Nafplio (or Nafplion) is a small town in Peloponnese (Greece). Many times it is also referenced as Nauplio, Nauplia or Nafplia. The name is the remnant of the old venetian name Napoli di Romania, from the Greek "nea poli"="new town" of Romania, the name of the area during the late Byzantine times.
A lovely romantic downtown with cozy streets, a great place to stay for radial travelling around Peloponnese.
Nafplio was briefly the capital of Greece before the seat of power was eventually shifted to Athens. It is an historical city due to its Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman heritage, as well as its meaning to the Greek Revolution. It has a beautiful centre with small neoclassical historical houses, squares and churches. It is the capital of the prefecture of Argolida.
According to Greek mythology, Nafplio was founded and named after the hero Nafplios, father of Palamidis. It was later under Byzantine, Frankish, Venetian and Ottoman rule. In 1829, after the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, Nafplio was chosen as the first capital of the newly-founded state under Governor Kapodistrias. His mansion (Palataki, or "Little Palace") was on the square in front of today's town hall. In 1833 the capital moved to Athens, and Nafplio remained the capital of the prefecture of Argolida.
The town is built in two parts, the old, covering all the peninsula and the new, expanding to the north and the east. Upon your arrival you will probably drop off at the central bus station, which is at the east end of the old town, or at the port, hosting a large parking area, at the north seaside of the town.
It is sometimes confusing to some that the hill overlooking the town is on the south of the town and the sea on the north. But once you notice it is easy to walk around the orderly shaped blocks.
The major reference point of the old town is Syntagma square, a very large square, with many Venetian-style buildings all around. Just two blocks north and west is the Philellinon square, by the sea and at the end of the seaside part of the road. Here lies also the old Customs building.
The reference point for the whole town, new and old, is the conjunction of the road coming from athens (Argous street) and the one going east to Epidavros and Porto Heli (Asklepeou street). It is named "endekate", meaning eleventh, after the bus-stop numbering system of old times. It is from here that a large park starts, covering the old train route, leading to the beginning of the old town.
From Athens the trip is 1.5~2 hours by car (147 km).
Buses connect the town with Athens, Salonica and all the major cities of Peloponessos.
From Athens, there are 12 to 14 daily buses (from the Eleftherios Venizelos airport take the X93 bus till the last stop). The buses of KTEL leave Athens from Terminal A in Kifissos central bus station. The journey takes about 2 hours and the price is € 11.8 one way, € 18 return (June 2010). You can buy tickets online.
There are buses from the Corinth-Channel Bus Terminal to Nafplio via Argos (June 2010), priced 5.8e one way, but not from Proastiakos Corinth Train station, due to their competition.
the town has a good protected port which can host several yachts providing them with all facilities.
The train station is at the port, served for tickets info etc. in an old wagon. Including a change for "proastiakos" train in Corinth the total time from Athens is 2h 10'. If you find the departure time convenient it will provide you a more comfortable cheap and accurate journey. 17e for a two way ticket (in two parts, one till Korinthos, one for the rest). Stops also at Argos and Mycenae. Presently (as of July 2015) canceled till further notice; from Athens you can get only as far as Corinth (50 min, about 10 trains daily)
Getting around within the town, recently, has been a lot easier, for those that love bicycles. The municipality is giving free bicycles for a day, just in front of the Town Hall, by the KTEL bus station.
At a first glance, Nafplio looks like an Italian city because of its architecture and the colourful houses. More fundamentally, Nafplio has a quite an interesting architecture, with many traces of eighteenth century European towns, Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Many of the old town's buildings date back to two hundred years ago.
- Vouleftikon. the first parliament of the Greek Nation, right south of the Syntagma sq, earlier used as an ottoman Jami.
- Venetian Headquarters. on the same sq, now an archeological museum
- St Spyridon church, on the mid of Kapodistriou str. (1702) where the first governor of Greece was killed, with traces of the killing bullet. The street is named after him.
- St George. (17th century), the metropolis of the town, on Plapouta str
- St Nicolaus. (18th century), on Philellinon sq, by the port
- Small Jami. on the east of Syntagma sq, now used as a theater
- Frangokklisia, Fotomara str (by the foot of the Akronafplia castle, on the south east of the old town). The oldest church in the town, built on several periods, still having traces of the old Catholic (Franc) Monastery.
- The Archeological Museum, ☎ +30 2752 027502. M 1:30PM-8PM, Tu-Su 8AM-8PM..
The museum is right on Syntagma Square, in a Venetian building of 1714 with impressive stone arches. Recently renovated and restored internally and externally (reopens October 2008 after 5 years), it includes new showcases and exhibits, accessibility and facilities for people with disabilities, and air-conditioning. In the new multimedia hall you can see documentary films, whereas children can take part in the regular programs that take place. The most important exhibit of the museum is the impressive bronze armor suit dating back to the 13th century B.C. and once worn by a Mycenaean soldier. Get the full story in the multimedia hall and travel through time to the era of ancient Greece. Entrance 2€ general / 1€ over 65 or students out of the EU / Free under 18 and EU students..
- The War Museum, Amalias Othonos 22. Tu-Sa 9AM-2PM, Su and national days 9:30AM-2PM..
In a beautiful historic building that served as the first military school in Greece, on the middle of Amalias str. Hosting war relics, guns, maps, paintings and photographs from the Greek revolution till the Second World War.
- The Komboloi Museum, Staikopoulou 25, ☎ +30 2752 021618. 9:30AM–9:30PM daily.
The first Komboloi (or worry-beads) Museum – said to be the only one worldwide – was founded in Nafplio in 1998 by Aris and Rallou Evangelinos, who have been collecting and studying the history of komboloi since 1958. The museum has had more than 55.000 visitors so far and the unique collection consists of approximately 1500 kombolois (from Asia Minor, Greece, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Persia etc.) that date from 1700 to 1950 and are made of various precious and rare materials. On the ground floor there is the workshop where old kombolois are repaired and new, either original or copies of the old ones, are produced. Entrance fee for the museum: € 3,00.
- The Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum (PFF or PLI in Greek), 1 V. Alexandros, ☎ +30 2752 028947. Exhibition W-M 9AM-2:30PM, 6PM-9PM, Tu 6PM-9PM. Museum shop W-M 9AM-2:30PM, 6PM-9PM, Su 6PM-9PM..
The permanent exhibition at the museum is dedicated to the “Greek town – Nafplio 1822-1922”. On the ground floor, miscellaneous museum items are presented in a daring and free arrangement in order to emphasize on the multiformity of the collections, while one can also visit the new expanded museum shop. Full admission : 4 € (morning)/ 3 € (afternoon), Reduced admission for persons over 65m and an adult accompanying a child. Museum Tour: 3 €.
- The Stone Museum.
An extension of the relevant museum in Lygourio. Containing among others specimens of fossils from the Epidaurus field, maybe the largest ammonites field in the world. Free admission. 16Apr-14Oct 09:00-14:00 & 17:00-21:00, 15Oct-15Apr 09:00-17:00, Sundays 10:00-16:00, Mondays closed.
- The Ouzo museum.
belonging to Karonis distilleries, it is located at Ag. Paraskevi area.
- the National Gallery. Located on Sidiras Merarchias str, just opposite of "alevri+zahari". Annex of the National Greek Gallery. In a building that a century ago served as the hospital of the town. Hosting paintings of famous Greek painters. M, Th, Sa 10AM-3PM; W, F 10AM-3PM, 5PM-8PM; S 10AM-2PM. Free M.
- the Municipal Art Gallery. on Vasileos Konstantinou str in old town, hosting various seasonal exhibitions
- Nafplion Art Gallery. on Vas ALexandrou 5. M-F 11AM-2PM, 7PM-9:30PM; Sa S 11AM-2:30PM
- Alpha Bank Cultural Center, At Kolletti 4. Tu-Sa 10AM-2PM, 6PM-8:30PM, Su and holidays 10AM-3PM.. Presenting the exhibition "Fred Βoissonnas,pictures of Greece", till October 31, 2010.
- Palamedes Public Library. On Koletti and Amalias str. In an ex girls school building. M-F 8AM-6:30PM.
- Palamidi. Daily 08:30-15:00. Standing like a crown over Nafplio, Palamidi fortress (build by the Venetians around 1686 and completed to its present form in 1714) was so well designed that all attempts to conquer it were unsuccessful, making it a legend at the time. Finally, in 1822, the Greeks succeeded, creating surprise and amazement. In very good condition, you can visit it by taking the legendary 999 (in fact 857) stairsteps, or simply drive there. The view is unique, and you will also see many historical monuments, such as the small cave-prisons (also prison of the national hero Kolokotronis) and the church of Saint Andreas. At night, drive back there to enjoy a scenic view of Nafplio under the moonlight, as well as a big part of the Argolic gulf and plain, the lighted castle of Argos to the north, and the lights of small villages along the road to the neighboring prefecture of Arcadia and the town of Astros, at the north-west. 4/2€..
- Bourtzi. The first part of the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi was built around 1400, on top of a rock-island at the entrance of the port. The architect was the venetian Antonio Gambell. During its history it has been used as a fort, as a shelter for the Greek government, as a home for unwelcome executioners, even as a hotel. Occupied by the Turks from 1715 to 1822 Today, it only takes 5 minutes to visit Bourtzi with the small boats available at the port and observe the town from the opposite side. Don’ t miss it (4e round-trip).
- Old town fortifications. All of the town used to be fortified, with two parts, the seaside merchant quarter, being the present old town, and the uphill, the barracks quarter, now an open archeological site, partly hosting a hotel.
At the old town fortifications only remain in the east limit, just in front of the central bus station. The large protecting trench now has been covered and it is part of the city's park.
At the other end of the gulf there is the undersea fountain of Anavalos, protected by an in-sea dam, hydrating all the area.
Due to the quality of the soil there are some interesting dolines (sinkholes) in the general area, some of which are hosting various old relics.
- Tiryns, Archeo Tirintha (Walk from Nafplio). 8:00 - 3:00. Really wondefull walled Mycenean palace about 4 kilometers from town. The site is very well preserved and easy to follow with a guidebook. This is where Herculese came back to between labours. To walk or cycle there go to the old railway station in the park next to the bus stop and follow the tracks as far as you can before cutting across to the main road. You cannot miss the site
Strolling in the old city of Nafplio
One of the best characteristics of Nafplio is that everything in the Old Town is within walking distance. In fact you can walk from one end to another in less than 15’, and that’s why you can see couples in love, happy kids, and large groups of friends everywhere in the town, at the port, in the alleys, always walking around and enjoying every part of the town. Because of the small distances and the paved ways, there are few areas cars are allowed to pass, and there is no bus service in the old part of town, only the central station that takes you to the new part of the town and the rest of the prefecture. So, leave the car in the parking and enjoy walking around Nafplio all year round. Alternatively, you can take the horse carriage or the small train for a tour in the town.
Some distinquished buildings are
- the First New Greek Gymnasium (built 1833)
- the old Town Hall building (Iatrou building)
- the house of the Viceroy
- the Alevras-Lambiris building (1830)
- the old train station (1890)
Climb 999 (in reality 857) stairs to the castle of Palamidis. You may get tired but the view is said to be worth it. We walked the paved road down to the crossing and went right down to "Karathona Beach". From "Karathona Beach" there is a walking path along the coast-line back to "Arvanithia Beach" and Nafplio. Its a nice scenic walk and takes about 1 hour.
During your strolls in Nafplio, it is worth adding 15 minutes to your schedule to walk around Psaromachala (meaning fishermonger's), the area under the rocky hill of Acronafplia. In contrast with the large, classical style mansions and open spaces of the main parts of the old town, here you will see small, white houses, with yards filled by flowers, narrow alleys and stairways, cats lurking and mewing, and in general the feeling of a small, traditional neighborhood, reminding to many the Greek islands. Add to the picture some larger mansions that have been renovated and turned to guesthouses and hotels and you have a unique part of Nafplio, with great view and good hospitality.
Enjoying the sea
Very close to the town is the quiet sandy beach of Karathona, just south of Palamede castle hill. There the locals gather to enjoy swimming in this blue flagged clean beach. At the back of the castles, 10 minutes walk just south of the town, is also the Arvanitia beach. Even more south, approachable by local bus or car, there is a series of marvelous beaches, very popular during the summer.
Daily Cruises in the Argolic Gulf
If you have time you van try this cruise, giving you the pleasure to enjoy the sea and the seaside attractions of the area, including a bath stop! On the promenade where the boats for Bourtzi depart, usually once a day in summertime.
In the town there are two cinemas, both on 25 Martiou Str,
- One serving during wintertime, by the fire brigade, near the bus station and
- One serving during summertime, a must go open air, well in the Greek open air cinema tradition. Usually it hosts all latest productions. It is located at the other end of the 25th Martiou str, at the east end of the park, just underneath Palamede castle. Usually starting on 9p.m. Tel 2751068855.
There is also a theater, the Trianon, on Syntagma sq., serving various plays during all year long.
Around Holy Easter (moving fiest) there are several local festivities:
- 50 days before, Apokria fiest (the Greek Carnibal), with masqueraded parades, music and events around the town
- 49 days before, the Kathari Monday (the Greek Mardi Gras), with outdoor picknicking, kite flying, music
- 7 days before, start of the Holy Week, having on of its most beautiful moment on
- 2 days before, Holy Friday, a large parade out of each of the trhee main churches of the town, leading to
- day 1, the Holy Easter Sunday
- 7 days after, Sunday, the burning of Judas, at the nearby Asini Village
- 50 days after, the Monday of the Holy Spirit, a celebration of two days (starting on Sunday) in the nearby village of Lygourio and of Agia Triada.
Other festivities are:
- 25 March, National day celebration and religious fiest
- The first Sunday of May is the fiest of artichoke, in the nearby village of Iria
- On the last week of June, the Nafplio Festival , a week of classic music concerts in the historic sites and castles of the place, very much worth attending. For 2010 it will take place during 18-27 of June.
- On the 15th of August, the day of Madonna, a large fiest with religious parade around the town,
Nafplio has a history of Greek traditional culinary products, based on the tradition of locally produced crops.
One has to try some of the goodies served in the various traditional bakeries around the town.
- Liz's Cupcakes (The Bakeshop+Cupcake Café), 13, 25 Martiou St. (Just before the park, opposite the open air cinema). A very interesting new arrival. All items made from scratch locally.
- Alevri+Zahari, at the middle of Sid. Merarhias str. The bakery-pastryshop, another local hit.
One should also try the locally made ice creams.
- Zorbas the Greek: family run, staff very nice. Salad, drinks and main for two persons about €27.
- Nafplios, best known as "Karamalis", at the port and near the start of the old town
- Popeye, Staikopoulou St. Italian style pizza, burgers, salads, pasta and sandwiches everything is fresh and made to order. Also have a good selection of Greek Micro Brewery beer.
There is also the usual choice of the Greek fast restaurants, best exemplified by Goody's, at the west end of the park, just before the end of the old town, a hundred meters from the bus station. Of course also numerous souvlaki and pizza spots, most around the north of the park area.
There are many restaurants with medium quality, usually targeted around the Greek tradition. A lot of them are spotted across Staikopoulou str. in the old town, or in the streets near the promenade. A few proposals:
- Kipos (Garden), 5, Ethnikis Antistaseos str. (just over Philellinon sq or one block west of Syntagma sq.), ☎ +30 2752022978. Mediaterranean - Italian style, probably one of the best choices.
- Omorfo Tavernaki is a good medium priced choice (if you manage to get a table), at the first parallel behind the port, Kotsonopoulou and Vas. Olgas str,
- Allaloum next to the Saint Nicolas Church.
- Koutouki Greek traditional cuisine. Next to St. Nicolas Church (Vas.Olgas str. 44)
- iliostasio a cafe & cocktail bar opposite to bourtzi, a beautiful and romantic place, at the west end of the promenade,
- to Lathos (the Wrong), one of the most atmospheric-psychedelic bars in Greece(!), at Vas. Konstantinou str, a few meters east of Syntagma Sq. Great Gin & Tonics.
- the cafeterias in the Syntagma sq, a quite atmospheric place for all times, where a lot of locals gather,
- the cafeterias by the sea, west of Philellinon sq, offering superb views of the Bourtzi castle and the sea, but a little more pricey,
- the train station cafe, within the park, not very much known, but keeping something from the old times of the area.
The best choices might be found in the new town, north of the train station/park, or along the Argous street. In the villages around there are various choices also, ranging from rented rooms, camping sites, to small hotels.
- Camping Xeni (In the nearby village of Tolo, Assini Beach), ☎ +30 27520 59338, +30 27520 36511. Very hospitable people and near a small beach.
- Acropole Hotel, 9, Vasilissis Olgas Str, ☎ +30 27520 97677, +30 27520 27796, fax: +30 27520 27796, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Argolis Hotel, 32, Argous Str (on the central road of the new town of Nafplio.), ☎ +30 2752 027695.
A lot of good choices in this range, most of which are around Syntagma sq., offering views of the old town and local mood.
- Amymone Pension, 39, Othonos Str., ☎ +30 27520 99477, +30 27520 22073, +30 6972084554 (Mobile), e-mail: email@example.com. Small and cozy family-run pension. Artistically decorated rooms, each inspired by its own flower -- and derives color from it. Daily room cleaning and change of towels. Internet (128kbps) available in suites. Common area on the ground floor -- great for a group of 5-6 people spending time together indoors. Double: €65 (breakfast included)..
- Marianna Pension. Cozy hotel overlooking the downtown from the mountain, close to one of the fortresses. Roof cafe for breakfast, great view on the town. Be prepared for 5 minutes stair climbing to reach it from the downtown; may be also reached by car from the fortress side. Single: €65, double €75.
- Rigas Pension, Kapodistriou Str. 8. A charming place in the center of Nafplio. Its rooms are neat and perfectly clean in old town-house style. It offers any comfort: ensuite bathroom, tv, fridge and air cond. From the second floor you have a nice view above Nafplio. The owner is Greek, speaks English, and is aimed to make your stay as pleasant as possible. doubles start at €50.
- Park Hotel, 1, Dervenakion Str, ☎ +30 27520 27428. Just opposite of the town's central park, near the east limit of the old town. Very good value for money.
- Byron Hotel, Kapodistriou 20 & Platonos corner (opposite to the church of St.Spiridon), ☎ +30 27520 22351, e-mail: Byronhotel@otenet.gr. Very nice, very quiet pension with balconies over looking the old town, close to the shops and tavernas. Excellent service. 60 euro plus.
- Grande Bretagne Hotel. A very charming and small hotel but excellent service, beautiful view of the port and very good rooms,
- Amalia Hotel. At the outskirts of the town, spacious, good value for money,
- Nafplia Palace. The best hotel of Nafplio, with a magnificent view, overlooking the city and the sea. Bangalows with private pools.
Nafplio Bus Station 27520 27323
Nafplio Post Office 27520 24855
Nafplio Taxi Station 27520 24120
Nafplio Tourist Office 27520 24444
Nafplio Port 27520 22974
Nafplio Hospital 27520 27309
Nafplio Tourist Police 27520-28131
There is almost zero violence or mobbing in the city, except the occasional pick pocket when you relax too much under the sun. Nights are safe, you can walk around at all times with no danger. It is considered one of the safest places in Greece.
at the start of the old town is located the local bus station, Ktel. It is the same very spot at the old times one could find carriages and horses. From here depart local buses for all the villages and attractions of the area, on a tight schedule and very low fare.
If you plan to stroll around, Nafplio is a good base to head out to the numerous archeological sites surrounding it. The Epidaurus theater, Mycenae and Tiryns (all UNESCO World Heritage sites) are just some of them. Nearly all towns villages and tourist spots are serviced by local buses at all times.
The bus station is at the end of the park, just before the old town, at Sygrou str 8. For tickets/schedules check the link . It is here you may catch the bus to the ancient (but still servicing) theater of Epidaurus, the ancient town of Mycenae.
Very close it is Argos, the most ancient town of Europe, now a quiet agricultural town. It has a castle overlooking the town, the ruins of its theater and the remainders of ancient settlements, and some interesting nearby monasteries.
It is also worth exploring the quiet nearby fisher-villages such as Vivari (with its lagoon and its wonderful sandy beach Kondyli), Hermioni town, Porto Heli with the ancient port of Aliis, the small fisher port of Koilada with its adjucent prehistoric Frahthi cave and the miniature churches in the doline wells near Didyma.
4 daily KTEL buses travel to Kranidi (30 minutes) and then to Kosta (to connect with local ferry to Spetses, about 10 minutes) through Porto Heli (high-speed ferry to Spetses, about 15 minutes), or to Hermioni (high-speed ferries to Hydra, about 30 minutes, and on to Poros and Pireaus, about 2 hours). The schedule is designed to coincide with the ferry departures.