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Experience the Best of Nafplio with JayWay Travel

Nafplio is a seaside destination in Greece – and I’ve been lucky enough to experience this lovely town thanks to JayWay Travel. Located in the Peloponnese, Nafplio is packed with character and coastal charm. It makes a popular day trip from Athens, but this gorgeous place is well worth spending a little more time in!

This traditional Greek seaside town has an interesting and varied history. Today, this is reflected in the local architecture. Akronafplia Castle, Bourtzi Fortress, and Palamidi Castle tell the tales of times gone by, and the fact that Nafplio has historically been ruled by the Ottomans and the Venetians. 

During the Greek Revolution of 1821, fought against the Ottoman Empire, Nafplio was named as the new Greek state’s first capital. As well as the absorbing history, a major part of Nafplio’s appeal lies in the fact that it retains an authentic Greek feel to this day. 

My experience also included a tour of Mycenae, close to Kalamata. Kalamata itself is a flourishing Greek city with a long and illustrious history. Following the Greek War of Independence, it was the first to be liberated from Ottoman rule. Its important port also played a key role in World War II. 

If you’re considering a visit to Kalamata or Nafplio, read on to discover more. From where I stayed and ate to touring the local sights, this is what it’s really like to spend three days in Nafplio, Greece. Spoiler alert – I can highly recommend it!

If you would like to experience this wonderful trip we recommend booking JayWay’s One Week in Athens and the Peloponese tour.

As a taster, here’s a brief outline of what the JayWay Travel best of Nafplio three day itinerary had in store for me and my fellow travellers.

Day 1

  • Private tour of ancient Mycenae
  • Lunch at Tavern Vasilis, Nafplio
  • Private tour of Epidaurus
  • Chef’s Table dinner at Savor Nafplio
  • Overnight stay at Nafsimedon Hotel

Day 2

  • Nemea Winery cookery class and wine tasting 
  • Private walking tour of Nafplio town
  • Dinner at Zournal Taverna
  • Overnight stay at Nafsimedon Hotel

Day 3

  • Visit to Palamidi Castle
  • Karonis Ouzo tasting and tour
  • Lunch at Pidalio Taverna
  • Departure

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s whet your appetite with half a dozen reasons why you should visit and discover the best of Nafplio. 

There are some delightful little tavernas in Nafplio, where you can sample authentic Greek food made from fresh, local ingredients. Savor Nafplio also offers a range of appealing culinary experiences. 

The Nafplio area is also important when it comes to Greek winemaking. Here you can tour a vineyard and taste the wares before stocking up for the rest of your trip – as well as extra to take home!

You can also discover how ouzo is made and taste the Greek aperitif by touring the local distillery.

If you love seeing old fortresses, Nafplio’s trio of castles – Acronafplia Castle, Bourtzi Fortress, and Palamidi Castle – should certainly please. You can also enjoy sweeping coastal views while touring the sites. 

Close to Nafplio are several significant archaeological sites, namely ancient Mycenae and Epidaurus, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Nafplio itself is a pretty coastal destination with a charming old town, picturesque views, pretty parks, and twisting streets. It also has an authentic Greek ambience. 

Ancient Mycenae – Private tour

After departing Kalamata, the first stop en route to Nafplio was Mycenae, an ancient Greek archaeological site of historical importance. Its significance is reflected in its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

You can see remnants of the Mycenaean civilization here, including some detailed artwork and old tombs. A vast fortified palace once stood here, and Homer himself revered Mycenae. It was formerly the seat of Trojan War leader King Agamemnon.

What better way to kick off a Greek trip than by tucking into a sumptuous lunch at a lovely seaside taverna? Tavern Vasilis specialises in authentic Greek cuisine, made from fresh local ingredients. The centrally located eatery has a bright and breezy outdoor terrace for al fresco dining. 

Dishes available include traditional Greek dishes like moussaka and Greek salad, seafood such as calamari, and the salty-sweet hot feta with honey. DIning at this homely taverna made the perfect start to the trip!

Next, we slipped on our walking shoes, slapped on a sunhat, and slopped on some sunscreen ready for a private tour of Epidaurus. The ancient Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and many monuments here date from the 4th century. It’s nestled in a small Peloponnese valley, only a short drive from Nafplio. 

As the “Sanctuary” in the name suggests, here it’s all about healing and medicine. There are some magnificent examples of Hellenic and Roman architecture, and the main monuments are the Temple of Asklepios, the Theatre of Epidaurus, and the Tholos. 

Our Chef’s Table dinner experience was about so much more than dining out on delicious food. It also gave the group the chance to learn all about local culinary culture. Perfectly pairing wine with food was also a key focus. 

The dinner took place at Savor Nafplio, which offers a range of superb foodie experiences. These include private chef prepared meals in your accommodation, as well as winery tours, cookery classes, and wine tastings. 

On the agenda for the morning of the second day was a trip to Nemea Winery. This experience was also perfect for foodies, including lunch that guests get involved in preparing, and of course sampling a variety of local wines. 

Nemea is one of the biggest vineyards in Greece, and has been under the current ownership since 1985. Investing in the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wine production zones is a key focus. Nemea Winery produces a number of wines, including signature, ladies’, varietals, and fan collections.  

After lunch and wine tasting, it was time to explore the town we were calling home for a couple of nights. If you do the same, make sure your camera is fully charged so you can snap those local landmarks and photogenic views!

Nafplio was the initial capital of the modern Greek state following the Greek War of Independence, and we learned all about what happened back in 1821 during the tour. In Nafplio, you can also expect to see stunning castles, immerse yourself in Greek culture, and wander the appealing little alleyways of the old town. 

Zournal can also be found in Nafplio, though further inland than Tavern Vasilis, where we had lunch the previous day. Wonderful food and service make Zournal a must while in Nafplio, and the taverna attracts a lot of repeat diners. 

The range of Greek and Mediterranean dishes is superb, and you can even wash your food down with craft beers from Greek microbreweries. Zournal is squeaky clean, super friendly, and best of all serves truly delicious, freshly prepared food. 

Palamidi Castle in Nafplio occupies a commanding position on top of a hill, overlooking the ocean. The fortress dates from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, during the second Venetian occupation of the area. During its time, it was also ruled by the Turks, and then fell under Greek rule in 1822.

There are several noteworthy buildings at the site. The Venetian style castle has little battlements and eight bastions, while the Church of St. Andrew is nestled within one of these bastions. Another bastion is home to the prison of Kolokotronis. This is where the Greek Revolution hero Theodoros Kolokotronis was once imprisoned. 

Palamidi Castle is a fascinating place to explore – and of course also offers incredible views over the local coastline! 

Ouzo is a traditional Greek aperitif with an aniseed flavour. It’s actually made from a by-product of wine-making – grape must. This is the juice containing the fruit remains which is the first step in making wine. 

We took a 40-minute tour of the Ouzo distillery to discover how the drink is made, including storage in modern copper stills. Karonis Ouzo comes in standard and special varieties, available in various size bottles. The latter has flavours of fennel and coriander as well as anise, and the secret recipe dates back to 1869. 

Karonis also produces the strong Greek spirit Tsipouro, and liqueurs featuring cherry andresin from the mastic tree. You can of course buy all these products during your visit, and they make ideal gifts to take home. 

Our final meal in Nafplio was at Pidalio Tavern, a traditional eatery in the old town. The family-run establishment has been operating for over three decades, and clientele include both locals and tourists. 

Fish and seafood are specialities at Pidalio, along with meze platters which are perfect for sharing. A number of meat dishes are also available, including chicken souvlaki and beef stifado. The rustic interior and harbour-view outdoor terrace are just as inviting as the menus. 

My accommodation was at Nafsimedon Hotel in Nafplio. It’s housed in a traditional neoclassical mansion dating from the 19th century, and is in a central position by Kapodistrias Square. There are pretty views over Kolokotronis Park from the property. 

The decor gives this place an authentic local feel, and includes marble tables, polished wood flooring, chandeliers, full length windows, and classical paintings. Nafsimedon Hotel is located between the seafront and the centre of town, and serves a yummy buffet breakfast each day. There’s also a bar, room service, and very helpful staff. 

Really, it’s a crime that this part of the Greek Peloponnese isn’t better known. With delicious food and drinks, a charming old town, a clutch of castles, and the local archaeological sites, Nafplio has something for every visitor. 

If you want to explore this beautiful area and see the best of Nafplio, as I did, I highly recommend entrusting your travel plans to the experts at JayWay Travel.

Their experience and local knowledge are second to none, ensuring you have the Greek encounter of a lifetime!