Nafplion is one of the most beautiful and romantic towns in Greece. As it is located deep in the Argolic Gulf in the Peloponnese, Nafplion gives the sense that you are on a Greek island that looks a lot like Plaka in Athens.
Nafplion became the first capital of Greece right after the end of the War of Independence against the Ottomans in 1821. Before that, Venetians, Franks, Romans, and the ancient Greeks left their impressive cultural traces on Nafplion.
The charm of Nafplion is enhanced by its three imposing Castles, the narrow cobblestone alleys with neoclassic mansions covered in bougainvillea, the modern and stylish hotels, and the traditional taverns.
As if that wasn’t enough, Nafplion is located close to some of the most important archaeological sites in Greece: Ancient Corinth, Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, Nemea, and Asklepios Sanctuary with the Theater of Epidaurus.
You will love the beautifully preserved medieval and neoclassic architecture, as well as its narrow winding streets, vibrant atmosphere, and pastel-colored buildings.
You can go to Nafplion by public bus although the easiest and most adventurous way is to either rent a car and drive through the Peloponnese or book a private transfer from Athens airport to Nafplion.
Up next I am going to tell you about 14 of the best things to do in Nafplion, Greece!
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Best Things to Do in Nafplion Greece
1. Wander in Old Nafplion Alleys
The old part of Nafplion is car-free so strolling is one of the best things to do in the town. Some parts of Nafplion are connected with stairs that lead to higher neighborhoods of the town.
The narrow alleys house tourist shops, cafes, taverns, the koboloi (beads) shops, bars, and hotels in a harmonious sequence. Nafplion has many neoclassic mansions, built between 1828 and 1920, some of them quite impressive, that are used today as hotels, shops, or residences.
Are you looking for somewhere to stay in Nafplion? Check rates and availability here!
2. Have a Greek Coffee at Syntagma Square
Syntagma Square is the main square in Nafplion, paved in marble and surrounded by popular restaurants and cafes. You will also find Greek banks, the Archaeological museum loaded with ancient artifacts, and the Vouleftikon building, an Ottoman mosque that served as the first Greek Parliament.
Meters away from Syntagma Square stands another Ottoman mosque that is used nowadays as an events center under the name Trianon while right across stands the Xenon Inn Hotel, a beautiful boutique hotel, housed in an impressive historic building and with breathtaking views of the Palamidi Fortress.
A pedestrian-only area, Syntagma Square is the heart of Nafplion, and everyone, both locals and visitors will pass by the square at least once a day.
Find a table, order your first Greek coffee (I always take it with some sugar), and enjoy the view of the people wandering about.
3. Walk up/Drive to Palamidi Fortress
For a little extra adventure and aerobic exercise, walk up the 857(!) steps to the Venetian Fortress of Palamidi built in 1687.
If climbing all those stairs sounds like a huge task – I have done it and then my legs were shaky for quite some time from the strain – then consider taking a taxi or driving to the top of the Fortress. It is only 5 km out of Nafplion.
When you reach the top of Palamidi Fortress, let the spectacular view of Nafplion, Acronafplia, and the eastern Peloponesse amaze you. Don’t miss visiting the imposing bastions, the historic church of Agios Andreas, and the impressive reservoirs that still collect the rainwater of the hill.
General Entrance €8, Open Daily between 08:00-20:00. Take with you your sunscreen, hat, and a bottle of water.
Popular Guided Tours in Nafplion
Nafplion Marathon Tip: Every March Nafplion town organizes a running event that includes a Marathon, a half marathon as well as shorter distances. Register and find out more about this sports event here.
4. Take the Boat to Bourtzi Castle
Take the small boat from Nafplion’s port on a few-minute trip to Bourtzi Castle, Nafplion’s famous landmark. Built by the Venetians in 1473, underwent various additions and alterations by all the conquerors of Nafplion.
Enjoy the stroll around the small castle and take photos of Nafplion from its Bourtzi’s top terrace.
5. Go to Acronafplia Castle and swim on Arvanitia beach
The rocky peninsula of Akronafplia (the Acropolis of Nafplion) was the walled settlement of Nafplio from antiquity until the end of the 15th century.
Short History of Akronafplia
- In Akronafplia you will find traces of a prehistoric settlement, while in the western part of the acropolis, parts of its ancient polygonal walls are from the 4th century BC.
- In 1210-1212, the Franks occupied Nafplion and started building the walls and the castle
- The castle was taken by the Ottomans in 1540 and renamed Its Kale(Iç Kale)
- The Venetians overtook the Ottomans in 1686 (in 1687 they bombarded Acropolis Hill in Athens)
- The Ottomans reoccupied Nafplion in 1715 and
- Finally, in 1822 it became Greek territory again
In 1961, the Xenia Hotel was built in Acronafplia, a very ambitious state-financed touristic plan that went bankrupt and closed by the end of the 70s. The relic still exists in Akronafplia and awaits the Greek authorities to decide upon either being demolished or rebuilding it.
The Xenia hotel overlooks the popular and easy-to-access beach Arvanitia, where you also see traces of the old Xenia beach facilities.
The waters are clear although I prefer to swim to Karathonas Beach, which is some 2 miles down the coast (see activity 8).
6. Enjoy the beautiful Sunset at Arvanitia Promenade
The “Promenade of Arvanitia”, is the favorite walk of Nafplion residents. The promenade starts after the end of the beach and ends at Arvanitia Square, at a total distance of about one kilometer.
The whole route is dominated by the rocks of Acronafplia with its imposing walls and wonderful views of the Argolic Gulf.
Just before the middle of the promenade, you will find the small church of Panagitsa, or Santa Maria Della Grotta, a favorite pilgrimage for both the inhabitants and its visitors. I really love this walk, especially when the sun sets, it is one of the most romantic things to do in Nafplion!
7. Stay in 3 Sixty Hotel & Suites
Why should you stay in this beautifully renovated neoclassic 4-star exceptional hotel? For three main reasons:
3 Sixty Hotel & Suites boast classy spacious rooms with linens and regal furnishings that remind us of Nafplion’s old charm and rich history.
It has some of the best chefs, specializing in premium, organic meat and Greek cuisine with a twist, and has a fantastic wine list to choose from.
It is centrally located, within walking distance of all the best things to do in Nafplion.
8. Karathonas Beach
At the Arvanitia parking lot starts a beautiful trail going all the way to Karathonas Beach, which is two miles east of Nafplio.
The coastal trail is straightforward to follow with fantastic sea views. Karathonas sandy beach is where most of the locals go, there are cafes and four fish tavernas to have lunch or have a beer looking at the beach.
At the end of the beach, there is the white Church of Agios Constantin. Wander in its yard and the nearby houses where people and many cats live.
If you continue a few meters toward the main road you will see that another trail begins. If you follow this easy and short trail – and undeniably this is by far my favorite hike in Nafplion – you will get to the small seaside chapel of Agios Nikolaos Krasoktistos.
You don’t want to hike to Karathonas? Take a taxi to drive you there, it is very close to Nafplion.
9. Discover the Leon of Bavarians
Between the church of Agion Panton and the current cemetery of the city, you can visit a monument of exceptional art sculpture, and one of the most important art items of the 19th century in Greece, known as the Lion of Bavaria, dating from 1840 to 1841.
The sculptor of this beautiful monument is the German Christian Ziegel, who was the first professor of sculpture at the Technical University of Athens. The model for Ziegel’s work was the Lucerne Lion by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.
10. Visit the UNESCO Archaeological Site of Tiryns
8 km away from Nafplion lies the World Heritage Mycenean Acropolis of Tiryns.
You will see the Western Bastion which is an exceptional achievement of Mycenaean architecture, the famous Cyclopean walls that raise the question even today about their size, the Lower Acropolis, and the Geometric Temple.
According to mythology, the king of Tiryns Eurystheus ordered the feats of the hero Hercules. The finds from the excavation of Tiryns are exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion.
The Site is open daily between 8.00-20.00. The usual ticket costs around €4 but if you get the combo ticket which is €20 you can visit within 3 days the sites of:
- Archaeological site and Museum of Mycenae
- Byzantine Museum of Argolida
- Acropolis of Tiryns
- Archaeological Museum of Nafplio
- Palamidi Fortress
- The archaeological site of Asini
11. Stay in Amymone Suites overlooking Nafplion Coast
The Amymone Suites is simply a gorgeous hotel. The rooms are so beautifully decorated that it makes you sad to leave the room!
However, I love this hotel for less artistic reasons and more for the delicious, fresh, homemade, huge, and mouth-watering breakfast they serve! Their breakfast is really unbelievable and another reason to spend a lot of time at the hotel.
Check availability and prices in Booking.
12. Learn about Greek Modern History at Nafplion National Gallery
The National Gallery is housed in a beautifully renovated neoclassical building and keeps a large and quite unique collection of paintings and rifles of the heroes and events of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
Ticket: €3 (general admission), every Monday free. Open Mon., Thu., Fri., Sat. 10: 00-15: 00, Wed. 10: 00-15: 00 & 17: 00-20: 00, Sun. 10: 00-14: 00, Wed. closed
13. Have a Traditional Greek Meal at the Palm Promenade
Walking towards the Nafplio seaside part, you get to a series of paved areas where you can have a very romantic meal.
The walking area has many cafes, restaurants, and fish taverns to choose from, and it is adorned with beautiful palm trees, giving Nafplion seaside an exotic Miami-kind look.
14. Explore Nearby Nafplion Sites
If you are staying longer in Nafplion then you will be spoilt with the choice of what else to do:
- Go to the small traditional village of Tolo for a swim and Greek old-fashioned taverns
- Visit the Sanctuary of Asklepios in Epidaurus. From Epidaurus, you can drive to volcanic Methana and hop onto Poros island.
- Travel to Archaeological sites of Mycenae and Nemea
- Go all the way south to Porto Heli, jump on a ferry, and spend a day or two on Spetses island
- And if you are up for a bigger adventure, Sparta, Mystras, and Monemvasia will definitely thrill you
- Book your ferry tickets in advance with no-hidden-fees with FerryScanner
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How to Get to Nafplio from Athens
There are public buses (Ktel.gr) from Athens to Nafplion but I always get around a new area with a rental car as it offers the freedom to explore Nafplion and tour the region in depth.
Alternatively, book a new Mercedes private transfer from Athens airport to Nafplion to travel in comfort and privacy.
Interactive Map to Nafplion
Get your interactive map of Nafplion here, to drive to any of the places listed on our things to do in Nafplion.
How to Get to Athens Port (Piraeus) from Athens Airport
- Bus: If you are arriving at Athens International Airport you can travel straight to the port by taking the X96 express bus (€5.5, children <6 yo, free entrance), which departs every 40 minutes and the average trip lasts 1 hour – runs 24/7.
- Metro: (€9) is easily found across airport arrivals (blue line – M3) going directly to Piraeus port. The average trip to Piraeus lasts 1 hour.
- Taxis are available in front of the airport (around €40 to Athens, €55-60 to Piraeus (depending on the traffic in Kifisos), and take up to 3 or 4 people with small luggage)
- Rent a car with Discover Cars to rent reliable new cars at affordable prices
- You don’t like driving but love hassle-free solutions? Book a Private transfer with an English-speaking driver from Athens International Airport to Piraeus Ferries, or anywhere else in Greece
- Check out an entire post on Lavrio Port in Athens
Essential Travel Info for Greece
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Ya sou” and “Efharisto”
- Booking.com: I use Booking.com because I can get the best deals on both hotels and apartments, free cancellations, and great prices!
- Find Long-Term Rentals in Greece: You will find the best prices in Flatio
- All-Inclusive Resorts in Greece
- FerryScanner to book ferries to the Greek Islands
- Rent an Affordable Car in Greece
- Athens Metro Website (timetables and ticket info)
- Map of Athens Metro
- Trains (Hellenic Train)
- Public Buses KTEL
- Get Your Guide: For all your day or multi-day tours and city guide needs, I use Get Your Guide
- Emergency Numbers Anywhere in Greece: AMBULANCE 166 – FIRE 199 – POLICE 100– EMERGENCY NUMBER 112