Nafplio in a few words
Nestled in the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio is a historical and colourful jewel. As centuries went by, the city was alternately under the control of the Byzantine Empire, the Frank Empire, the Venetians and the Ottomans, before become the country’s first capital city in 1829. Today, an exotic atmosphere still pervades Nafplio’s labyrinthine streets as well as its small seaport.
With its spectacular citadels, its charming city centre and its picturesque little harbour, Nafplio truly is a delight! Unsurprisingly, it is one of the most visited tourist cities in Peloponnese. An endless succession of shops, restaurants and bars are now lined up along its ancient streets. A few miles away from the city, the coastline is punctuated by sandy beaches and enchanting coves, ideal for swimming, sunbathing and relaxation.
In short, Nafplio is a favorite of Captain Ulysses’ and a must-see for anyone traveling through Peloponnese!
Getting to Nafplio
Perched on the coast in the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio is located in the west of Peloponnese, some 87 miles from Athens.
Several options are available to get to Nafplio from Athens:
Getting the bus: KTEL Argolidas leave Athens for Nafplio daily. Prices range from 12 to 18 € per person, for a 2 hour drive or so.
Driving: from Athens, it’s an easy drive to Nafplio (a little under 2 hours) toll roads). If you’re looking to rent a car in Greece, Captain Ulysses highly recommends the company Rentalcars.
More info: check out rental car deals
Joining a (multi-)day trip: several travel agencies offer excursions to Nafplio and Peloponnese. The length of these excursions varies from 1 to 4 days, depending on how much of Peloponnese you want to see. Captain Ulysses recommends 2 excursions in particular:
=> Full-Day Mycenae & Epidaurus Trip from Athens: this day-trip is the perfect way to discover two of the most emblematic ancient sites in Greece, Mycenae and Epidaurus, with a professional guide (available in English and French). The bus will also stop in Nafplio and give you time to explore the city. The trip includes: bus ride, services of the guide, entrance fees to the ancient sites, and lunch (optional). Cancellation is free up to 24 hours in advance.
More info: here
=> 4-Day Tour of Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi & Meteora: this very exhaustive 4-day trip is ideal to discover all the must-sees in mainland Greece, accompanied by a professional guide. The trip of course includes a stop in Nafplio. It’s a great option if you don’t feel like planning out your trip yourself. The tour includes: bus rides, services of the guide, 3 hotel nights with dinners and breakfasts, entrance fees to the sites. Cancellation is also free up to 24 days in advance.
More info: here
Moving about Nafplio
The city of Nafplio is relatively small and easy to explore on foot.
A Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour also stops in most of the city’s historical sites and points of interest. It’s an interesting option if you don’t want to spend the entire day walking about.
Visiting Nafplio: sights and activities
In Nafplio, no risk of getting bored: you’ll find plenty to do and see!
If you’re brave (just like Captain Ulysses, of course!), you’ll walk all the way to the castle from Arvanitia square, in the city historical centre. But you’ll have to climb 857 to 999 steps (believe it or not, the estimations vary)! If you’re (understandably) not feeling like climbing all these steps, no worries: you can drive to Palamidi Castle.
Perched 216 metres (709 ft) above Nafplio’s bay, the castle was built in the 17th and 18th centuries by the Venetians, under the supervision of a French architect called La Salle. The thick wall connects 8 bastions and countless lookout towers.
Entrance fees are 8 euros per person (free for children under 18 and U.E. students).
Acronauplia is unofortunately not as well preserved as Palamidi Castle, and is mostly worth the visit for the incredible panorama on Nafplio and the Argolic Gulf. Overlooking the city’s historical centre, the fortress is a “patchwork” of constructions dating back to the Byzantine, Frankish and Venetian occupations of Nafplio.
From the city centre, you can easily walk or drive to Acronauplia.
Nafplio’s historical centre
Nafplio’s historical centre is a charming succession of maze-like alleys in which the Captain can only recommend that you take the time to get lost! The city remained under Venetian influence for quite a long time and somehow still looks like it could be Italian. With its countless shops, bars and restaurants, the centre is bustling with life.
During your exploration, don’t miss the Vouleftiko mosque. Several churches are also worth a visit, including the Church of Panagia, with its extravagant gildings, the Church of Agios Spyridon or Frankoklisia, the Franks’ church.
Archaeological Museum of Nafplio
Greece is synonymous with archeology and Nafplio is no exception to the rule. You’ll find onsite a small museum exhibiting ancient remains, including the oldest armor in Greece, which dates back to the 15th century BC. The museum’s collections also include various everyday objects, ceramics and ceremonial masks several centuries old!
Even though it is possible to swim in Nafplio, the city does not count any really pleasant beach. Good news though: you only have to drive a few miles out of the city to finds beautiful places where to swim.
Nafplio’s surroundings count beautiful coves, as well as two beaches: Arvanitia beach and Karathona beach. Unfortunately, Captain Ulysses found both beaches disappointing. Other downside: during high season, they are packed with tourists and locals. That’s the reason why the Captain recommends that you put on your hiking shoes and explore the coast where pathways lead to preserved coves.
“Komboloi, what is that?”, you may as. A komboloi is a traditional rosary, which holds a special place in Greek tradition. So much so that Nafplio even has a museum/shop entirely dedicated to kombolois. Traditional or modern designs: rosary amateurs should no doubt find the komboloi of their dreams!
Sports & activities
Between the Mediterranean sea and the beautiful surrounding landscapes, Nafplio has more than one trick up its sleeve to charm sports enthusiasts!
From the historical centre’s winding streets to the Argolic Gulf’s cliffs and charming wooded trails, Nafplio and its surroundings are the perfect spot for biking amateurs.
Horse-riding in Nafplio
What if you explored Nafplio off the beaten tracks, on horseback? It’s an ideal occasion to discover a more authentic side to the region, from beautiful moutain views to remote villages. The guides will take into consideration your level and can even give you an initiation class if you’re a beginner.
Captain Ulysses is an accomplished sailor and never says no when offered to go to sea! If, like him, you are looking to combine nautical sports and exploration, one option: going on a kayaking tour in the Argolic Gulf. With your instructor, you’ll head to Bourtzi Castle before exploring beaches and coves which are inaccessible from the land.
Discovering local gastronomy
Greece is undoubtedly a land of fine cuisine and winery. Moussaka, Greek salad, stuffed peppers, souvlakis, fresh fish, vine leaves… the choice is endless and the Captain definitely had at it! Here, “eating” is an art: get ready to feast!
One of Nafplio’s main advantages is also its ideal localisation, close to some of the most emblematic ancient sites in Peloponnese: Epidaurus, Mycenae, Tiryns, Corinth…
Nafplio is an ideal base to explore the North-East of Peloponnese.
If you’ve rented a car (the Captain highly recommends this option, if, unlike him, you’re without sea legs), you’ll be able to discover freely all of these extraordinary sites.
Guided tours departing from Nafplio are also available. The Captain recommends this tour in particular. It includes the visits of Mycenae and Epidaurus, as well as pickup and drop-off at your hotel or other location of your choice and all land transport.
Hotels & apartments in Nafplio
Are you looking for accommodation in Nafplio? Captain Ulysses has a few recommendations in store that might interest you!
- Budget options: Asimoni Pension / Pension Dafni / Omorfi Poli / Andromeda Suites
- Mid-range options: Gambello Luxury Rooms / Filoxenion Luxury Rooms & Lofts / Anthemion Suites & Villas (located outside of Nafplio, but includes a swimming pool)
- Luxurious option: 3 Sixty Hotel & Suites
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