Nafplio is a charming coastal city in the Peloponnese region of Greece, and it was the first capital of the modern Greek state. It has a rich history and a beautiful scenery, with three impressive castles, a picturesque old town, and a lovely waterfront promenade. If you are looking for a romantic and cultural destination in Greece, Nafplio is a great choice. Here are some of the best things to do and see in Nafplio:
Climb all 999 steps of Palamidi Castle
Palamidi Castle is a majestic fortress that dominates the hill above Nafplio. It was built by the Venetians in the early 18th century, and it is considered one of the finest examples of Venetian military architecture. To reach the castle, you can either drive up or take the challenge of climbing the 999 steps (or 857, depending on who you ask) that lead to the top. The reward is a stunning panoramic view of Nafplio and the sea, as well as a chance to explore the castle’s bastions, courtyards, and prison cells. One of them was the cell of Theodoros Kolokotronis, a hero of the Greek War of Independence.
Admire the view from the Acropolis of Nafplio
The Acropolis of Nafplio, also known as Akronafplia, is the oldest part of the city and the site of its ancient citadel. It has three levels, each with a different castle and walls from different time periods. The first level was occupied by the Byzantines, the second by the Franks, and the third by the Venetians and Ottomans. From the rock of Akronafplia, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Nafplio and its surroundings, from Bourtzi Castle to Arvanitia beach.
Feel the historical vibes of Bourtzi Castle
Bourtzi Castle is a small fortress that stands on an islet in the middle of Nafplio’s harbor. It was built by the Venetians in 1473 to protect the city from pirates and invaders. Later, it served as a prison for Palamidi’s executioners, a residence for two governments during the Greek Revolution, and even a luxury hotel. Today, it is one of Nafplio’s most iconic landmarks, and it hosts various cultural events and festivals. You can visit Bourtzi Castle by taking a boat ride from the port.
Take a long stroll along the famous promenade
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Nafplio is to walk along its waterfront promenade, which stretches for about 1 km from the port to Arvanitia Square. Along the way, you can admire the views of the sea and the castles, stop for a coffee or a snack at one of the many cafes and restaurants, or visit some of the attractions that line the route, such as the chapel of Panagia tis Spilia (Virgin Mary of the Cave), or Santa Maria Grotta of the Venetians.
Admire the architecture of Nafplio’s neoclassical buildings
Nafplio’s old town is a delight for architecture lovers, as it showcases a blend of styles and influences from different eras and cultures. The heart of the old town is Syntagma Square, where you can find some of Nafplio’s most important buildings, such as Trianon (a former mosque turned into a theater), the Archaeological Museum (housed in an old Venetian warehouse), and the National Bank of Greece (built in 1930). On nearby streets, you can also see other historic buildings, such as Vouli ton Ellinon (the first parliament building of Greece), or Agios Spyridonas Church (where Ioannis Kapodistrias, Greece’s first governor, was assassinated).
Explore Nafplio’s museums
If you want to learn more about Nafplio’s history and culture, you can visit some of its interesting museums. Some of them are:
- The War Museum , which displays weapons, uniforms, medals, and documents from various wars that Greece participated in.
- The Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation , which exhibits costumes, jewelry, textiles, tools, and toys from different regions of Greece.
- The Komboloi Museum , which showcases a collection of worry beads, a traditional Greek accessory, and explains their origin and use.
- The Ouzo Museum , which tells the story of ouzo, Greece’s national drink, and offers tastings and souvenirs.
Nafplio is a city that has something for everyone, whether you are looking for history, culture, nature, or romance. It is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a longer stay, as it also offers easy access to other attractions in the Peloponnese, such as Epidaurus, Mycenae, or Nemea. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover this gem of Greece!