Nafpaktos is rather unknown to international tourists, but Greeks know the town very well. It has a medieval charm about it and with the tiny Venetian port, its imposing castle on the hill and the relaxed beaches and dark green landscape, Nafpaktos is an absolute must visiting when on a road trip to nearby Delphi or Messolonghi.
The picturesque port of Nafpaktos with the colorful boats mooring during summer is the trademark of the town. The beautiful town beach stretches from the port all the way around the west side of the bay and is a lovely spot for a swim with pebbles and crystal-clear waters.
Where is Nafpaktos Greece?
Naupactus is situated on a bay on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, 3 km west of the mouth of the river Mornos. The harbour is accessible only to the smallest crafts.
It is 9 km northeast of the Bridge Rio-Antirio, which is connecting mainland Greece to Peloponnese on the western part of the Gulf of Corinth. The Greek National Road 48/E65 (Antirio – Naupactus – Delphi – Livadeia) passes north of the town.
What does Naupactus mean?
The name ‘Naupactus’ means ‘boatyard’, from naus (ancient Greek meaning “ship”) and pêgnuein (Ancient Greek meaning ‘to build’).
In Greek legend, Naupactos is the place where the Heraclidae (the numerous descendants of Heracles / Hercules) built a fleet to invade the Peloponnese.
Beaches near Nafpaktos
Around Nafpaktos beaches are to be found in a close driving distance, all well organized with tourist facilities like umbrellas, sunbeds and serving from cafes. The most beautiful of the beaches, though, is the pebbled beach right in front of the old Venetian port. The medieval surroundings and the crystal-clear water make this beach a popular spot.
Except for the Town Beach you can visit the nice Psani Beach with family hotels, located in a walking distance from Nafpaktos or the Moanstiraki Beach 12 km east of Nafpaktos, where you can enjoy a delicious meal in one of the many fish taverns. At the nice and calm Platanitis Beach 9 km west of Nafpaktos you can enjoy the view of the Bridge Rio-Antirio and at Gribovo Beach which is also in a walking distance from Nafpaktos city center, you will find the beach organized with family hotels and fish taverns.
Weather and climate in Nafpaktos
Nafpaktos is known to have one of the best climates in all of Greece. During summertime there are short periods with extremely dry climate, but in general the weather is pleasant and sunny with an average temperature about 18 º C. The summer heat warms up the water of the Corinthian Gulf making it suitable for swimming far into the autumn months.
Nafpaktos – what to do?
Stay a few days in Nafpaktos while exploring nearby Delphi, Messolonghi and Ancient Olympia on road trips while enjoying the many seaside villages in the region, like that of Galaxidi. The strong winds in the Corinthian Gulf makes the area perfect for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Why to visit Nafpaktos?
A so well-preserved medieval town with its own Venetian castle is a rare sight. The two “arms” of the castle continue all the way down to the sea, embracing the historic city center. The old houses with their well-kept tiny gardens are stringed up along the narrow streets with the many stairs in the slopy town Naupactus. A local law prevents buildings with more than 3 stores and all houses must have ceramic Byzantine tiles.
You will find atmospheric small cafés and traditional tavernas with fresh sea food, delicious and straight from the Corinthian Gulf. At the central marketplace you’ll find some of the best tavernas, cafés and bars. There are so many reasons to visit the beautiful town of Nafpaktos!
What to see in Nafpaktos?
The greatest and most interesting attraction of Naupactus is the well-preserved fortress with its 25 towers, some of which are circlular as other are square. The fortress has witnessed many battles in the past and offers a fantastic view to all of the town and the Corinthian Gulf.
Following the paved streets North of the square at the Port you will arrive in front of a building with impressive form, which causes the attention and interest of everyone who sees it for the first time. This is the “Botsari Tower”.
This building, built in two phases in the 15th and 16th century was often used to accommodate the current rulers of Naupactus. Shortly after the release of Lepanto, in 1829, this building came in possession of General Noti Botsari. Today, it is hosting a permanent exhibition of copies of paintings, sketches and maps related to the Battle of Lepanto (1571 AD).
History of Nafpaktos
In historical times it belonged to the Ozolian Locrians (related to the Dorians); but about 455 BC it fell to the Athenians, who peopled it with Messenian refugees and made it their chief naval station in western Greece during the Peloponnesian war. Two major battles were fought here.
Philip II of Macedon gave Naupactus to the Aetolians, who held it till 191 BC, when after an obstinate siege it was surrendered to the Romans. It was still flourishing about 170, but was destroyed by several earthquakes during the 1st millenium AD. From the late 9th century, it was capital of the Byzantine thema of Nicopolis.
In the late Middle Ages it was part of the Despotate of Epirus but was afterwards taken by Venice, who fortified it so strongly that in 1477 it successfully resisted a four-month long siege by a Turkish army of thirty thousand; in 1499, however, it was rumoured to have been sold by the Venetians to the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II. Under the Ottomans, Naupactos was known as İnebahtı and was the seat of a Turkish sanjak. The mouth of the Gulf of Lepanto (Lepanto is the English name for Naupactus) was the scene of the great sea battle in which the naval power of the Ottoman Empire was nearly completely destroyed by the united Papal, Spanish, Habsburg and Venetian forces (Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571). In 1687 it was recaptured by the Venetians, but was again restored in 1699, by the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Ottomans. It became part of the Kingdom of Greece in March 1829.