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Stoupa - honest reflections

Warwick, United...
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78 posts
5 reviews
Stoupa – honest reflections

Here’s my honest assessment of Stoupa, which I hope will be useful to people wondering whether to take a holiday there. These views are based on our first visit which lasted one week (11th-18th September).

Accommodation

We stayed in a simple apartment 2 minutes walk from the main beach (booked independently from our flights), and it was good value. We obviously cannot comment on other places, but there seems to be a range to suit most pockets and tastes.

Beaches – 8/10

The main beach is a nice crescent of mostly coarse sand, with pebbles where you enter the water. Sunbeds cover quite a lot of it, although there are empty stretches too. Around to the left (as you look out to sea) there is finer smooth sand and hardly any stones at the water’s edge, making it a lot easier for anyone who struggles with their feet. Around to the right it’s possible to find some lovely spots, and the snorkelling is quite good there.

Kalogria beach (10 minutes walk over a small hill from the main strip) has beautiful pale soft sand and the setting is lovely, but when we went there were sunbeds covering every square inch from near the water’s edge and back for about 30 metres. So the sand and the natural beauty were both pretty much irrelevant. You can’t really blame the restaurant owners, since every bed was taken and generating income for them, proving that for a lot of people the beach is still attractive. We looked around it for a short while and didn’t go back.

Lovely clear water at both beaches.

Scenery and exploring - 8/10

There are nearby mountains and some impressive views, with fine (but quite arid) scenery stretching all the way down the peninsula. If you have a car there are plenty of traditional villages within a short distance, and enough potential to have multiple days out. Lots of (mostly pebbly) beaches too, and places where you can have an idyllic peaceful lunch. The Diros caves were a fantastic maze of stalactites, which I would happily visit again. We ended up in the small harbour town of Gythio almost by accident one day, and loved it.

There’s an excursion company in the village offering all sorts of trips including ancient sites – search for “doufexis stoupa”. The boat trips had stopped running when we enquired (despite them still being listed in the schedule well into September).

Eating and drinking - 8/10

Around 20 restaurants selling good Greek food, including a souvlaki place, plus a small pizza/pasta restaurant. It was always excellent value, although we didn’t find it “cheap” – we mostly ended up paying around 50 Euros for two (a small selection of starters, a main dish each including a fish, plus wine and beer – perhaps we are gluttons!). The quality seemed consistently good – not elaborate, but with enough variations on the Greek theme to keep it interesting for a week. They pretty much all look and feel like tourist restaurants, but 10 minutes around the corner to the left (again looking out to sea) were a couple of places that were more like tavernas – we especially liked Halikoura, where you can eat home-cooked food (the best taramosalata and melitzanosalata I’ve had) with the sea splashing about 8 feet below you. You can get cocktails in lots of places (360 bar has a roof with a brilliant sunset view). To get away from the “strip”, we liked the Enigma bar on the little headland which has atmospheric outside tables, and the connected Liastres restaurant, which both look back over the bay and the mountains.

Greek experience – Stoupa itself 2/10; further afield 9/10

As far as I can tell, Stoupa itself never existed as a Greek village – there were just a handful of buildings before tourism arrived. It’s a holiday destination in Greece, which isn’t the same thing. So there is no village square with local families eating under the trees while their children run around; no street with a post office, grocers’ shops or quirky hardware stores; no real harbourside; no hubbub of people going about their daily lives. Apart from the little bakery shop on the front, the default language was English. On the other hand, it’s low-rise and pretty, it’s laid-back and there are no burger joints or loutish behaviour. At least in September, every restaurant and bar along the strip was populated almost entirely by British and other northern European couples of a certain age. It’s not meant as a criticism, especially as I fall into that category too! And from what people say, there’s more of a mixture in the high season/Greek school holidays. But I think it’s important for anyone considering a visit to understand that Stoupa really isn’t a proper Greek village, and never was.

Luckily as described above under “Scenery and exploring”, if you have transport it’s easy to get off the beaten track and find many lovely unspoilt places both on the coast and inland, so the “real Greece” (a cliché I know) isn’t hard to find and experience.

Sunsets – 9/10, especially if you’ve had a couple of cocktails!

And in conclusion – we will be back :)

30 replies to this topic
Shrewsbury, United...
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for Canary Islands
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1. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Masher, I think you have given a pretty accurate assessment of Stoupa.

Essex, United...
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2. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

A very good description of Stoupa especially about it not being a village. For those who don't know It was not until the mid 1960s that there was a road that went from Kalamata to Stoupa and up until then supplies were mainly brought in by boat and probably the oldest building now known as Akrogali was a warehouse and I believe the building dates back to about 1870.

The fact it is just a holiday resort is very obvious for those who visit out of season as there is no centre and a lack of people and activity compared to the nearby villages of Agios Nikoloas, Kardymill and Neochori where you will find the locals going about their business and in the Kafenions.

North Yorkshire...
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3. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

An excellent description of Stoupa in my opinion, I enjoyed Halikoura too.

Sheffield, United...
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4. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Very well written Masher.

That is the reason why my sister in law likes to return every year and why I prefer to stay at Ag Nik !

Liverpool, United...
Level Contributor
10 posts
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5. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

It's an interesting post, quite informative too in parts including stuff I didn't know about and with much I agree with.

There are a couple of things I'd take issue with though, even if the first is subjective and very much a matter of opinion. I've been to a fair few places in Greece over the years and I think Stoupa is the cheapest of them all if we are talking in terms of eating and drinking in the local tavernas and bars and, I do wonder if this is one of the reasons so many older people come and then keep coming back.

One of the things that makes it cheap is the price of the local wine which they practically give away. In fact they really do give it away in one place, regulars will know which one I mean. Generally speaking I'd say the price of the food varies from being slightly cheaper, to being much cheaper than most other places in Greece, depending on which ones we are comparing it with. As examples, our 2 other favourite places are Mastihari in Kos and Elounda in Crete. It's slightly cheaper than the former and much cheaper than the latter.

As for the bars, well they certainly aren't all cheap, 360 is a bit over priced imo though they'll say you are paying for the view. Outside of Happy Hour Enigma is a bit pricey too. most of the others are competitive while Steki is definitely on the cheap side and ditto for that one just up the side path next to Mango which I can't remember the name of. There'll be the odd kafenion here and there in other places cheaper than Steki but I think you'd struggle to find a bar as cheap as this place, plus, for tax reasons there isn't much scope for them to reduce their prices too much.

Also, I'd have to say that getting all that food and booze for 50 euros sounds good to me. Again, I suppose it depends what you are comparing it with but if there is a Greek restaurant anywhere in Britain where you could get all that for, what, about 45 quid,? I'd like to know where it is because I'll be straight there.

I'm fully aware that Stoupa is nowhere near being any kind of traditional Greek village but it has become 'a' Greek village if you know what I mean, even if it is almost entirely built on the back of tourism. It's a nice attractive one too with all those buildings made of the traditional local stone. (It actually reminds me a bit of a typical English/Welsh seaside resort.) It has a big church and a school which suggests it has an air of permanency about it, it's not as if it's one of those purpose built resorts where nobody lives in winter. And while it may not have any sort of village square for locals to meet and pass the time of day with kids playing nearby, I'd say the actual seafront road serves this purpose in Stoupa. It, and the side streets just off it is full of kids in the evening, all staying out to play quite late as they tend to do in Greece, on their bikes and scooters, or maybe playing with a ball on the beach. The adults too, promenading while pushing their little ones around in their prams and these local people and the largely British tourists all rubbing along quite happily together which is nice to see.

We recently enjoyed our 4th holiday in Stoupa and whatever else it is or isn't, in simple terms it is definitely a really nice place to go on holiday, so all being well, sooner or later we will be back for our 5th visit.

North Yorkshire...
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6. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Susan K - I've just been to Mastihari for the first time, only had a short stay at the start and end of a trip to Lipsi, I liked it very much indeed and will definitely return.

I've enjoyed holidays in Stoupa in previous years in May and June but found July to be too busy for me. I agree it is a lovely place and still is hard to beat in terms of consistently good quality food and drink at very reasonable cost.

Cadiz, Spain
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205 posts
7. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

M. has a much better beach.

Aberdare
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193 posts
51 reviews
8. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Absolutely spot on Susan K.A woman after my own heart. We love the place. As for a oldies resort, Mm. My body is 66 and failing fast but the bit of brain I've got is still 16. Roll on September 2019. Three weeks of bliss. Then a year,s Dieting. 👍😎🐑🐑🐑

Aylesbury
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for Playa Blanca
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9. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Elounda has become too popular with the Island of Spinalonga being the second largest tourist attraction in Crete. However, I found that there is a run of expensive taverna's along the promenade charging 14€'s for house wine. Others on the far side of the promenade where charging 10€s yet I found one Greek place only charging 5€s p litre so still a few about of the old times. Beef meals are way up on Stoupa at these expensive ones. I passed through Mykonos on my way to Naxos and prices there on the front in Mykonos are jaw dropping in comparison.

Masher and Susan have got it about right. The only drawback for us is the loss of Kalagoria beach to sunbeds and the key is to have a car where unfortunately we don't drive. However, we have found other Greek places as cheap and some a lot dearer.

Yorkshire, England
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1,324 posts
75 reviews
10. Re: Stoupa – honest reflections

Stoupa was the harbour for Lefktron, just inland and, famously, the centre of the real life action that is portrayed in the novel and film known in English as 'Zorba the Greek'.

Kardamylli was 'beautified' in the 1990's and, perhaps because of its Patrick Leigh Fermor resident, ex-pat residents of Kardamylli always looked down on Stoupa because it was 'just a beach resort'. Now Stoupa has been beautified to the same extent as Kardamylli plus it has beaches!

The sun bed issue is long-running and well-documented. The vast majority of them are not attached to the tavernas but are independent businesses granted licences to operate by the local council. No amount of complaints has yet made any difference.

Thankfully, I only visit Stoupa out of season, when the beaches are near-deserted. You may see a couple walking their dog early morning and some local youths go for a swim after school but my nearest beach, Kalogria, is pretty much my own when I go there anytime November-April. Even at the start of May, the season starts very slowly and only a handful of sun beds appear.

There are flights throughout the winter to Kalamata from Thessaloniki. If you can get to Thessaloniki, you can get to Stoupa. Stoupa is wonderful when the crowds are not there! See the website for what we get up to when the tourist season is over:

http://parea-sti-mani.com

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