.
Here’s what we discovered about Tolo, a fantastic holiday destination that is particularly well-suited to families.
Tolo Takes Safety Very Seriously
This was our first official Travel Bloggers Greece trip after quarantine. In addition to being curious about the destination itself, we were equally curious about the measure the Greek tourism industry would take to keep travelers – and themselves – safe. We found the highest level of professionalism everywhere we went in Tolo, and felt very comfortable and safe. For example, extra masks and sanitizing gels were waiting for us in our sterilized (but still very cozy!) rooms at the John and George Hotel. Plexiglass shields between the front desk and patrons made conversation feel safe. Markers on the floor reminded us about the social distancing guidelines. All the service staff wore masks all the time – not under the chin, not dangling from an ear, but really wearing them. At breakfast, the generous buffet had service from staff in face shields, arranging plates to each diner’s wishes. All this with good cheer.
Travel Bloggers Greece is dedicated to the future of sustainable, responsible and healthy Greek tourism as a whole. We were delighted to see how Greece, after coping so exceptionally well with the pandemic, is handling tourism responsibly.
We were within such an easy distance of both Mycenae and the Asklepion at Epidaurus. These two sights are among the most fascinating in Greece, which is saying a great deal.
The Asklepion is a vast sight – an ancient healing center, we learned about how advanced the medicine of ancient Greece actually was. The museum had a fascinating display of ancient medical instruments. Moreover, we learned about how holistic medicine in ancient Greece was. The theater of Epidaurus is one of the most famous in the world, its acoustics known for sending the faintest sounds to the very top rows in the enormous theater (a capacity of 13,000 – 14,000). But the most interesting thing about the theater is that it was considered important to the soul, and therefore essential in the holistic curing of the patients at the Asklepion.
Our tour here – as at Mycenae the next day – took place with ear pieces, so we could maintain social distancing without missing a word from our excellent guide.
This Helladic site, predating the Parthenon by a millennium, is truly fascinating. Here is where the myths of ancient Greece find their historical foundation – Heinrich Schliemann, captured by the Homeric Epics, went looking for their archaeological proof, and indeed found some of it here at Mycenae. The Treasury of Atreus – the world-famous beehive tomb – took the name of the Tomb of Agamemnon.
We also learned more about the fascinating culture of the ancient Mycenians – in part chronologically parallel to the Minoan culture of Crete – at the fascinating museum on site. Then we visited the acropolis of Mycenae, entered through the Lion Gate, perhaps one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world.
We didn’t have to go far to visit Ancient Assini, for this port of the Mycenaens is in fact in Tolo itself. This is a beautiful archaeological site overlooking the bay of Tolo. It was inhabited from the third millennium BB (early Helladic period). Homer mentions Assini, when he speaks of the ships of the cities of the Argolid – Tyrins, Epidaurus, Argos – leaving for the Trojan war. A Swedish archaeology team, led by archaeologist Axel Persson and with the enthusiastic support of then Crown Prince Gustav Adolf.
A Sailing Cruise around the Bay of Tolo
Actually, this was much better than just a sailing cruise. The Bay of Tolo is dotted with small uninhabited islands, and we got to explore one of them with Tolo Sailing and Intro Dive. We took a cruise to tiny Daskaleio, where we jumped right from the boat into the clear jade waters. We swam to shore, and explored the island.
Climbing to the top through trees and caperberry shrubs, with ever more stunning views, we came to an old church. During the years of the Ottoman occupation, this served as a secret school.
When we came down, our kind hosts had prepared a Greek-Style beach barbecue of tender, charcoal grilled souvlakia, tzatziki, Greek salad, and of course chilled white wine. We ate in our bathing suits, taking dips in between bites. Our hosts at the John and George Hotel regularly organize these excursions for their guests. At 25 – 30 eu per person, it’s both an excellent value and one of the most fun things you can do in Tolo.
Tasting the Best of the Peloponnese
This region, so blessed in history and archaeology and natural beauty, is also richly fertile land, producing some of the delights of Greece.
We visited a second-generation beekeeper Dimitris Kontomourtos and learned about their fascinating life. These phenomenally hard working creatures collectively fly enough to circle the globe to make a jar of honey. We donned bee-keeping suits to keep us safe and to watch them at work.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Greece’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is world famous for its excellent quality. Much of the finest oil comes from the Peloponnese. We visited the family owned extra virgin olive oil orchard and press Melas, where we learned more about cultivating this fragrant green treasure.
One of the first words you learn when you visit Greece is “Yamas” – “to our health!” This is the usual toast when lifting a glass of anything festive, including and maybe especially Ouzo. This is the ultimate summer drink, a refreshing aperitif of neutral grape alcohol scented with aromatics, anis in particular. Quality ouzo has the aromatics distilled together with the alcohol for a more complex and nuanced flavor profile. The family distillery Karonis welcomed us for a tasting and a fun introductory crash course in ouzo production.
Beautiful Nafplion, a prosperous port town for centuries, was the first capital of Modern Greece. This aristocratic and lovely small city on the water has many attractions, including the vast Palamidi fortress which crowns the hilltop, the fortress-island Bourtzi, the Vouleftikon ( a former mosque that became the first assembly of the new Greek State), and the Plateia Syntagmatos. We loved learning about the city;s fascinating history as we wandered around its charming Venetian style alleys.
Dining in Tolo
We had some of the finest seaside dining experiences we had ever enjoyed in Tolo. We began with a glamorous lunch on the terrace of the Golden Beach Hotel, right across from the beach. In the evening, we dined on excellent classic seafood taverna fare at the family-owned Arkrogiali.
Our table at this beautiful restaurant – in business since 1955 – was literally just a meter or two from the waves lapping the shore. Another evening, we had new Greek gourmet at Maria’s Restaurant, overlooking the whole of the Bay of Tolo as the light turned golden and pink. Our last night in Tolo we had a very festive meal at Ormos, directly on the beach.
This ouzerie/cafe is run by a dynamic young couple who turn out excellent creative dishes that highlight prime local ingredients.
Tolo for a Family Holiday
One of the things we really loved about Tolo was how this really is a family-oriented town. The clean beaches and family-friendly accommodations and establishments make this an excellent choice for a home base while you explore the archaeology and history of the Argolid. It was wonderful to return to a charming and peaceful village for a swim after a day at the sights. It’s also great for a classic beach holiday, Greek-style. We really loved how peaceful Tolo is. If you are looking for lous beach bars, you can go elsewhere.
Tolo is a place for quality relaxation, with excellent hospitality and food, and a high level of professionalism.
Articles published about Tolo
Members of Travel Bloggers Greece were invited to explore Tolo by the Tourism Association of Tolo