Where? Yes, I know…this is not the most known place in Greece. Far away from the touristy islands, this is a place you should visit if you are interested to get in touch with true Greek locals.
Nafplio (Modern Greek: Ναύπλιο, Nafplio) is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was an important seaport held under a succession of royal houses in the Middle Ages as part of the lordship of Argos and Nauplia, held initially by the de la Roche following the Fourth Crusade and then by Aragonese nobility, before coming under the Republic of Venice and, lastly, the Ottoman Empire. The town was the capital of the First Hellenic Republic, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834.
Interesting, eh? I really think so…not only the village is beautiful and romantic, but also the area around it is very appealing.
A long weekend is ideal to explore the area and the old town. There are a lot of things to do and see, and there are countless B&Bs, Hotels, Tavernas, Kafenions and Shops. You will be amazed how few non-Greek tourists there are, at least now in off season. There were a lot of school classes doing excursions. It is that time of the year, before Easter it is common to do that…it is the same all over the world.
The place to stay at is definitely Amymone and Adiandi Boutique Pension
This is a very amazing small Boutique Hotel with a very gentle and perfect host. The Breakfast which is served is a certified Greek Breakfast, the choice is endless and very tasty, my favourite was the spinach pie. The rooms are all designed differently; the Suite we stayed in (in the Amymone part) was called Elia (Olive).
From their webpage: Junior Suite Elia: With a very impressive headrest on recycled wood … a drawing with female shadows …… so simple, so original! – with much humor and love created by Italian artist Francesco Moretti.
But beware, the house has no elevator and is narrow, so it is for the young @ heart!
As usual, local food is important to me when travelling, so we went to explore different locations. There is a good choice of Restaurants, many of them are located along the Promenade facing the sea, where delicious fish and more is served. We had a wonderful lunch at Arapakos, the mezedes and the fish they are serving is worth 10 points out of 10! Ah, not to forget the toasted bread with olive oil and oregano.
In the old town, there are also a few Tavernas and we went to two of them. One being a bit off the beaten track and where the owners served authentic greek food is Taverna Karima Kastro. We enjoyed freshest octopus, amazing mezedes and lamb. The second one, Taverna Vasilis, is centrally located close to the Syntagma Square. I would not call it a tourist trap; it’s just that it is probably too big and has not as much charm as others. The mezedes were fantastic, however the main courses, Rabbit Stifado and Soydiukaka (kind of meatballs) were served cold and did not taste nice. I would not really recommend it other than for the mezedes.
If you are in Nàfplio’ on a Wednesday or Saturday, don’t miss the Farmer’s Market at 25is Martiou Street, starting right after the Fire Station. It was very amusing to watch the market barkers trying to sell their stuff. The choice of vegetables, fruit, cheese, olive oils, eggs, flowers, fish and more seemed endlessly. The nice thing about travelling off-season is that you get a chance to chat with the locals, they seem to have lots of time and whether they talk English or not, you can get into really interesting and funny conversations with them.
A bit of history? Well ok, not that I am that much into that ancient stuff, but when in Greece, you cannot escape from that. A visit to Palamidi is a must! The fortress that dominates the city was built by the Venetians in only 3 years, a very short time compared to the many years it takes to build a highway in Switzerland!!! It is on a steep hill and you can either drive up or if you consider yourself part of the sporty ones, you can walk up. Guess? Yeah, we drove.
My favourite ancient building however is Bourtzi, the fortress in the gulf. You can reach it in no time by boat from the Promenade.
I should also mention that there are a few nice beaches worth visiting, one, Karathona is reachable again by car or on the pedestrian pad (about 3km from the village). Arvanitia is closer to town and was empty now, but I guess in summer it will be really crowded.
There is also a village called Tolo’ not far from the old town, it is very touristy but has some nice looking Tavernas right on the beach, the beach is okay, not to be compared with the ones we saw in Crete. There are many other beaches, but we did not have the time to explore them all, it was anyhow not warm enough to swim.
One morning, we drove along the coast to Nea Kios, at the sea front, there was a little fish market where the fishermen are selling their fresh catch of the day. Now, if I would live there, I would buy fresh fish every day! We continued on to Paralios Astros, a little village at the seaside with a few Tavernas, Kafenions and shops, a sleeping village right now, but probably also quite packed in summer. I think it is really worth travelling outside the high season and avoid that area in July and August.
On the way back to Athens we drove inland and made a stop in Mykines where we wanted to visit the various archaeological sites. But there were so many buses packed with Students and Tourists that we decided it was good enough to take a few pictures and escape again. But if you are interested in the Greek History, this is definitely a must.
I discovered this non-profit website with all the information about Argolis and what to do/where to go, I found it a big help to discover an area of Greece that is not fully developed for international tourism: www.visitnafplio.com
Of course, we brought home a lot of nice Greek Goodies: Olive Oil, Tapenade, Baklava, Crackers, Oregano, Mountain Tea and so much more which will not allow me to go on a diet…other than a Greek Diet 🙂