We didn't have too much time in Athens, but we wanted to make a day trip out to visit a small coastal town, especially since we were not going to be able to squeeze a Greek island into our itinerary. The consensus from friends and online sources was to visit Nafplio, a picturesque coastal town two hours from Athens that combines small town charm and stunning natural beauty.
There are daily buses that go between a bus terminal in Athens and the town of Nafplio. We were lucky to get there on a beautiful and clear day at the end of February, at a lull in the tourist season.
Everything about this little town was absolutely gorgeous. I wanted to explore all the narrow alleys and local shops. The buildings were painted in such vibrant, bright colors that appeal to the eye and create a stunning contrast with the cerulean sky.
The town is fairly small, bordered by coast on two sides and a mountain with a fortress on the third side. With about a ten minutes leisurely walk, we made it to the sea. I don't think I have seen such brilliantly blue waters in my life before. If it had been warmer, I might have been tempted to jump in!
The town is mostly pedestrian, and is full of small businesses owned by the locals. Though the town is largely supported by the travel industry, it didn't feel too contrived or touristy. I'm not sure if this was because it was the low season, or perhaps I was just so enchanted by the charm that I couldn't tell the difference.
Some of these little street facades looked straight out of a movie or theater set! They were so perfect, with the delicate flowers spilling out of iron balconies, bright shutters, clothes neatly hanging out to dry, and lovingly hand-painted signs. Nafplio definitely knows how to showcase that classic small town charm.
If you go to the harbor and around, you will find a path that leads around the curve of the town to the sea. I highly recommend that you walk this path - ask any local and they'll be able to point you to this seaside walk. We were lucky - at this time of day and of the year, there was no one in sight. I felt like I had this entire stunning landscape all to myself.
Once you get around a corner, you'll be able to see Palamidi Fort on top of the mountain. There is a footpath up to the fort, which we obviously had to climb to see the views of the town from above.
We had a bit of trouble getting up to the fort. There is a 20-30 minute climb on stone steps that leads to the top from the bottom of the hill, but there was a sign that said the path was closed. After confirming with some locals, we learned that it was actually okay to climb, but the fort itself was closed.
It's not too difficult of a climb, just a ton of steps. The good thing is that there are beautiful views all the way up, so you can feel free to take a rest break whenever and admire.
Nafplio is a great way to both see a small town and the coast. It's wonderfully charming, highly walkable, and such a nice break from the big city of Athens. I definitely would recommend a day there to walk around the town center, the coast, and climb up to the fort if you are up for a bit of exercise. I'm sure it gets busier during the nicer parts of the year, but then again more of the businesses and restaurants might be open; it's always a trade-off!
I'm pretty sure I said at several points of the day that I would love to live here. Who wouldn't want to see these beautiful views and breathe in this crisp ocean air on their daily morning walk? Well, one can dream...