Nafplio, The first capital of Greece

Located in the Peloponnese peninsula in Southern Greece, this seaport town serves as the capital of Argolis and was the first capital of Greece. The town is popular among tourists from all over the world for its sunny and mild climate, rich history, ancient architecture, and fascinating museums.

It still maintains a traditional architectural style with tons of buildings and houses dating back to the early 14th century. Many buildings inspired by Venetian, modern-era neoclassical, and Mycenaean Revival architecture have been preserved and still stand tall as a testament of the town’s diverse and rich history. Some of the town’s major attractions include the Archaeological Museum of Nafplio,  Bourtzi Fortress, Archaeological Museum, and Karathona beach. If you are planning a tour to Nafplio for your vacation, here is a list of popular tourist destinations and activities in Nafplio.


Visit the Palamidi Castle:

Standing tall on a 216m high outcrop, the Palamidi Castle is a remnant of Venetian architecture that dates back to the early 1700. The castle was considered a masterpiece of military architecture back in the day mainly because of its high location that provides a 360-degree view of the Nafplio and the Argolic Gulf.

The castle has many strategically constructed ramparts and bastions, with one of the most important and best-preserved ones being the Agios Andreas Bastion that gives a clear view of the whole town. The Miltiades Bastion towards the northeaster side of the castle is the biggest bastion that was used to incarcerate condemned criminals for around a century between the early 1800s to early 1900s.

You can either take a taxi to get to the castle that will cost around  €10 at most or you can hike to the top. There are 911 steps in total which means not everyone is going to opt for the arduous climb, but if you do choose to take the steps, make sure you bring your water bottle and wear your hiking shoes.

Karathona Beach:

Located just a 10-minute walk away from the palamidi castle, Karathona beach is surrounded by rocky mountains and gorgeous pine trees. The crystal clear water, the white soft sand, and the mountainous backdrop make for an enchanting sight that attracts hundreds of tourists every day. The beach does get a bit crowded in peak season but you will never have a hard time finding yourself a nice spot to sit and relax.

There are food carts everywhere that serve mouthwatering local foods and chilled drinks all day long and plenty of free lounge chair and umbrellas that you can use.

If you’re a fan of water sports this is the place to be. Different operators offer water-skiing, flyboarding, and much much more. You can also take a boat ride out on the ocean.

War museum:

Located on the site of a former Army cadet school, this mighty stone building served as the very first military academy in Greece from 1828 to 1834 and was called the  “Central War School ”. History buffs from all over Europe visit this museum to learn more about greek history.

The museum is still under military control and features collections of paintings, sketches, assorted weaponry, uniforms, and photographs that show the role of Greece in different historic wars and battles including the War of Greek Independence, the rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, the Greek-Turkish War, the Balkans Wars, and WWII.

Most of the artifacts here are labeled in greek, however, there are lengthy subtitled videos that will give you a good insight into the history of different artifacts and exhibits. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm. The place gets really crowded by 12 o’clock, so it’s best if you get there nice and early to avoid the crowd.

Archaeological Museum:

Situated in the central square of Nafplion, the Archaeological Museum occupies two floors of the old Venetian barracks. This museum showcases the fascinating evolution of the people of Argolis from the hunter-gatherers of the Franchthi Cave to the sophisticated Mycenaean-era civilizations. The museum houses artifacts dating thousands of years back from all over southern Argolis, including exhibits from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Helladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. One of the oldest artifacts is bronze armor from the Mycenae period that dates 3,500 back.

The museum boasts old stone age clay hearths from the Kleisoura Gorge that date back to somewhere between 32,000 and 21,000 BCE and tools and jewelry made from stones, shells, and animal and fish bones. This archaeological site also represents the longest recorded continuous occupational sequence from any one site in Greece from  20,000 B.C.E. to 3000 B.C.E accounting for over 17,000 years.

Although most of the exhibits are labeled in greek, there are Excellent audio guides available in several languages that you can listen to as you explore different historic exhibits in the museum.

Bourtzi, the water castle:

Bourtzi is located in the harbour of Nafplio, was built by the Venetians in 1471. Originally was part of the city’s defenses with thick chains running from the castle to the mainland to prevent enemy ships from docking.

Small boats leaving the port towards the fortress regularly and the trip lasts just a couple of minutes. The best time to visit Bourtzi is sunset to view the magnificent view of Palamidi and the old town.

For dinner try one of the three recently-opened eateries: “Pidalio”, “Menta”, and “Journal”. Some of the most famous dishes here include “ski fichta” macaroni, baked eggplant with beef and tomato sauce, and Politiki which is a salad made with pickled cabbage and carrot.

Try the local cuisine:

Your tour to Nafplio will be incomplete without experiencing the local cuisine. Walk around the street to try some of the local street food. Start by going to Omorfo Tavernaki which is a nice little tavern in the city center and try the famous cheese pie or pasta served with tzatziki.

For lunch head to the Arapakos where you can have some of the best seafood, you will ever eat. Some of the most famous dishes here include the grilled octopus, stuffed and grilled squid, drunken mussels with finely chopped vegetables, and shrimp “orzotto”.

For dinner try one of the three recently-opened eateries: “Pidalio”, “Menta”, and “Journal”. Some of the most famous dishes here include “ski fichta” macaroni, baked eggplant with beef and tomato sauce, and Politiki which is a salad made with pickled cabbage and carrot.