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Top Things to Do in the area of Nafplio

Bourtzi ● Epidaurus ● Mycenae ● Nafplio ● Palamidi ● Tolo ● 04 October 2021
 
Not too far from Athens, Nafplio is an excellent choice for those looking for a place for their autumn vacations. This lovely, romantic city is located in Peloponnese, specifically the Argolida region. It is about a 2-hour drive from Athens by car or bus. This is why many Athenians choose it for a short trip at weekends. Nafplio is also historically significant, as it was the first capital of the modern Greek state from 1828 to 1834, when Athens became the new capital. Below you will see a guide for the best things to do in the town, as well as some very exciting options for day excursions!


The picturesque Nafplio Town and Bourtzi Fortress



Palamidi Castle

Palamidi is one of the main attractions of the town. The Venetians built this castle in 1714, and it is at an altitude of 216 meters. Palamidi also served as a prison for some time. One of its most famous prisoners was Theodoros Kolokotronis, an acclaimed hero of the Greek revolution who spent a few months there. Palamidi is also known for the 999 steps you have to climb to reach it, but if it is any relief, the number is just a legend, and in reality, the steps are only 857. Apart from its history, another reason for its popularity is the marvellous view that it offers, which will make you forget about the steps you had to climb to get there!


Bourtzi

A place you wouldn't want to miss on your visit is Bourtzi. Bourtzi is the trademark of the town and certainly its most photographed area. The name means "tower" in Turkish. It is a tiny islet in the town's entrance with an impressive Venetian castle. The castle was built in 1473 to protect the town from pirates and other invaders. Apart from being a fortress, it also had some other uses. After the deliberation of the town, it was used as a residence for the executioners of convicts of Palamidi Castle. There was even a period in the 20th century when it was used as a hotel! Nowadays, it is just a tourist attraction, and you can easily visit it by taking one of the many boats that frequently depart from the port.


A fishing boat in front of the Bourtzi Fortress



Old Town

One of the best things to do in Nafplio is to take a walk and explore its impressive old town. It is a beautiful, romantic area where you will find charming buildings, many of them in neoclassical style, lovely squares, narrow alleys, small shops and cafes. All the above make Nafplio one of the best places to choose if you are planning a romantic getaway!


A traditional street in the Old Town



Museums

As a town of rich history, Nafplio also has some fascinating museums you can visit. The most important is the Archaeological Museum. It is hosted in an imposing Venetian building, which was constructed in the 18th century. The building is located right in the heart of Nafplio, in Nafplio's main square, named Syntagma Square. It has a rich collection of exhibits from many historical periods, such as the Neolithic and the Mycenaean period. Another exciting museum also hosted in a historic building is the War Museum. There you can see a collection of war material and become familiar with the area's war history.

Last but not least, a unique museum to visit is Komboloi Museum. This museum was established in 1998, and it is the first and the only one of its kind in the world. There you will find an exciting and rich collection of worry beads from various countries and centuries, made from many different materials.  


Nafplio Beaches

Apart from the town's history and the picturesque alleys, in Nafplio you will find some great swimming options too. A great beach close to the town is Karathona. This beach is easily accessible, and you can even get there on foot. Apart from swimming in its lovely waters, you can also practise water sports or enjoy your coffee and meals in the cafes and restaurants of the area. 

Another option is Arvanitia beach, which is inside the town of Nafplio. It is a small beach, but it is very popular due to its beauty and convenient location. It is primarily pebbled, and you can also find there cafes and restaurants. Furthermore, you can easily combine it with a visit to Palamidi as it is close to the monument.


The lovely Arvanitia beach from high view



Tolo

Tolo is a small, seaside village close to Nafplio that has become a well-known tourist resort during the last decades. It is at 11 km, and it takes approximately 25 minutes to get there by bus. Tolo gets especially busy during summer, as the main reason to visit it is its long, sandy beach. The beach is well-organised, and you can practise water sports there. Moreover, the water is shallow, and therefore it is a perfect choice for children and family vacations. You can also find many accommodation options by the sea. 

Right opposite Tolo beach, you will find a tiny islet, called Koronisi, with only a little chapel on it. The chapel is dedicated to the Twelve Apostles, and it is a popular choice for weddings and baptisms. You can easily visit it as there is a boat schedule running from Tolo. 

Tolo is also an excellent starting point for daily cruises to some very well-known islands, such as Hydra, Spetses and Poros. These islands are relatively close to Tolo, and you can visit them by taking a boat from Tolo port. There is even a boat schedule to visit Monemvasia with its impressive castle. 


Small boats in the port of Tolo



The Archaeological site of Mycenae

A great day trip if you are in the area of Nafplio is a trip to the Archaeological site of Mycenae. This is, without doubt, one of the country's major archaeological sites. It is only half an hour away from Nafplio, and you can easily visit it by car. 

The town was inhabited since the Neolithic period, but its great days of glory were during the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age was when the Mycenaen civilisation flourished and spread out Greece. Mycenae town was mentioned in the great works of the poet Homer and the geographer Pausanias. It is also connected with many stories from Greek mythology and has been an inspiration for many Greek plays. 

The first excavations took place during the 1870s by the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. The excavations brought to light incredible findings, such as the palace and tombs of the royal family. During later excavations, other houses and graves were found. Moreover, archaeologists found various objects, many of which are made of gold. These objects are now exhibited at the National Archaeological and Mycenae Museums.

One of the most impressive sights is the so-called Tomb of Clytemnestra. Of course, there is no evidence indicating that this is her tomb, but it was attributed to her as there were findings that showed that this was a queen's tomb. Clytemnestra was an intriguing figure of Greek mythology, and she appears in many Greek tragedies. According to the myth, she was the wife of Agamemnon, who was the king of Mycenae when the Trojan War took place. Agamemnon had to sacrifice their daughter Ifigeneia, without telling Clytemnestra, for the Greek ships to sail to Troy. During her husband's absence, she developed an affair with his cousin, Aegisthus. Together they were plotting her revenge. When Agamemnon finally returned, they killed him and the Trojan princess Cassandra, who he captured at war. They then ruled together Mycenae for some years, but they didn't have a happy ending either. Orestes killed them, the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, who was seeking revenge and justice for his father's death. You will also find another tomb attributed to Aegisthus on the archaeological site


Imposing tomb in the Archaeological site of Mycenae



Epidaurus

Another interesting place for a day excursion is Epidaurus. Epidaurus is only 28 km away from Naflplio, and it will take approximately 40 minutes to get there.

The most significant thing to see to Epidaurus is its Ancient Theatre. It was built in the 4th century BC, and it was part of the sanctuary dedicated to god Asclepius, who was the god of medicine. The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is the greatest and the most well-preserved ancient theatre in Greece. Moreover, it is famous for its exceptional acoustics. Due to its remarkable sound quality, it is believed that almost every sound made on stage can be heard by all of the audience, even the ones sitting very far from the scene. 

Moreover, it is built in a magnificent landscape full of greenery that offers incredible views. For all these reasons, watching a performance there is a unique experience. The Theatre is still operating, and it hosts the festival of Epidaurus every summer with a variety of ancient Greek drama performances. 

The Theatre belonged to the sanctuary, and it was part of the healing process for the patients that were coming there from all over the country. That was because it was a common belief that watching a theatre performance could greatly benefit the mental and psychical health of people. 

While being on the Archaeological site, you can also visit the remains of the sanctuary of Asclepius and the Archaeological Museum that hosts findings from the excavations that took place in the area. 

Another place to visit is the Little Theatre in Epidaurus. This is located in Palea Epidaurus, approximately a 20-minute drive from the archaeological site. It is also believed that it was built in the 4th century BC. This Theatre was discovered relatively recently, in 1970, and it is much smaller than the other one. It is also in operation, and it hosts theatre and music performances. 

Finally, it is worth visiting the lovely villages of Nea Epidaurus and Palea Epidaurus, where you can enjoy a walk and also find many dining options. 


The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and its incredible view





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