Seaside Charm in Nafplio, Greece
Touring the Peloponnese is a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, the towns and countryside are gorgeous. Its just that you just have to cover a lot of ground and move from hotel to hotel. That’s why I’m glad I tweaked my planning a little bit to spent a few days in Nafplio. Its close to several major archaeological sites for day-tripping and is a fantastic, relaxing sea-side escape in its own right. Nafplio is the kind of place you look for when traveling!
Nafplio (or Nafplion) is about an hour and a half drive from Athens. It stretches around a natural harbor and up along the abrupt coastal hills. The area has been populated for over 2000 years as can be seen in the Byzantine and Venetian fortress ruins. Nafplio was the capital of the first independent modern Greece nation in 1829.
I loved Nafplio because it was a quiet seaside town that seemed to cater to locals as much as to Greek or European vacationers. Neat, colorful homes and B&B’s blended into the narrow streets. For every jewelry or ceramic shop, there was a fishing supply store, bakery or grocer. During the twilight hours, locals and visitors alike enjoyed a drink and a stroll along the harbor.
One afternoon, we watched a concert in the central Plateia Syntagmatos (or Constitution Square) which was part of a festival. Children, with balloons tied to wrists so as not to lose them, danced and ran around. Later we followed others into a Greek Orthodox Church and watched quietly as families lit candles and reverenced icons all while chatting and laughing among themselves for a happy religious visit.
The food in Nafplio featured fresh seafood, simply prepared to better show off the local quality. In Early September, dining was definitely al fresco!
The geography of Nafplio provided excellent walks and small hikes up the steep hills which provided a great view of the city. From these hills, I also watched the sun set over the Peloponnese – a very suitable ending to a wonderful adventure on the Greek mainland.