IRONMAN 70.3 Costa Navarino is family-friendly, foodie-approved, and a sure-fire pick for any history buff.
The early-spring IRONMAN 70.3 in Costa Navarino, Greece, checks a lot of boxes. Not only does it take place in a bucket-list destination, it’s also family-friendly, foodie-approved, and a sure-fire pick for any history buff. If that’s not enough to convince you to circle this date on your racing calendar, read on for our favorite things about this unique race on the European circuit.
Let’s face it: racing isn’t as much fun if your family isn’t having a good time. Thankfully, this race is ideal for partners, supporters, and kids of all ages. Costa Navarino takes family holidays to a whole new level (it was also voted “Best Family Destination” in the Mediterranean among Starwood Hotels & Resorts). The area has a warm summer and a mild winter, making it ideal for travelers all year round.
Nothing says family fun like a good beach—and Greece has beaches for every taste. From Sani, Romanos, Voidokilia, and Gialova on the Ionian coast, to Finikounda with its crystal clear waters, to Tsapi in Porto Lógos. Also check out Agia Triada, Peroulia, Vounaria, and Kalamaki on the west coast of Messiniakos, and the unique beaches of Kardamili, Stoupa and Kalogria in Messinian Mani.
If sitting with a book or building sand castles isn’t really your family’s thing, a dive might fit the bill for the more adventurous. Check out the Ionian Dive Center which offers unforgettable dives on the island of Proti, where the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea will make you feel like you’re flying in the sky. Underwater caves full of thousand-year-old stalactites will be talked about for years to come.
Food and culture
Take time before or after the race to take in one of the numerous cultural activities the region has to offer. Try an olive oil tasting, traditional cooking lesson, or a philosophical walk. The whole area is beautiful and is ideal for wandering and exploring. From Messinia’s main city of Kalamata to picturesque Kardamyli, to day trips to Gytheio or Olympia, athletes will find all kinds of ways to discover authentic Messinia.
The region of Messinia is known world wide for its olive oil and olives, wine and meats, and raisins, grapes, and figs. Visitors will enjoy the variety of seafood taverns, and traditional restaurants offering favorites such as souvlaki, pies, and a variety of handpicked herbs and greens.
After all the swimming, biking, running, and sightseeing, be sure to delve into the fascinating history of a region that has a remarkable cultural heritage spanning 4,500 years. Tourists to the region often enjoy visiting Neolithic settlements, Mycenaean palaces, Byzantine churches and Medieval castles, conveniently located close to one another.
Some of our favorites?
–Methoni is famous for its castle, which dates from the 7th century BC. Despite the multitude of invaders, the castle has been standing tall for centuries. The Bourtzi, which served as a prison and execution place, is also worth visiting.
–Olympia is one of the most famous sites in the area and it is less than an hour away from Costa Navarino. Walk through the ruins of the ancient stadium where athletes trained and ran, as well as the temples dedicated to the gods Hera and Zeus. Visit the museum to see some unbelievable sculptures and other vestiges of this forgotten past.
-Built during the Turkish invasion in 1573, Neokastro is a well-preserved castle fort. It features a citadel, a mosque converted into a church, and a courtyard. There’s even a museum on underwater archaeology, where artefacts found in shipwrecks are on display.
-The region boasts many ruins, such as those at Paliokastro and the tomb of Thrasymedes (dating from the Mycenaean period).
The Peloponnese—the area around Costa Navarino and the Messenia regions—boasts one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Mediterranean. Costa Navarino itself follows an environmental policy that protects the environment and natural resources of the region while improving the overall quality of living—the area was voted as one of the top 20 destinations in the world by National Geographic Traveler Editors. The nearby and stunning Gialova lagoon is a natural ecosystem that provides home to over 270 bird species and impressive local fauna.
For the hardiest visitors, try a mountain escape to the imposing Taygetos with its high peaks and caves, or to the mountains of Kyparissia. Those who want a more relaxing excursion should venture to Polilimnio, a paradise of waterfalls and lakes offering a chance to unwind and relax. Dive in to the heart-shaped Kardoula Lake after a hike, or take your pick from about 15 other lakes and waterfalls in the area.
Opposite Marathopolis, a beautiful fishing village, you can see an equally beautiful island called Proti. The walk around the island takes about 1 hour. The magnificent monastery stands tall on the top of the island with a peculiar view at both Marathopolis and the Ionian Sea.
A race to remember
When athletes are finished exploring, learning, and tasting their way through this fantastic area, they’ll be rewarded on race day with enthusiastic, energetic, and helpful volunteers. Cyclists of all speeds will revel at the newly built roads that wind through the gorgeous vistas they’ll enjoy on the bike course.
Convenient accommodation packages allow athletes to stay at Costa Navarino, which is close to all venues and requires no extra transportation coordination during race week. And on race day, they’ll be treated to memorabilia inspired by ancient Greek mythology with the race’s t-shirts, backpacks, medals and more.