On the Saronic Gulf is the beautiful town of Nafplio, often dubbed the most romantic destination in Greece. The original capital of the modern State of Greece (1823–1834) boasts stunning Venetian architecture and Ottoman structures and offers a perfect romantic getaway from Athens; here are 11 reasons to fall in love with the scenic town.
It’s only two hours away from Athens.
Planning a road trip through the Peloponnese? Visiting Athens for a week and need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle? An escape to Nafplio may be just what you need. Two hours away from the Greek capital, Nafplio can be accessed by car and even by bus. The trip goes through northern Peloponnese, so rest your eyes on a beautiful region.
It’s a stunning place to learn about Greek history.
Nafplio is home to an Archaeological Museum, housed in a splendid Venetian building on Syntagma Square. The permanent exhibition features some of the oldest vestiges of the Paleolithic Era and includes figurines, jewellery, clothing, sculptures, ceramics and rare artefacts from the Neolithic Period.
Exploring the rest of the region is convenient.
Its convenient location on the Saronic Gulf makes Nafplio a perfect base to venture out to many archaeological sites in Peloponnese. The theatre of Epidaurus and the ancient cities of Corinth, Mycenae and Tyrins are all a mere drive away from the scenic town. Wine lovers will be glad to know that the wine-producing Nemea region is also nearby and offers many wine tasting opportunities.
It’s a walker’s paradise.
Nafplio is an excellent destination for walking enthusiasts. The Old Town’s heart, with its maze of narrow streets, hidden squares and stunning neoclassical mansions, is as enchanting as one could imagine – even climbing up a dozen steps to the hotel will be worth the effort.
The coastal town has a variety of beaches and secluded coves.
Nafplio has it all for a perfect summer getaway: picturesque restaurants and cafés, dynamic town centres and nearby beaches. Stroll along the waterfront promenade and stumble across a succession of beaches, including Arvanitia, Neraki and Karathona, a long sandy beach. Further out, nine kilometers (5.6 miles) from Nafplio, Tolos is another popular beach destination, but for something more quiet, nearby Kastraki is definitely the place to be.
Accommodation suits all tastes and budgets.
From budget-friendly rooms to stylish boutique hotels and luxurious 5-star private villas, Nafplio has it all. Get spoiled at the luxurious Nafplia Palace Hotel and Villas, which offers a stunning position on Acronauplia and breathtaking views over the town and the bay. Or opt for a more traditional and intimate hotel, such as Xenon Inn, just off Syntagma square; this renovated little boutique hotel is perfect for enjoying the town first hand. And 3Sixty Hotel and Suites is a must for interior décor aficionados.
Delicious, yummy food is all around.
Nafplio, like anywhere else in Greece, features quaint tavernas and delicious restaurants for enjoying classic Greek gastronomy or innovative Mediterranean-influenced dishes. Staying in the Old Town or venturing into the New Town will both offer rewarding food experiences. Make sure to drop by the restaurant at 3Sixty Hotel to enjoy a hearty brunch or enjoy a delicious dinner.
It’s a perfect getaway year round.
This magical town is an ideal destination for all seasons. Unlike the islands, which usually begin hibernating come November, Nafplio can be a fun autumn and winter escape thanks to its mild climate. Tavernas, museums and other monuments are still open, and there is nothing better than enjoying a refreshing walk in the small streets bordered by neoclassical houses and picturesque cafés. Plus, the town offers a plethora of indoor activities and boasts several museums.
The Komboloi Museum is one of a kind.
The Komboloi Museum was established in 1998 to showcase the history of the humble beads. Visitors can admire the museum’s four sections: one has prayer beads from Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic tradition; one has Christian rosaries; and two have Greek chaplets (worry beads). This unique collection of artefacts common to several religions and traditions is impressive even to non-religious visitors.
Sophisticated cultural learning is just around the corner.
Nafplio proves the assumption that nothing happens in Greece outside Athens, Thessaloniki and the islands wrong. Only three kilometers (1.86 miles) from Nafplio, Fougaro (The Funnel) is a hybrid cultural space that includes an arts and sciences library and exhibition and concert rooms and offers art workshops. This genius space is perfect for afternoon strolls or a nightcap after a summer concert in the premises.
It’s full of castles and fortresses.
With its characteristic houses and mansions, bougainvillea-bordered streets and charm, there is no denying Nafplio is a combination of brilliant colors, thanks to its well-preserved historic center. But the town also boasts impressive vestiges from its interesting past with three fortresses. The spectacular Palamidi castle, perched above Nafplio, was built by the Venetians in 1711–1714; climbing the steps (far fewer than the traditional 999) to the top yields the reward of stunning views over the whole area. Admire gates dating back to the Bronze Age at the Acronauplia fortress standing tall behind the Old Town. Used as a prison until 1950s, the site is now in ruins but still worth the visit. The Bourtzi, located on a tiny island off the harbour, was also built by Venetians in the 15th century and has known a long history as a castle, a prison, a hotel, an office for tourism and housing for the Greek government. Reachable by boat, the Bourtzi is now used to host events and concerts in the summer.