PRESS TRIP – Nafplio is a charming town in Greece with its narrow cobblestone streets and impressive historical buildings. This little gem in the Peloponnese Peninsula has origins in antiquity and close ties to Greek culture. It really checks off all the boxes as an ideal destination for cultural exploration.
For a history buff like me, Nafplio was heaven. You can also explore some of Greece’s oldest historical and archeological sites nearby, from the iconic Palamidi Castle perched high atop its hilltop perch to the ancient walls of the Acronauplia fortress. And if that wasn’t enough, the city is also home to various fascinating museums and galleries.
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If you’re looking for a relaxed holiday away from the hustle and bustle of the Greek Islands, look no further than Nafplio in Greece. I fell in love with this city’s laid-back atmosphere and delightful scenery. With its winding alleys, inviting squares and beautiful beaches, Nafplio is the perfect place to escape it all and reconnect with yourself.
Where is Nafplio, Greece?
Nafplio is nestled on the eastern side of the rocky peninsula. This ancient city is approximately two hours southwest of Athens and spans four miles along the Argolic Gulf. It was once an important port in classical antiquity, as evidenced by its magnificent fortresses, such as Palamidi Castle, Akronafplia and Bourtzi.
Nafplio is often considered a cornerstone of Greek culture and history, with its winding cobblestone streets of the Old Town, vibrant shops and traditional taverns that transport visitors back in time.
A brief history of Nafplio Greece
Nafplio’s history is as long as it’s fascinating. It stretches from the Greek bronze age to modern Greece. According to myths, this ancient town was founded by Nauplius, the son of the god Poseidon and the Lybian queen Amymone.
The city was founded on the Acronafplia Hill overlooking Nafplio’s harbour during this time. Over the centuries, it was an important port for the Venetians and, later, the Ottomans. After the Greek War of Independence in 1822, Nafplio served as Greece’s first capital until 1834 when it was moved to Athens.
Today, Nafplio is a popular destination for visitors seeking to explore the wonders of ancient Greece. From the breathtaking views of the Palamid Fortress to the fantastic sea views from Akronafplia’s walls, there’s plenty for visitors to explore.
What is Nafplio Greece known for?
Nafplio is an essential part of Greek history. From the ancient Greeks and the Romans to the Venetians and the Ottomans, you can see traces of the past as you stroll around. The town also has the distinction of being the first capital of the newly formed Greek state.
Nafplio Old Town has cobblestone streets lined with vintage cafes and elegant restaurants, and the town’s serene backdrop of hills and sea makes it a perfect place to relax. Here you’ll find historical buildings including neoclassical mansions, beautiful churches, and a seafront lined with small boats and yachts.
Nafplio has some of the best restaurants that I’ve been to. I love Greek cuisine, but the food we had here was unreal. You can enjoy fresh seafood dishes served in traditional tavernas alongside regional classics such as moussaka and pastitsio. Pair that with local beers and wine, and you’ll never want to leave.
The city’s vibrant nightlife scene features music bars, clubs, wine bars, and traditional Greek taverns that transport visitors back in time. There are also plenty of boutique shops where you can pick up unique souvenirs to take home from your trip.
Best Things to Do in Nafplio, Greece
Nafplio is filled with history and culture yet has the relaxed atmosphere of a Greek island beach town. Its prices are significantly lower than those on popular Greek islands like Santorini or Mykonos. With its stunning sea views, fascinating historical sites and outstanding Greek cuisine, Nafplio is an incredible destination with something for everyone. Here are some must-see activities.
Visit Palamidi Fortress for panoramic views
One of the most iconic attractions in Nafplio is Palamidi Fortress. This majestic castle sits atop a hill overlooking the town. Built by the Venetians in 1711 to protect their interests, this imposing structure makes for an impressive sight above Nafplio’s port.
During the 1830s, it became a prison for serious criminals and was in operation till 1926. Today you can explore the winding staircases and secret passages and admire the stunning views of the Argolic Gulf from the top.
Discover the Lion of the Bavarians
The Lion of the Bavarians is a symbol of Nafplio. This huge 20m-high marble statue stands proudly at the top of Palamidi Fortress, offering visitors unrivalled panoramic views over the city below. After taking in the amazing scenery, why not enjoy a picnic in the nearby park?
Explore Akronafplia Fortress
Another popular attraction in Nafplio is the Akronafplia Fortress. This castle dates back to ancient times and was used as a defensive base by the Venetians and the Franks. Just like the Palamidi Castle, it was also used as a political prison by the Greek government between 1936 and 1956.
Today it serves as a stunning reminder of the city’s past, with its terraced walls and impressive gates. You can take in the views of the old town from the top, as well as explore the underground tunnels and discover the secret chapel within its walls. You can also check out the nearby Church of Our Lady of The Cave – Santa Maria Della Grotta, which was built in honour of the Virgin Mary.
Discover Bourtzi Fortress
On a tiny island off the coast of Nafplio sits another Venetian fortress, which both Venetians and Ottomans used to protect the city. The Bourtzi Fortress is accessible by a small boat, and you can explore the courtyard, turrets, and ramparts as they take in sweeping views of the sea.
After the Greeks gained their independence, the fortress became home to the executioner who dealt with the prisoners at the Palamidi castle. If you think there was a lot of death and war here over the centuries, you’re right.
Spend a day at Arvanitia Beach
Just steps away from the center of Nafplio is Arvanitia Beach, one of the most popular spots for swimming and sunbathing. This long sandy beach and crystal-clear waters are perfect for soaking up some sun and unwind. You can also enjoy a range of water sports like kayaking and snorkelling or simply enjoy a relaxing stroll along Arvanitia Beach.
Enjoy a sunset stroll along Arvanitia Promenade
At the end of a long day, you can enjoy a sunset stroll along the Arvanitia Promenade. Take in majestic views of Bourtzi island and the horizon as the sun sets behind it. The Arvanitia Promenade also offers plenty of cafes and restaurants so you can make a night out of it.
Get lost in the allure of Old Town Nafplio
At the heart of Nafplio is its charming Old Town, which has been a center of culture and life since ancient times. Here you can wander through winding cobblestone streets, charming squares and colourful buildings. There are plenty of quaint cafes with outdoor seating where you can take in the atmosphere and watch local life pass by.
Then there are the luxurious bougainvilleas cascading down the walls and hanging over the streets. These colourful blooms always make me think of the Greek islands and southern Italy. You can admire them while strolling the old streets and checking out the numerous boutiques and restaurants.
Hang out at Syntagma Square
Located in the middle of Old Town is Syntagma Square, where locals and tourists hang out. This vibrant place is perfect for people-watching or just taking a break from your sightseeing. Here, you can relax in one of the various cafes with some Greek coffee or enjoy some delicious local food at one of the many restaurants. Syntagma Square is also an excellent spot for an evening stroll when the lights come on, and the streets become alive with music and laughter.
Syntagma Square is also where you can find the first Greek parliament of the liberated Greece. This impressive historic building dates back to the 1730s and the Turkish occupation. It originally served as a mosque until it was taken over during the Greek liberation. Today, the Parliament Building has been restored and is used as a cultural centre.
Taste the local Greek food
No trip to Nafplio would be complete without sampling some of the local Greek food. From fresh seafood dishes to delicious pastries, there is something for every taste. Be sure to make a stop at one of the many family-run restaurants serving up traditional home-cooked meals made with the freshest ingredients. Book your Nafplio food walking tour today!
Walk along Vasileos Konstantinou Street
Vasileos Konstantinou Street is a must-visit for anyone visiting Nafplio. This bustling street is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect place to shop or simply people-watch as you soak up the atmosphere. You can also explore the nearby Neoclassical buildings, which add an elegant touch to the area.
Explore the local markets
Nafplio is home to a vibrant variety of markets, perfect for those looking to take in the local culture. From colourful fresh produce and traditional souvenirs to handmade crafts and unexpected finds, these markets are sure to keep visitors busy for hours. Be sure to haggle with the vendors and stock up on some delicious snacks to get the full market experience.
Learn about the past at the Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Nafplio is a must-see for anyone interested in the area’s rich history and culture. From ancient artifacts to sculptures, coins and ceramics, there are plenty of fascinating objects to explore here. The museum also houses an impressive collection of photographs that showcase the evolution of Nafplio over the years.
Visit the War Museum of Nafplio
The War Museum of Nafplio is dedicated to honouring the heroic deeds and sacrifices made by soldiers during wartime. It features an impressive collection of weapons, uniforms, medals and other military paraphernalia. Visitors can also explore interactive exhibitions that cover a variety of topics related to the area’s wartime history.
Take a boat tour
One of the best ways to experience Nafplio is by taking a boat tour around its stunning coastline. There are many tour options available, from exciting speedboat rides to leisurely cruises and fishing trips. Make sure to bring your camera along to capture the breathtaking views of this stunning destination. Don’t forget to book your sailing tour before you go.
Day trips from Nafplio
The town’s central location makes it easy to explore nearby attractions. Here are a few day trips you can take while making Nafplio your base for exploring.
Go to the ancient amphitheatre of Epidaurus
Epidaurus is home to one of the most well-preserved 4th-century amphitheatres in Greece. This amazing structure was built as a place for theatre performances, and it’s easy to see why it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The theatre is part of a large archaeological site where you can explore the stunning ruins and visit the small museum where you can explore some artifacts from Ancient Greece. The scenic path through the ruins takes you on a journey to the past, where you can almost see the ancients strolling along in togas. Or that could be a result of the heat that day.
Wine-tasting at the local vineyards
No visit to Nafplio would be complete without a trip to a nearby vineyard for some wine tasting. Sample some of the region’s finest wines and take in the breathtaking views from the terrace. For those with more time, guided tours can show you around the winery and explain how they make their wines. Book your wine tour today!
Step back in time at the legendary Mycenae
Nestled atop a hill, Mycenae emerges as a testament to the grandeur and might of the Mycenaean civilization. This is one of the most important archaeological sites in the area that can leave you in awe. The impressive Lion Gate at the entrance, guarded by stone lions, is your introduction to the site.
Book your private tour of Corinth, Mycenae, Ancient Epidaurus & Nafplio today!
Mycenae’s cyclopean walls, built with immense stones, still carry the weight of centuries, hinting at an advanced society that left behind tales of war and prowess. If you love ancient ruins and Greek mythology, you’ll love this place.
The nearby Treasury of Atreus, an imposing beehive tomb, is a must-stop on this trip. Your admission ticket includes both archaeological sites, so make sure you don’t miss it.
Explore the mythical Tiryns
The nearby archaeological site of Tiryns is also worth visiting for its impressive fortifications and mythical tales. Both locations offer an insight into this beautiful region’s rich culture and heritage. Tiryns is even older than Mycenae, and the fact that there is still something to see here is impressive. This fortress of ancient legends had inspired the imagination of poets and scholars for ages.
Visit Saint Spyridon Church
Another must-visit destination in Nafplio is the post-Byzantine church of Saint Spyridon. Built in 1705, this beautiful church exemplifies Baroque architecture with elaborate frescoes and paintings adorning the walls. Inside, you can explore the chapel and admire its impressive murals depicting scenes from Greek mythology.
Visit Ancient Corinth
The ruins of Ancient Corinth are just a short drive from Nafplio and make for an exciting day trip. Here, you can explore the archaeological site and learn about its significance in ancient Greek culture. You’ll also see the stunning Temple of Apollo, once a major religious center.
But the highlight of this visit is undoubtedly the incredible views of the Ionian Sea. Make sure to bring your camera so you can capture these stunning vistas.
Popular guided tours in Nafplio
There are plenty of guided tours available in Nafplio, ranging from walking tours to boat trips. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s history or want to take a peek at some of Greece’s natural beauty, taking a tour is one of the best ways to experience all that Nafplio has to offer.
Where to stay in Nafplio
When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in Nafplio, there are plenty of options available. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly holiday, this Greek seaside town has something that will suit your needs.
I recommend staying in the Old Town Nafplio as you get to experience the place more intimately. Here are some places to consider:
Andromeda Suites: Small, family-run hotel in Nafplio Old Town, inspired by Greek mythology. Andromeda Suites rooms are large with comfortable beds, hydromassage showers and an amazing breakfast spread. Check availability today!
Kastello Hotel: Housed in an old mansion, the hotel has a romantic decor, luxurious rooms and a great location. With Nafplio Old Town at your doorstep, the hotel is a great place to explore. Check availability today!
Nafsimedon Hotel: The hotel is a mid-19th-century neoclassical house with a small garden and picturesque views. This boutique hotel features chandeliers, antique paintings and marble tables. You can enjoy breakfast in the charming courtyard before exploring. Check availability today!
The best time to visit Nafplio
The best time to visit Nafplio is between May and September when the weather is mild and sunny. During this time, temperatures typically range from a low of 55°F (13°C) to a high of 82°F (28°C). If you want to experience Nafplio’s thriving nightlife, the summer months are ideal for exploring the city’s many charming bars and clubs.
Keep in mind that visiting off-season means that you’ll find fewer crowds and lower prices. Summers in Greece can get very hot, so it’s also important to look for places with air conditioning when booking your accommodations for your visit.
Nafplio offers a unique combination of ancient and modern attractions, making it an idyllic destination for travellers of all ages. From exploring the city’s historical sites to its gorgeous Mediterranean scenery, Nafplio will surely leave you with unforgettable memories.
I can honestly say that being here made me feel like I was in a movie. It’s easy to see what makes Nafplio one of the most popular destinations in the Peloponnese. Between the fascinating history and the gorgeous setting, it quickly became one of my favourite destinations.
Whether you’re here for a quick visit or looking for an extended stay, this charming Greek port town has something for everyone. So be sure to make Nafplio one of your stops on your next trip to Greece!
NOTE: I visited Nafplio as part of a press trip that was hosted by the Mythical Peloponnese in collaboration with Tbex. As always, all opinions are my own.
Travel Planning Resources
Planning your next trip? Check out the resources I use and start planning your perfect getaway today!
- Flights: Find the best flight deals on Kiwi.com (my new go-to for flights) or WayAway (and earn cashback!).
- Book your accommodations: Find the best prices on hotels with Booking.com
- What to do: Find the perfect tour with Viator
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Don’t forget to check out my travel resource guide for all my fave resources to help you plan your trip.