Guide To Visiting Nafplio, Greece + Things To Do

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If you’re looking to discover the hidden charms of Nafplio, Greece, then you’ve come to the right place.

Nestled on the shores of the Argolic Gulf in the Aegean Sea, there are many things to do in Nafplio, from meandering cobblestone streets of its Old Town, to exploring the nearby spectacular beaches, ancient ruins, and award-winning wineries. 

aerial view of old town nafplio by the sea with bourtzi castle in the water
Nafplio

This picturesque coastal town is a true gem waiting to be discovered.

BTW, you may also see this Greek city called Nafplion. It’s all a matter of evolving languages! Both are correct and can be used.

So when you’re ready, keep reading discover everything you need to know about visiting Nafplio, including top things to do, day trips, places to eat, stay, and more, so you can prepare for a memorable adventure! 

HANDY BOOKING CHECKLIST:

To make your Nafplion trip planning easy, here is a heck checklist of our top recommendations for your pre-trip booking.

Is Nafplio worth visiting?

caz smiling at camera with views of nafplio and sea behind her
Nafplio – the first capital of Greece

Nafplio is for anyone interested in charming old towns, stunning coastlines, delicious food, award winning wine and ancient history!

I stayed here for three nights on my 10-day Peloponnese road trip, choosing an extra night here instead of Athens, and I’m so glad I did.

Nafplio is less than a 2 hours’ drive from Athens and has a deep strategic military history with its various ruling parties from the Venetians to the Turks and the Greeks thanks to the Palamidi Fortress high on the hill keeping watch on Old City and the Aegean Sea.

The fortress and city played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence. Nafplio became one of the first places in Greece that won independence and soon after it became the first capital of Greece. 

How can you visit Greece and not see the nation’s first capital?

looking out over nafplio buildings
Old Town

Nafplio’s narrow cobblestone streets, neoclassical buildings, and Venetian architecture transport you back to ancient times, while its scenic waterfront lined with palm trees, enchanting beaches, and nearby ancient ruins provide many opportunities for relaxation and exploration. 

Its colorful buildings, street art, pretty facades of shop windows and restaurants, and vibrant flowers bougainvillea climbing up walls and over alleyways makes you feel happy.

Most people come here to visit the Old Town – and admittedly, that was me – but there is a new town section on its border with plenty of stores, restaurants, and cafes to explore. 

Nafplio is a fantastic base to explore the other nearby best attractions in the Eastern Peloponnese (Argolis), which include Nemea, Ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Epidavros otherwise known as Epidaurus. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or simply seeking a charming escape, Nafplio has it all. It’s a harmonious blend of Greek history, culture, and natural beauty.

Where is Nafplio and how to get there?

view of nafplio old and new town and the Argolis gulf
Nafplio – old and new

Nafplio is the first finger of the Peloponnese peninsula, approximately 139 kilometers southwest of Athens.

If you’re wondering how to get from Athens to Nafplio, the best way is to drive. It’s approximately a 1 hour and 45 minutes drive from Athens to Naplio.

Buses run every three hours between Athens and Nafplio (Station) and takes 2h 10m. Search times and prices here

If it’s in your budget, I recommend hiring a rental car. I searched and booked my car via DiscoverCars.com and had a very positive experience. They are now my preferred rental car booking partner.

The journey to Nafplio from Athens promises beautiful landscapes, including the stunning coastal views of the Argolic Gulf, and an opportunity to explore the historical and cultural treasures, like Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth and Epidaurus.

You can see the route I took in the map above.

Top tip: If you have a rental car, it’s best not to drive in Old Town. The streets are very narrow and filled with pedestrians. There is a free parking lot above Arvanitis Beach on the other side of Acronafplia hill. It’s an easy 5-minute walk back into town! I did drive into my pension upon check in and check out for easier luggage handling as there was a small square nearby, I could park in. But drive slowly and don’t park for long!

Best Things to Do in Nafplio

Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, beach fanatic, or simply seeking a charming escape, Nafplio has a plethora of things to do to suit your style. Here are what most visitors who visit Nafplio rave about – I certainly am.

1. Hike the 999 steps to the Palamidi Fortress 

stairs leading up to palamadi fortress
999 stairs

Possibly the top attraction in Nafplio would be to climb the 999 steps to the Palamidi Fortress, perched 215 m high on the hill overlooking the Old City and the Aegan Sea.

Built by the Venetians in the 18th century, this fortress served as a stronghold to protect against enemy invasions and played a significant role during the Greek War of Independence. 

palamidi fortress walls with view of sea in background
bell tower and flag flying at top of Palamidi castle
view of aegean sea, nafplio town and palamdi fortress

You can wander through the fortress and enjoy the magnificent views. Be sure to crawl your way into the damp, dark prison cell as a reminder to follow the law!

Go early for the best light conditions and to avoid crowds.

Read my full guide to visiting Palamidi Castle including lots more photos

2. Explore the Streets of Old Town, Nafplion

stone covered alley of nafplio with colorful buildings
Old Town Nafplio

Get lost in the enchanting streets of Nafplio’s Old Town, lined with Venetian-style buildings, charming shops, and cozy cafes. 

It is one of the best things to do in Nafplion and something you can easily fit in between attractions and around meal times! 

The best time to explore is early in the morning when there is no one around. 

tables and chairs outside yellow building
store in nafplio with display out front
Great shopping in Nafplio
colorful buildings in nafplio

Tourists and travelers crowd the streets in the afternoon hours (and this was in May). I soon realized why when I saw a cruise ship coming in.

Anyone interested in shopping and collecting great souvenirs, you will love shopping in Old Town. Pick a store, any store and you’re sure to find anything you love from clothes, to jewelry, and art works.

If you want to learn more about the history of Old Town and hear stories of those who live here, past and present, you may wish to do this guided walking tour of the Old City. Walking tours are one of my favorite ways to get to know a place on a deeper level. See prices and availability here.

3. Kayak to Bourtzi Castle

bourtzi castle on the water
Bourtzi Castle

Bourtzi castle, along with Palamadi, is considered one of the landmarks of Nafplio.

You will see it around every corner and on top of every vantage point. Its original purpose was to protect the city from pirates and invaders from the sea.

It was built in the 15th century by the Venetians but was conquered by the Turks in the 17th century, who fortified it even more.

It also played an important role in the Greek Revolution.

bourtzi castle in water with mountains in the background

Through the years, it’s also been a prison, residence for political leaders and executioners, tourism offices and a luxury hotel and restaurant. 

You can visit by small boat, or on a kayaking trip. Here is a sea kayak tour, although it’s a little pricey.

Sadly, I did not get time to kayak over to the iconic Bourtzi, a small, fortified island located just off the coast. It was high on my list of things to do in Nafplio.

4. Walk the Arvanitia Promenade

arvanitias promenade along nafplio coast
Beautiful coastline trail

The 1km Arvanitia Promenade is one of the most popular walks in Nafplion and is flat and easy. You’ll have spectacular views the whole way and get to finish at the stunning Arvanitias Beach for a swim.

You can either walk to Arvanitias Beach from Palamidi Fortress or walk along the coastline from Old Town. 

crystal clear water beside rocky coastline
That water
arvanitia beach with palamidi fortress above on the hill
Palamidi fortress overlooking Arvanitia Beach
stone pathway going under archway with views of sea
Arvanitia Promenade

Pause at the small cave like tunnel for photographs – it’s a popular place to take them! You’ll also have good views of Bourtzi Castle as you get close to Old Town.

5. Swim in Arvanitias Beach

people and beach umbrellas on pebbly Arvanitia beach
Arvanitia Beach

Old Town has its own beach – and it sparkles!

It’s a pebble beach so wear shoes down to the edge and the beach is small so come early to avoid crowds. My icy swim here in the May waters was very refreshing after a near perfect day hiking and beach road tripping.

I thoroughly enjoyed my hour here falling asleep under the sun completely undisturbed. As this was my first time traveling as a solo as a mum, I soaked up this rare, quiet beach experience.

pebbly shore of arvanitas beach
Morning is quiet at this Nafplio beach
arvanitia beach from above
Beach views from above

During the summer there is a beach bar, Blublanc – the only true beach bar in Nafplio, It’s the perfect place to pair a cocktail with a sunset – they are meant to be pretty here.

6. People watch in Syntagma Square Nafplio

man and child walking through syntagma square
Early morning in the square

Situated at the heart of Nafplio’s old town, Syntagma Square is a vibrant and bustling gathering place surrounded by a perfect blend of old and new architecture, cozy cafes, inviting shops, and beautiful trees. 

Many important historic monuments are located around the square, including the Archaeological Museum and the old Vouleftiko mosque, where the first Greek Parliament was housed.

domed Vouleftiko mosque with church steeple in background on hill
Vouleftiko Mosque

It also has the only Turkish bath in the city, as well as some Turkish mosques. It’s an ideal spot to relax, people-watch, and soak in the local ambiance while enjoying a cup of coffee, a delicious meal, or afternoon drink.

tree covering tables on syntagma square
This tree is magnificent

I loved my wine at Mentor Bar on a soft comfy chair after a day exploring the beaches of Nafplio.

Some other beautiful large squares worth visiting if you have time are Trion Navarhon, which has the city’s town hall, and Agios Georgios, which is surrounded by beautiful architecture.

7. Visit Akronafplia Castle

the ruins of Akronafplia Castle on the hill
Akronafplia Castle and fortress

Discover the ancient walls of Akronafplia Castle,situated on the rocky penisula of Akronafplia, the oldest fortified part of Nafplio.

Wander through its ruins, breathe in the sea breeze, and soak up the incredible vistas of Old Town and Bourtzi Castle.

It’s the oldest of the three castles in Nafplio and its lower sections date back to the Bronze Age. From 1936 to 1956 Akronafplia Fortress was used as a Greek government prison.

crumbling walls of Akronafplia Castle
views of bourtzi castle and mountans in the background
Bourtzi Castle views
villas with a view
The Nafplia Palace Hotel Villas

There isn’t a great deal to see here, but since it’s such a short walk from Old Town, it’s easy enough to fit into your schedule for more photo opps.

There is a gorgeous luxury hotel here, the Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas with beautiful views. Adding it to my list of places to stay in Nafplio for next visit.

8. See the Sunset on the Waterfront

bourtzi castle in sillouhette at sunset
Pretty colors

Head down to the waterfront for a stunning sunset. The waterfront area has rows of bars and restaurants.

Go early to find a seat, grab a drink, and enjoy the spectacular colors. You’ll love seeing the imposing Bourtzi Fortress in silhouette against the orange and pink sky.

9. Visit the Nafplion Komboloi Museum and Buy Worry Beads

exterior of Komboloi Museum
Komboloi Museum

I learned about worry beads simply from walking around Old Town and seeing stores selling them and plaques describing how these strings of beads are unique to Nafplio and an iconic symbol of Greek culture. 

Also known as Komboloi, these worry beads are materials such as amber, wood, or semi-precious stones.

It is said the repetitive motion of sliding the beads through one’s fingers can provide a sense of calm and focus and alleviate stress and anxiety. 

The Komboloi Museum in Nafplion has displays of worry beads collected all over the world from all different religions. They are similar looking to rosary beads.

There is a small fee for the museum, which may not be worth it, but since I was purchasing some, I wanted to learn more.

On the ground floor is a traditional workshop for making worry beads and there is a vast array of ones to buy ranging from affordable to expensive. 

As I mentioned in my post on the benefits of solo travel for moms, kids are often thrilled with the souvenirs you buy for them on return. I bought Kalyra and Savannah a set of worry beads each. I just hope they’re using them!

10. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion

orange brick exterior of Archaeological Museum  on edge of square
Archaeological Museum

The beautiful stone-built Venetian building on the west side of Syntagma Square is the impressive Archaeological Museum.

This is a which is a popular place for history buffs to learn about the rich archaeological heritage of Nafplio and the wider region from Neolithic to Roman ages.

I was content to enjoy the views of the outside.

Best Day Trips from Nafplio

Nafplio makes the ideal base to explore many top Ancient Greece attractions, Peloponnese beaches, and award-winning wine regions!

11. Road Trip Nafplio Beaches

car by side of the road with coastline views
My rental car

One of my favorite days on my Peloponnese vacation was driving to the nearby Nafplio beaches.

My windows were rolled down, Pearl Jam was blasting, and weather conditions were near perfect.

I stopped at Karathona Beach (Paralia Karathonas) – it was really windy here, so I didn’t stay long – and Tolo Beach (Paralia Tolo), where you’ll find a small town with lots of restaurants and amenities.

aerial view of curving Karathona Beach with mountains in the background
Karathona Beach
tolo beach with people
Tolo Beach
cobalt blue waters of Kondyli Beach with moutnain peaks in distance
Kondyli Beach

I drove all the way to Kondyli Beach (Paralia Kondyli). This is a more remote beach situated on Vivari Lagoon with no facilities and little people. You can even camp on a strip of nice beach here. 

There are more Nafplio beaches to explore if you have more time, but I was satisfied with these three. Read more in my guide to the top beaches of Nafplio with more photos.

CAR RENTAL: Find best price and availability via DiscoverCars.com I’m a big fan of this car rental search comparison booking site. I found the best prices through them for my trip to Greece and my upcoming trip to Europe. Their customer service was excellent in fixing a booking problem I had.

12. Visit the Ancient Archeological Site of Mycenae

crumbling walls of ancient Mycenae with views
Mycenae

Mycenae, an ancient archaeological site of immense historical and cultural importance, draws visitors from around the world. 

This legendary town was the realm of the iconic King Agamemnon, the formidable leader of the Greeks during the fabled Trojan War.

Its origins trace back to the foundation laid by Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae, and it is intertwined with the tales of heroes immortalized in Homer’s epic poems.

People visit to explore the archaeological ruins of what was once the thriving Mycenean culture. Some of the top attractions include. 

  • Walking through the famous spot in Mycenae, the Lions Gate into the old civilization to wander amongst the ruins of palaces, tombs, and fortifications that once symbolized the might and opulence of Mycenae.
  • There are different burial chambers called tholos, or beehive tombs, which are a circular vaulted chamber with an entrance way.
  • The colossal Cyclopean walls, ascribed in mythology to the mythical one-eyed cyclops.

Top tip: BOOK IN ADVANCE. This skip the line ticket for Mycenae is actually cheaper than what I paid at the gate. It also includes an audio guide.

13. Wine Tasting in Nemea

caz holding a glass of wine smiling at camera
Wine Time

Nemea is renowned for its picturesque vineyards and its legendary Ancient Nemean Games, which took place every other year to honor the mighty Zeus.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the ancient site of Nemea (and my enthusiasm for ancient Greece was slightly waning), you can explore the fascinating Temple of Zeus and the ancient stadium that once hosted thrilling athletic competitions.

My main reason for visiting Nemea was to indulge in wine tasting, which is known to be top wine regions in mainland Greece, celebrated for its exquisite Agiorgitiko grape variety!

I had hoped to join a guided tour, allowing me to taste various wine samples without any concerns about exceeding the legal blood alcohol limits while driving.

Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t align, so I opted for a self-guided experience, visiting two vineyards, and spacing out my tastings to ensure I enjoyed the equivalent of one glass of wine over an extended period.

I randomly stumbled upon Ktimi Bairaktaris Winery where I joined a behind-the-scenes tasting tour. We had three samples of wine: white, rose, and red along with a small charcuterie board of cheese, bread, and olive oil.

My next winery, Papantonis Winery, south of Argos, only twenty minutes from Nafplio, is where I found one of the best red wines I’ve ever had – Meden Agan made from the Agiorgitiko grapes. 

Not only was this exceptional wine, but it was a fun experience chatting with owner Antonio who joined me with a glass of wine and a plate of the most delicious feta cheese and olives (grown on his farm).

Antonis told me of his life working as an accountant in Libya, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, saving up enough money to quit and start this award-winning winery and farm.

The wine was so delicious and the conversation so fun, I knew I had to cut the visit short to keep under the limit! 

But, not without taking a bottle of that red wine home with me to savor properly in the US.

WINE TOUR: If you don’t have your own rental car, this wine tasting tour also includes a visit to Ancient Nemea.

14. Visit the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

ancient theater of Epidaurus with mountains in the background
Epidaurus

Visiting the ancient Theater of Epidaurus is an absolute must for any history enthusiast or theater lover.

This magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home of ancient healing grounds, holds immense cultural significance.

The Theater of Epidaurus, dates back to the 4th century BC, and was built to host religious ceremonial events in honor of God Asclepius.

Walk to the top for beautiful views of the lush valley surrounding it. It is renowned for its near-perfect acoustics, allowing the audience to hear even the softest of whispers.

crumbling remains of ancient temple
Asklepios Sanctuary

Just steps away from the theater is the ancient Asklepios sanctuary, dedicated to the God of Healing. It included a temple with the god’s cult statue; an altar; a sacred spring; an offering pit; two stoas; and an athletic field.

Get your Skip the Line Ticket through Get Your Guide. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance and will get an easy to use mobile ticket! Check availbility below

Where to Eat in Nafplio

people sitting in alleyway beside white wall building of restuarant
The pretty Surreal Restaurant

Almost every second store front on the Old Town streets is a taverna, restaurant or cafe.

I preferred those tucked away on the streets of Old Town, rather than the overpriced ones on the waterfront.

Eating on those charming alleyways was more of a cultural experience for me, then eating on the waterfont – that’s just so normal for an Australian.

I wanted Greek unique. And that involved eating only delicious Greek food. You can take your American hamburgers and put them you know where! That’s right the garbage.

Nafplio is on the sea’s doorstep so the specialty will always delicious seafood fresh from the Mediterranean. 

tables and chairs outside alaloum restaurant in alley
Alaloum

I’ll share with you what I enjoyed. Plus a few suggestions of some top-rated restaurants I didn’t get to… but had my eye on

  • Alaloum: Many of you saw my delicious tuna souvlaki (fresh from the nearby Nafplio waters) and 5 Euro half liter of wine on my reels. I loved the prices, delicious food, and friendly service of this Nafplio Greek restaurant. 
  • Again, offering great service and a delicious dish of octopus was ΣΟΥΡΕΑ, which means Surreal in English. Yep. That’s Nafplio. 
  • I didn’t find a coffee to rave about, but my Greek coffee paired with Greek yogurt for breakfast at Kalimera was good. 
  • To Omorfo Tavernaki: Tucked away in a picturesque alley, this taverna serves up traditional Greek dishes with a modern twist. Don’t miss their delicious moussaka and baklava.
  • 3Sixty: Located near Syntagma Square, this trendy restaurant boasts a rooftop terrace with panoramic views. Enjoy creative Mediterranean cuisine and refreshing cocktails as the sun sets over Nafplio.
  • Alkioni Wine Bar: I ended up having a free small wine tasting here while waiting for a table at the restaurant, Aiolos Tavern, which was behind here. They are somehow connected. Wine Aficionados will enjoy the stone walls and hundreds of wine glasses hanging from the ceiling of this intimate wine bar. The wine that I tasted was on the menu of the restaurant, which were the only options. The wine was expensive and nowhere near as good as the house wine I had at Alaloum. The lamb dish I had was great, but the service stiff, and everything overpriced.
  • Black Cat/ Mavros Gatos I never quite made it here, although it was high on my list. It was closed when I went for an early coffee as it’s said to be good. It’s also meant to have great cocktails some live music in the evenings.

3 Day Itinerary for Nafplion

sailboat on nafplio aegean sea

Here is an outline of the itinerary I followed while staying in Nafplio. Change as you feel it suits the weather and any reserved tours or attractions.

I have created the driving routes for each day on the map above as well as marking top attractions, things to do, places to eat and stay.

You can save a copy of the map above to adjust it as you see fit.

Day 1:

  • Leave Athens
  • Visit Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth
  • Visit Epidauras
  • Explore Old Town
  • Dinner in Old Town (Surreal)

Day 2

  • Hike to Palamidi Fortress
  • Walk to Arvantias Beach
  • Walk Avitias Promenade
  • Road trip to Nafplio Beaches
  • Swim at Arvianitis Beach
  • Glass of wine in Syntagma Square
  • Explore Old Town
  • Dinner Old Town – Surreal
  • Sunset on waterfront

Day 3

  • Breakfast Old Town
  • Hike Akronafplia Fortress
  • Visit Mycenae
  • Wine Tasting in Nemea
  • * You may want to fit in Bourtzi Castle here if you can
  • Shopping Old Town!
  • Dinner at Alaloum

Where to Stay in Nafplio: Nafplio Hotels

pink and orange buildings in front of Palamidi fortress hill
View from my hotel room

I couldn’t imagine staying anywhere but Old Town Nafplio. IT’s far too charming to spoil the experience staying elsewhere. 

I loved my little pension at the Kapodistrias Hotel in the Old Town. I stayed in the Nafplion room, which was tiny, but adequate since I was rarely there.

Thanks to the gorgeous views from my small balcony, easy access to walk to Nafplio attractions, and the price of sixty-five euro a night, I was very happy. 

bed inside pension of Kapodistrias Hotel in the Old Town
My pension room

Nafplio offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. 

Here are a few other recommendations:

  • Hotel Grande Bretagne: Situated in the heart of the Old Town, this elegant hotel blends traditional charm with modern comforts. Its central location allows for easy access to Nafplio’s top attractions.
  • Amfitriti Palazzo: This boutique hotel offers luxurious rooms with comfy beds and air-conditioning, and breathtaking views of the sea and the town. It’s located near the waterfront, ensuring a memorable stay.
  • 3 Sixty Hotel & Suites is located in the centre of Nafplio, just 100 metres from the port. This 4-star property offers free WiFi throughout and elegant accommodation with a spa bath. The restaurant and bar here are popular.
  • Nafplia Palace Hotel & Villas located on the slope of the ancient fortress of Akronafplia. It offers rooms with views of the Argolic Bay and villas and bungalows with private pools.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Nafplio

view of old and new town in nafplio

With its rich history, charming streets, delectable cuisine, and breathtaking surroundings, Nafplio is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece and a destination that truly captivates the soul.

Be open to talking with the locals, wear sturdy shoes to wander the cobblestone streets to see what you find, unwind on its beautiful beaches, and explore ancient fortresses.

These are the memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Enjoy your unforgettable adventure in this enchanting Greek city!

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