Top Reasons to Fall in Love With Nafplio, the Most Romantic Destination in Greece

The Fortress of Palamidi dates back to the 18th century
The Fortress of Palamidi dates back to the 18th century | © Dimitrios Psomadopoulos / Alamy Stock Photo
Anna Kambourakis

With its handsome harbour and blue-sea horizons, Nafplio is drenched in beauty and history. Curled around the magnificent Argolic Gulf in the Peloponnese, it’s a lovely place to explore, complete with a picturesque old town. There are photo-perfect views around every corner, and at sunset, it’s one of the most romantic places in Greece. There are many reasons to visit Nafplio, but these are the best.

See the splendid Archaeological Museum of Nafplio

Museum

© Archaeological Museum of Nauplion ( Nafplio) / Alamy Stock Photo

Thousands of years of Nafplio history are yours to contemplate at the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio in the centre of the old town. Artefacts range from stones and bones to tools from the Neolithic period; there are also intriguing remnants of the ancient Mycenaean civilisation, including pottery and statues. It’s fascinating to see the layers of the past unfold as you pass by the exhibits, allowing you to realise the cultural and historical significance of the region and appreciate the town even more.

Make the ascent to the Fortress of Palamidi

Historical Landmark

© Constantinos Iliopoulos / Alamy Stock Photo

Climbing sweatily up 999 stairs to a former prison may not seem like a romantic way to spend your day in Nafplio – until you get to the top and feast your eyes on the panoramic view of the sea and town below, that is. Built by the occupying Venetians in the 18th century, Palamidi is a remarkably well-preserved fortress, considering the turmoil and war it has seen. Today, it’s a symbol of freedom, independence and revolution. Hike up to it in the late afternoon so that you’ll be at the top for the spectacular sunset.

Drink in the past in Constitution Square

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Syntagma Square – or Constitution Square – is the grand plaza in the centre of town. As you pace the reflective marble tiles, you’ll see several buildings and statues that tell the story of Nafplio’s past. There’s the mosque from the Ottoman occupation, the old Parliament building from when Nafplio was the capital of Greece and the home of Kolokotronis, a hero of the Greek War of Independence. Pause by the statues and read the stories of the people of Nafplio.

Fill your face at I Gonia Tou Kavalari

Restaurant, Greek

Steps from Syntagma Square, I Gonia Tou Kavalari is considered by many to be the greatest food and music experience in Nafplio. Traditional small sharing plates of meze are brought to your table as live rebetiko (independent folk) music is performed live. The result is an authentic, nostalgic Greek sensation. Order in the shrimp saganaki, octopus with fava or the fried marida fish while sounds from the bouzouki and guitar wash over you. Don’t be surprised to hear the regulars singing along. With enough red wine – try one from the nearby Nemea region – maybe you will, too.

Taste wines at Karonis

Winery

The Karonis family has been purveying wine and spirits in the heart of Nafplio’s old town for more than 130 years. Come and check out the vast selection of local Nemea and Mantineia wines. Nemea is known for bold and fruity reds from the agiorgitiko grape, and Mantineia is synonymous with crisp, aromatic whites from the moschofilero grape. Alternatively, consider impressive labels from around the world. Schedule a tasting to help you navigate your way to the perfect Greek variety so that you can enjoy your favourite vino for the rest of your stay in Nafplio.

Sunbathe at Arvanitia Beach

Natural Feature

© Konstantin Kopachinskiy / Alamy Stock Photo

A small pebble beach with crystalline waters and tranquil sea views is only a short walk from Nafplio’s old town. Arvanitia Beach is just below the Palamidi fortress and best accessed by the romantic stone path of Arvanitia along the coast. The beach features a changing area, umbrellas, sunbeds and showers. There’s a couple of beachside cafes for when you’re thirsty and peckish. And if you want to hang around once the sun goes down, a beach bar offers dancing and drinking until late.

Take a boat out to Bourtzi Castle

Historical Landmark

© Georgios Tsichlis / Alamy Stock Photo

Off the coast of Nafplio, on a tiny islet, is the imposing Bourtzi Castle. The Venetians built it in the 15th century, and it’s a textbook example of the fortified defence architecture of the time. It resembles something patted out of a child’s beach bucket. Since the region fell to Ottoman rule, it has been known by its Turkish name, Bourtzi. From the town promenade, several small boats travel to the island every hour – the price is peanuts. It’s best to go at sunset and take in the views of Nafplio as you circle the island.

Clamber around Acronafplia

Natural Feature

© Peter Oshkai / Alamy Stock Photo

Almost the entire history of Nafplio can be seen in the castle walls of Acronafplia. Some were built during the Bronze Age, with extensions made by the Romans, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans over the millennia. It’s beautiful to explore, not least for views from several points; facing north, you’ll see Nafplio, and to the south, Arvanitia Beach and the Arcadia mountains. It’s a must-see for all photographers.

Wander the port waterfront

Historical Landmark

A stroll – or bike ride, if you decide to hire one – on the promenade of Nafplio is a daily activity for the people who live here. Along the way, you’ll pass fishers and sponge divers, cafes and shops filled with unique art and souvenirs. You’ll also find magnificent views of castles, fortresses and the old town. Of course, the sea steals the show with its glistening waters. Rise early to take your morning coffee at a cafe table, and watch as the town wakes up and boats glide in and out of the harbour.

People-watch at dusk

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

The pulse of the town is in Syntagma Square. Any time of day, you’ll find old ladies gossiping on benches, young kids on their bikes and scooters, men playing backgammon and teens hanging out by the cafes. Master the Greek art of doing nothing by sitting back and watching the world around you. Take it all in over a coffee or glass of wine at one of the many cafes, and just be present in the moment – if you need inspiration, look around at the locals.

Where to Stay

Reserve your romantic bolthole in Nafplio by booking one of the best hotels in the city now through Culture Trip. After a long day of exploring, settle in for a well-deserved drink at one of the best bars – perfect with or without a partner. Why not go further and take a trip to not-so-far-away Athens, too? Book a stay at one of the best boutique hotels in the capital, and spend your time either lounging at one of the best beaches or taking in the top must-see sights in one of the most ancient cities in the world.
This article is an update of one originally by Ethel Dilouambaka.
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