Here is all the Nafplio travel advice you need. I spent a week there this year on a girls’ trip. What fun! I have made you a list of things to do in Nafplio, day trips to take, and accommodation options.
We landed in Nafplio late at night after a private transfer from Athens Airport. The driver dropped us at the edge of the Old Town and told us our hotel was just one street over, in the pedestrian-only zone.
My friend and I grabbed our luggage and set off on foot; we found the start of a great few days in this picturesque coastal town nestled amidst ancient ruins and oozing with idyllic Mediterranean charm.
The city of Nafplion was the first capital of modern Greece and is undoubtedly a place worth visiting. I had heard that Nafplio features gorgeous beaches, aristocratic architecture, old historic landmarks, and plenty to see.
But, my travel buddy had the Nafplion Castle in her sights when we planned our Greece mom-action. She had always wanted to do the 999-step challenging climb that culminates in panoramic vistas overlooking the city below (more on that later).
Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!
Best Things To Do In Nafplio
Often depicted as one of Greece’s most romantic destinations, Nafplio indeed surprises with its aristocratic atmosphere and lavish design. The elegant main street is perfect for souvenir shopping and finding some of the best food in town.
However, there is more to the city than you might expect, including breathtaking beaches, medieval castles, and mysterious islets. Aren’t you curious about Nafplio already?
Read on to discover what there is to do in Nafplio, Greece. This guide to Nafplio will help you decide what to do, where to stay, where to eat, and much more.
1. Palamidi Castle
The first place you must visit when arriving in Nafplio is arguably the most visited landmark in town, the Palamidi Castle, one of the most impressive castles in the country and the place that was number #1 on our Nafplio bucket list.
Like many other fortresses in Greece, the castle was built during the Venetian rule of the country. It lasted approximately 400 years (although the duration of the Venetian occupation changed dramatically from one area of the country to another).
During the Venetian years, the Republic of Venice ordered the construction of hundreds of castles and fortresses to protect the coastal zones from the constant threat posed by the Ottoman Empire. In 1686, Nafplio saw the foundation of Palamidi, an impressive fortification standing more than 200 meters over the sea.
When the Ottomans conquered the region in 1715, they took over the fortification and ruled Nafplio, taking control of its economy, trade, and government.
The Greek resistance battled against the Turks, regaining control of the castle in 1822 when they made the city the first capital of modern Greece. This was one of the first steps in Greek history when, little by little, more regions and islands in the country became part of the new modern Greek State.
To be rewarded with incredible views of the Argolic Gulf and the sea, you need to climb the 999 steps to the top as we did. However, you can also take a taxi to the top or book a guided tour if you prefer not to walk but want the spectacular views.
The walk to the top took us about 45 minutes; I had to stop a lot, thanks to my arthritis. There is plenty of room on the stairs to stop as others pass you by, so don’t worry if you need time to catch your breath or admire the stunning view.
While at the top, you can check out the bastions, the rainwater reservoirs (they still collect rain to this day!), and the church of Agios Andreas. You can also – if you dare – climb into the small jail cell.
The fortress was also used as a prison; it housed prisoners of different backgrounds, including political dissidents, prisoners of war, and individuals deemed a threat to the ruling authorities. As soon as I climbed in, I climbed straight out – it was far too small and creepy for me!
You can walk 5km on the road or take the stairs to get back down. We opted for the smoother road walk, which took us about 40 minutes to return to the Nafplio Old Town. I really wanted to call a taxi to come to get us, but my friend was eager (read pushy!) and wanted to walk to the old town.
In the end, I am glad that we did, as it was a great workout, and I felt zero guilt that night downing a bottle of Greek wine and eating far too much food.
2. The Farmer’s Market At Palamidi
At the foot of the fortress, you can also explore Nafplio’s farmer’s market every Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The lively market with dozens of exciting stalls allows you to purchase local products to eat during your stay or to take back home with you!
3. The Komboloi Museum
The Komboloi Museum in Nafplio was established by Aris Evangelinos, a passionate collector and enthusiast of Komboloi, and it houses an extensive collection of over 1,000 unique and intricately crafted Komboloi, showcasing the artistry and cultural significance of these traditional Greek worry beads.
Locally known as komboloi, worry beads are a millennial tradition in Greece. These strings hold beads. The number of beads on each Komboloi can vary depending on the design and personal preference of the owner. However, a typical Komboloi consists of a string of beads ranging from 17 to 23, with some variations featuring more or fewer beads. The beads are often accompanied by decorative elements, such as tassels or charms, adding to the overall aesthetic appeal of the Komboloi.
I had seen guys drinking cups of Greek coffee at cafes back at my first visit to Greece in 2004 and was excited to see this small but fascinating museum.
To find the Komboloi Museum in Nafplio, head to Staikopoulou Street, a well-known street in the old town, and walk along Staikopoulou Street until you reach the intersection with Sidiras Merarchias Street. The Komboloi Museum is located at this intersection, easily identifiable by its signage and possibly a display of Komboloi beads in the windows.
Entry is just €2 and is located on the second level. Once inside, you can learn about these curious objects’ history and their uses is to pay a visit to the museum. Then, once you are done, you can head back to the 1st level and buy your own like I did.
Mine are made of a fragrant resin, and I found them soothing to hold and smell for my anxiety along our Greece road trip.
4. Bourtzi Castle
Another historic place to check out when visiting Nafplio is a few meters from the coast. Situated on the tiny islet of Saint Theodore, the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi is a popular sight of Nafplio, which you have probably seen several times in online images and postcards.
The islet stands right in the middle of the port. Home to an impressive fortress, its name comes from the Turkish term “tower.” The castle’s construction started in 1470, and its design exactly fits the island’s shape.
When the Turkish seized the city, they surrounded the fortress with a barricade of huge stones, making it difficult for enemy ships to approach Nafplio. In modern times, the fortress was used as a hotel, while now it hosts different music festivals during the summer months.
You can easily reach the islet for a visit traveling by boat from the port of Nafplion and can enjoy strolling around this landmark castle for the afternoon.
5. Akronafplia Castle
Another castle to visit in Nafplio is found on the rocky peninsula of Akronafplia. This walled settlement with ancient polygonal walls built in the 4th century BC has a long history with Frank, Ottoman, and Venetian occupations throughout the centuries until finally becoming Greek territory again in 1822.
Nearby to the Akronafplia Fortress, you will find easy access to Arvanitia Beach, one of the most popular in Nafplio due to its Blue Flag status.
6. Arvanitia Promenade
While visiting Akronafplia, you must venture on to enjoy the Arvanitia promenade. This walk, a favorite of locals, is a one-kilometer stone paved path that extends from the end of Arvanitia Beach to Arvanitia Square.
You can enjoy the rock walls of Acronafplia from a different vantage point while also enjoying the breeze from the sea.
Along the route, you will find the popular pilgrimage church of Panagitsa.
7. Nafplion National Gallery
Learn more about the Greek War of Independence of 1821 with a visit to the National Gallery. Explore an extensive collection of both paintings and rifles used by the heroes of the war.
Not only is the collection unique and impressive, but it’s located inside a stunning neoclassical building.
8. Nafplion Archaeological Museum
As you may have already guessed, Nafplio and the surrounding villages are rich in history, so visiting the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio should be next on your list.
Over here, you can learn more about the local culture and Nafplio’s past since it houses an important collection dating from prehistoric times and other historical periods.
9. Syntagma Square
Found right by the Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square is the marble-paved heart of Nafplion.
As the city’s main square, it’s pedestrian-only and a favorite of locals as popular restaurants and cafes line the area. It’s the perfect place to sit down and enjoy a Greek coffee each morning!
10. The Trianon
Originally, the place was born as one of the several Ottoman mosques built during the Ottoman occupation. Over the years, the temple not only worked as a mosque but was also a Catholic church, school, theater, cinema, and music conservatory.
Today, the Trianon is the most important cultural center in the Argolis region, presenting several interesting cultural events and plays all year round, and it is only a few meters from Syntagma Square.
11. Nafplion Old Town Alleys
No visit to Nafplion can miss a walk on the alleys of its old town. The area is car-free and is home to shops, bars, hotels, cafes, and lovely mansions built in the neoclassic style.
The picturesque historic center and its impressive Neoclassical buildings face the harbor. Sunset is the perfect moment of the day for a walk as the light of the sun going down on the Saronic Gulf seems to set the city on fire, producing spectacular, golden views.
12. UNESCO World Heritage Site Of Tiryns
Just 8km from Nafplio, you will find the Archaeological Site of Tiryns in the Argolis in the Peloponnese, Greece. The site includes the remains of the Tiryns palace and the Cyclopean Walls, a massive defensive wall built by humans and thought impossible to construct without the help of giants. The Tiryns civilization was one of the most aggressive civilizations in the Bronze Age, and its influence can still be seen in Greek culture today.
Tiryns was the military stronghold for the Mycenaean Civilization, and the site is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient Greeks and ancient archaeological sites and culture.
Finds from the excavation site in Tiryns can be seen both in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and in Nafplio, the Archaeological Museum there.
13. The Leon Of Bavarians
The Leon of Bavarians is not to be missed for those who love sculpture. This exceptional piece of art, dating from 1840-1841, is tucked into the rocks between the church of Agios Panton and the cemetery of Napflio.
The German artist Christian Ziegel, the first sculpture professor in Athens, created the sculpture.
The Palm Promenade
The Palm Promenade in Nafplio is a charming seaside walkway lined with beautiful palm trees. The port is lined with palm trees and many delicious cafes, restaurants, and fish taverns. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic, picturesque dinner and a stroll along the water. A bonus is that, in the evenings, the Bourtzi Castle is lit up, and you will have the perfect view of it from most tables along the promenade.
After our long hike up and down the fortress, we sat here and enjoyed the outdoor seating with sea views.
You can also find many boutiques and shops on the Palm Promenade, where you can shop for souvenirs, local crafts, and clothing.
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Best Beaches In Nafplio
One more thing you should not overlook when exploring Nafplio is the fantastic collection of beaches, either close or far from the city center. Like most of the Peloponnese coast, the shores are breathtaking and with the right landscape and vibe for every kind of visitor.
These are the beaches I suggest you explore:
14. Karathona Beach
Close to the center of town and Palamidi Fortress, this small cove is popular among those who prefer not to rent a car as it is just a stone’s throw from the city center.
Karathona Beach is well organized, offering a few good places to eat and snack bars for refreshments along the seaside promenade.
Local Tip: If you are looking for a hike, you can actually walk a beautiful trail from the parking lot at Arvanitia Beach to Karathonas Beach.
Additionally, you can continue exploring once at Karathonas Beach by walking to the whitewashed Church of Agios Constantin, which is found at the very end of the beachfront. Continue along, and you will see another trailhead that will take you to the seaside chapel of Agios Nikolaos Krasoktistos.
15. Arvanitia Beach
Known as the most popular beach in Nafplion, this gorgeous shore has several times earned the Blue Flag beach status for the quality of the sea.
This beach is also close to the center of Nafplion and is often overcrowded. The beach has pristine emerald waters featuring both a sandy beach and those with small pebbles.
16. Psili Ammos Beach
This shore is in the area known as Tolo, about 10 km south of Nafplio’s city center. This is maybe the most beautiful beach in the area, featuring fine golden sand and pristine waters. The beach is kid-friendly and a favorite destination for families.
Kids will love various water sports that can be enjoyed along this long coast. Canoeing, kayaking, and scuba diving are among the most common sports, while small children enjoy swimming in calm waters and snorkeling.
The area is wholly organized with facilities, tavernas, and everything you need to spend an incredible day on the beach.
17. Neraki Beach
Not far from Aravanitia, Neraki (meaning small water) is a small beach with coarse sand and pebbles located a few meters from Karathona Beach.
This shore is quite solitary and secluded, perfect for spending a long beach day in almost complete isolation.
Day Trips & Further Explorations From Nafplio
If you are looking for even more to do in the area, there are so many options! Here are a few of our favorites.
18. UNESCO Sanctuary Of Asklepios At Epidaurus
About 30 minutes from Nafplio is the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, an important archaeological site in the Peloponnese region of Greece. This day trip will not disappoint. The sanctuary was built to honor Asklepios, the Greek god of healing. It includes several well-preserved ruins, including a theater and temple dedicated to Asklepios. The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is an important site for anyone interested in the mythology and history of ancient Greece.
To get to the UNESCO Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus from Nafplio, you can follow these directions:
- Short Drive: the most convenient way to reach Epidaurus is by car. From Nafplio, take the road that leads to Epidaurus, which is well-signposted. The distance between Nafplio and Epidaurus is approximately 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), and the journey takes around 30-40 minutes, depending on the traffic.
- By Bus: if you prefer public transport, some buses operate between Nafplio and Epidaurus. Check the local bus schedules and head to the central bus station in Nafplio. From there, you can take a bus to Epidaurus. The bus journey typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour
- By Taxi: this is how we did it. Taxis are readily available in Nafplio, and you can easily hire one to take you to the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. Be sure to negotiate the fare or ensure that the meter is used. We paid €40 to go there and back and had the driver wait for us for 2 hours
19. Visit Tolo
Tolo is just a few minutes from Nafplio, making it a popular location for discovering the Peloponnese. This wonderful seaside resort is home to some gorgeous beaches for the whole family, and it’s easy to find affordable places to stay should you want to plan an overnight there. As it’s an old fishing village, there are some wonderful, traditional Greek tavernas to try while there!
20. UNESCO Archaeological Site Of Mycenae
Just under 30 minutes from Nafplio is the Archaeological Site of Mycenae, in the Argolid region of Greece. The site includes the Mycenaean palace’s remains and the Lion Gate, a massive stone gate decorated with two lion sculptures. The Mycenaean civilization was one of the most powerful civilizations in the Bronze Age, and its influence can still be seen in Greek culture today.
If you choose to buy the three-day pass when visiting the Archaeological Site of Tiryns, it will also give you access to this site.
21. Visit Nearby Islands
Where Is Nafplio
Nafplion is the capital of the Argolis regional unit in the Peloponnese, facing a protected wide bay on the Argolic Gulf. It is only 2 hours from the capital, Athens, and less than an hour from the spectacular Corinth Canal.
How To Get To Nafplio
- The best way to get there is to fly to Athens and then drive or take a long-distance bus
- Moving around the Peloponnese by car allows travelers to cross the Corinth Canal and explore the many incredible beaches the region shelters, interesting archaeological sites, traditional villages, and much more.
- If you prefer to get there by bus, you can catch a KTEL bus at the Kifissos Bus Terminal. A one-way ticket is about 15 euros.
- Another possible way to get to Nafplio is via ferry (from the port of Piraeus or any of the Saronic Islands). There is no direct boat ride, so you must travel to Ermioni or Porto Heli and continue to Nafplio by bus.
- Nafplio can also be reached by train from Thessaloniki and Patras.
When To Visit Nafplio
Greece sees the highest number of tourist arrivals during August and July, so during this period, accommodation tends to be more expensive, and so do tickets.
Traveling in the spring or early weeks of fall is more affordable, and you can beat at least some of the crowds.
Where To Stay In Nafplio
If this is your first visit and you’d instead not rent a car, I recommend staying close to the city center to make the most of the short distances. This will also allow you to get to the city beach after a short walk.
Since Nafplio is a popular tourist destination, accommodation tends to be fully booked early in the season. So, if you find the place you like in your desired area, don’t wait to book before someone else does.
This way, you might even secure special deals or find room upgrades that are bound to be over when you book at the last minute. In such popular places, there is no such thing as a last-minute deal – keep that in mind and book your hotel room or rental home as soon as you find it.
These are the places I suggest considering when looking for the best accommodation in Nafplio.
Carpe Diem Boutique Hotel
Right in the heart of the city, this renovated 3-story building is a small, family-run boutique hotel. Rooms are uniquely designed, with modern touches and a focus on comfort. Balconies offer a wonderful, private space to relax. The hotel features an onsite hammam along with a delicious breakfast that is made ready to order (you make a list the day before).
The Carpe Diem Boutique Hotel in Nafplio offers personalized service from the team and the historical town of Nafplio right at your doorstep. It was a truly unforgettable experience.
Best Luxury Place To Stay In Nafplio: Amphitryon Hotel
This 5-star hotel in Nafplio’s old town is 800 meters from Arvanitia Beach and only steps from the Akronafplia Castle. The hotel has earned an excellent reputation for its American breakfast with stunning sea views. The a la carte restaurant Circle serves Mediterranean cuisine, while both the onsite bar and the library lounge are perfect for relaxing with a drink.
Best Mid-Range Place To Stay In Nafplio: Castellano Hotel & Suites
Also, in the best area of the old town of Nafplio, this hotel is conveniently close to Arvanitia Beach (less than 400 meters) and only 12 km from Argos’ train station.
Best Budget Place To Stay In Nafplio: Polyxenia Hotel
Located in the heart of the old town and only 250 meters from the beach, this convenient hotel is set in a restored mansion from 1850 in a picturesque alley, only a few minutes walk from the central Syntagma Square.
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Best Places To Eat In Nafplio
You will most likely be starving after a long, tiring day by the sea. Here are the best places to eat in town:
This is a popular place to try the famous Greek mezedes (a concept in food that is similar to Spanish tapas), where you can taste a variety of delicious bites and nibbles with a drink of choice.
Locals love to indulge in ouzo, but if that is too strong for you, you can quickly try a glass of delicious wine made in the Nemea wine region in the Peloponnese.
Address: 5, 25th of March Street, Nafplio.
This is the perfect little spot in town for those traveling on a budget or looking for a cheap but rewarding meal. The place serves a great selection of vegetarian (and non-vegetarian) dishes from Greek and Middle Eastern traditions. The dishes are healthy, and the views are perfect!
All their food is homemade, and their specialties include Greece’s famous keftedes, including meatballs, tomato balls, and pumpkin balls, but also vegan kebabs, salads, spicy drinks, and unique Greek soft drinks you won’t easily find anywhere else.
Address: 4, Vasileos Paulou, Nafplio.
Although most of us usually think that a trip to Greece will reward us with sumptuous fish delicacies, the truth is that eating fish is not as common for locals as you may think. In fact, Greeks love their red meat with patates tiganités (French fries)! Stavlos is there to prove it!
This steak house is located on the premises of an ancient, neoclassical house surrounded by beautiful gardens. Food is simple: grilled meat, huge kebab portions, and handmade hamburgers (biftekia) that kids adore!
The place is a favorite meeting point for locals that tourists have also discovered and enjoy regularly.
Address: 12, Profiti Ilia Street, Nafplio.
As you can see, Nafplio is a gorgeous, traditional town in Greece that offers the perfect ingredients for a short getaway from Athens. It’s not far from the capital; it has incredible beaches and interesting places to visit for the whole family.