There are several places worth visiting on the outskirts of Sparta.
Geráki, a quiet little town occupying the site of ancient Geronthrai, lies in an impressive setting in a high valley in the Párnon range, 41km/ 25mi southeast of Sparta. From its heyday in Byzantine times, under the rule of the Despots of Mistra, Geráki preserves many churches and chapels, the most notable of which is Áyios Ioánnis. On the way up to the Frankish castle (an hour's walk, first southeast, then to the left beyond the cemetery) are a number of other churches, including the 12th century Ayía Paraskeví.
Geráki Castle, one of the numerous Crusader castles in the Peloponnese, was built by Guy de Nivellet in 1234 on a commanding hill (500m/1,640ft). A vaulted passage leads through the battlemented walls into the castle. The chapel, a three-aisled basilica, is excellently preserved. The altar bears Guy de Nivellet's coat of arms. On the iconostasis is an icon of the church's patron, St George, on whose feast-day a service is still celebrated here.
The old village of Mistra, standing on a hill high above the modern village, is an excellent and comprehensive example of a late Byzantine period town.
To reach the Menelaion, leave Sparta on the Geráki road, which crosses the Evrótas; then in 4.5km/3mi turn into a footpath which runs past a chapel of the Profítis Ilías and up Mt Therapne (500m/1,640ft). On top of the hill are the remains of the Menelaion, a heroon built in honor of Menelaos in the fifth century B.C. It stands on the site of a complex of Mycenaean buildings, excavated in 1973, which it has been suggested was the palace of Menelaos.The temple contained votive offerings to Helen, which are on display in the Archeological Museum in Sparta.
Amyklai - Sanctuary of Apollo of Amyklaios
11km/7mi south of Sparta, on the hill of Ayía Paraskeví, is the site of Amyklai, with the sanctuary of Apollo Amyklaios and the 13m/43ft high "Throne of Apollo" built over the grave of Hyakinthos.48km/30mi southeast is Geráki with its Crusader castle.
18km/11mi east of Sparta we come to Khrysafa, with four churches containing frescoes - Khrysafiótissa (1290), Áyii Pántes (All Saints; 1367), the Dormition (Kímisis) and Áyios Dimítrios (17th C.) - and the monastery of the Pródromos (St John the Baptist), which has a church of 1625.
Mycenaean Tholos Tomb
Northwest of Sparta is a Mycenaean tholos tomb (1500-300 B.C.) discovered in 1982.
The village of Vrotnomas, seven km south of Geraki, has some fine Byzantine churches.
Kaiadas, Trypi, Greece
Beyond the village of Trypi, about nine km northwest of Sparta, is the steep rock of Kaiádas, said to be the spot where the Spartans used to abandon their weak and deformed infants.
South of Sparta is the village of Krokeés. It sits on the site of the ancient city of Krokeés. The ancient city was known for its quarries, used to construct public baths for Lapis Lacedaemonius.
A bit to the south of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Sparta, excavations have brought to light a Mycenaean tomb containing splendid gold and silver artifacts, some of which can be found in the Greek National Archeological Museum in Athens.