Last updated on April 6th, 2024 at 12:27 pm

Nafplio is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from Athens but this guide on what to do in Nafplio is here to show you that it’s worth spending a few days in this quaint Greek city instead.

We’ve been to Nafplio more times than we can count. Yet, we’re never bored of it as there’s always something new to do in Nafplio and around. In this guide, we’ve included enough things to do in Nafplio to keep you busy and happy for three full days. Yet, if you have time, you can spend more days in Nafplio, exploring its surroundings in depth or simply taking in its charms.

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Travel Resources For Nafplio Greece

Where Is Nafplio

Nafplio is situated in the Peloponnese, and more specifically, in the region of Argolis or Argolida. It’s a coastal city that lies 140 kilometres from Athens. Nafplio is the perfect base from where to explore the charms of the northeastern part of the Peloponnese.

What To Do in Nafplio at a Glance

Before we go into more detail, here’s a brief introduction to what to do in Nafplio (also spelt Nafplion or Nauplio).

Nafplio spans centuries of rich and fascinating history. From myths associated with Ancient Greek gods and heroes to tales of conquerors, such as Venetians and Turks, to the city becoming the first capital of Greece in 1829 after the country’s liberation from Ottoman occupation, the history of Nafplio is written all over sun-drenched ruins, mighty fortress walls and beautiful neoclassical mansions.

By exploring Nafplio, you explore the vast history of not just one region, but of an entire nation, Greece. Apart from history, in Nafplio you will marvel at gorgeous architecture, venture out to enjoy the stunning surrounding countryside and sample some of the best Greek wine.

With so many amazing things to do in Nafplio, it would be a huge shame to visit it on a day trip from Athens. To fully appreciate everything that Nafplio has to offer, we’d suggest spending three days there. But let’s have a closer look at what to do in Nafplio, one of the most picturesque seaside towns in Greece.

Find your bearings in Nafplio with an amazing private city tour!

This image shows a three-strorey neoclassical building with blue doors and windows. A young couple sits on the bench in front of the building.
Admiring the gorgeous architecture is one of the best things to do in Nafplio

21 Fantastic Things To Do in Nafplio Greece

1. Climb Up To Palamidi Castle

The history of Greece is strongly bound with Palamidi Castle. This dramatic fortress is where the most important hero of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans, Theodoros Kolokotronis, was imprisoned in 1833.

This image shows Maria sitting and enjoying the interior of Palamidi Castle.
Enjoying the moment at Palamidi Castle

With its eight bastions, Palamidi Castle is one of the finest examples of defensive architecture in Greece. It was built by the Venetians and it was later occupied by the Ottomans before the Greeks took it in 1822. It’s built atop a hill, at 216 metres high. You can get there by car or by climbing its famed 999 steps – in reality, they are only (?) 857.

This image shows one of the bastions of Palamidi Castle. A woman walks along a path on her way to explore the rest of the castle. Visiting Palamidi Castle is one of the best things to do in Nafplio.
Walking around Palamidi Fortress

The fortress is in very good condition and you can walk to most of its bastions to enjoy breathtaking views of Nafplio and the Argolic Gulf. The Prison of Kolokotronis is at Miltiades Bastion. If you’re claustrophobic, it’s better to skip this part as the prison’s entrance is very short and the cell is very dark inside, with a distinctive smell of mould.

For more information about opening hours and admission fees click here.

The interior of Kolokotronis prison in Palamidi castle.
Kolokotronis Prison in Palamidi Castle

2. Don’t Overlook Akronafplia Castle

Although Akronafplia is the oldest castle in Nafplio, it’s not as popular as Palamidi Castle and visitors tend to overlook it. Yet, it has a very rich history and it should be one of the first things to add to your list of what to do in Nafplio. Akronafplia Castle was occupied by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks and the Venetians. When the Venetians constructed Palamidi Castle, Akronafplia Fortress was abandoned.

This image was taken from a drone and shows Akronafplia Castle and Arvanitia Promenade.
Akronafplia Castle

Unfortunately, there is not much to see today as most of the castle’s buildings and a former prison that dominated the rock were demolished. In their place, a hotel complex was constructed, which is now also abandoned. However, Akronafplia Castle is still a great place to wander around and learn its history. Not to mention the incredible views of the Old Town and Bourtzi Fortress it offers, especially at sunset.

Akronafplia Castle has no entrance fee and it’s open 24/7.

The view of the Old Town of Nafplio from Akronafplia Castle.
The view of Nafplio from Akronafplia Castle

3. Take in The View of Bourtzi Fortress

The tiny island near Nafplio’s port, which is similar to Chateau d’If in Marseille, was initially fortified by the Venetians. The most interesting part of its history is that, back when death by guillotine was quite common, Bourtzi used to be the residence of the executioners.

The executions were held in Palamidi Castle. As nobody liked to be around the executioners, they lived a solitary life within the walls of the Venetian Fortress of Bourtzi. Nowadays, Bourtzi Fortress is one of the top Nafplio attractions and you can visit it by boat.

Boats to Bourtzi depart from the port when weather permits.

This image was taken from Akronafplia Castle and shows Bourtzi Fortress.
Bourtzi Fortress, beautifully framed

4. Enjoy a Seafront Walk

You haven’t been to Nafplio if you haven’t walked along its main promenade and people-watched to your heart’s content from one of the seafront cafés at least once. The promenade is an amazing place to relax and unwind with spectacular views of Bourtzi Fortress any time of the day but we particularly like it around sunset.

This image shows people walking along the promenade that starts from the port.
What to do in Naflpio to feel like a local? Walk along Nafplio’s promenade on a weekday!

5. Take a Romantic Stroll Along Arvanitia Promenade

One of our favourite things to do in Nafplio is to walk along the gorgeous seaside path of Arvanitia. The promenade starts in Nafplio and goes around Akronafplia Hill, ending on Arvanitia Beach. It takes about 20 minutes to walk the path to Arvanitia Beach.

During the summer months, there is a bar restaurant on Arvanitia Beach with breathtaking views of the Argolic Gulf. From Arvanitia Beach, you can walk back to Nafplio via the same path, take a taxi back to the city, or even better, if you are in the mood for more walking in nature, follow the path to Karathona Beach.

This image shows the promenade that starts from Nafplio and leads to Arvanitia Beach. The trail runs along the Akronafplia Rock.
One of the most scenic walks in Greece

6. Hike To Karathona Beach

The scenic path that starts from Arvanitia Beach and leads to Karathona Beach takes less than an hour. The hike is easy, with fantastic sea views and it’s ideal for everyone. Halfway along the route, there is a small beach called Neraki.

This image shows a panoramic view of the seaside trail that leads to Karathona Beach.
Walking along the seaside path that leads to Karathona Beach

Karathona is a long sandy beach packed with umbrellas and sunbeds during the summer but very peaceful in the off-season. Once you arrive at the beach, you can continue walking to Agios Nikolaos Church, which is situated just behind the beach.

This image shows Karathona Beach and it was taken from a drone.
Karathona is one of the best Nafplio beaches

7. Get Lost in The Narrow Alleys of Nafplio Old Town

As the first capital of Greece, Nafplio has been a well-organized city for centuries. Wander around the pedestrianised alleys and discover important buildings, such as the first pharmacy or the first military school in Greece.

Walking along those alleys is like walking through the history of modern Greece. Don’t be afraid to get lost. At every turn, you will come across a stunning neoclassical mansion or two or stand under the shade of colourful bougainvillaeas.

This image shows an alley with stairs in the Old Town of Nafplio.
Old Town Nafplio is ridiculously picturesque

Don’t miss the chance to stroll through the nostalgic alleys of Psaromachalas, the oldest neighbourhood in Nafplio. As its name suggests (Psaromachalas is Greek for fish neighbourhood), Psaromachalas was a working-class neighbourhood, inhabited mainly by fishermen.

This image shows an alley in the Psaromachalas neighbourhood. The buildings are old and not renovated. If you're wondering what to do in Nafplio, walking around the narrow alleys is a must!
Wandering around Psaromachalas

8. Visit Saint Spyridon Church

Situated in an alley between Saint George Church and Syntagma Square, Saint Spyridon Church is worth a visit for the history that lies behind it. After the Greek War of Independence that started from the Church of the Holy Apostles in Kalamata in 1821, the first Hellenic State was founded in 1827 and Nafplio was its capital.

The first Governor of Greece was Ioannis Kapodistrias who had the habit of visiting Saint Spyridon Church every Sunday. On the 27th of September, 1831, his political rivals from Mani, the Mavromihalis brothers, assassinated Ioannis Kapodistrias outside the church. The bullet mark on the church’s wall is still visible today.

There’s no fee to enter the church. You can simply step inside when it’s open.

This image shows the entrance of Saint Spyridon Church. There are a lot of small Greek Flags hanging outside the church.
Saint Spyridon Church

9. Step Inside The Best Nafplio Museums

In such a historic city like Nafplio, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of interesting museums to visit:

  1. The Archaeological Museum is housed in a splendid Venetian mansion that stands on Syntagma Square since 1713. The museum was founded in 1930 and you can delve into the glorious Mycenaean Civilisation there.
    For more information about opening hours and admission fees click here.
  2. Another interesting museum you can visit in Nafplio is the War Museum. It is housed in the impressive building of the first Military School in Greece. The museum’s first floor focuses on the Greek War of Independence. On the second floor, there are exhibits of the Military School as well as a Second World War photography collection.
    For more information about opening hours and admission fees click here.
  3. We saved the most special museum for last. The unique Komboloi Museum opened in 1998 and exhibits a vast collection of Greek, Hinduist, Muslim, Buddhist and Catholic worry beads. On the ground floor, you can even buy a komboloi, the best souvenir you can take from Nafplio.
    For more information about opening hours and admission fees click here.
This image shows the facade of the War Museum in Nafplio. It's a stone-built mansion with blue doors and shutters.
The War Museum in Nafplio

10. Savour The Best Ice Cream

Grabbing an ice cream and walking around the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Nafplio in our book. Yet don’t just settle for any ice cream when this small town has not one but two of the best ice cream shops in Greece.

For the most authentic Italian gelato, you could ever dream of outside of Italy, head to Antica Gelateria di Roma. For a Greek take on ice cream – with an admittedly more intense flavour compared to the aforementioned delicate gelato – prepared with fresh local ingredients, try Koustenis.

This image shows Maria holding two ice cream cones.
Why have just one?

11. People-Watch at Syntagma Square

If you’re looking for a place to indulge in some serious people-watching, Syntagma Square might just be the one. The Shiny Square, as locals sometimes call it, is the most vibrant spot in Nafplio. Locals, visitors, street artists, children of all ages, everyone seems to be hanging around Syntagma Square. Do it like the locals and enjoy a cup of Greek coffee at one of the cafés on the square.

This image shows people flocking to Syntagma Square during a festive day. The Archaeological Museum stands out in the background.
Syntagma Square

12. Walk Along Vasileos Konstantinou Street

Starting – or ending – on Syntagma Square, Vasileos Konstantinou Street is one of Nafplio’s main streets. Walking its entire length takes you from the Old Town and its colourful souvenir shops and traditional restaurants to the heart of the New Town, the residential part of Nafplio.

As you walk along the pedestrianised street, you’ll inevitably get glimpses of Nafplio’s history, such as the statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the Old Railway Station and a lot more.

This image shows an old blue and white train with two wagons.
At the Old Railway Station

13. Look For The Land Gate

The Land Gate was built by the Venetians in 1687 and it was the only entrance to the city at that time. Although there is no sea there today, back then, in front of the gate, there was a wide sea canal that people had to cross to enter the city. The gate was open until sunset. If anyone arrived after sunset, they would have to spend the night outside.

The gate was demolished between 1894 and 1897 and the sea canal was landfilled. The Land Gate is now reconstructed.

This image shows a panoramic view of the Land Gate with a statue next to it. Akronafplia Castle stands in the background.
The Land Gate

14. Discover The Lion of The Bavarians

The Lion of The Bavarians is a sculpture made by the German sculptor Christian Siegel in 1836. When King Otto came to Nafplio to ascend the newly created throne of Greece, he was accompanied by soldiers of the Bavarian Royal Guard. Many of them died from typhoid fever between 1833 and 1834. King Louis I, Otto’s father, ordered this sculpture to honour the late Bavarian soldiers.

The sculpture is inspired by a similar Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland that was erected in honour of the soldiers of the Swiss Guard who died during the French Revolution. The Lion of The Bavarians is carved in a rock in the district of Pronoia, part of the New Town of Nafplio.

15. Take a Trip To Ancient Epidaurus

One of the most important sanctuaries of Asclepius, the Ancient God of Medicine, was in Ancient Epidaurus. People from all over Greece and beyond used to flock to the healing centre of Asclepius in Epidaurus to find a cure for their illnesses. As a result, the city flourished. Epidaurus became so popular that facilities like guest houses, a restaurant, a stadium and even a theatre were constructed.

This image shows the Sanctuary of Asclepius in Ancient Epidaurus.
The Sanctuary of Asclepius in Ancient Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The indisputable highlight of the archaeological site of Epidaurus is its prominent Ancient Theatre. Built around 340 BC, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus has a seating capacity of 14,000 people and is renowned for its excellent acoustics.

You can test the theatre acoustics by climbing to the top rows and having someone drop a coin or say something in the middle of the stage. You’ll be surprised at how clearly the sound will come back to you.

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is still active during the Athens & Epidaurus Festival which is held every summer. If you happen to be in Nafplio at that time, don’t miss the chance to watch an ancient play at its birthplace.

The best way to get to Epidaurus from Nafplio is by car in 30 minutes. There are also buses from Nafplio to Epidaurus. You can check the timetables and itineraries here. During the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, buses from Nafplio or Athens to the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus are very frequent. For more information about the archaeological site’s opening hours and admission fees click here.

This image shows a panoramic view of the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. The photo is taken from the top rows of the theatre.
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is one of the best day trips from Nafplio

16. Learn History in Mycenae

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mycenae was one of the most important cultural hubs in Greece during the second millennium BC. Built between two hills overlooking the Argolic Gulf, Mycenae is connected with the mythical King Agamemnon, the commander of the Greeks during the Trojan War. Myths, legends and Homer epics are inspired by the wealth and fame of Mycenae.

The Citadel of Mycenae was surrounded by huge Cyclopean Walls. Upon entering the site via the famous Lion Gate, you will come across Grave Circle A with six shaft graves where royals were buried. At the top of the hill, the ruins of the Palace complex offer fantastic views of the Argolic landscape.

This image shows the Lion Gate in the Citadel of Mycenae, one of the best places to visit if you're wondering what to do in Nafplio.
The famed Lion Gate in Mycenae

Before leaving the Acropolis of Mycenae via the north gate, take a look at the underground cistern and then head outside the walls to visit the Tholos Tombs and the House of the Oil Merchant Group. A 5-minute walk from the main archaeological site, the Treasure of Atreus, the most impressive tomb of all, awaits.

You can get to Mycenae from Nafplio by car or bus in less than 30 minutes. Check the bus timetables here. For more information about the archaeological site’s opening hours and admission fees click here. Alternatively, you can visit Mycenae and Ancient Epidaurus on a guided tour that includes a visit to the Corinth Canal, one of the best tours from Nafplio.

This image shows the Treasure of Atreus in Mycenae from the outside.
The Treasure of Atreus

17. Explore The Acropolis of Tiryns

The third UNESCO World Heritage Site on our list of the best things to see in Nafplio and around, the Acropolis of Tyrins is another ancient Greek city where the Mycenaean Civilisation flourished. It is connected with the myth of Hercules, as he lived in Tiryns when he performed his labours.

Although there is evidence of human occupation since 5000 BC, the city was developed during the Mycenaean Age – from 1400 BC to 1200 BC – and became one of the most important centres of Argolis. The most striking monuments to see in Ancient Tiryns are the Cyclopean Walls, the Lower Citadel and the Geometric Temple.

For more information about opening hours and admission fees click here.

18. Sample Exquisite Wine in Nemea

One of the best things to do near Nafplio is to enjoy a wine tasting in Nemea. With its microclimate and unique terrain, Nemea is one of the best wine-producing regions in Greece, home to the world-renowned Agiorgitiko grape variety.

If you want to have a full wine experience in Nemea with a tour of the vineyards, wine tasting and a visit to the Ancient Stadium in Nemea, this day tour is for you.

This image shows a swing in a winery's vineyard in Nemea. The vines in the background are dry.
Touring a vineyard can never be a bad idea

19. Taste Ouzo at Karonis Distillery

Officially running continuously since 1869 for five generations, Karonis Distillery is a family-run business that produces ouzo, tsipouro, mastiha, lemon and cherry liqueurs. The distillery is located a short drive from the Old Town of Nafplio. The Karonis family offer tours of their premises and the small on-site museum, as well as tastings of their products.

You have to make a reservation before your visit by contacting them via their website.

The museum of Karonis distillery. The painting of Karonis who founded the distillery is on the left of the room, old parts of the distillery are in the middle and bottles are on shelves across the wall.
At the Karonis Museum

20. Hop On Nafplio’s Tourist Bus

If you prefer to visit Nafplio without a car, the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus is a good option to get around the city and do the bulk of your Nafplio sightseeing at the same time. This way, you won’t have to worry about how to visit the uphill highlights like Akronafplia Castle and Palamidi Castle.

You can check availability and timetables here.

21. Mingle With Locals at Fougaro

A former canned tomato factory now turned into an art and culture centre, Fougaro (Greek for chimney) is a favourite hang-out for locals on a sunny weekend. At Fougaro, you can attend musical events, visit art exhibitions or simply laze in the sun at one of the on-site cafés.

Sadly, the official website is in Greek only, but you can use Google Translate to check what’s on and opening times here.

This image shows Fougaro art centre with a lot of tables in the courtyard.
Fougaro on a sunny afternoon

Nafplio Travel Guide

Best Time To Visit Nafplio

The weather in Nafplio is mild throughout the year. That said, same as pretty much everywhere in Greece, Nafplio can get really hot in the summer. Also, due to its proximity to Athens, Nafplio is an easy getaway for Athenians, which means that weekends can get really busy in Nafplio. Therefore, make sure to avoid visiting Nafplio in July, August and at weekends throughout the year.

So, what’s the best combination? Autumn and spring weekdays are the best times to visit Nafplio for nice warm weather without the hordes of Athenians.

This image shows a small boat in the harbour of Karathona Beach.
Karathona Beach on a cloudy spring day

How To Get To Nafplio

The most convenient airport to reach Nafplio is Athens International Airport. There are three ways to get to Nafplio from Athens:

  1. By bus: You can get from Athens to Nafplio by KTEL Bus in a little over two hours. The Athens to Nafplio bus leaves from Kifissos Bus Station and you can get there from Athens Airport by the Χ93 Bus. You can find more information about routes and tickets here.
  2. By car: Driving is the best way to get from Athens to Nafplio. You can rent a car at the airport in Athens and get to Nafplio in less than two hours. Moreover, this is the best option if you plan a multi-day trip to Greece and the Peloponnese at your own pace. Some amazing places you can easily drive to from Nafplio are Monemvasia and Neapoli, where you can catch the ferry to Elafonisos.
  3. By private transfer: If driving is not an option for you, the most hassle-free way to get to Nafplio from Athens Airport is by private transfer. Book your private transfer in advance and an English-speaking driver from Welcome Pickups will take you from the arrival gate to Nafplio in the most relaxing way.

How To Get Around Nafplio

Nafplio is a very walkable city as it’s flat and its Old Town is relatively small. You can walk to every attraction in the Old Town, except maybe Palamidi Castle. If you’d prefer not to climb up its 857 steps, you can take a taxi or hop on the tourist bus. Cars are not allowed in the biggest part of the Old Town. However, there are parking lots just outside the Old Town if you’re renting a car to see more of the region.

Where To Stay in Nafplio

Nafplio Old Town is one of the quaintest and best-preserved towns in Greece. For that reason alone, it’s worth staying in the Old Town at one of the neoclassical mansions that are converted into some of the best boutique hotels in Nafplio.

Find the best deals for a luxurious stay close to the port at Impero Luxury Suites Nafplio or Gambello Luxury Rooms.

For an authentic experience in the heart of the Old Town, book a room at Aethra Boutique Rooms with its gorgeous courtyard, shaded by fragrant orange trees.

If you’re renting a car and prefer to stay on the outskirts of Nafplio, at Amalia Hotel Nafplio you will receive 4-star pampering and services.

This image shows the courtyard of Aithra Hotel. There are four tables with chairs among the orange trees.
Staying in the heart of Nafplio Old Town

Where To Eat in Nafplio

In Nafplio, there are places to eat for all tastes, from fine dining to street food. However, Greek traditional dishes are dominant in the gastronomy scene of the city. To Teloneio and Pidalio are two of the best traditional restaurants in Nafplio where you can try delicious Greek cuisine with many vegetarian options.

What’s more, located at the heart of Nafplio’s Old Town, Vasilis Tavern is one of the best restaurants in Nafplio for Greek traditional cuisine. For delicious meze dishes with a twist and a large selection of Greek microbrewery beers, Zournal will convince you to come back.

This image shows a cobbled street full of restaurants in the Old Town of Nafplio.
Nafplio has no shortage of quaint dining options

Now that you know what to do in Nafplio do you agree with us that Nafplio is worth more than just a day trip from Athens? Let us know in the comments!

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina

Disclosure: In May 2023, JayWay Travel invited us on a press trip to Nafplio. As a result, we’ve updated this article with some of the places we visited during that trip.

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