A half day from Athens sits the beautiful city of Nafplio, Greece’s first capital city after the Greek Civil War in 1821. Nafplio is situated within the heart of the Greek Peloponnese on the north end of the Argolic Gulf. What makes this city especially interesting is the fact that is is one of the few cities that also contains ruins from the Venetian empire.
Nafplio is one of the major cities that is served by the KTEL national bus service from Athens; this is your most affordable option. If you are looking to travel from Athens you can take the x93 bus from the airport or if you are already in the city center, take the 51 bus from Omonia Square. The total cost of the journey is about 30 Euros and two hours of travel time. If you are taking the bus, ensure you know the proper schedule and know when the return bus coming back your way is.
If you decide to take a taxi, keep in mind it will cost you about 150 Euros each way. The taxi can be a good resource if you are traveling to other places, but the taxi may not want to wait on you the entire day. Rather look for a driver to hire or car rental. The train runs to Corinth and Corinth to Nafplio, but is unreliable. At the moment it is under construction.
My personal experience was to take a semi-private tour of the city on the way to Mycenae. The semi-private tour guide picked us up at my hotel and had wifi on their bus. I would not be comfortable driving any of the narrow and twisty roads to Nafplio if I were to rent a car. The only downside is that we only had about an hour to explore the city and it was not enough time. Choose your own adventure. If it is a city you wish to visit, consider spending the night there.
Things to Do
There are many different places people like to visit, but to me the most obvious was to walk around the marina and enjoy the scenery. The skyline is endless and water a beautiful blue azure. I spent 15 minutes walking from one end of the harbor to another taking as many photos as I could. One the water sits some of the Venetian battlements that were used in medieval times.
The center of the city is called Syntagma Square (just like Athens). Surrounding it are many cafes and restaurants. If you are looking for some good local Greek cuisine, this is the perfect spot for you. I like the souvlaki and the spanikopita myself. Everything is built in a neoclassical style; you will also see a mosque and some of the Venetian ruins at the end of the square. A gelato is the perfect way to cool down after a long walk. Stop in at one of the ice cream shops for a pistachio flavored on.
If you are up for a hike, the formidable and towering Palamidi Fortress is a must see. It sits at the top of the city and is best known for its stunning views. No one was able to conquer the fortress! I wasn’t able to make it there myself, but it is on my list of must do items for a return trip. I’ve heard it takes a minimum of two hours to enjoy.
If you are looking for some Byzantine architecture, there is a lovely Greek Orthodox church, the Church of Agios Spyridon that is well worth stepping into. As long as you are respectful, tourists are welcomed inside. Please keep in mind that bare knees and shoulders should be covered. Some religious locations do not allow in tourists that are not dressed modestly. The floor has a unique Jewish star of David in the center of the floor. The bell tower is still active and rings with a loud and light sound at midday.
In my quick trip to Nafplio, I poked my head into the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio. It was a quick walk through for me, but there are many lovely artifacts that rival that of the Benaki Museum in Athens. You could easily spend 3 hours here. If you have time, get an audio guide. The Mycenae artifacts were my favorite. I didn’t have time to watch the interactive videos, but
Two other sites I want to touch upon are the beach and the Grande Bretagne afternoon tea service. As your Tea Time Adventurer, I needed to find a cup of tea for the afternoon! The scones are perfect as are the amount f vegan and gluten free options they offer if you have any type of allergies. You are paying more for the atmosphere, but for the quality and quantity of items you receive along with an exceptionally friendly staff, it’s worth the price.
There are many things to do other than the very few that I’ve mentioned. I had a very limited amount of time and did the most I could. You’ll discover the charms of the city best if you are able to spend the night. If not, aim for a half day. Nafplio is one of the best hidden gems in Greece. It has so much history and many untold stories to discover. I definitely want to spend at least a day and a half here on my next trip to Greece. Until next time, happy travels!