Nafplio has much to recommend it, being a charming seaside town, near many of the Peloponnese’s major archaeological sites and an important role in Greece’s history. Napflio was the first capital of Greece, its strategic role evident by the three fortresses built around the city. Evidence that city was overtaken by the Venetians is apparent, their occupation obvious by the houses that grace the old city’s meandering streets.
Nafplio is a good base for anybody looking to explore Argolis, Mycenae and Epidaurus, with regular bus, train and ferry access to the city and to towns in the region. There is also much to see within the confines of the town.
The most striking feature of the city is the island fortress that lies out in the harbour. The Bourtzi, can be visited by boat, and is home to a folk music festival around the end of May. The Akronafplia Fortress above the town has been there since the Bronze Age and was used by the Venetians as the main town. As time passed it was also used as a prison, and the fortress has now been turned into a hotel.
The Palamidi Fortress stands on a cliff face overlooking the town. Completed by the Venetians in the early eighteenth century only to be conquered by the Turks soon after, the fortress has the best views of the town and the Aegean. Walking up the 999 steps is a challenge for many, so ensure you take lots of water if attempting the climb on a hot day. There is also road access for the less adventurous.
Nafplio has a number of museums that cater for all types of history fans. The Archaeological Museum is particularly good for those interested in Mycenaean artefacts, while the Military Museum in the town has a collection of photographs, uniforms and other artefacts from the War of Independence, giving a picture of the more recent history of Greece. There is also a folklore gallery as well as Greece’s only museum dedicated to the komboloi, or the worry beads that you will see in the hands of most men and sold in every tourist shop across the country.
Food and music are another aspect of Nafplio that are there to be explored. As the town is a major Greek tourist attraction, there is no shortage of seafood restaurants and nightclubs. Being a harbour town the fish, prawns and other ocean delicacies are always fresh and plentiful. Many of the restaurants close down over the winter; however, a good meal can be searched out with ease. A recommendation is to hunt out the smaller tavernas over the larger tourist restaurants to experience Greek cuisine at its best.