Wonderful castles, museums, churches and walks. There’s plenty to see and do in Nafplio:
It’s great just wandering around the old town in Nafplio but there are several churches and museums that are worth popping into as well as the superb Palamidi Castle. There is a Mosque in the main square and Bourtzi Castle in the bay as well as Akronafplia Castle which is now the site of a posh hotel.
Palamidi Castle sits atop of a large rocky bluff that dominates the town. You can take the rather daunting steps up to the castle or drive there, take your pick. We drove.
The Venetian castle which was built in the early 18th Century is a great place to explore and the ruins are pretty extensive. The views over Nafplio and the bay are lovely.
There is plenty to explore in the castle grounds including prison cells, impressive walls and amazing views.
Most tourists make a beeline for Palamidi Castle and poor Akronafplia Castle is rarely visited in comparison. It is the oldest part of Nafplio and dates back to the bronze age and until the 13th century it was a town of its own.
The castle is set on the rock opposite Palamidi and I suppose it is not so imposing from below but is definitely worth a visit. The ruins are not so splendid, but the views over Nafplio and Bourtsi Castle to one side, Arvanita Beach on the other and of Palamidi Castle are superb.
There is a ‘secret’ lift through the rock up to it too, so you haven’t got to worry about a challenging walk. To find the lift you need to head up the steps from the main square, turn right and then walk for a few minutes until you reach a car park. You will see a tunnel on the left through the rock with lifts at the end.
It’s all a bit futuristic in a 70’s B movie kind of way. There are three lifts, but only one was working when we visited. When you exit at the top you will see the rather expensive but also a bit ugly Nafplio Palace Hotel on your left. Head to the right to explore the castle ruins and for the views.
Panagia, also known as the Holy Church of Virgin Mary, near Sidagmatos Square [AKA Syntagma Square] has an imposing tower and is extravagantly decorated on the inside in typical Greek style. This is the oldest church in Nafplio and was built in the early 18th Century.
St George Holy Orthodox Church
This church which is also known as a Cathedral has had a chequered history. It was built in the early 16th Century and was converted into a Mosque by the Turks but has been an orthodox Church since 1822. It is situated in the square off Plapouta in the old town. The central chandelier is enormous.
St Spiridon Church
St Spiridon Church was built in 1702 and the bell tower was added in 1853. The first prime minister of Greece was assassinated outside the church in 1831. You can still see the bullet hole in the wall by the entrance which is protected by a glass panel.
This museum in the Main Square has just reopened after rennovation and contains some interesting artifacts from the local area. It makes sense visiting the museum if you have visited the ancient sites of Dendra, Tyrins, Midea, Epidavros and The Argive Heraion.
I particularly liked the 7th Century BC ceremonial masks found at Tiryns.
The walk to Arvanitia Beach
There is a lovely walk from the harbour that hugs the cliff and ancient walls of Akronafplia Castle. You pass some swimming platforms before rounding the headland which offers superb views of Bourtzi Castle offshore and a different perspective of Palamidi Castle. The walk takes around 20 minutes. The only drawback when we visited was that the path was closed due to the danger of falling rocks, bugger! Luckily it was simple to go around the locked gate.
Arvanatia Beach has changing facilities but is not that attractive. If you turn inland at the beach you re-enter Nafplio between the castles of Palamidi and Akronafplia. You could also continue the walk into the next bay where there is the large sandy beach of Karathona.
The Walk to Karathona Beach
The walk to Karathona Beach from Arvanitia Beach takes about 50 minutes. It takes you past some lovely secluded coves which are perfect for a quiet dip away from the crowds.
For more info on swimming in Nafplio- click HERE.