things to do in nafplio greece

What To Do in Nafplio, Greece in 24 Hours

Nafplio –Greece

Often –and with good reason -described as one of the country’s most beautiful mainland towns, Nafplio’s collection of the extra-special is exceptional by any standard of measuring such things. The town is nestled at the northern end of the Argolic Gulf on the Peloponnese, surrounded by pretty beaches and with not one but three majestic forts standing sentinel over its port. Otherwise Nafplio is a rich tapestry of gorgeous Venetian and Turkish buildings leftover from centuries past and where amid the charming maze of its medieval cobble-stoned streets cascades of bougainvillea tumble down from picturesque balconies. Weaving alleyways lead to quaint tavernas, historical churches and fascinating museums before opening out into sun-drenched squares where local families and visitors gather to enjoy morning coffee or a glass of wine as night descends. There are a multitude of historical highlights to enjoy right in town but Nafplio also places you perfectly to explore a further collection of ancient and archaeological gems shrouded in classical myth and stories of Greek gods, all no more than a short car journey away. Of these several have UNESCO World Heritage status such as the stunning amphitheater of Epidaurus, the ancient plateau-perched citadel of Tiryns and the magnificent Mycenaean center of Mycenae.  

With Greek tourists far outnumbering oversees visitors Nafplio retains an authentic charm and also ensures something of a heavenly destination for foodies as high quality Greek cuisine is in plentiful supply here. Venues range from elegant seafood restaurants right on the waterfront with fort views to tiny tavernas so tucked away amid the maze of the Old Town you would be unlikely to find them unless a local leads you there.  

Whether you intend to laze about on pretty beaches doing very little except ordering another cocktail or instead pack your Nafplio day from dawn until dusk with fantastic things to see or do while walking in the footsteps of ancient kings this is a town which can deliver in every way.

A Morning in Nafplio

things to do in nafplio greece

Begin your Nafplio day getting wonderfully lost in the maze of the lovely Old Town where you can explore everything from ancient mosques to the site of a famous assassination. After a pause for coffee your adventures can take a journey into the past at one of the absorbing museums or alternatively you can visit one of the town’s Venetian forts.

Exploring the Old Town

It is impossible not to be charmed and enchanted even by the shortest of walks through the beautiful cobbled streets of Nafplio’s Old Town. Making up this quarter’s stunning tableau is a wealth of ornate neoclassical and Venetian architecture, weaving alleyways which suddenly open out onto leafy squares and a riot of bougainvillea blooms cascading down from balconies in scarlet, purple and pink.

Dotted around are picturesque churches, intriguing museums and what would appear to be an endless number of postcard-perfect cafes which beckon invitingly with their array of alfresco tables spilling onto the streets.

With something interesting or beautiful at practically every turn the Old Town is ideal for those who enjoy simply heading off on an unplanned journey of discovery and seeing where their feet take them. However, if you prefer something a little more set the principal route is that of the Vasileos Konstadinou Street, typically referred to as the Great Road. Traversing the Old Town from east to west, this lovely mainly car-free stretch allows you to take in some of the essential highlights along with all the overlying elements of atmosphere, culture, history and life which make Nafplio such a delight.

If you prefer to save your legs and also want to take in as much as possible there is also an open-top hop-on/hop-off bus service which covers most of the key sights. The ticket price includes a map and an audio tour headset and gives you the freedom to decide which of the stops you want to explore more in depth and which you simply want to get a quick glimpse of.    If you wanted to cover all of the Old Town’s points of interest you would need considerably more than just one morning to do so, especially if you intended to include all of the churches, parks, squares and museums. The following is just a quick run through of what are typically considered the must-see sights although in reality this is little more than the very small tip of a wonderful iceberg.

The Land Gate

Situated at the Old Town’s eastern edge, this 1708 constructed portal was once the only land access into the walled town and once fronted by a moat. Built by the Venetians -hence the winged lion of St. Mark carving which tops the gate -in bygone days the gate’s drawbridge would be raised by strict regulation at sunset preventing entry into the city for anyone until the next morning.

Syntagma Square

Sitting at the western extreme of the Great Road, Syntagma Square represents the very core of Nafplio and with its pavement cafes and bars is a collectively wonderful bustle of sights and sounds both day and night. Should you have time for visiting nowhere else other than this beautiful and vast square with its opulent marble paving you would still be able to take in a wealth of historical sights as the public space is framed by significant and striking buildings.

The main highlights here are the Vouleftikon in the south-west corner –once an 18th century Turkish mosque and later the home for the first free Greek government in 1825, the Archaeological Museum which was originally a Venetian weapons store in the early 1700s and later barracks and German interrogation center during World War II and the Trianon or Old Mosque on the opposite side of the square. This latter is believed to date from the first Turkish occupation around the 1500s and is one of the town’s oldest structures. Square, squat and dome-topped, the architectural presentation here is Byzantine which makes it exceptional as the later Turkish-constructed buildings which still survive in Nafplio –such as the Vouleftikon -have a different style. Once the Turks were again defeated and the Venetians returned this mosque became a Catholic church and later still served as a boy’s school and a cinema while today it houses a theater.

St. Spiridion Church

Built in the early 1700s, St. Spiridion is small and not especially eye-catching from the outside and it would be easy to walk past this white-washed building without paying it much attention. However, this modest church just 200 m east of Syntagma Square has enormous historical significance and is considered an essential inclusion on any itinerary of the Old Town. It was in the doorway of this church in 1831 that Greece’s first governor following independence from the Turks –Ionnis Kapodistrias -was assassinated by political rivals who opposed his leadership. On the right as you enter in a glass and brass frame you can still see a bullet hole from this event which some say was a shot that missed while others claim was actually the bullet which killed the new head of state.

The church’s interior houses some lovely Byzantine murals and is also where the internal organs of the assassinated Kapodistrias are interred beneath the altar to this day.

The Old Town is home to more than one church and if ecclesiastical architecture interests you the grandest and most impressive of these is the St. George Cathedral. Located a short walk from St. Spiridion this is one of the town’s oldest churches, dating from the 1500s and having served as both church and mosque depending on whether the Venetians or the Turks held power at the time. With a distinctly ornate and elegant bell-tower on its otherwise plain exterior, the beautiful interior’s most notable features are its Venetian frescoes and the royal throne from which King Otto would attend services in the early 1800s.

The Akronafplia

The most ancient of the town’s three fortresses, the Akronafplia (which seems to have at least five different spellings) has roots which stretch all the way back to the Bronze Age and is the only one of the impressive fortifications which sits inside the Old Town area. Akronafplia in fact even pre-dates the Old Town, once representing the entire settlement here, all contained behind its thick walls until the arrival of the Franks and Venetians in the 1200s who gradually expanded the town and incorporated the ready-made fort into their defensive systems.

With building contributions made here by successive powers of Roman, Frank, Venetian and Turkish origin the Akronafplia is truly ancient, the oldest parts on its western side dating back thousands of years and even the newest additions more than six centuries old.  

Perched above the Old Town, the fort is an atmospheric place to stroll with its old crumbling walls, ramparts and walkways and offers stunning views of the Old Town, city and bay.  

While the Akronafplia is an impressive sight despite its mostly ruined state it represents just one of the three forts of which the town can boast. After a pause for coffee you can explore one of the two other choices in a little more depth –either the imposing Bourtzi which sits on a small island in the bay or the vast Palamidi just south-east of the Old Town.

Morning Coffee in Nafplio

Any wander around the Old Town will make it quickly apparent that you will have no shortages of places to choose from once time for a morning coffee pause arrives. You may have already earmarked some special spot to return to –perhaps a collection of street-side tables covered in cheerfully checkered tablecloths where the bougainvillea tumbles down at its thickest, maybe a tiny taverns tucked down an especially atmospheric alley or perhaps one of the bustling cafes in the main square looked particularly appealing.

Settings both picturesque and charming are in great supply in Nafplio but every so often you can find something which tips the scales up to special even further. One such is the beautiful Propolis which sits nestled beneath a cliff within sight of the historical Land Gate and is surrounded by mature trees and greenery. Just these elements alone would make the Propolis a real find but it is also located beside a pretty pond with terrapins and fish, has a gurgling stream running through it and can even boast a small waterfall which tumbles down the rocks.

Tranquil, refreshingly shady and often all but deserted, this alfresco cafe gem offers a perfect place to get your breath back in between exploring and just to really put the icing on the cake it serves up excellent standard coffee.  

If you plan to continue your morning in Nafplio with a visit to the Archaeological Museum you couldn’t be more conveniently placed to do so than from the Sokaki Cafe which can be found in one of the side-streets leading off from Syntagma Square. A long-established favorite for locals which has been part of the town scene for several decades now, the Sokaki’s quirky interior is more like a fabulous and upscale junk shop with its eclectic collection of mismatched furniture, bold artwork, carvings, lanterns and curios. With so much to keep you fascinated as you enjoy your coffee it is hard to decide between this inside space or the lovely little umbrella-shaded tables on its terrace outside whose color splashes, detailing and general style also reflects that of the gorgeous interior. Besides its decidedly different character, this cafe is also known for its warm welcome and its wonderful array of flapjacks and crepes which combine perfectly with their good quality coffee for those who need an energy boost. 

A Choice of Forts or a Choice of Museums

Boasting not one but three forts to its name, Nafplio also has a wonderful choice of museums, all worthy of a visit and all capable of ensuring the latter half of your morning is filled with fascinating things to gaze upon. The hardest thing of all will be deciding which of these absorbing attractions to focus on.

The Palamidi Fortress

Vast, impressive and highly atmospheric, the well-preserved Venetian fort known as Palamidi stands sentinel and brooding over all Nafplio from its 700 ft high perch. Constructed over a five year period which ended in 1714, this imposing fortress was one of the last significant defensive structures the Venetians built outside of Italy and is considered one of their finest examples of military architecture.

Despite its seeming impenetrability as a defensive masterpiece just one year after its completion it was seized by the Turks who remained in control for more than a century afterwards. In 1822, after months of enforced siege during the Greek War of Independence, the Turks surrendered to the Greek forces led by Theodoros Kolokotronis and Palamidi then served as a prison until the 1900s. Ironically Kolokotronis was himself later imprisoned here during a period of political upheaval following the assassination of Governor Ionnis Kapodistrias at the Old Town’s St. Spiridion Church which you visited earlier. 

Palamidi was constructed as eight separate inner bastions, all of which could be defended independently and wandering amid these massive walls it is impossible not to find yourself absorbing a strong sense of the past. Treading over the very same worn cobbles where once Venetian, Ottoman and Greek soldiers once went about their daily life and fought their battles to seize or retain power, you can also explore the many grand arches, watchtowers, stairways, covered walkways and stone portals which make up this magnificent site.

The first bastion you arrive at when entering the fortress is also the best preserved –the Agios Andreas Bastion. This section of the fort was once where the commander lived and is home to a beautiful little stone church of the same name which sits at one side of an inner courtyard.Largest of the bastions is the Miltiades Bastion, the main prison section and where the cell of Theodoros Kolokotronis can be visited.  

For those with a little energy to spare the elevated fort is reached via an historic stone stairway which begins next to the gorgeous Propolis cafe where you may have taken your morning coffee break. Numbering around 850 steps the stunning views you have as you climb this zig-zagging route will help to make it all worthwhile. The vista which gradually unfolds takes in not just the entire town and bay beneath you but also extends beyond to the eastern Peloponnese and the Argolic Gulf. If that all sounds like too much effort it is also possible to reach the fort by road with a short taxi ride from town.

The Bourtzi Fortress

Located less than half a mile offshore from Nafplio can be found the small islet of Agioi Theodoroi where in 1473 the Venetians decided to construct a fortress. Easily visible from the Old Town and the port, the Bourtzi’s highly strategic placement meant it could serve as protection for the harbor entrance both against pirate raids and potential attacks by other powers of the age.

Taking up the entire footprint of the island, the Bourtzi has a central tower, roughly hexagonal is form, surrounded by further walls and ramparts. Seized by the Turks in 1715 at the same time as Palamidi on the mainland fell, the fort remained in the hands of the Ottoman Empire for a century during which time it was added to and the waters around the island scattered with boulders to prevent approach by large vessels. When the fort came under Greek ownership during the War of Independence in the early 1800s the island served for a while as home and shelter to government officials during a politically turbulent time and continued to be used for military purposes until 1865.  

For the following 70 years the island then served yet another purpose –that of residence for the executioners of the Palamidi Fortress. Those who filled this post became all but outcasts to the rest of society and their living here was enforced rather than voluntary. In the 1930s the site was to enter yet another stage in the story of its varied usages, this time as a hotel which it remained right up until the 1970s. The journey to this evocative little site takes just minutes by boat from the mainland and at the busiest times of year departures set off from the port every half an hour.

Nafplio’s Museums

For its relatively small size Nafplio has a wonderful collection of museums ranging from the small and quirky to those of international standard which between them offer something for a diverse range of interests.

The largest and most notable of the options is the Archaeological Museum which if you visited Syntagma Square earlier you will have already seen. The museum is housed inside one of the town’s most impressive historical leftovers, a building once used as an arsenal by the Venetians who constructed it in the 18th century. It has also served as a military barracks and was utilized by the German invaders during their occupation of Greece in World War II.

This excellent museum showcases the entire history of the Argolis region and every civilization which has lived here beginning with the earliest Stone Age times and including various other chapters such as the Mycenaean civilization, the Classical era and the Roman age.

Categorized into well-presented themes and relating to various archaeological finds, the museum offers a superb audio guide to help you gain a more in-depth understanding of some of the treasures you are gazing upon. Some essential highlights include early Stone Age altars dating from 32,000 BC and an exquisite bronze suit of armor along with a helmet of boar tusks from 3,500 years ago.

Located at the eastern edge of the Old Town can be found the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum, a must for those interested in the culture and traditions of the Nafplio people of the 1800 and 1900s. The exhibitions here are both absorbing and beautiful including hand-embroidered traditional costumes, household interiors and their furniture, craftsman’s tools and musical instruments among other things.

Be sure to visit the gift shop while you’re here if you are on the look-out for gifts or souvenirs as the handmade crafts here are of a good quality.

Just a stone’s throw from the folk museum can be found the War Museum, this time a good choice for those who want to understand a little more about the War of Greek Independence as well as the events during German occupation in the Second World War. Exhibiting military costumes, weapons, photographs and documents there is also a subtitled video which gives a very good insight into the Nazi regime in Athens in the 1940s.

A further short stroll south from the War Museum brings you to the Komboloi Museum whose entire focus is that of prayer beads and komboloi (and here you will learn what makes them different). Whether or not you are yourself of any religious persuasion the pure beauty of this collection is striking and is arranged into sections covering the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim faiths, rosaries pertaining to Christian beliefs and the larger part given to Greek origin beads more typically referred to as worry beads. Exquisitely crafted in shapes ranging from skulls to squares and carved from coral, ivory, mother-of-pearl and amber among other precious materials, the collection also includes some antique pieces, the oldest dating from 300 years ago.

Lunch in Nafplio

Nafplio has an abundant collection of the kind of quaint tavernas which most people associate with Greece but it also has more contemporary offerings. Cuisine choices are also varied with options encompassing the wider Mediterranean and international influences as well as the more traditional Greek dishes.  

When it comes to settings Nafplio likewise offers a wonderful variety of choice –there are the cobbled alleys and vibrant squares of the highly picturesque Old Town, the more modern urban surrounds of the New Town area, the harbor and port waterfront and a selection of beaches. The town’s very own beach is Arvanitia, south of the Old Town –a picturesque stretch of pretty white pebbles and aquamarine waters with stunning views of the Akronafpli and Palamidi forts and the sparkling bay. Here you will find the lovely Blublanc, tucked up against a greenery-covered cliff and which allows you to lunch with the sea right in front of you. Take your pick from the shaded tables on the terrace where floaty white drapes and palm fronds blow in the breeze or grab a lounger right on the beach.

Offering Greek and Mediterranean cuisine, charming Blublanc is beautifully designed, seeming to merge harmoniously and effortlessly with its gorgeous natural surroundings despite its ample size. Food quality is high and the menu choices well varied with some great seafood dishes including mussels, whole fish, calamari and lobster. 

For an experience as authentically Greek as it comes head to O Noulis,a little south of the Great Road’s eastern end where, located down a narrow little alley, you will find one of the best mezedopolios in town. Nafplio’s collection of mezedopolios are restaurants that specialize in meze, a kind of small sharing plate tapas-like way of dining which allows you to sample an extensive variety of delicacies.

The family-run O Noulis interior is simple and clean with a few picture-size old black and white photos of the town adorning the walls and a further choice of alfresco tables spread along the walls of the atmospheric alley out front. Loved by locals, this restaurant offers a wonderful meze choice along with some other main options such as stews and moussaka although quite what is on the menu on any given day is dictated by whatever locally-sourced produce is currently available or in season. Possibilities to give you a whole texture and taste experience include lamb with artichokes, octopus in wine, rice-stuffed tomatoes, anchovies in garlic and pepper, zucchini fritters, cumin meatballs and much more. Additionally all of the olive oil here is from the restaurant’s own production using traditional cold-press methods.

An Afternoon in Nafplio

things to do in nafplio greece

The Peloponnese area of Greece of which Nafplio is a part is packed with ancient archaeological sites, several of them of such global importance that they are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just 16 miles away from Nafplio can be found two of these –the incredible 2,000 year old Epidaurus, once a center dedicated to healing with its amazingly preserved amphitheater, and Mycenae, one of the major centers of the Bronze Age Mycenaean civilization. Closest of all is the ancient hill fort and citadel of Tiryns, just 3 miles north of Nafplio.

If you are feeling energetic you can pack all three of these into your afternoon or otherwise just focus on Tiryns which is the most easily accessible.

The Ruins of Ancient Tiryns

Praised by Homer, serving as the arena for Heracles (Hercules) 12 labors and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tiryns has several claims to fame besides simply being impressive. Heralded as an exceptional example of defensive and palatial architecture of the Mycenaean age, Tiryns may not be the largest of the area’s ancient sites but it is often blissfully free of other visitors who tend to flock to the alternatives, something which undoubtedly adds to the atmosphere here and allows you to get a true sense of the past.

Perched on an elevated rock plateau between Nafplio and Mycenae, Tiryns was once a center of high importance for the Mycenaean Greeks, an advanced civilization that introduced several engineering and architecture advances into the world between 1600 and 1100 BC. Offering a highly strategic defensive position with the ability to see for miles around, such a spot not surprisingly offers spectacular views stretching off to Nafplio and the bay to the south.  

Staged over three levels, the uppermost of these was home to the palace within which could be found courtyards, gateways, private residences, galleries and a large colonnaded throne hall with advanced drainage systems in place throughout. Historians are still not sure what the lower two levels functioned as but it is thought they served as further residential areas along with storerooms and workshops –a theory supported by the remains of a pottery kiln unearthed here -while ordinary citizens would have lived outside of the mighty citadel walls.

Known to have been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, around 6,000 years ago, what remains today dates from the 13th century BC when the Mycenaean civilization was at its peak. While there is plenty to see inside the fortifications it is perhaps the walls which represent Tiryns most impressive aspect. Up to 30 ft thick in places and incredibly well-preserved, the walls are made up of massive individual stones, some weighing as much as 13 tons. Such a feature has given rise to the myth that only the one-eyed giant Cyclops with their excessive strength could have achieved such a feat, hence the term ‘Cyclopean Walls’ which refers to not just those here but also those of other ancient sites in Greece with the same enormous stones.

One exceptional aspect of Tiryns is its network of underground passages which run beneath the palace area and it is possible to access these arched tunnels, their walls now often worn to a polish by a many centuries long series of sheep which have huddled here for shade and shelter. The Mycenaean civilization declined gradually and eventually disappeared completely, believed to have been destroyed by sustained attacks by other cultures. By the second century BC Tiryns is known to have been completely deserted, as recorded by the geographer Pausanias on visiting here at that time.

If you visited the Archaeological Museum in Nafplio earlier in the day you may already have seen some of the Tiryns treasures on display there, taken from the site during excavations in the 19th and 20th centuries.   

Pre-Dinner Drinks and Dinner in Nafplio

Nafplio is one of those rare gems of a place which not only gives you an abundance of choice when it comes to eating and drinking venues but also offers a collection of distinctly different (but all equally charming) locations too. There is the gorgeous flower-filled labyrinth of the Old Town where you are surrounded by history, the cosmopolitan New Town and the lovely waterside port area with its views of the island fort. Completing the array is a choice of pretty beaches nearby including one right in town. All you have to do is hunt down the venue which matches your idea of lovely scenery, offers the perfect drink selection and has an appealing menu and no matter how you define each of these criteria there will be something somewhere which will suit.

Pre-dinner Drinks

On Nafplio’s waterfront promenade the cafes, bars and restaurants are literally lined up side by side and most of them don’t advertise their existence or have any kind of social media presence because they simply don’t have to. The location is lovely so it effortlessly attracts a steady flow of visitors who meander until they find something which suits and this is perhaps the best way of choosing somewhere to sit back with a drink in hand once the sun starts dipping towards the horizon.

One choice here is the Kontogiorgos Cafe which has a spacious terrace filled with cushioned chairs and sofas and a bar which stocks everything from international beers to inventive cocktails. In every way this is a perfect pre-dinner drink spot. You might not get to see the sun sink into the sea from this waterside cafe bar but you will be able to watch it descend behind the hills on the opposite side of the bay while the best bit of all is the direct view onto the Bourtzi. Sitting just off shore this old Venetian fort makes for a lovely sight to gaze upon during daylight hours but once dusk descends it is even more gorgeous, transformed into something straight from a fairy-tale with its beautiful illumination.

For sundowner scenery of a different kind head into the Old Town’s maze of meandering cobbled streets to arrive at the lovely Vyzantio. Located on a corner, this little jewel spreads its alfresco tables along both sides of its yellow-gold painted exterior and is in every way a perfect example of what a little tucked-away Greek taverna should be. However, as lovely as all this is it gets even better if you arrive here in the right season because this gorgeous little alley is nothing short of an absolute riot of bougainvillea. The restaurant has its own trunk-size vines trained up the building which drip a profusion of blooms while the balconies above add further explosions of color in every shade of pink, purple and red. The effect is breathtaking and magical and has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Offering a choice of wines, cocktails, beers and of course ouzo and raki, Vyzantio also has live music at the weekends to add a little extra something to a spot which is already as enchanting as you could wish.

Dinner

As you wander in Nafplio it can seem that the choice for places to eat is nothing short of never-ending. Alfresco tables can be found every few steps, set outside every bar, taverna and restaurant no matter how tiny. Not only is the sheer number incredible for such a relatively small destination but the quality is especially high. The majority of tourists in Nafplio are themselves Greek, holidaymakers arriving from Athens in a constant stream year round which means restaurants tend to cater more towards the discerning national diners who knows their keftethes from their kataifi than the overseas visitor looking for a fast meal option. All this spells heaven for foodies and those who want an authentic Greek gastronomical experience.

For such a choice which offers dining in the atmospheric alleys of the Old Town try Palio Archontiko which sits beneath its own bougainvillea vine in a little side-street just north of the War Museum. Offering traditional home-made dishes, Greek delicacies and some Italian-influenced options at excellent prices, This taverna is a favorite with Athenian tourists, something which serves as an easy way to gauge the quality. With the menu augmented by daily specials, some of the restaurant’s signature dishes include its rabbit stew, stuffed vine leaves and courgette balls while seafood, lamb and beef are also included in the options. 

While you could eat at a different restaurant every day for a year in Nafplio and still not run out of choices there are also some wonderful dining options a short taxi ride out of town. Five minutes away is the lovely sweeping crescent of pale sand known as Karathona Beach where you will find a handful of restaurants strung along the beach. Ideal for those who want a serene dining experience, one of the choices here is the beautiful Sambala Beach Bar and Restaurant which offers a good choice of Greek and international cuisine with a decent wine list.

Offering touches of rustic elegance with its natural wood, palm-thatching and quintessential beach bar elements, this tranquil venue puts you at absolute beach front with tables surrounded by trees just steps from the sand on its wooden deck. For those who want a rather more intimate meal there are also a further choice of tables tucked away in little corners with the air of romance heightened even more after dark when the Sambala lights its lanterns. 

An Evening in Nafplio

From the moment you first arrive in Nafplio you will instantly understand why it is often described as one of Greece’s most beautiful and romantic towns. Each of the elements which make Nafplio so special in the day continue to work their magic once night descends and in many ways the town is even more enchanting after dark. This is when the twisting alleys of the Old Town are bathed in the glow of a multitude of lanterns and lights and music spills out into the streets and squares from cozy tavernas and quaint bars.

Evening Walks

One of the best ways to soak up Nafplio’s atmosphere and sheer loveliness is simply to go for a stroll and one area simply made for doing just that is the lovely promenade at the harbor. Flat, wide and backed by nodding palm trees, this paved stretch offers continuous views of the bay along with the Bourtzi fort on its little island just offshore which is romantically lit after dark. If at any point you decide you have walked far enough stop at one of the endless string of bars and restaurants which line the landward side of the promenade and enjoy an after-dinner cocktail or two with magnificent views.

If you want to extend your walk the pathway actually continues all the way around the headland passing through small archways carved out of the rock until you arrive at Arvanitia Beach with some great views of the Palamidi fort perched above along the way. In summer when night arrives late this is a popular walk for the locals who want to enjoy the sunsets.

Shopping

For those who didn’t manage to fit souvenir and gift shopping into their packed day after dinner is a good time to rectify this. Shops stay open until late in Nafplio -typically until at least 10pm -and the town’s collection of lovely stores make browsing a lot of fun even if you don’t intend to buy anything. Some shops sell a little of everything while others specialize in such things as gourmet olive oils, jewelry, ceramics, komboloi (worry beads), art and practically everything else you might be looking for or never knew you needed until now.

Music and Cultural Events

While live music can be found in many bars and restaurants in town year round come summer concerts are a regular occurrence and there are some truly special settings for these. Around June and July the town hosts its annual Nafplion Festival with the tiny islet where the Venetian Bourtzi Fort is located serving as one of its venues.

Less than 30 minutes east from Nafplio can be found a cultural venue so exceptional it would be hard to beat anywhere in the world. The huge open-air amphitheater of Epidaurus was built in the 4th century BC and despite now being thousands of years old has acoustics which remain remarkable and near perfect. Every year from June to August the Athens and Epidaurus Festival stages a series of theater performances of classic Greek plays by both international and Greek companies, enjoyed by audiences of up to 12,000 people. So unique is this venue that whether or not you would typically enjoy such an evening the setting beneath the stars in a place infused with ancient history is a once-in-a-lifetime experience of absolute magic.

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