Near sand and stone beaches, Gythion is the liveliest town in Marand a good base for visiting other villages. A tiny causeway to the left of the waterfront as you face inland connects it to the island of Marathonisi, where Paris and Helen consummated their ill-fated love. Buses in Gythion leave from the north end of the waterfront, to the right as you face inland, for: Athens (4hr. 6 per day, ‚17) via Tripoli (2hr. ‚6.50); Corinth (3hr. ‚12); Kalamata (2hr. 2 per day, ‚6.20) via Itilo (lhr. ‚3); and Sparta (lhr. ‚3). Moto Makis Rent-A-Moped, on the waterfront near the causeway, rents wheels for exploring. ( 27330 25 111. ‚ 16 per day. Open daily 8:30am-l:30pm and 4:30-8:30pm.) ElXenia Karlaftis Rooms , on the water 20m from the causeway, rents spacious rooms with private baths. (27330 22 719. Singles ‚15; doubles ‚22; triples ‚30.) Postal Code: 23200.

Although Areopolis neighbors both the sea and the mountains, its buildings dominate the scenery: stone tower houses and cobbled streets are framed by the dramatic purple peaks of the Taygetus. Just 1 lkm from Areopolis, the unusual Vlihada Cave, part of a subterranean river, is cool, quiet, and strung with tiny crystalline stalagmites; a bus (‚0.90) runs from Areopolis at 1 lam and returns at 12:45pm. (Open daily 8am-3pm. Mandatory 30min. tours. ‚12, students ‚7.) Buses stop in Areopolis’s main plateia and go to Athens (6hr. 4 per day, ‚18) via Gythion (45min. ‚1.80) and Sparta (2hr. ‚6.50). To reach Tsimova , which rents narrow rooms with tiny doors and windows typical of tower houses, turn left at the end of Kapetan Matapan, the road leading to the Old Town. ( 27330 51 301. Singles ‚25-32; doubles ‚35-60.) Postal Code: 23062.

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