I recommend taking a detour or two on the way to Nafplio or when leaving as there are some interesting sites nearby. To the north is Mycenae which is well known but the rarely visited sites of Heraion, Midea and Tiryns and the beach resort of Tolo are not far away, scroll down for more info.
Larissa Castle is hard to miss as you travel past Argos but it’s a little tricky to find. It sits on top of a rocky hill overlooking Argos and the views from the castle are amazing. The castle dates mostly from the medieval era and was built on the site of much earlier Mycenaean fortifications. The road to the castle is narrow and bendy and the car park at the top is small so its not suitable for coaches. You may find that you are the only visitor.
A castle of this size and stature in the UK would undoubtably command a hefty entrance fee and have the obligatory on site shop and toilets. There is nothing like that here but here are some information boards and signs in English on site.
On the northern outskirts of Nafplio is the Mycenaean fortified palace of Tiryns. Despite its proximity to Nafplio the site was all ours when we visited.
The walls are immense and can be seen from the main road. There are passageways through the walls and among the ruins to explore. Some of the finds and information about the site are in the Archeological Museum in Nafplio.
Originally called Perseuspolis, this Mycaenaean citadel is another wonderful site that is rarely visited. The remains are pretty ruinous but it is still a wonderful place to wander and take in the breathtaking views.
Below Midea are the Mycenaean Tombs of Dendra, where it is thought the rulers of Midea were buried. The Bradt guide states that ‘there is little to see now‘ – bit rude we thought. However we loved it here! There are 16 chamber tombs, some you can enter, and a tholos tomb. Each tomb has a detailed information board next to it in English.
Some of the tomb entrances were blocked by overgrown weeds and bushes [and spiders] but overall this site was a pleasant surprise.
The Argive Heraion [Heraion of Argos]
The setting for this temple which is dedicated to Hera is absolutely stunning. When you look down on the main temple from above, with the countryside behind, it takes your breath away. One can visualise what the temple may have once looked like ringed with pillars. Sadly there is no information on site at all but you can learn more at the Archeology Museum in Nafplio.
Kefalari Cave and Church
A few miles south of Argos and west of Nafplio is the pretty village of Kefalari. There is a taverna here so it’s a good spot to stop for refreshments. The attractive church holds a surprise as part of it is built into one of the caves in the rockface.
Pyramid of Kenkreai
Beyond Kefalari is The Pyramid of Kenkreai. Leashia imagined a large Egyptian style structure and was rather underwhelmed when we found it and could not stop laughing. I liked it. No one really knows its purpose.
A short 15 minute drive to the east of Nafplio is the beach resort of Tolo. It caters for the tourist really well and has a wide range of accomodation, shops and restaurants. It struck me as being a little tired and it was not immediately attractive but if you are after a beach break it may be ideal. The sandy beaches extend along the whole town and the views of the islands in the bay are lovely.
Ancient Asini is on the eastern edge of Tolo. It may be ancient but there is bugger all left to see now. You have to pay to enter the sight and on our visit the toilets were not working. The most complete part of Asini are the walls by the gate, you don’t actually have to enter the site to see those.
There are paths and information boards, but nothing really to look at, apart from the views. The Italians destroyed much of what remained of the remains in the Second World War in the construction of pill boxes and gun emplacements on the site, there is not even much evidence of these! The highlight of our visit was the WW2 exhibition in a cave blasted out of the rock by the Italians, and the views.