Things to see in Nafplio Greece

Things to see in Nafplio Greece

Author’s Note: Nafplio is my base in the Peloponnese when I’m spending some intensive time at the archaeological sites here. It is more than convenient, I love its quiet town feel and lovely harbor and it’s always a pleasure to find a reason to stop a while.

Wondering if there are enough things to see in Nafplio Greece to stay for a day or two? Well, I think there are. From the ancient ruins to the lively old town center and beautiful harbor Nafplio has a lot going for it. Nafplio is also an excellent base for exploring the many UNESCO sites of the Peloponnese. This guide covers what to see, eat, and do in Nafplio, best day trips from Nafplio, and where to stay in this old Venetian harbor town.

Nafplio – a Gem in Greece’s Peloponnese

When I was planning a 2-week road trip around the Peloponnese, Nafplio in the Eastern Peloponnese was a place that kept on catching my eye. It is hailed as one of the most beautiful towns in Greece, and it’s easy to see why.

Designed by the Venetians, the Old Town has quite a different look from other parts of the country. The abundance of grand buildings also tells of their importance historically.

This history, the pretty waterfront, and the fact that it made a good first day’s rest stop after collecting a rental car in Athens meant it made the list.

This is a great city to sit back and soak in the local culture. Being just a two two-hour drive from Athens makes it a great stop if you don’t have time for a longer trip exploring the Peloponnese.

If you can squeeze a few days in here, it’s definitely worth visiting, but try to visit midweek to avoid the crowds who head down from Athens on the weekends.

The History of Nafplio

In antiquity, this town was called Nauplia. Its modern Greek name of Nafplio (also translated as Nafplion) came about in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Photo of a picturesque shopping street in the old city of Nafplio, greece
Nafplio, Greece – the picturesque old city

The King arrived in Nafplion in 1833 but wasn’t enamored with the city. A year later, he moved the capital to Athens. From this time onwards, Nafplio fades as a major player in Greek history.

Did you know – Nafplio is named after Nafplios, the son of the god Poseidon.

Nafplio is a charming town with cobblestone streets, neoclassical buildings, pretty squares, and more than its share of ruins and historic buildings and sites.

It’s this combination that makes Nafplio widely considered one of Greece’s most romantic cities.

If you think so as well, perhaps you can join the queue of people booking their wedding in the neoclassical Town hall building on Trion Navarhon Square!

Perhaps another way of engaging with this lovely old city is to take a walking tour or otherwise walk along the Arvanitia promenade from the waterfront t to Arvanitias Square.

It’s hard to think of a more perfect base for exploring some of the region’s UNESCO sites such as Mycenae, Mykines, Tirintha, Epidavros, Mystras, and Ancient Corinth which are all within easy driving distance away.

How to get to Nafplio

By Car: Nafplio is 136km from Athens, and the drive takes about 2 hours. Be sure to have money ready for tolls.  If you leave Athens early, you can consider stopping at the Corinth Canal on the way.

By Public Transport: Buses from Athens leave from the Kifissos bus station. The trip takes about the same as the driving time.

Key Historic Sites in Nafplio

Palamidi Fortress

Sitting 216 meters above Nafplio, high on the hill as you drive into town, you’ll see the Palamidi Fortress. This fort was built by the Venetians in the 1680s to protect the locals from invasion by the Ottoman Empire.

Photo fo the View of the Argolic Gulf and Mycenean Plain from the top of the Palamidi Fortress, Nafplio, Greece
View of the Argolic Gulf and Mycenean Plain from the top of the Palamidi Fortress, Nafplio, Greece

I think this fort is one of the most impressive in the Peloponnese. The views of the Mycenaean plain and the surrounding deep blue Argolic Gulf are spectacular; don’t let the 857 steps you will read about put you off, they are not too bad.

I did them quite easily and found they were worth the effort. But there’s no getting around the fact that you’re climbing up a steep hill, so just drive up to the eastern entry and avoid them if you need to.

I recommend trying to arrive before the heat of the day as you are exposed to the sun here for most of your visit. Tour buses also tend to arrive mid-morning so best miss those if you can.  

Wear decent footwear, the ground is uneven, and it would be easy to sprain an ankle!

Where: Eikostis Pemptis Martiou, Nafplio
When: 8 am to 8 pm in summer, winter sees reduced hours 8.30-3 pm
How: Drive to the eastern gate or take the famous steps that start at the Grimani bastion.

Bourtzi Castle: The castle of the throne

Bourtzi, which translates to “island fort”, is a castle on an island in the middle of Nafplio Harbour. There are usually tours of the property. Built in 1473 this is one of the best-known landmarks of the city.

Bourtzi Castle makes a fantastic photography subject, especially at sunset. If your fitness is up to scratch, you might like to take a kayak tour that gets you nice and close to the castle.

Bourtzi Nafplio Greece
Bourtzi castle in Nafplio harbor, Nafplio Greece

Where: Where: Eikostis Pemptis Martiou, Nafplio
When: 8 am-8 pm
How: You can visit the island that Bourtzi castle is on by boat from the harbor.

Nafplio Churches

Aghios Georgios

Metropolis of Argolis is one of the oldest churches in the city, also known as the church of St George has a pretty impressive history. Built in the 16th century the church was turned into a mosque after the Turks invaded.

It was returned to being a church in 1686, when the Venetians arrived, and then back to a mosque before finally becoming orthodox in 1822.

St. George Church, Nafplio
St. George Church, Nafplio

Inside the church, you will find the throne of King Otto and a copy of the Last Supper on the ceiling.

Other churches you might like to visit include

  • Church of Panaghia
  • Catholic Church of Metamorphosis Tou Sotiros
  • Ieros Naos Evaggelistria

Napflio Museums

There are several museums in the city, we only managed a few, but if you are staying longer, you could dig up several others.

Archaeological Museum

Housed in a former Venetian mansion that was built in or before 1715.  This museum features two floors of exhibits and an audio guide is included with your admission ticket.

Archaeological Museum of Nauplion
Archaeological Museum is in Syntagma Square

The displays have English signage and feature jewelry, vases and decorative items, and full armor.

Where: 22 Leoforos Amalias, Nafplio
When: 9 am-5 pm (Closed Monday)
Cost: approx €6 

War Museum

With a collection that covers the 1800s through to World War 2, the War Museum features weapons and uniforms, and other memorabilia.

Photo of the exterior entrance of the Nafplio War Museum Peloponnese
War Museum in Nafplio

There is an English translation on most of the displays.

Where: 22 Leoforos Amalias, Nafplio
When: 9 am-5 pm (Closed Monday)
Cost: approx 4€

Komboloi Museum

A Greek CNN article recently stated that Greeks are buying more worry beads (called Komboloi) after a very stressful few years.

Photo of the interior of the Komboloi Museum in Nafplio, Greece with wall displays of strands of Komboloi beads
Inside the Komboloi Museum in Nafplio, Greece

So maybe it’s not so weird that in Nafplio, there’s a museum that houses a collection of worry beads from over 200 years. 

They have strings of beads from both Greece and other countries and these are popular accessories in Turkey and the Middle East.  They also sell beads; I bought a few lovely sets.

Where: 22 Leoforos Amalias, Nafplio
When: 9 am-5 pm (Closed Monday)
Cost: approx 4€

Nafplio Beaches

While beaches are not really a reason to visit the area, there are several beaches in Nafplio for when you fancy cooling down.

Photo of Arvanitia or Town Beach in Nafplio Greece
Lovely Arvanitia Beach, Nafplio, Greece

Arvanitia Beach, aka Town Beach, is the closest to the old town. You will find it in the south near Akronafplia, within walking distance from the center.

Not the most comfortable spot to lay as the beach is more pebbles than sand, but there were plenty of chairs about on our visit. Showers, toilets, and cafes are available.

Karathṓnas Beach is next up at about 5km from the town. This is a well-organized beach with bars and cafes. It’s not the cleanest of beaches, but with 3km of sand, you can find a good spot if you look.

Phot of Paralia Karathonas Beach on a wide crescent of bay near Nafplio city, Greece
Paralia Karathonas Beach near Nafplio city, Greece

Tolo Beach is my favorite on account of the stretch of long sandy beach. Both the beach and the water were lovely and clean and seemed to be very popular with locals rather than visitors.

It’s about 8km from the old town and well worth the drive.

You can rent two sun loungers for 8€ a day, and there are plenty of bars and cafes around. You can choose this as a base and visit Nafplio from here.

Related: Check out Paros or Naxos – complete guide on how to choose between them

Where to eat in Nafplio

Where to eat in Nafplio - photo of outdoor cafes in a main square in Nafplio, Greece
Where to eat in Nafplio Greece


This breakfast cafe has a deal with our hotel, so we ate our morning meal here each day and it was excellent. Kalimera is all about breakfast and closes at 2 pm. I loved the cute signs outside the cafe.

Photo of a sign at the Kalimera Cafe in Nafplio, Greece
Sign at the Kalimera cafe in Nafplio, Greece

With a traditional Greek breakfast of bread, fruit, and yogurt most popular you can also order scrambled eggs and omelets.

The jams and preserves were delicious, and the bread was excellent. Servings are generous. Everything is locally made, and the service is very friendly.

Where: Plapouta 1, Nafplio

O Vasilis taverna

I grabbed a late lunch here one day. I ordered lamb and potatoes cooked in a clay pot and a fried cheese dish.

Both were delicious. Located on one of the main popular streets, it’s not as cheap as some spots, but it was lovely, and I will happily go back.

Where: Staikopoulou 22, Nafplio

Taverna Paleo Arhontiko

Located in a pretty street off the square I enjoyed my evening meal here. Friendly staff with a lovely family feel. I just ordered off the specials menu, a lamb dish with an excellent salad.

Had a lovely chat with my waiter on a quiet Wednesday evening and would love to go back.

Where: Athanasiou Siokou 6, Nafplio

Take a food tour in Nafplio

Taking a food tour or cooking class when you arrive in town is a great way to learn more about the local food scene and make a list of places to try for the rest of your stay.

Here’s a very highly rated Private Cooking Class & Lunch in Nafplio

The Best Day Trips from Nafplio

There are many day tours to the nearby UNESCO sites of Mycenae, Ancient Corinth, Tirintha, Mykines, and Epidavros (and Mystras). This is the best tour from Nafplio that covers the most important and close sites of ancient Greece:

Best Full-Day Tour from Nafplion

If you’re lucky enough to have a few days in Nafplio, then the Mycenae – Ancient Corinth & Canal – Epidavros from Nafplion tour will let you discover three of the most important ancient sites in Greece in one day.

  • Meeting point: Hotel pick up or meet at Land Gate Monument
  • Visit Mycenae, Ancient Corinth, Epidavros, and Asklepion (admission tickets not included)
  • 8 hours duration
5 stars

“Very flexible car driver for one full day to discover the incredible sites of Mycenae, old Corinth, and Epidaurus. Great experience !!! It should be noted that fees to enter the historical sites are not included and there is no guided tour.” Anne_S, May 2022

Epidavros Ancient Site

Dating back to the 4th century BC the theatre at Epidavros was originally built to hold ceremonies to honor the god Asclepius. Asclepius was a healer who worked out of a building on the site.

Photo looking down to the centre of the Epidavros theater in Ancient Epidavros, Greece
Epidavros Theater, Greece

This is the most famous ancient theatre in Greece and one of its most important archaeological sites. If you only ever see one Greek theater – make it this one!

The theatre is in excellent condition and in the summer performances are hosted on the site. It is famed for its acoustics, so many tourists try standing in the center and singing for their family and friends. At least half a dozen “performed” during my visit.

The remains of the healing center are nearby and I liked the small museum that has statutes and other items uncovered on the site.

Photo of the ruins of the Askleplion at Epidavros, Greece
Ruins of the Askleplion at Epidavros, Greece

I headed to Epidavros and its famous theatre on my first morning. I drove there in about 30 minutes and easily found parking. If you don’t have a car, there are about five buses a day from Nafplio. The journey takes about 40 minutes.

Where: Epidavrou, Tripolis 210 
When: Summer 8 am-7.30 pm. Winter 8:30 am -3 pm
Cost: 12 €

If you don’t have a car or want to learn more about the history of the area it’s a good idea to join a tour.


Mycenae and Tyrins are usually talked about in tandem. Mycenae was once a major center of Greek civilization, and back in 1350 BC, the town was once home to 30,000 residents.

Photo of the large grave circle, the Tomb of the Kings, in Ancient Mycenae, Greece
Tomb of the Kings, in Mycenae

Related: Check out Visit the Mycenae Archaeological Site.

Excavation began in the mid-1800s when the Lion’s Gate was found and restored. Other key sites include the Treasury of Atreus which is also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon, a burial chamber, and the circle graves.

Even if you’re not a history buff, the view over the landscape from the circle graves is worth the uphill walk.

To get the most out of your visit, I suggest that you start with a visit to the museum as it really helps put the site into perspective.

It’s about a 20-minute drive from Nafplio (25km). Buses depart from the bus station at 8 Syngrou Street Nafplio.

Get an e-ticket and audiotour of Mycenae here.

When: 8 am to 8 pm in the summer, 8 am to 3 pm in other seasons.
Cost: approx €12.

Ancient Tyrins

Tiryns is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you love mythology, you’ll love Tiryns because, in Greek mythology, this citadel was founded by Cyclops.

The city had its heyday in 1200 BC and is best known as the place where mythical hero Heracles completed his 12 labours.

This site is not as well excavated as Mycenae but is still worth checking out while you are in the area, especially for the Cyclopean walls.

Tyrins is only 5km from Nafplio town center, so even if you are short on time, you can still squeeze in a quick visit.

Ancient Corinth

Less than an hour from Nafplio is the entire ruined city of Ancient Corinth with the Acrocrinth high above.

Photo of the Temple of Apollo at Ancient-Corinth-and-Acrocorinth-Greece
Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth, Greece

Related: Check out How to Visit Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth

Ancient Corinth controlled both sides of the peninsula and became the most important port city in the classical world as well as the wealthiest and largest greek city-state.

Don’t miss the absolutely brilliant Temple of Apollo as well as the Archaeological Museum at this large and important UNESCO World heritage site. If you have the energy, you can also visit the fortress on the top of the Acrocorinth.

Ancient Corinth is a 55-minute drive from Nafplio and buses take 1 hr and 15 minutes and leave every 3 hours.

Where to Stay in Nafplio

Althaia Pension 

Being a travel writer and traveling regularly in peak season, sometimes I stay in budget accommodations and Greece has fantastic quality family-run accommodation that has everything you need at a bargain basement price.

Photo of the street entrance to Althaia Pension, Nafplio, Greece
The entry to the Althaia Pension

The only thing I miss when I’m staying in budget accommodation is a balcony to sit out on in the early evenings! But if there’s a country where it’s perfectly ok to spend much less on accommodation, it’s definitely Greece.

Located just 200m from Sygmata Square this pension was in a gorgeous old building above a bookshop. I enjoyed my stay here, the bed was comfy, the air conditioning worked a treat, and the breakfast was divine.

There were two flights of stairs to reach the room so it may not be for everyone. The antique furnishings throughout the property were lovely. There was also a great wifi signal.

A simple but comfortable and functional budget room in Althaia Pension, Nafplio, Greece
Our room at Althaia Pension

Check prices and availability at Althaia Pension 

Pension Dafni 

I had initially booked Dafni but when I had to change my dates it was no longer available. This small family-owned property is just 200m from Arvanitia Beach.

It was recommended to me by friends, and I was really looking forward to my stay. The rooms are beautifully decorated and, the breakfast is apparently excellent.

Check prices and availability at Pension Dafni

Leto Nuevo Hotel

If you are looking for a little luxury, maybe a special occasion celebration or you just want to spoil yourself, this hotel is a lovely choice.

Beautifully furnished the rooms are all nice and bright and many have views over the bay or of the old town center.

Check prices and availability at Leto Nuevo