Top 10 guide to light your way to Nafplion

20 Jan

Check out my recommendations for Nafplion here

A friend once wisely said that if you want to form an objective opinion for a destination, you must visit it at least three times during different seasons. I totally agree, only I would add just one extra parameter; perception, that according to some psychologists changes every 7 years on average. So, 1 destination, 3 times, different season each time, with 7 years in between… I am already starting to feel tired by doing the math! So let’s go on to something much more intriguing than mere mathematical operations!

I have visited Nafplion 3 times already. The first two were many years ago, and I have to admit I hated it. After my last visit, however, I must say I placed it right in my Top 5 Greek Towns List. Nafplion is a little town of extreme beauty and charm, with heavy history and has all kinds of high-quality services to offer at very reasonable prices. Just 1.5 hours away from Athens, you can visit Nafplion either as a one-day excursion or for a long trip, winter or summer. Before we go on to the Nafplion Top Ten, here is an interesting fact about the town: Despite what is widely thought, Naflpion was not the first capital of Greece. In fact, Aegina was the first, and then Nafplion followed, meaning that it was the second.

On the way to Nafplion…

1. Mycenae

Just 25 km before Nafplion is situated one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Built on a steep hill surrounded by a stream bed armored with rocks, the pre-historic Mycenae Acropolis creates a feeling of wonder and awe to the beholder.

The site is seen as the the cradle of the Mycenaean civilization; its imposing Walls, made ​​of oversized boulders are preserved in excellent condition while some of the greatest ancient remnants are two ancient royal funerary enclosures (the Treasure of Atreus and the Domed Tomb of Clytemnestra), the famous Lion Gate and the Underground Water Tank.

2. Tiryns

Even closer to Naflpion (on the 3rd km of the national Nafplion-Argos road) is the ancient city of Tiryns.

Visitors will admire the mythical cyclopean walls, the unique tunnels and the main palace with the lobby, the main part and the throne room that is decorated with wonderful ancient murals. I highly recommend bringing along a travel guide, because unfortunately information on the site is very limited.

3. Epidaurus Ancient Theatre

Epidaurus is the most beautiful and well-maintained ancient theatre in Greece and it is the ultimate dream and greatest honor for every Greek actor to perform there.

Originally, it was built to entertain patients, and could seat about 13.000 viewers. The theater has been renovated, space for 2.000 viewers has been added, and it has excellent acoustics, so the famous Epidaurus Festival grows bigger every year, hosting world-class plays and famous Greek and foreign actors.

Sightseeing in Nafplion

4. Bourtzi

Bourtzi via evansg, Flickr

Bourtzi via evansg, Flickr

This miniature island opposite the harbor of Nafplio is the city hallmark. Vast changes have occurred in this small piece of land. At first, Bourtzi was a Byzantine church, then it was converted into a fortress that saved the Greek government officials who used it as a hideout (twice!), then was converted into a prison, then into residence for executioners, and, recently into a hotel and restaurant.

Photo Source  june_godiva, Flickr

Photo Source june_godiva, Flickr

Nowadays, Bourtzi stands there, in the middle of the gulf silently waiting to narrate its long and strange history to the visitors. If you want to visit Bourtzi just hop on one of little “kaiki” boats departing from the pier.

5. Palamidi

Palamidi is the famous fortress of Nafplion that was constructed in 1687 by the Venetians.

Photo Source  Miltos A, Flickr

Photo Source Miltos A, Flickr

The hill is 216 meters high and the Palamidi can be approached either by car or bus or via a staircase with 999 steps. We would recommend ascending by a tour bus, and after enjoying the eight forts & bastions, the great view and the famous cell where amongst others the commander of the 1821 Greek revolution, Theodoros Kolokotronis, was imprisoned, start the descent of 999 steps on foot.

6. Nafplion Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is housed in a monumental, two-story building in the historic center of Nafplion.

Photo Source  mitko_denev , Flickr

Photo Source mitko_denev , Flickr

The permanent exhibition covers a total area of 580 sq.m and occupies the first and second floors. In the hall of the first floor the exhibits date back to the prehistoric era; Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age. The ticket price is surprisingly low; 3 € for general admission and and 2 € for reduced (students, disabled, 65+ etc). Opening hours: From November 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 : 8:00 to 15:00 . The Museum is closed on Mondays.

Food, drinks, dessert…

7. Ice cream at the “Italian”, “Antica Gelateria di Roma”

Famous in each corner of Greece for its ice cream, the “Italian’s”, is the best place for authentic Italian gelato in Nafplio (and maybe in Greece). The almost pleasantly overloaded space will not bother you at all, as the “Italian” himself and the rest of his team will do their best to please you, offering authentic Italian gelato and other mouthwatering desserts. Save yourself the time to choose, and just try them all!

8. Alaloum

You will be told by the waiter, by the random stranger giving you directions to the restaurant, by anyone recommending Alaloum, and I will clearly point it out: THE PORTIONS ARE HUGE! Alaloum, that takes great pride on its portions is sort of a main attraction in Nafplion. It is located at the St. Nicholas square, and the sea view is limited, but –believe me- this will be the last thing on your mind once you set eyes on the amount of food on your table! Really huge portions at reasonable prices, and more than decent quality, the service is impeccable and before I stress once more how large the portions are, I should mention that the only negative would be the jazz music, that I found completely irrelevant to the restaurant.

9. Mavros Gatos (Black cat)

It is getting late, you have had lunch and dinner, walks, gone sightseeing, and it is finally the time to relax. If you visit the Black Cat early, try one of the many varieties of coffee (they also serve Jamaica blue mountain, one of the finest coffee blends) and if it is a bit later, enjoy a strong cocktail listening to the sounds of the best musical selections in town. Relax …

10. Stroll down the narrow streets of the old city & pass your evening on the beach.

I’m the type of tourist that hates those little busy streets with many kitschy shops and a useless hustle and bustle. I have no idea why, but I fell in love with this kind of streets in Nafplion. Maybe it’s the stunning architecture of the mansions of the old town, perhaps the delightful (and not cheesy) tourist shops, but, this stroll left me with a strangely positive feeling… And I don’t think it was just me, I had the other visitors shared this feeling with me and all of us were moving in harmony. But then again I’m not sure, so have a walk and see for yourselves!

Finally, once the sun starts going down head towards the beach and enjoy the sunset and then the wonderfully lit Mpourtzi and Palamidi.


I think it would be exhausting to follow all the 10 steps in one day, so I would recommend choosing your favorites based on your personal taste & preferences or simply opt for a longer stay at Nafplion!

Labros Psomodotis


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