Explore the mighty Palamidi Fortress above Nafplio Greece. Wander the charming streets, filled with Venetian architecture, on a walking tour of Nafplio’s Old Town. Our 2-Day itinerary covers all the best sites in the picturesque seaside gem of Nafplio, Greece.
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10 Best Things To Do in Nafplio
- Climb the 999 steps to the Fortress of Palamidi and enjoy panoramic views of Nafplio.
- Wander the flower-lined streets of Nafplio’s Old Town.
- Visit a Nafplio Museum, including the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio.
- Stroll through Kolokotronis Park, a quiet oasis in the heart of town.
- Visit the Church of Saint Spyridon and learn about the assassination of the first Governor of modern Greece outside its doors.
- Stroll along the Nafplio Waterfront, enjoying views of the Aegean Sea’s Argolic Gulf.
- Take the scenic Arvanitia Promenade to the beach with the Fortress of Palamidi above.
- Savour Greek cuisine while enjoying the charming ambience of Nafplio Restaurants.
- Sample ouzo, the official drink of Greece, at Karonis Distillery, one of the the oldest distilleries in Greece.
- Swim in crystal-clear waters at Arvanitia Beach.
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3 (Additional Day)
How many days in Nafplio?
We recommend at least 2 days in Nafplio to cover the town’s major attractions. Additional days can be added to adequately cover the museums and enjoy the beaches. Nafplio is also a great base for day trips to nearby historic sites.
Nafplio’s three castles were key fortifications in the defence of this region. These historic sites are well worth visiting.
Fortress of Palamidi
Visiting the Fortress of Palamidi is a must-do when in Nafplio.
Also known as Palamidi Castle, this imposing fortress is perched on the 216-metre-high hillside above Nafplio. Visitors can get to the castle, either by climbing the legendary 999-step route or driving to the top. We chose to drive (the easy way). Another option is to take a local taxi to the top and walk down.
The fortress is a marvel of Venetian engineering, built in just three years (1711 to 1714), during the second Venetian occupation of the area. It is a complex of eight, interconnected bastions, designed to defend the city below. The views from the top are stunning.
We wandered the stone pathways and explored the central bastion, Aghios Andreas.
The Ottomans captured the fortress in 1715 and it remained in Turkish control until 1822 when the Greeks captured it during the Greek War of Independence.
Shortly after the end of the war, political rivalries developed. This resulted in the imprisonment of prominent Greek revolutionary leader, Theodore Kolokotronis within the fortress. We saw the small, dark dungeon where he spent a year in horrible conditions.
The iconic Bourtzi Castle sits on a tiny islet 500 metres from the Nafplio waterfront. The Venetians built a fortress in 1473 on the islet, originally occupied by a Byzantine church, to protect the city from invasion by sea.
Bourtzi was brilliantly designed to fit the narrow island. It has a central hexagonal tower surrounded by lower cannon positions. In the 18th century, the central tower was raised and more defences were added to the water surrounding the islet. A chain was raised between the islet and the mainland to secure the port against access by invaders.
In modern times, Bourtzi has functioned as a residence, hotel and performance venue. The castle was recently refurbished.
Bourtzi is well worth a visit. Take the quick 15-minute boat ride from the dock located beside Filellinon Square.
Akronafplia is the rocky peninsula above modern Nafplio. From as early as the 4th century BCE, the town was built on top of the peninsula, taking advantage of its defendable position. Multiple Akronafplia castles have stood on this peninsula over the centuries as the Romans, Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans controlled the area.
Today, there are no standing castles. Remnants of walls can be seen, most of which were built during the 15th century, the first Venetian period.
We drove to the top of the peninsula and enjoyed the great views of the city below. We also saw the Nafplio Clocktower. This beautiful landmark is a reconstruction of the original 1833 tower that was destroyed during WWII.
Nafplio Old Town – A Walking Tour
Nafplio’s Old Town has many historic sites and plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars to relax in.
Explore the narrow streets of Old Town on our self-guided walking tour of this historic area.
Begin your walk in Syntagma Square.
With its cafes and historic buildings, Syntagma Square (Constitution Square), is the heart of old Nafplio. It has been the city’s epicenter since the first Turkish occupation in the mid-16th century. Landmark buildings in the square include: The Trianon (The Old Mosque), the Archaeological Museum, the National Bank and the Old Parliament building.
The elegant Trianon building was an Ottoman mosque and believed to be one of the oldest surviving from the early period of Turkish occupation. Note its Byzantine-influenced architecture and domed roof. Over the centuries, the Trianon was altered from a mosque to a Catholic church, and finally to a concert venue.
The Nafplio Archaeological Museum occupies the top two floors of a warehouse built in 1713 for the Venetian fleet. The building’s three-storey, simple, symmetric structure reflects its military roots. The wall behind the first floor’s arched openings was added later.
Behind the National Bank is the First Parliament (Vouleftiko) building. Also originally an Ottoman mosque, it later hosted the Greek Revolutionary Parliament from 1825-1826. Its masonry work and dome are classic late-Ottoman architectural features. Over the centuries, it served many roles, including school and prison. Today the iconic building hosts conferences, cultural events and an art gallery.
Exit the square.
Vasileos Konstantinou Street (The Great Road)
The Great Road (Megálos Drómos) was Nafplio’s most important 19th-century thoroughfare. The grand, European-style road was built on the orders of the first governor Ioannis Kapodistria.
Today this bustling, pedestrian walkway, renamed Vasileos Konstantinou Street, is filled with shops and cafes. Its historic architecture endures in the many neo-classical buildings lining the street.
Continue the tour down the street, enjoying the shops and beautiful buildings. Three Admirals’ Square is about 200 metres from Syntagma Square.
The square is a tribute to the allied admirals from England, France and Russia. The allies triumphed over the Ottoman-Egyptian armada in the decisive Battle of Navarino. This 1827 sea battle defeated the forces trying to suppress Greek independence.
The square, with its monuments and open space, is a favourite of locals to relax in. Neo-classical buildings add character. This includes the Town Hall in the building which was Nafplio’s first high school.
Several great museums, the Vasileios Papantoniou Folk Museum and the Nafplio War Museum, are within walking distance of this area.
Continue walking east. Adjacent to Three Admirals’ Square, is Kapodistrias Square. The name of the square honours Ioannis Kapodistrias, Greece’s first governor after independence. He led the new nation from the city of Nafplio until his assassination in 1831. His statue sits prominently in the centre of the square.
Continuing east, the huge Kolokotronis Park extends to the end of Vasileos Konstantinou Street, about 500 metres.
Kolokotronis Park is a lovely, green space with palm trees and playgrounds. The park is named for Theodoros Kolokotronis, the hero of the Greek revolution. The centerpiece of the park is the bronze statue of Kolokotronis riding valiantly on horseback.
The park is the home of the Stathmos Children’s Museum, located in the old railway station. The National Art Gallery, located north of the park, is another great option to visit nearby.
The huge Nafplio Farmers’ Market is held in the park along 25th of March Street (25is Martiou), every Saturday and Wednesday, from early morning until lunchtime.
If you are ready for lunch, continue walking east along 25th of March Street where some of Nafplio’s best restaurants are found.
After lunch, return to Old Town on 25th of March Street and continue our walking tour to discover more interesting, historic sites.
Staikopoulos Park is on the left at Andrea Siggrou Street. Enter the park from 25th of March Street.
The Land Gate
The gate, which today is in the middle of the park, was the sole land entrance to Nafplio, when constructed in 1708. At that time, a seawater moat was in front of the gate with a wooden drawbridge across it. At sunset, the drawbridge was raised, forcing latecomers to spend the night outside of the protective city walls. The gate was demolished in the late 1800s and the moat filled in.
In the 1970s the foundations and several parts of the gate were discovered. After extensive study, the gate was reconstructed in its original form including an arch with two pillars. The arch is topped by the original sculpture of the lion of St. Mark, now without its head, wings and tail. The lion was the symbol of the Republic of Venice.
Before walking through the gate, turn around to see the marble statue of Staikos Staikopoulos. He was the revolutionary hero who assisted in the liberation of Palamidi Castle from the Turks.
To get to the Fortress of Palamidi, follow the path on the right of the statue to the next street.
The 999 Steps to Palamidi
The name suggests that there are 999 steps to the top. A legend tells that the 1000th step was destroyed by Kolokotronis’ horse. In reality there are closer to 850 steps to the top. Regardless of the number of steps, it is a steep climb to the top.
Taking the steps all the way to the top, brings you to the castle’s Western Entry Gate.
Our curiosity got the better of us and we decided to climb the stairs. The stair construction is very impressive and the view of the city and the sea is amazing. We decided not to go all the way up (having visited the castle earlier by car) and gladly went back down the stairs and returned to the park.
Continue through the Land Gate and return to 25th of March Street which becomes Plapouta Street. Walk east on Plapouta Street to St. George Square (Agios Georgios) and the historic St. George Holy Orthodox Metropolitan Church.
St. George Church
Built as a Catholic Church around 1500 during the first period of Venetian rule, it was converted to a mosque when the Ottomans took control in 1540. The Venetians retook Nafplio in 1685 and converted the building back to a church. The use as a church was short lived as the Ottoman Empire retook the city 30 years later. When the city was captured by the Greeks in 1822 during the Greek War of Independence, the building became an Orthodox church.
The church welcomed Otto, the first King of Greece, whose throne remains in the church today. A number of beautiful frescos adorn the walls and ceiling. A highlight is Dimitrios Vyzantios’ fresco of da Vinci’s Last Supper on the ceiling.
Exit the church, turn left and walk straight ahead (south) on Gennadiou Street. At Papanikolaou Street turn right and walk toward Aghios Spyridon Square. This square is notable for its 18th and 19th century homes, Turkish fountains and the church with the bell tower straight ahead.
Church of Saint Spyridon
The Church of Aghios Spyridon is a site with a tragic past. The first Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, was assassinated outside this church in 1831.
He was ambushed as he approached the church at dawn for his customary Sunday service. A piece of glass on the wall near the entrance door protects the spot where the first bullet, intended to kill Kapodistrias, lodged. A knife and a second bullet killed Kapodistrias seconds later.
The church was built in 1702 during the 2nd Venetian rule. Go inside and admire this beautiful, single-nave church and dome.
At the church, the street name changes to Kapodistriou Street which ends at the First Parliament building. Turn right and head back to Syntagma Square and the end of the tour. Relax with a drink at one of the cafes in the square.
Nafplio Waterfront Promenade
A stroll along the beautiful waterfront is one of the most relaxing things to do in Nafplio.
Start at Filellinon Square, located beside the Nafplio Port.
The monument in the square, once the site of a Venetian bastion, honours the French who fought for Greek independence. The name of the square is based on the word “philhellenes”, the name given to people who supported Greek independence.
Walk east along the promenade, beside the beautiful cafés and restaurants, to the Nafplio Lighthouse Pier. At the end of the pier enjoy the great view towards the Bourtzi, especially beautiful at sunset.
The Bastion of the Five Brothers is Nafplio’s sole surviving bastion. The bastion was built by the Venetians around the 1400s. This strategic outpost worked in tandem with Bourtzi Castle to protect Nafplio. ‘Five Brothers’ refers to its five identical cannons which provided protection.
Just beyond the bastion is the natural swimming area. Enjoy a dip in this sheltered swimming area.
From here, either return to town as you came or, for longer walk, continue along the peninsula on the Arvanitia Promenade.
The Arvanitia Promenade
This scenic, paved path follows the coastline around the peninsula. The impressive walls and rocks of Acronafplia are on one side and the waters of Gulf of Argolis sparkle on the other side.
The seaside Arvanitia Walk is approximately 1-km in length (or 2-km in total, if you start and end in the historic centre). We found the sheer, vertical, rock wall with wild prickly pear bushes growing impressive. The path goes through a small tunnel in the rock.
The walk ends at Arvanitia Beach, where you can sunbathe and swim. It’s an easy walk from the beach, back to the old town via Staikopoulos Park and the Land Gate.
This ouzo distillery has been family owned and continuously operated by the Karonis family since 1880 .
Tour the small on-site museum exhibiting artifacts including tools, Karonis family documents and even the company’s first still. We were surprised when a member of the family was our tour guide. The pride in their history and their products stands out. The distillery process is explained in the next room
The tour ends with the fun part, a tasting in the store. They produce ouzo, tsipouro, and mastika. We sampled several. I finished my tasting with shot of Greek Mastika, a flavourful sweet liqueur. Needless to say, we definitely purchased a bottle.
Nafplio has several museums worth visiting:
- Archaeological Museum of Nafplio
The museum’s collection focuses on pre-historic and Mycenaean artifacts from Tiryns, Mycenae and the local area.
- Vasileios Papantoniou Folk Museum
This museum’s collection includes embroidered textiles, folk costumes, jewellery, household items, ceramics, metalwork and more. They also have period recreations of various rooms in this former home of Vasileios Papantoniou.
- War Museum of Nafplio
The museum presents the military history of Nafplio and Greece. Exhibits include collections of uniforms, weapons, paintings, maps and photographs from the Greek Revolution of the early 19th century to WWII. This is a branch of the War museum of Athens. The building housed the first military school from 1828 to 1834.
- Komboloi Museum
Explore the fascinating world of komboloi (worry beads) and their significance in Greek culture. See the collection of rosaries and worry-beads, which are dated from 1550 to 1950. You can even buy your own!
- Nafplio National (Art) Gallery
The gallery features exhibits of photos, paintings and sculptures, including works of the 1821 Greek War of Independence and those inspired by it. This museum is a branch of the Greek National Gallery.
- Stathmos Children’s Museum
Located in the former railway station, this small museum has children’s toys and games from generations past. Also in its exhibits are items needed by children as they grow up (blankets, baby bottles, baptismal items and more).
- Karonis Museum
This small museum, located next to the Karonis Distillery, showcases the history of the Karonis family distillery and ouzo production.
We recommend visiting Arvanitia Beach since it is conveniently located steps from downtown. They have change rooms, showers, chairs and umbrellas.
If you have a full afternoon, drive to Tolo Beach and enjoy this beautiful, long, sandy beach.
Here are the Nafplio region’s Top 5 Beaches:
|Local picturesque cove. Rocky beach with crystal-clear waters.
|Popular. Long, sandy beach in a natural bay, ideal for water sports.
|Secluded and quiet beach near Karathona beach, accessible by foot.
|Very Popular. Beautiful 1-km long beach with golden sand. Cafes and restaurants nearby. Great for families.
|Furthest from Nafplio, but well worth the drive. Tranquil setting with beautiful surroundings.
Click here for our interactive map with all these beach locations.
During our time in Nafplio, we had the opportunity to sample some great restaurants.
Here are our 4 favourites.
|Tavern O Vasilis
|Traditional Greek cuisine and warm atmosphere.
|Comfortable, casual atmosphere, serving great Mediterranean and Greek dishes.
|Renowned for its seafood specialties.
|Fusion cuisine with a focus on local flavors. Enjoy a culinary journey led by the chef/owner.
Tavern O Vasilis is located in the picturesque alleys of the Old Town. The other three restaurants are a short walk away from Old Town on March 25th street.
If you are looking for a unique experience, book the private Chef’s Table Experience at Savor Nafplio. They even offer cooking classes.
Looking for accommodations in Nafplio?
Check out these great options.
- Hotel Grande Bretagne – Nafplio – We stayed here! Beautiful property located by the waterfront in the historic district.
- Impero Nafplio Hotel & Suites – Another superb property located on the waterfront promenade.
- Check out even more great hotels in Nafplio.
We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Grande Bretagne. This historic property was almost in ruins in the early 2000s. Fortunately, new owners stepped in and restored this hotel’s grand beauty and sophistication. We highly recommend a stay here.
Day Trips from Nafplio
These 3 UNESCO sites are definitely worth visiting. All are close to Nafplio and make perfect day trips.
- Nafplio to Tiryns – The acropolis is just 5 kilometres away.
- Nafplio to Mycenae – The archaeological site is only 25 kilometres away.
- Nafplio to Epidaurus – The ancient theatre is about 28 kilometres away.
The archaeological site of Tiryns, sitting atop a 16-metre-high, rocky hill, is the ruins of a significant Mycenaean city. The Mycenaeans, dominant in the eastern Mediterranean from the 15th to 12th century BCE, fortified the city with Cyclopean walls, 4.5 to 7 meters thick. The area is believed to have been inhabited since 5000 BCE, well before Mycenaean time.
Today the only structures of the acropolis remaining are foundations and low walls. Explore the ruins of the palace and citadels. A sign panel aids with orientation. Our visit was about 45 minutes long.
Mycenae was the capital of the powerful Mycenaean civilization (1600–1100 BCE). The archaeological site features impressive fortifications, monumental architecture, and several royal tombs. The site, discovered in the 19th century, provides crucial insights into ancient Greek history.
Spend about 2 hours exploring the site including the on-site museum. Highlights include the Lion Gate, a symbol of royal power, the vast Palace of Agamemnon at the top of the citadel, and the Treasury of Atreus, a beehive-shaped, tholos tomb.
Ancient Epidaurus served as a healing and religious centre. For over 10 centuries, it was dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. By the 4th century BCE, his son Asclepius, the god of medicine, was the focus. The Sanctuary of Asclepius drew worshippers seeking healing from far and wide.
The highlight of the site is the magnificent 3rd-century theatre with exceptional acoustics. Modern performances are staged here during the Athens Epidaurus Festival held each summer.
We spent 1.5 hours exploring the well-preserved structures, including the theatre, a temple, inn, banquet hall, and stadium. Visit the on-site Archaeological Museum to see sculptures and medical instruments, providing insight into the history of this ancient healing centre.
Know Before You Go – Visiting Nafplio
How to get to Nafplio from Athens
From the Athens Airport, drive along the E98 and A7 highways to Nafplio. These are toll roads. From Athens, the driving time is about 2 hours. We rented a car at the airport and drove to Nafplio.
Bus service is available. The Nafplio bus station is located near Kolokotronis Park. Check the Athens (Athina) to Nafplio KTEl bus schedule for more details.
Unfortunately, there are no trains to Nafplio or any city in the Peloponneses peninsula.
Where is the parking in Nafplio?
The easiest and most convenient place to park your car is the Free Port Parking Zone. We left our car there for free for 2 days without any issues.
Be sure to stop by the Nafplio Tourist Information Kiosk located at the parking lot. We picked up a helpful city map.
Want more help Customizing your Nafplio, Greece trip?
We enjoy planning our own trips. However, sometimes trip planning can become overwhelming with worries about accommodations, car rentals and creating a reasonable itinerary.
We recommend JayWay Travel, experts in bespoke vacation packages, to help create your personalized vacation plan.
For example, they offer an amazing Two-Week Peloponnese Itinerary that includes a stop in Nafplio.
This is just one possible tour from this bespoke travel group. Your personal JayWay Travel advisor works with you to create your very own, unique trip itinerary, based on your likes and interests.
We recently joined a JayWay tour that covered both the historic city of Naplio and the nearby Archaeological Site of Mycenae. Their local knowledge and expertise were extremely valuable. We highly recommend their services.
Check out the JayWay Travel website now for more information on your trip to Greece.
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