Visiting Nafplio as a Day Trip from Athens

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It’s very easy to go on a day trip to Nafplio from Athens. The incredibly beautiful little city is just a 2-hour drive from the country’s capital. Since Nafplio was the first capital of Greece, you get to experience the country’s history. Evidently, you can go to the beach too! The city has splendid beaches, where you can chill mostly with locals.

Nafplio is on a small peninsula that enters a bay in the Peloponnese. Since most foreign tourists flock to islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, it’s still pretty much under the radar. Gorgeous old mansions and tall trees line the city’s streets. You will see Venetian, Ottoman, and Greek architecture. Locals are relaxed, friendly, and great hosts! You’ll love it here!

Nafplio from the sea

How to Get to Nafplio from Athens

Athens to Nafplio by Car

You can go on a day trip to Nafplio from Athens. The city is just 85 miles (135 km) away. Most people go from Athens to Nafplio by car. It’s a beautiful ride that takes you east of the Attika Peninsula to the Peloponnese. The trip is an attraction in itself, so don’t rush and enjoy.

Take Leof. Athinon Avenue from Omonia Square in central Athens. The wide avenue goes east of the city until Road E94. You will see signs that direct you to Olympia Odos. You will cross the Corinth Canal, where you can stop for a picture. Continue through the Peloponnese for an hour or so until you see the signs to Nafplio.

Nafplio from the sea

Private Tours to Nafplio

We have another tour that’s perfect for wine lovers. Nemea is amongst the best wine-producing regions in the country. Yes, the archaeological remains are fantastic too. The tour leaves from Nafplio and takes you through beautiful nature. You visit two wineries and try loads of different wines. This tour is in English and includes all the tickets.

Square in Nafplio

Buses from Athens to Nafplio

Currently, you can’t go from Athens to Nafplio by train. However, you can take a train to Corinth and then hop on a taxi. Trains depart from Athens train station in the center and take a bit over an hour to reach Corinth. Though you can save some time, it really makes no sense. Better take a bus.

Since we live in Athens, we went to Nafplio by public bus. Buses leave from the station on Leof. Kifisou 100. It’s to the east of the center. You can take an inexpensive taxi there from anywhere in Athens. Buses leave every hour and take at the most 2.5 hours. You can also stop in Corinth. The station is in the center of Nafplio.

St. George Cathedral

What to Do in Nafplio

Climb the Palamidi Fortress

Of all the things to do in Nafplio, climbing the Palamidi Fortress is a must. The fortress is famous all around Greece for its incredible views. The ancient structure crowns a hill next to the sea. The Venetians built it from 1711 to 1714. As you probably know, the Ottomans took over for over a century. The Greeks captured it 100 years ago!

According to the locals, to get to the Nafplio’s Palamidi Fortress, you need to climb 999 steps. Remember that it can be very hot in Greece in summer. Therefore, take a hat and go in the afternoon to see a killer sunset. If you are tired or don’t feel like it, you can take a taxi to the top. The place is huge and in great shape.

Palamidi Fortress

Take a Boat Trip to Bourtzi Castle

Nafplio has another Venetian masterpiece, Bourtzi Castle. Once again, it’s very famous in Greece. You can see it from the coast, floating on the Mediterranean. The Venetians built it in 1473 to protect the city from pirates. Bourtzi is a bit older and smaller than Palamidi but equally impressive. Like the rest of the area, the Ottomans conquered it and then the Greeks.

Boats depart every half an hour from the port in central Nafplio and take less than 10 minutes to reach the islet. If you are six, it’s 5 euros per person. No worries, you are in Greece: everyone is nice and honest. You don’t have to pay an entrance ticket to the fortress. The fortress looks stunning fully lit at night!

Bourtzi Castle

Learn History in Nafplio’s Museums

Though Nafplio is not that big, it’s got more than one interesting museum to visit. Our favorite is the Archaeological Museum. The Venetians built the monumental stone building that is on the main plaza. The collection inside is as impressive as the building and includes artifacts 10000 years old.  From there, walk two blocks south to see the old Ottoman Madrasa.

The Peloponnese Folklore Foundation exhibits a large collection of local costumes. It’s a great place to visit when it’s too hot outside. The ticket to the Foundation includes the Childhood Museum, a couple of blocks away. Not only children will enjoy checking out old toys. From there, it’s one block to the National Gallery. The gorgeous building is dedicated to Greece’s independence.

Archaeological Museum

Roam the Streets of Nafplio Old Town

Nafplio has an old town that will take your breath away. In fact, it is one of the nicest old towns in the entire country. The city is one of the few that retained its traditional architecture. Old mansions line its quaint streets. Begin your walk on Kolokotronis Park. The city’s courthouse is on the park. You will see Palamidi fortress behind the courthouse.

Our favorite church is St. George Cathedral, next to the park. The original Venetian church was a mosque for some time. The building of the first parliament of Greece is near. From there, get lost discovering grand houses. It’s a small area with lots of shops and tavernas. Stop by Syntamgma Square, the nicest in the city.

Street in Nafplio old town

Walk along the Coast

One of the best things to do in Nafplio is to walk. As mentioned, the city is on a peninsula and offers incredible hiking trails. Fortunately, there is a walking trail next to the sea. Locals call it Arvanitia. Begin your walk in the center. Walk along the seaside promenade admiring the buildings. Filellinon Square is in the center, directly on the coast.

Walk east from the plaza and continue along the path. You will see Akronapflia Castle perched on a hill. The views from the Venetian fortress are stunning. It’s not that hard to go up, and there’s a lift. Go back to the path and walk south for as long as you want. The area also offers rock climbing.

Arvanitia walking trail

Spend Some Time on the Beach

Granted, the Greek islands are heaven. Who doesn’t want to visit Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, or Crete? However, the continent has lovely beaches too. Nafplio is no exception and has more than one beautiful beach. Luckily, locals visit these beaches. Note that there are no beaches in the city center proper. However, some people do bathe around the Arvanitia Lighthouse.

Arvanitia Beach is the closest to Nafplio, just 15 minutes south of the center. You can go through the trail or directly from the center. It’s a pebbled beach with crystal blue waters. There’s a restaurant and you can see the Palamidi fortress from the sea. Neraki Beach is 1 mile (1.5km) to the south. From there, it’s half an hour to Karathonas Beach.

Arvanitia beach

Where to Stay in Nafplio

Nafplio has some of the best hotels in Greece. We stayed in the Aetoma Hotel and loved it. It’s an 18th Century mansion in the heart of the city. However, it’s very quiet. You can walk everywhere, including the beach! The rooms are comfortable, nicely appointed, and have a balcony. You won’t forget the complimentary breakfast. Everything is homemade and top quality!

If you like sea views, book a room at the Agamemnon Hotel. It’s a waterfront hotel with direct views of Bourtzi Fortress in the sea. Enjoy your complimentary breakfast with sea views! The rooms are big, with plush beds and big bathrooms. Book a superior double for the best views in the city. The hotel is near a big public parking lot.

Grande Bretagne Nafplio

Where to Eat and Drink

For us, Greece offers the best food in Europe. Nafplio has incredible restaurants for all tastes and budgets. To Telonei serves some of the best food in the city. It’s a beautiful waterfront restaurant with traditional Greek cuisine. Go up the slope of the hill to Amimoni Restaurant. Sit on the veranda and enjoy breathtaking views and delicious food and cocktails.

We love Rosso Music Café in the center. You can eat, drink, have coffee, listen to music, and chat with locals. Mentor Bar and Grill offers the best food on Syntagma Square. You can sit for a coffee or a drink, and people watch. For coffee with sea views, head to Kontogiorgos Café. You can have cocktails and wine while enjoying a killer sunset.

Nafplio Main Square

When to Visit Nafplio

Most tourists visit Greece and Nafplio in summer. It’s hot, the sea is fresh, and it’s so much fun! However, Nafplio has incredible weather all year round. In fact, we like going from Athens to Nafplio in winter. It can be too hot for us in summer in Greece. In addition, we are not so much into crowds.

It hardly ever goes beneath 50 Fahrenheit (10 C) or above 70 F (20 C) in winter. The sun shines almost every day, and the evenings are pleasant. Almost everything opens all year round, so you can eat, have coffee, and relax in peace. Nevertheless, the best time to visit Nafplio is from May to June and from September to October. You can still bathe in the sea!

Nafplio at night

Useful Tips

We strongly recommend spending at least a night in Nafplio. Since most tourists visit during the day, you will have the city all to yourself in the evening. Besides, Nafplio caters mostly to locals, so you will get to enjoy a real Greek city. It’s very difficult to drive in the center. Park in the public lots outside and walk.

As mentioned, it can be very hot in summer in Nafplio. Therefore, be sure to grab a hat, sunscreen, and a recyclable bottle of water. Likewise, try to avoid walking about at noon. Sit for a refreshing drink and cool down before continuing. There are live concerts in the center at nights. Ask around and enjoy a lovely evening.

Bougenvillias in a greek town

Other Nice Places in the Area

The Peloponnese offers some of the best travel destinations in Greece. On your way to Nafplio, you can stop at the Corinth Canal. From there, it’s a short drive to Epidauros and its celebrated theatre. The biggest music festival in the country takes place in Athens and Epidaurus each summer. You can also go to the beach in Epidaurus.

Archaeology buffs will love Mycenae. The Bronze Age citadel is a sight to behold! Don’t forget to check the Lion Gate. Argos is nearby. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Base yourself in Nafplio and go to Mycenea and Argos for the day. One of our favorite islands is 2 hours away. Poros has incredible beaches and a fun Greek community.

Epidaurus ancient theater

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