Nafplio, a charming coastal town in the Peloponnese region of Greece, is a delight for travelers seeking a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Once the first capital of modern Greece, this picturesque destination boasts a rich past, with influences from the Venetians, Ottomans, and even the ancient civilizations of Mycenae and Epidaurus. Its stunning location on the Argolic Gulf further adds to the allure, making it an ideal getaway for those looking to explore beyond Athens.
Nafplio offers a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy, whether they prefer to delve into the town's history or simply soak up the Mediterranean sun on a leisurely stroll. Among the highlights are the Palamidi Fortress, the labyrinthine Old Town, the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion, and the iconic Bourtzi Castle. In this blog post, we will have a look at some must-do activities in Nafplio. Let’s get right into it.
- Nafplio is a historical town in the Peloponnese region of Greece, known for its diverse cultural influences and stunning coastal location.
- Visitors can enjoy activities such as exploring the Palamidi Fortress, wandering through the Old Town, and visiting the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion.
- The town's natural beauty and warm hospitality make it a great destination for both history enthusiasts and those seeking a relaxing Mediterranean getaway.
Climb to the Palamidi Fortress
Nafplion Palamidi fortress - Credits: Sborisov/ Depositphotos
History and Significance of the Fortress
The Palamidi Fortress is an important historic fortification located in Nafplio, a picturesque town in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece. Built by the Venetians during the early 18th century, it played a key role in Greece's struggle for independence. Perched on a hill overlooking the old town and Argolic Gulf, the fortress has become a popular tourist destination, offering breathtaking views and a unique historical perspective.
What to See at the Palamidi Fortress
The Palamidi Castle is the main structure within the fortress. You can explore its many platforms which offer a full 360-degree view of Nafplio, the surrounding hills, and the Aegean Sea. Don't miss the chance to visit the nearby church of St. Andrew and the prison of Theodoros Kolokotronis, a prominent leader during the Greek Revolution.
Main structure within the fortress
The Church of St Andrew
A beautiful historic church located within the fortress
The Prison of Theodoros Kolokotronis
The place where a prominent leader during the Greek Revolution was imprisoned
Tips for Climbing the 999 Steps
Climbing the 999 steps to the Palamidi Fortress is a rewarding, albeit challenging, experience. Here are some helpful tips for those planning to undertake the climb:
- Wear comfortable shoes: Make sure to wear shoes with good grip and support, as the steps can be steep and uneven in some places.
- Stay hydrated: Bring plenty of water, especially during the hot summer months.
- Take your time: The climb can be tiring, so pace yourself and take breaks when needed to appreciate the views and scenery along the way.
- Visit early or late: To avoid the heat and crowds, plan your visit either early in the morning or later in the evening.
Following these tips will help you make the most of your visit to the Palamidi Fortress, allowing you to enjoy the stunning views and delve into the rich history of this impressive destination.
Wander through the Old Town of Nafplio
The Old Town of Nafplio is a beautiful, car-free area with a unique blend of architectural influences. The Venetians, who once ruled Nafplion, left their mark with impressive buildings and narrow, winding streets. Walking through the Old Town, you will notice the blend of Venetian, Ottoman, and neoclassical styles that make Nafplio's architecture truly distinctive.
Highlights of the Streets and Boutiques
As you wander through the picturesque streets of the Old Town, you will be greeted by charming boutiques and craft shops. Displaying a range of local products, these stores offer everything from handmade jewelry to traditional Greek treats. Take your time to browse the unique items on display, picking up souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home.
Some highlights of Nafplio's streets include:
- Staikopoulou Street: The main shopping street in the Old Town, lined with charming boutiques and souvenir shops.
- Fortezza Alley: A quaint and narrow cobbled street, perfect for a leisurely stroll and picturesque photography.
What to See in Nafplio's Old Town
The Old Town of Nafplio offers visitors a rich historical experience, with several key sightseeing spots to explore:
- Syntagma Square: The central square of Nafplio, surrounded by historical buildings, cafes, and restaurants. Enjoy a leisurely coffee break while taking in the views and bustling atmosphere.
- Nafplio Museums: The Old Town is home to multiple museums, such as the Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts dating back to prehistoric times and is housed in a Venetian building on Syntagma Square. Another notable museum is the Folklore Museum, showcasing the history of everyday life in Nafplio and the surrounding regions.
Overall, with its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere, the Old Town of Nafplio is a must-see destination for any visitor.
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion
Archaeological museum of Nafplion - Credits: Andrey Khrobostov/ Canva
Overview of the Museum's Collections
The Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is a must-visit destination for those interested in the rich history of the Peloponnese region in Greece. Housed in a two-story building constructed during the second period of the Venetian rule, the museum showcases the cultural identity of Argolida from the Paleolithic period until Roman times. Some key eras represented in the museum's collections include the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Helladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.
Notable Exhibits to Look Out For
When visiting the museum, make sure to explore its wide range of exhibits originating from various historical sites across southern Argolis. Here are some highlights to look for:
- Mycenaean era artifacts: This section showcases remarkable artifacts from the ancient city of Mycenae, an important center of Mycenaean civilization. Items on display include pottery, frescoes, and intricate gold jewelry.
- Tiryns exhibits: The museum also features outstanding findings from the nearby archaeological site of Tiryns, a major center during the Mycenaean period. Highlights from this collection comprise frescoes, terracotta figurines, and bronze weapons.
- Prehistoric and Classical Collections: Travel back in time and immerse yourself in the region's prehistoric past by examining the museum's collection of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Helladic artifacts. Additionally, discover the fascinating sculptures, pottery, and inscriptions from the Classical and Hellenistic periods.
The Archaeological Museum of Nafplion is not only a historical treasure trove, but also a center of educational and cultural programs catering to various age groups. Situated in the central square of Nafplion, this museum should be an essential stop for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the history and heritage of the Peloponnese region.
Take a Boat Ride to Bourtzi Castle
Bourtzi castle in Nafplion, Greece
Bourtzi Castle, located in the beautiful sea-surrounded town of Nafplio, has an intriguing history that dates back to the 15th century. Originally built by the Venetians to protect the city from invasions, the castle has served various purposes over the years, including a prison and a hotel. Today, it stands as an iconic monument in Nafplio's harbor, enticing visitors to experience its unique charm.
Embarking on a short boat ride from the mainland to Bourtzi Castle presents an excellent opportunity to savor the panoramic views of Nafplio and its surrounding sea. The experience is further enriched by the sight of the majestic castle as it gets closer, offering a sense of the grandeur that enveloped the fortress in its golden days.
Upon arrival at the castle, visitors can explore its well-preserved interiors, including the spectacular chapel adorned with original frescoes. Moreover, the views overlooking the city of Nafplio, the sea, and the nearby fortresses are nothing short of breathtaking. In addition to the stunning scenery, the boat ride allows visitors to interact with knowledgeable locals who can share stories and insights about the castle's history.
Enjoy the Views from Akronafplia
Akronafplia, also known as the Acropolis of Nafplio, is an impressive fortress that overlooks the beautiful city of Nafplio and its stunning coastal surroundings. The site offers breathtaking views of the Argolic Gulf and the charming town below. Visitors can enjoy the panoramic scenery, which includes lush hills, colorful houses, and sparkling waters.
At the top of Akronafplia, you'll be able to see several landmarks, such as the Bourtzi Castle in the middle of the harbor and the Palamidi Fortress towering above the city. Additionally, the dramatic backdrop of the mountains provides an awe-inspiring contrast to the blue waters of the gulf.
While exploring the fortress, you can admire the well-preserved remnants of ancient walls and structures. Some highlights to check out include:
- The Eastern Gate, known as the dromoskala, which leads down to Staikopoulos Park and the Arvanitia square
- Several old churches and houses that date back to the Venetian and Ottoman eras
- The stone steps that wind through the fortress, offering various viewpoints to capture memorable photos