It might be said that Nafplion is no Santorini even Athens, but it does have a charm and grace not claimed by the more well known destinations in Greece.
Found on the coast of the Peloponnese state, the seaport of Nafplion shows off houses dating back a hundred years, along with beautiful cafes along town squares adorned in marble and ancient bastions. Rounding out this picturesque landscape adjoining the Argolic Gulf are restaurants to be remembered long after the dessert settles.
Just two hours by car from legendary Athens, Nafplion has long been viewed as just a mere stopping point for travelers and tourists more interested in the popular locations of antiquity at nearby Myceneae, Epidavros, Corinth, Argos and Nemea. But, this beautiful tiny seaport is more than just a rest area. There are things to enjoy here that tourists to Greece would regret missing, should they find out later just what Nafplion has to offer.
In the middle of the town, in the platia (square) known as Syntagma, the ground, inlaid with marble, surrounds itself by hotels, shops and cafes calling out to enamored travelers. Tourists can whet their appetite or their whistles as they sit along the outdoor cafe of their choice, nursing a slowly cooling cup of coffee while they people watch. Then, walking at a peaceful gait in and around the bake shops and jewelry stores, there’s sure to be something to catch anyone’s eyes. At the nearby cafeneon Kathni travelers find an alluring ambiance straight from the 1960s, and the Ellas Taverna will be the place where succulent Greek fare can be consumed with passion at any one of the grand restaurants.
If your ideal vacation involves fiery yellow-red suns searing across azure seas, then the large square along the waterfront will be the place you want to head toward, wandering amidst the greenery, the flowers, and the tall palms. Here you’ll find many more restaurants and cafes. Sit at any of the cafe-bars along this coastline and you’ll always have an excellent view of the islet known as the Bourtzi.
This fortified islet was created by the Venetians to keep the area safe from attacking pirates in 1473. During the early summertime of May and into June, the Bourtzi plays host to world-class musicians that come to perform during the Nafplio Folk Music Festival.
While wandering through Nafplion, don’t forget to take in the sites in and around another fortress, the Paladi. Built back in 1714, this one gives a stunning and wide view of Nafplion set against the backdrop of a deep, rich ocean. If you have the strength, try walking up the 999 stones steps without any help. If you find this a daunting task, there are taxis available to take you to the top.
A trip to Nafplion would be incomplete without a visit to the Akronapflia, the oldest section of the seaport town, dating to the 13th century. If your budget allows, the Nafplion Palace Hotel shows the city and its harbor in the best way possible; it is as well as an excellent place to start your explorations of not only the fortresses but all along the Peloponnesian peninsula southward.
Wander toward Psaromahalas, a fishing district near Nafplion, where you can shop for komboloi (worry-beads) or hand-made musical instruments, ranging from the traditional bouzouki or guitar to flutes. Art can be found for sale here from local artisans in shops all over this district, but even if you are not in the market for collectable artwork, you’ll still have a great time looking at some fantastic art from the very talented Greek artists, enough to feel that you’ve enriched your life while visiting here.