Nafplio, a charming coastal town in the Peloponnese region of Greece, is a delight for travelers seeking a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Once the first capital of modern Greece, this picturesque destination boasts a rich past, with influences from the Venetians, Ottomans, and even the ancient civilizations of Mycenae and Epidaurus. Its stunning location on the Argolic Gulf further adds to the allure, making it an ideal getaway for those looking to explore beyond Athens.

Nafplio offers a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy, whether they prefer to delve into the town's history or simply soak up the Mediterranean sun on a leisurely stroll. Among the highlights are the Palamidi Fortress, the labyrinthine Old Town, the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion, and the iconic Bourtzi Castle. In this blog post, we will have a look at some must-do activities in Nafplio. Let’s get right into it.

Key Takeaways

  • Nafplio is a historical town in the Peloponnese region of Greece, known for its diverse cultural influences and stunning coastal location.
  • Visitors can enjoy activities such as exploring the Palamidi Fortress, wandering through the Old Town, and visiting the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion.
  • The town's natural beauty and warm hospitality make it a great destination for both history enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxing Mediterranean getaway.

Climb to the Palamidi Fortress

Nafplion Peloponnese percy jackson day trip deposit sborisov

Nafplion Palamidi fortress - Credits: Sborisov/ Depositphotos

History and Significance of the Fortress

The Palamidi Fortress is an important historic fortification located in Nafplio, a picturesque town in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece. Built by the Venetians during the early 18th century, it played a key role in Greece's struggle for independence. Perched on a hill overlooking the old town and Argolic Gulf, the fortress has become a popular tourist destination, offering breathtaking views and a unique historical perspective.

What to See at the Palamidi Fortress

The Palamidi Castle is the main structure within the fortress. You can explore its many platforms which offer a full 360-degree view of Nafplio, the surrounding hills, and the Aegean Sea. Don't miss the chance to visit the nearby church of St. Andrew and the prison of Theodoros Kolokotronis, a prominent leader during the Greek Revolution.

 

Interesting Points

Description

The Castle

Main structure within the fortress

The Church of St Andrew

A beautiful historic church located within the fortress

The Prison of Theodoros Kolokotronis

The place where a prominent leader during the Greek Revolution was imprisoned

 

Tips for Climbing the 999 Steps

Climbing the 999 steps to the Palamidi Fortress is a rewarding, albeit challenging, experience. Here are some helpful tips for those planning to undertake the climb:

  • Wear comfortable shoes: Make sure to wear shoes with good grip and support, as the steps can be steep and uneven in some places.
  • Stay hydrated: Bring plenty of water, especially during the hot summer months.
  • Take your time: The climb can be tiring, so pace yourself and take breaks when needed to appreciate the views and scenery along the way.
  • Visit early or late: To avoid the heat and crowds, plan your visit either early in the morning or later in the evening.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your visit to the Palamidi Fortress, allowing you to enjoy the stunning views and delve into the rich history of this impressive destination.

Wander through the Old Town of Nafplio

The Old Town of Nafplio is a beautiful, car-free area with a unique blend of architectural influences. The Venetians, who once ruled Nafplion, left their mark with impressive buildings and narrow, winding streets. Walking through the Old Town, you will notice the blend of Venetian, Ottoman, and neoclassical styles that make Nafplio's architecture truly distinctive.

Highlights of the Streets and Boutiques

As you wander through the picturesque streets of the Old Town, you will be greeted by charming boutiques and craft shops. Displaying a range of local products, these stores offer everything from handmade jewelry to traditional Greek treats. Take your time to browse the unique items on display, picking up souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home.

Some highlights of Nafplio's streets include:

  • Staikopoulou Street: The main shopping street in the Old Town, lined with charming boutiques and souvenir shops.
  • Fortezza Alley: A quaint and narrow cobbled street, perfect for a leisurely stroll and picturesque photography.

What to See in Nafplio's Old Town

The Old Town of Nafplio offers visitors a rich historical experience, with several key sightseeing spots to explore:

  1. Syntagma Square: The central square of Nafplio, surrounded by historical buildings, cafes, and restaurants. Enjoy a leisurely coffee break while taking in the views and bustling atmosphere.
  2. Nafplio Museums: The Old Town is home to multiple museums, such as the Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts dating back to prehistoric times and is housed in a Venetian building on Syntagma Square. Another notable museum is the Folklore Museum, showcasing the history of everyday life in Nafplio and the surrounding regions.

Overall, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere, the Old Town of Nafplio is a must-see destination for any visitor.

Visit the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion

archaeological museum of Nafplion Credits Andrey Khrobostov Canva

Archaeological museum of Nafplion - Credits: Andrey Khrobostov/ Canva

Overview of the Museum's Collections

The Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is a must-visit destination for those interested in the rich history of the Peloponnese region in Greece. Housed in a two-story building constructed during the second period of the Venetian rule, the museum showcases the cultural identity of Argolida from the Paleolithic period until Roman times. Some key eras represented in the museum's collections include the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Helladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

Notable Exhibits to Look Out For

When visiting the museum, make sure to explore its wide range of exhibits originating from various historical sites across southern Argolis. Here are some highlights to look for:

  1. Mycenaean era artifacts: This section showcases remarkable artifacts from the ancient city of Mycenae, an important center of Mycenaean civilization. Items on display include pottery, frescoes, and intricate gold jewelry.
  2. Tiryns exhibits: The museum also features outstanding findings from the nearby archaeological site of Tiryns, a major center during the Mycenaean period. Highlights from this collection comprise frescoes, terracotta figurines, and bronze weapons.
  3. Prehistoric and Classical Collections: Travel back in time and immerse yourself in the region's prehistoric past by examining the museum's collection of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Helladic artifacts. Additionally, discover the fascinating sculptures, pottery, and inscriptions from the Classical and Hellenistic periods.

The Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is not only a historical treasure trove, but also a center of educational and cultural programs catering to various age groups. Situated in the central square of Nafplion, this museum should be an essential stop for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the history and heritage of the Peloponnese region.

Take a Boat Ride to Bourtzi Castle

Percy Jackson Nafplio Palamidi Peloponnese deposit Panos Karas

Bourtzi castle in Nafplion, Greece

Bourtzi Castle, located in the beautiful sea-surrounded town of Nafplio, has an intriguing history that dates back to the 15th century. Originally built by the Venetians to protect the city from invasions, the castle has served various purposes over the years, including a prison and a hotel. Today, it stands as an iconic monument in Nafplio's harbor, enticing visitors to experience its unique charm.

Embarking on a short boat ride from the mainland to Bourtzi Castle presents an excellent opportunity to savor the panoramic views of Nafplio and its surrounding sea. The experience is further enriched by the sight of the majestic castle as it gets closer, offering a sense of the grandeur that enveloped the fortress in its golden days.

Upon arrival at the castle, visitors can explore its well-preserved interiors, including the spectacular chapel adorned with original frescoes. Moreover, the views overlooking the city of Nafplio, the sea, and the nearby fortresses are nothing short of breathtaking. In addition to the stunning scenery, the boat ride allows visitors to interact with knowledgeable locals who can share stories and insights about the castle's history.

Enjoy the Views from Akronafplia

Akronafplia, also known as the Acropolis of Nafplio, is an impressive fortress that overlooks the beautiful city of Nafplio and its stunning coastal surroundings. The site offers breathtaking views of the Argolic Gulf and the charming town below. Visitors can enjoy the panoramic scenery, which includes lush hills, colorful houses, and sparkling waters.

At the top of Akronafplia, you'll be able to see several landmarks, such as the Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the harbor and the Palamidi Fortress towering above the city. Additionally, the dramatic backdrop of the mountains provides an awe-inspiring contrast to the blue waters of the gulf.

While exploring the fortress, you can admire the well-preserved remnants of ancient walls and structures. Some highlights to check out include:

  • The Eastern Gate, known as the dromoskala, which leads down to Staikopoulos Park and the Arvanitia square
  • Several old churches and houses that date back to the Venetian and Ottoman eras
  • The stone steps that wind through the fortress, offering various viewpoints to capture memorable photos

From Athens: Percy Jackson Tour of Nafplion & Mycenae
Duration
8 hours
Group Type
Private

Historical Context of the Site

Akronafplia has a rich history that dates back to the prehistoric period, with the fortress experiencing multiple expansions and renovations over the centuries. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians, and Ottomans have all controlled the strategic position of Akronafplia at different times, leaving their mark on the architecture and fortifications.

The current fortification we see today primarily originates from the Venetian and Ottoman periods, showcasing impressive masonry, hidden tunnels, and military structures. Walking through the site, visitors can gain a sense of the tactical importance of Akronafplia and its role in protecting Nafplio from maritime invasions and hostile forces.

In conclusion, Akronafplia offers an immersive viewpoint to enjoy not only the spectacular views of Nafplio and the Argolic Gulf but also an insight into the fascinating and diverse history of the fortress. This site is a must-visit for anyone exploring the charming coastal town of Nafplio.

Stroll along the Beach Promenade

As you stroll along the promenade, you will be treated to stunning views of the Nafplio coastline and the surrounding landscapes. The atmosphere is lively and vibrant, as both locals and tourists alike enjoy this tranquil waterfront space. There are a number of benches along the way, where you can pause, relax, and soak in the picturesque coastal vistas.

While taking in the views, you'll come across some of Nafplio's most famous landmarks, such as the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi, which can be observed from the shore. As you continue strolling, you will find both pebbled and sandy beaches, like Arvanitia Beach, offering the chance to dip your toes in the crystal-clear waters or catch some sun on the soft, warm sand.

Discover the Basil Papantoniou Museum

The Basil Papantoniou Museum in Nafplio is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the rich history and vibrant culture of the Peloponnese region in Greece. Established as a nonprofit institution in 1974, the museum was originally known as the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation (PFF). It was founded by Mrs. Ioanna Papantoniou in memory of her father, Vassilios Papantoniou, and has since been renamed in his honor.

The museum aims at preserving, studying, and presenting Greek culture, both contemporary and past. Its extensive collection comprises over 50,000 artifacts, providing a comprehensive insight into Greek culture from ancient to modern times. Visiting this museum is an excellent way to immerse oneself in the rich cultural history of the region while exploring the beautiful city of Nafplio.

Located on Sithiras Merarchias Street, the museum is open on Sundays from 9:30 to 15:00, making it a perfect weekend excursion for locals and tourists alike. The museum's exhibits showcase various aspects of Peloponnesian culture, including traditional costumes, textiles, ceramics, and more.

Indulge in Local Cuisine

Nafplio, known for its picturesque landscapes and rich history, is also a haven for food enthusiasts who would like to taste the best of what Greek cuisine has to offer. Its delightful local dishes, coupled with authentic Greek hospitality, make for a truly unforgettable gastronomic experience.

In Nafplio, expect to come across a variety of traditional Greek dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Start with a serving of tzatziki, a creamy yogurt dip seasoned with garlic and lemon, which is often enjoyed as an appetizer with pita bread. Another popular local specialty is moussaka, a dish consisting of layers of eggplant, potatoes, and ground meat covered in a rich béchamel sauce.

The charming town is particularly proud of its handmade pasta and orange-based products, such as orange pie, marmalade, and liqueur, all of which boast zesty goodness. Do not miss the chance to sample these exclusive local delicacies during your visit.

To truly immerse yourself in the local cuisine and Greek hospitality, find one of Nafplio's many charming tavernas or restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious meal in a warm and friendly atmosphere. 

From Nafplio: Percy Jackson Olympia Tour
Duration
8 hours
Group Type
Private

Conclusion

It becomes evident that Nafplio is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural splendor. From the commanding views at Palamidi Fortress and the enchanting streets of the Old Town to the insightful Archaeological Museum and the iconic Bourtzi Castle, Nafplio captivates visitors at every turn. 

The town's picturesque promenades, vibrant cultural institutions like the Basil Papantoniou Museum, and the delectable local cuisine offer a rich tapestry of experiences. Whether you're a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or simply in search of Mediterranean charm, Nafplio promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of Greek heritage.

FAQs

What historical sites are a must-see in Nafplio?

Nafplio is known for its rich history, with numerous must-see historical sites. One of the most famous is the Palamidi Castle, which offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding area. Another must-visit site is the Bourtzi castle, a small fortress which can be accessed by boat. Syntagma Square, the heart of the old town, is also a popular destination for visitors interested in Nafplio's historical landmarks.

Can you recommend some beaches in Nafplio for a day of relaxation?

There are several lovely beaches around Nafplio, perfect for a relaxing day by the sea. Arvanitia Beach is a popular choice, conveniently located close to the city center. Other notable options include Karathona Beach, which offers a picturesque setting and a variety of water sports, and Psili Ammos Beach, known for its serene atmosphere and crystal-clear waters.

What are some unique local shopping experiences in Nafplio?

Nafplio offers several unique shopping experiences, such as the Komboloi Museum, where you can learn about the history of Greek worry beads and purchase your own handmade set. The local Farmer's Market at Palamidi is also a great place to discover fresh produce, traditional Greek products, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

How can one best spend two days exploring Nafplio?

To make the most of two days in Nafplio, start with a walk in the picturesque old town, visiting historic sites such as Palamidi Castle and Bourtzi fortress. Spend some time at the Nafplion Archaeological Museum and the Nafplion National Gallery. On your second day, a visit to nearby beaches like Arvanitia or Karathona is highly recommended. In the evenings, relax in the many tavernas and cafes that the city has to offer.