Nafplio – Charming Old Capital Surrounded by Stunning Beaches and Sights

Just two hours’ drive from Athens you find Nafplio, the old capital of Greece. It is probably the most beautiful town in the Greek mainland with a distinct Medieval atmosphere. Walking around the narrow alleys and streets paved in marble is like stepping into the past.

Beautiful port of Nafplio city with small boats, palm trees and Bourtzi castle on the water, Greece
Beautiful port of Nafplio city with small boats, palm trees and Bourtzi castle on the water

On a hilltop above Nafplio poses the strong fortress of Palamidi – from there you will have a stunning view to sea and the old citadel below. At the port entrance there is an islet with Bourtzi, the most picturesque tiny castle which used to protect Nafplio from naval attacks. The Athenians love Nafplio, and it is quite popular as a weekend hub all year round. Nearby Tolo is a great summer resort with its relaxing atmosphere and long, sandy beach.

Where is Nafplio Greece?

Nafplio is a seaport town on the east coast of Peloponnese, just two hours drive from Athens. Nearby you will find some of the most important archaeological sites in all of Greece, such as Epidaurus and Mycenae. Nafplio has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was the first capital of modern Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplio is now the capital of the peripheral unit of Argolis.

Where is Nafplio on a map?

Map of Argolida in Peloponnese Greece
Map of Argolida – Nafplio Coordinates: 37°34′N 22°48′EClick to enlarge map

What is Nafplio known for?

The old citadel of Nafplio in Peloponnese Greece
The old citadel of Nafplio

There is plenty to marvel when you walk around the Old Town of Nafplio: elegant mansions and large squares paved in marble. On the hilltop the fortress of Palamidi has been posing since the Venetian rule. Nafplio was one of the very first cities of Greece to be set free during the Greek War of Independence. For a few years (until Athens was freed) it was the first capital of Independent Greece. This is the reason for the many historical sites in Nafplio, including Palamidi Fortress and Bourtzi Castle.

Acronafplia in Nafplio, Greece - Photo by G. Filippini
Acronafplia in Nafplio – Photo by G. Filippini

Nafplio – How to get there?

Nafplio has no airport. The nearest airport is the international airport of Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos, which receives flights from the whole world all year. The best way to reach Nafplio is by car or bus.

Nafplio port with fishing boats, Peloponnese Greece
Nafplio port with fishing boats and Bourtzi Tower on the backdrop

Visit Nafplio by car: You can rent a car in Athens and drive through the Greek National Road to Corinth. After the canal in Corinth, you will have to follow the signs for Nafplio. The total distance from Athens to Nafplio is approx. 138 km.

Visit Nafplio by bus: The public KTEL buses link Nafplio with Athens and Patra and nearly every important spot or sight in all Argolida, like Epidaurus, Mycenae, Argos, Porto Heli, and Kranidi.

The Nafplio promenade

The Nafplio promenade is a very pleasant place to spend your time. You can go jogging in the morning hours, strolling in the afternoon and later you can enjoy the spectacular sunset. My best advice is for you to get there about an hour before sunset, get a seat at one of the cafes facing the water, and enjoy the sun setting over the castle in the middle of the bay.  It is probably the loveliest harbour in Greece. There are many cafes if you want to enjoy a frapé (ice coffee) or something stronger.

Nafplio – What to see?

Palamidi Fortress

The fortress has an impressive view over the Argolic Gulf, the city of Nafplio and the surrounding country. There are 857 steps in the winding stair from the town to the fortress. However, to reach the top of the fortress there are over 1,000 steps. Locals in Nafplio say there are 999 steps to the top of the castle, and specials can be found on menus that incorporate this number to catch a tourist’s eye.

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Bourtzi Tower

Bourtzi Tower
Bourtzi Tower

The tiny islet of Bourtzi is in the middle of the port entrance. The small but strong castle of Bourtzi can be visited by boat from the port of Nafplio.

Akronafplia Fortress

View from Palamidi fortress on Nafplio citadel and the port with Bourtzi fortress, Nafplio Greece
View from Palamidi fortress to Akronafplia fortress, Nafplio old citadel and the port with Bourtzi tower

Akronafplia Fortress, the oldest castle in Nafplio, is set on the peninsula of Akronafplia. The lower sections of the castle dates to the Bronze Age. It was used as a political prison from 1936 to 1956. A lift will take you all the way up to the castle from the square of Politiko Nosokomio.

travel to Greece - Wine tasting

Winery and Wine Tasting


Nafplio Syntagma Square

Historically it is the most important square in Nafplio. In the 19th century it was known as the Platanos Square. Have a seat in one of the many cafes and restaurants lined up in the square and enjoy the beautiful mansions and the view of the imposing castle.

Nafplio Archaeological Museum

This museum houses some of the most important artifacts from the Argolid – findings from Mycenae, Tiryns, Argos, and the surrounding area. The museum is rather small with a minor ticket fee, and it is laid out in an informative and organized way.
A seldom and nice surprise might be the exhibits about the prehistoric civilization in the area, with a few objects that are tens of thousands of years old.

Folklore Museum

This small museum in the old part of town will give you an idea of what life was like in the “old days”, a hundred and more years ago in Nafplio. It hosts traditional costumes, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry.
Address: Odos V. Alexandros 1, Nafplio, Greece

National Gallery

You will find it in a neoclassical building with an art collection dedicated to the Greek Revolution as well as short-term exhibitions in its hall.

War Museum

You will find it on 22, Amalias Avenue in a building built to house the first Military Academy. It displays weapons used by the soldiers of Nafplio.

Porta dela terraferma

Is also known as “The Gate of Xira”. It was constructed about 300 years ago when it was the only entrance to Nafplio from the land. You will find it right below the walls of Akronafplia.

Old Train Station

Right outside the city walls the old railway station of Nafplio was established in 1884. The line was operating until 1963, and reopened 30 years later, relocated next to the port. Today you can visit the old railway station.

Ancient Tiryns

Cyclopean masonry at Tiryns, Peloponnese, Greece

5 km outside Nafplio you will find ancient Tiryns just to the side of the road. It is nice because there are not so many tourists there, since it is not really organized. You can walk rather freely around the site where old legend tells us that a Cyclops built the walls. The walls are made of huge boulders which tower over you as you walk through the path. It is a short stop that you should not miss! Perfect spot for a picnic!

Best beaches near Nafplio

Top view of Tolo beach or "Psili Ammos" is from the most popular tourist resorts of Argolida in Peloponnese, Greece
Tolo beach or “Psili Ammos” is the most popular tourist resorts of Argolida
  • Tolo Psili Ammos beach – is an organized, sandy, and family friendly beach water sport centres. It is located 10 km southeast of Nafplio.
  • Arvanitia beach – is an organized, pebbled beach. You will find it behind the city centre of Nafplio, on the southern part of Akronafplia. It is a small beach with some tourist facilities but tends to be crowdy.
  • Karathona beach – is a partly organized, sandy / pebbled, and family friendly beach located 6 km south of Nafplio. It has many water sports centres and tourist facilities and might be a bit crowdy during summer.
Aerial view of beach Arvanitia in Nafplio, Greece
Arvanitia beach in Nafplio

You will find many beaches near Nafplio, since the coast of Argolida is both clean and beautiful with many tourist facilities. The best beaches nearby are Tolo, Arvanitia and Karathona.

Nafplio – What to do?

Nafplio - narrow cobblestoned alley with the neoclassical buildings of the old town, Peloponnese Greece

Cycling City Tasting


Scuba diving

Diving in Greece

You will find great diving spots at the sea around Nafplio and the peninsula of Argolida – for experienced divers as well as beginners. It is in the popular beach resort of Tolo near Nafplio where most of the diving centers have their base. Here you can rent equipment, take courses at all levels, and go on organized boat trips to diving sites, also night trips.

Sea Canoeing / Kayaking near Nafplio

Around Nafplio you will find several canoeing centers renting canoes and organizing kayak tours at sea.

Travel to Greece - Sea kayak on beach

Tolo Kayak Tour


Travel to Greece - sea kayaks on beach

Sea Kayak Epidaurus


Workshops in Nafplio

Find the best workshops in Nafplio below.

workshop - cooking class in greece

Nafplio Cooking Class


Nafplio - pedestrian zone

Nafplio Food Tour


red wine - wine tasting greece

Nemea Wine Tasting


Sailing lessons in Nafplio

Sailing in Greece

Spend a day on the waters learning how to sail while also swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing in the middle of the cruise. Discover the underwater scenery with its blue green shades and shoals of fish all around you. Captain Aris with his 42′ boat can be hired for the day. You will find him at the harbour with a small sign advertising “instructional sailing day trips”. He is an intelligent, “60-something” Greek who speaks flawless British English and patiently teaches all the secrets of sailing.

Why visit Nafplio?

The old citadel of Nafplio in Peloponnese Greece

Nafplio City Walking Tour


Nafplio, the old capital of Greece has interesting sights, a historical atmosphere, and several great beaches in the region around the city where you can enjoy lazy days in between the sightseeing. At the beaches you will find both excellent restaurants, studios, and hotels to stay for a few days. Tolo is the most popular resort near Nafplio but also Kandia and Nea Kios are beautiful.

Sights in Argolida

Nafplio – Weather and Climate

Average temperatures in °C all year round in Nafplio, Peloponnese
Naplio seaside and church, Greece