Looking for things to do in Nafplio Greece? Look no further.
Lovely little Nafplio is one of the most charming towns in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Once upon a time, this was the capital of modern Greece.
Today, it is one of the country’s most popular romantic getaway destinations. The narrow cobbled streets and quaint tavernas of old Nafplio present a stark contrast to cosmopolitan Athens.
The little settlement offers up a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. 33,356 people call Nafplio home. Yet the city has a very small town ambiance about it.
A Little History of Nafplio
Nafplio, like much of Greece, has a long history along with fascinating links to Greek mythology. The city takes its name from Nafplios, son of Poseidon.
Nafplio’s bayside location and natural defenses made it an important strategic location for trade and commerce. It is for this reason that the city was invaded and captured time and again.
Nafplio has existed under Ottoman, Frankish, Venetian, and Greek rule. It was made the capital of the modern Greek state in 1823 and remained as such until 1834 when the Greek capital was moved to Athens.
Over the last few years, Nafplio has been very much “in vogue” as a destination for romantic weekend breaks – at least among Athenians. That said, whether you visit Nafplio with your partner, with friends, or solo, you won’t be short of ways to pass your time.
Nafplio is a wonderful place to explore independently at a slow, relaxed pace. Ideally, you will have a couple of days to dedicate to the city.
However, if you are short on time and don’t have your own transport, you may wish to visit on a guided tour. Numerous tour companies offer day trips to Nafplio from Athens.
These Nafplio tours operate in small groups and include pick up and drop off at your hotel. A selection of reputable options is detailed below.
- Nafplio city walking tour
- Bus trip to Mycenae, Epidaurus & Nafplio from Athens
- Full day trip to Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus from Athens
- Nemea and Nafplio: private wine and history tour
Things to do in Nafplio, Greece
There are plenty of things to do in Nafplio to warrant spending a long weekend here. However, the town’s short distance from the capital also makes it a great choice for a day trip from Athens.
Sip a Freddo Cappuccino in Nafplio’s Cobbled Plazas
One of the best things to do in Nafplio is to simply enjoy the city at a leisurely pace. Allow yourself the time to get lost among its quaint streets and narrow passageways.
Window shop for delightful handicrafts at the independent boutique stores, and sip tsipouro in ramshackle tavernas with friendly locals. Syntagma square can be considered as the heart of the old town.
It shares its name with the main square in Athens. Syntagma means “constitution” in Greek. This cobbled piazza is surrounded by eclectic coffee shops and bars.
Relax here with a Freddo cappuccino or a traditional Greek coffee in the morning. After the sun goes down, unwind with a mastiha-infused nightcap
Revel in the Views from the top of Palamidi Castle
Palamidi castle sits atop a steep hill and can be seen from all corners of the city. It watches protectively over Nafplio in the same way that the crumbling remnants of the Acropolis still guard Athens.
Reaching Palamidi means ascending 857 stairs. However, the breathtaking panoramas that await you at the top make it worth the workout.
The sprawling castle and fortress complex was built by the Venetians in the 1700s. Centuries later, the site saw the occurrence of many battles between the Greeks and the Turks in their fight for independence.
Sail Across to the Venetian Fortress (Bourtzi)
A unique Nafplio attraction is the Venetian fortress that seemingly floats in the sea across from the shore. The fortress was originally named “Castello dello Soglio”.
It was later renamed ‘Bourtzi’ by the Turks which translates to ‘island’. Italian engineers built the fortress on the island of St. Theodoroi in the 14th century. During this time, it was an important coastal defense against pirates and invaders.
During the summer months, you can take a boat across to Bourtzi so that you can explore its ramparts and turrets. Alternatively, you can simply opt to admire the island from afar as you gaze across from Palamidi.
Walk the Length of Vasileos Konstadinou Street (Megalos Dromos)
The main street that runs through old Nafplio is Vasileos Konstadinou Street. To get your bearings, you can simply follow this promenade from beginning to end.
Vasileos Konstadinou bypasses the majority of Nafplio’s attractions and piazzas. Many of the charming stores that line this scenic promenade sell handmade jewelry and exhibit the works of local independent designers.
Greek agro-products make a nice, quintessentially Greek souvenir. If you are interested in making a purchase, many of the elegant stores here stock handicrafts and organic edible items.
Commence your walk along Vasileos Konstadinou street at Nafplio’s central Syntagma square. Follow the street along to the Archaeological Museum.
Admire the Architectural Influences of Different Cultures
Over the centuries, Nafplio has been invaded and conquered by various nations. The Turks, the Arabs, and the Venetians all came to Nafplio, and they have certainly left their mark on the city.
In Nafplio, old Ottoman mosques sit beside grand Venetian fortresses and neoclassical structures. Keep your eyes peeled to admire this architectural mishmash.
Look out for Trianon, an old mosque in Syntagma square. The structure has boasted many different purposes over the years.
It was converted into a Christian temple, before being re-converted into a mosque, and then converted once again to become a theatre! The old parliament building “Vouleftiko” is another former mosque. It is an interesting example of Ottoman architecture.
Watch the Sunset from Acronafplia
Acronafplia is a rocky peninsula and Nafplio’s second-largest hill. It’s another wonderful spot to enjoy views over the city, particularly as the sun sets.
Consider packing yourself a very Greek picnic with a selection of Greek pastries, snacks, and a flask of coffee. Then, watch the sunset from the top of the hill and capture some incredible photos as the sky is illuminated with shades of pink and orange.
There are two different trails leading up here. There is a direct path from the old town.
Alternatively, you can take the more scenic route. Follow the narrow trail from the port area, walk around the hill to Arvanitia beach. Then, follow the path as it ascends upwards to the top.
Visit the City of Ancient Tiryns
The ancient city of Tiryns is an important world heritage site that awaits just 4km away from central Nafplio. The city has been inhabited since the neolithic period and has played an important role in Greek mythology.
Legend has it that the large stone “Cyclopean” walls that surround the site were constructed by the Cyclops. A visit to ancient Tiryns is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
However, it is difficult to access without your own transport. If you are particularly interested, you could have your hotel organise an excursion with a local cab driver.
Dine in a Scenic Taverna Overlooking the Port
Nafplio, like pretty much the entirety of Greece, is a great place to sample wonderful home-cooked local food. The port area is particularly pleasant.
Here, dozens of family-run tavernas overlook the water and serve seafood dishes prepared with the freshest catches, along with locally-sourced ingredients. Aiolos Tavern (Vasilissis Olgas 30) and Pidalio (25is Martiou 5) are local favourites.
Relax on the Beaches of Nafplio
During the summer months, the beaches of Nafplio provide a nice respite from the heat and humidity. Assuming that you opt to base yourself in the old town, Arvanitia beach is the obvious choice.
Arvanitia is nestled in its own cove and is encompassed by jagged, dramatic cliffs. You have all the amenities that you need here for a perfect day at the beach – sunbed and equipment rentals, and a great restaurant right on the seafront.
The cerulean waters are perfect for swimming in. Arvanitia is popular among locals and can become quite busy during the summer months. Regardless, this does not detract from its charm.
The beaches of Tolo and Plaka are well-organized and lined with bars and tavernas. If you prefer peaceful secluded beaches, head to the far end of Karathona beach.
Hike to Karathona Beach
Karathona beach awaits at the end of a woodland trail that leads away from Arvanitia beach. The route to get there should take approximately 45 minutes and leads past beautiful woodland and coastal scenery.
At the end of the hike, you are greeted with a beautiful blue flag beach. The calm, clear waters are a perfect place for swimming.
Wander Along the Arvanitia Promenade
The Arvanitia promenade is an idyllic coastal walking trail that leads along the outskirts of old Nafplio. The 1km route can be enjoyed year-round and takes you on a journey past spectacular natural scenery.
The views of the Argolic Gulf from here are second to none. Halfway along the trail, you can ascend a small stone staircase to the church of Panagitsa. This little structure has been built inside a cliff face.
Very few people know about the tiny church’s existence and so it is seldom crowded. The white and blue washed church is beloved among locals.
It was actually used as a “secret” school during the Turkish occupation on account of its hidden location! Its architecture is more reminiscent of what you expect to see in the Cyclades than the Peloponnese.
Browse the Exhibits at the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio
There are seven museums scattered throughout Nafplio. One that is certainly worthy of your time is the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio.
It is set inside a former Venetian mansion that dates back to 1713. The building itself is spectacular and is widely recognised as being one of the best examples of Venetian architecture in all of Greece.
It contains a diverse collection of artifacts that were recovered locally. Items on display date back as far as prehistoric times and provide a chronological journey through the history of the area.
Spend a Day in Tolo
Tolo is a quaint little Greek village situated just 9km away from Nafplio. It is accessible by bus or cab and is well worth visiting if you have a little extra time to spare.
This former fishing village was founded in 1830. Quaint, adorable pastel-coloured houses line the seafront.
Many of these have been converted into excellent restaurants. Sightseeing opportunities in Tolo are few.
However, there is a long, sandy beach here that is perfect for relaxing during the summer. It is also possible to take excursions to Hydra and the Saronic islands from Tolo.
Indulge in a Little Wine Tasting
Several excellent wineries can be found just outside Nafplio. Greek wines may not be well known internationally but they are locally revered.
Koroniotis and Domaine Skouras wineries are two places to add to your radar. You can simply call them up/email them and request a tasting and tour.
The former is owned by local winemaker Kyriakos Koroniotis. You can sample several local wines alongside bespoke charcuterie boards and a wonderful selection of cheeses, olives, and cold cuts direct from the Peloponnese.
Epidaurus is one of the most important historical sites in Greece and it is just a thirty-minute drive away from Nafplio. The 4th-century theatre is still in use today and hosts the annual Epidaurus Festival during the summer months.
The Epidaurus Festival is a celebration of Greek culture and is worth attending if you can find tickets. Here, you can watch performances of Greek dramas, tragedies, and traditional Greek dances.
Epidaurus is also one of 18 UNESCO-protected sites in Greece. The Sanctuary of Asklepios which still stands here is considered as being the birthplace of modern medicine.
Thousands of years ago, people would travel from across the continent to visit healers here. History aside, there are many interesting things to see around Epidaurus. The modern village of Epidaurus is a charming fishing village that boasts several excellent fish tavernas and beaches.
Where to Stay in Nafplio, Greece
Many charming boutique hotels are situated in Nafplio. Few travel experiences could be better than watching the sunrise over the Bourtzi and the Argolic Gulf from your private balcony.
Some of the best hotels in Nafplio are detailed below for your consideration. Nafplio hotels suit an array of travel budgets and tastes.
It is best to base yourself in old town Nafplio. This places you within walking distance of the city’s main attractions.
Amymone and Adiandi’s
Where: Othonos 31, Nafplio 211 00
Amymone and Adiandi is a Nafplio hotel that is teeming with character and personality. It is far from your typical “cookie-cutter” hotel.
Each room of the hotel is unique and is decorated with a homely ‘shabby chic’ style decor. The walls are adorned with the eccentric, contemporary works of local artists.
A&A’s location is perfect since it places you in the historic heart of Nafplio old town. Reservations include a wonderful Greek breakfast featuring homemade jams, pastries, and other treats.
Click here to check the latest availability and room rates.
Anthemion Suites and Villas
Where: 101 25th Martiou &, Agiou Eleftheriou, Nafplio 211 00
The Anthemion Suites and Villas do an effortless job of combining modern contemporary elegance with Greek traditions. The property’s setting is breathtaking.
The hotel is surrounded by fragrant olive groves and scenic gardens. The on-site outdoor pool is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of sightseeing during the summer months.
Each room is decorated with modern furnishings, and tones of greens and blues which inject a pop of colour. For a small additional fee, you can start your day with a lavish breakfast enjoyed on the hotel’s rooftop.
Both the Palamidi Castle and Nafplio old town are located within walking distance of the hotel. Click here to check the latest availability and room rates at the Anthemion Suites and Villas.
Where: Navarinou 11, Nafplio 211 00
The Nafplia hotel is a great accommodation choice if you are seeking comfort and luxury without the luxury price tag. Rooms here start from just $40 per night, and the property boasts an incredibly central location.
Click here to check the latest availability and room rates at the Nafplia hotel.
Getting to Nafplio from Athens
Nafplio is situated in the Peloponnese, just two and a half hours west of Athens. It is easy to reach the city whether you are driving independently or relying on public transport.
It is easy to travel to Nafplio by bus. Services depart regularly from Kifissos KTEL Bus Station.
The journey from Athens to Nafplio takes two hours. However, unfortunately, the bus station is a little out of the city centre. To reach Kifissos station, you must first take the #51 bus from Omonia, or hop aboard a BEAT taxi.
You can check the bus schedules on the KTEL Attikis website here. It is wholly possible to travel to Nafplio and back in a day.
But for a more relaxed experience, consider spending at least one night in the city. Nafplio is best enjoyed as part of a wider Peloponnese trip – perhaps heading onwards to Lakonia, Mani, Mystras, and Monemvasia.
Renting a car in Greece is a lot less daunting than it may sound. Roads are well maintained and driving here is a little different from driving elsewhere in Europe.
There are several reputable rental companies scattered throughout Athens and wider Greece, including Sixt, Avis, and Europcar. Many providers offer pickup at the airport.
There are several toll booths on the road from Athens to Nafplio to be aware of. Always ensure that you keep an amount of cash and loose change on you.
Do you have any further questions about things to do in Nafplio, or crafting a travel itinerary for Greece in general? The little city is arguably one of the best places to visit in Greece.
I’ve been living in Athens since 2017 and would be happy to assist with any concerns that you may have.
Feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Safe travels.
Geia sou! Melissa xo
1 thought on “Things to do in Nafplio, Greece: Your Insider’s 2023 Guide”
We are doing 4 days in Athens and thinking about spending the 4th renting a car and going on a mini road trip to Nafplio with a few pit stops along the way. We are thinking the Corinth Canal, maybe Corinth itself, possibly the Mycenae ruins, and Nafplio in time to enjoy most of the day there. Then leaving in the morning to make it in Athens by 8 or 9am. Any suggestions of things to streamline to cut out or include for the limited time? Want to spend as much time in Nafplio as possible.