A Girl's Guide to Nafplio

january 6, 2018

Set along the sea, in the Peloponnese region of Greece, Nafplio holds an enchanting history, while today, its colorful and darling air appeals to a romantic escape. A light sea breeze narrowly penetrates the charismatic narrow streets, where flowering vines fall from balconies beneath colorfully shuttered houses. Citrus tree-lined squares perfume the air and smiling restaurateurs beckon you inward for a taste of local fare.

Nafplio is a quick 1.5-2 hour drive from central Athens passing the scenic Sarconic Gulf, Corinthian Canal, numerous ruins, and vast orange orchards. The city itself houses two fortresses and several interesting museums, while the encompassing region offers even more key historical sights and activities. The amiable tone of the town, along with its seafront setting and charming exteriors will make you feel like you’ve truly stepped into a lovely utopian bubble.

sEE // Do

 

  • Walk around the Historic Old Town. This area is completely pedestrianized and holds numerous authentic restaurants, welcoming storefronts, and hidden gems. I recommend staying in a hotel or bed-and-breakfast in this area.

 

  • Enjoy the view from the Palamidi Fortress. Overlooking the town and the Argolic Gulf, this citadel offers interesting glimpses of regional history and nature. The castle was first built by the Venetians in the early 18th century, and then was quickly conquered by the Ottoman Empire soon after completion. It was finally surrendered to the Greeks in 1822. To reach the fortress, you can hike up the nearly one-thousand steps beginning at the mountain base on the outskirts of the old town or access by car. The expansive horizon and charming city below offer just as much interest as the ruins themselves.

 

  • Bourtzi Castle, the enchanting island fortress in the gulf, is best viewed by land to appreciate its strategic positioning, conceived by the Venetians in the 15th century to protect the city from pirates and foreign invaders. You can take one of the ferries or water taxis over to get a closer look.

 

  • The Museum of Komboloi is a one-of-a-kind exhibit and shop selling the traditional komboloi, also known as “worry beads”. It’s worth popping-in to gander at the thousands of varieties in every shade and size, some of which date back over 300 years. You can take home your own set from the amazing collection on the ground floor. Bonus: The komboloi can also serve as a bracelet - such a unique and culturally significant gift idea.

  • For a close look at regional history and culture, don’t miss the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation. The museum does an excellent job of curating anthropological and historical artifacts, like authentic folkware, furniture, and children’s toys, while also outlining the tumultuous history of the Peloponnese.

 

  • Karathona Beach is a lovely respite in any season. The 10 minute drive from town is a pleasure of its own, as the winding road leading down to the seafront from the mountains offers fantastic views.The beach itself is naturally beautiful and the water is relatively calm.

 

  • The ruin of Mycenae, a truly ancient sight, dating back to the 14th century BCE, commands serious respect. Situated atop a hill with surrounding olive groves, Mycenae’s rocky layout is as scenic as it is educational. The monument has been sighted in ancient Greek mythology and was referred to in Homer’s Iliad in his famous account of the Trojan War.

 

  • It should also be noted that the Peloponnese region is known for its wine production. Unfortunately, I went in off-season (November - March) and wineries were not open for tours or tastings. Boooooo.

Eat // Drink

 

  • Antica Gelateria di Roma has all the tasty things from your most decadent Italian fantasy. They have bold coffee and refreshing aperitivos, but the real excuse to come multiple times a day is home-made artisanal gelato. The stracciatella flavor is especially amazing.

 

  • On the waterfront, Arapakos is a nice choice for seafood and a seaview.

 

 

  • For traditional Greek food try Omorfo Tavernaki. Grab a seat on the patio to enjoy the atmosphere of its exceptionally charming streetside setting.

 

  • Sokaki has an incredibly fun and eclectic vibe. Pop in for a drink and some snacks.

Shop // Splurge

  • Oxette, a Greek jewelry chain, has incredibly beautiful and classic jewelry at surprisingly affordable prices.

 

 

  • Omberon is a lovely shop for the trendy gal. Many garments come from Greek designers, but they also carry international brands.

 

  • Petite Boutique has vintage inspired garments and more classic pieces, along with little knickknacks and gifty items, such as candles.

 

  • Stamatakis has all the necessities for a dapper man’s wardrobe. They carry timeless and classic pieces, such as sports jackets, wingtip shoes, elegant ties, and breezy button ups.

 

  • Nectar & Ambrosia sells numerous varieties of honey, along with specialty items and skincare products made from the golden liquid. The shop promotes organic products and goods which promote healthy and natural living.

Getting There // Getting Around

While the old town of Nafplio is completely pedestrianized, many of the best sights involve a drive out of the city (Mycenae, Karathona Beach, wineries, etc). Additionally the surrounding countryside is beautiful and should not be missed. For this reason I recommend renting a car. Additionally, there are buses leaving from central Athens headed to Nafplio daily. Once in Nafplio, you might be able to get around to the farther sights by arranging a taxi.