Nafplio is a destination that often gets overlooked by international travellers coming to Greece, but it is, in fact, packed with history as well as being extremely picturesque and not far from Athens. The coastal town of Nafplio in the Peloponnese is a significant place in Greece, has been an important port and fortification town since ancient times as well as being the first official capital of the country after the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. The town only remained the main capital of Greece for around five years before King Otto decided to move the ruling powers to Athens, but this still makes Nafplio an important and interesting place for a visit. Let find out These Things to Do in Nafplio, Greece below.
These Things to Do in Nafplio, Greece
Explore Palamidi Castle
One of the main sights in Nafplio is the imposing Palamidi Castle that stands proud on the hilltop above the town. This impressive fortress was built by the Venetians in the early 1700s and was subsequently conquered by the Ottomans and later the Greek Rebels. Later still it was used as a prison and today allows visitors to explore the interesting architecture of the site and learn about the castle’s history.
Palamidi features eight bastions, all connected by linking walls and there is a chapel on site. Visitors can walk up to Palamidi from town but be aware there are over 900 steps get there, or can drive up via the asphalt road to the top.
Take the boat to Bourtzi
Another of Nafplio’s famous sites is the Bourtzi Castle which lies out on an island in the bay. This castle is even older than Palamidi, having been built in 1473 by the Venetians. Unfortunately, the castle itself is not actually open to the public, but in summer months visitors can take a boat out to the island and walk around the outside of the site.
People watch at Syntagma Square
After exploring the Parliament building you may want to take a pit stop in Syntagma Square the heart of Nafplio for some refreshments and a spot of people watching. The main Platanos square has long been a place of importance in the city, with many of the original Greek rebels living here after the War of Independence.
And many politicians having made speeches from under the plane tree that once stood in the centre of the square. Today, Syntagma Square is home to a number of cafés and restaurants with outside seating which are ideal for enjoying a drink under the warm midday heat.
Check out the Land Gate
The Land Gate was the main entrance to the city of Nafplio by land and while the original Venetian version no longer stands, the newer gate built by French engineer, Lasal, in 1708, is still well worth a visit.
Each night the Land Gate was close forcing those who were late to spend the night outside the city walls, and the gate was guarded by military personnel, controlling who came in and out of the city.
The Lion of Bavaria
Dating from the 1800s, The Lion of Bavaria is an exquisite sculpture carved into the rock near the church of Aghii Pandes that was commissioned by Ludwig of Bavaria, father of Otto first King of Greece to commemorate the lives of those Bavarians lost to Nafplio’s typhoid epidemic. Today there is a small park around the monument which ensure it remains well preserved and secure.
Walk around The Akronafplia
The rocky peninsula known as The Akronafplia is considered the oldest castle structure in Nafplio and is thought to date back as far as the 7th century BC. Since then, this rocky outcrop has been used by all conquerors that passed through the city, from the Byzantine era to the Venetians and the Franks.
The Castello di Toro and the Traversa Gambello are some of the most well preserved sections of Akronafplia and from here you can see why this spot would have been such a good location for a fortification and lookout point.
Three Admirals’ Square
Another of Nafplio’s famous squares is the Platia Trion Navachon The Three Admirals’ Square an elegant meeting point in the centre of the city built to recognise the three admirals who fought and won on the Greek side during the battle of Navarino in 1827. The square is home to a number of gorgeous neoclassical buildings including the Town Hall and is a wonderful place to explore during the golden hour when the buildings are glowing to perfection.