When my husband and I visited Venice on our honeymoon two years ago, it was nearly a sensory overload of gorgeous architecture and delicious food. One thing that stood out to me was the distinct 'look' of Venice which stems from more than just little canals filled with pretty gondolas. What you don't immediately realize is that Venice was once a great power and ruled much of the region. When in Greece, we stopped in the seaside village of Nafplio for several days - and being only an hour and a half drive from Athens is simply one of many reasons to add this stop to your itinerary. The beautiful Old Town of Nafplio looks awfully familiar to anyone who has been to Venice - and it should, since it was once ruled by it! Many of the old buildings have the all-too-familiar lion of San Marco emblazoned across the front and the laid back central square full of local children on scooters or playing football on a cool night gives off a definite Venetian vibe. Their parents are usually found at one of the local tavernas sipping coffee and can be heard reprimanding any child who might perhaps get out of hand.
Nafplio is such a beautiful town with so much to see and do
Many of the little roads are even paved in marble (Greece seems to have quite the abundance) which gives the impression that they are only for pedestrians but you will occasionally get cars and mopeds coming down these roads so keep an eye out! There is a delightful little breakfast spot called Kalimera where you can grab a traditional Greek breakfast (complete with marmalades made by the owner) which should be more than enough to sustain you for the infamous 1,000 stair climb to the Palamidi fortress which looks down over the town. Don't be intimidated by '1,000 stairs' as there are plenty of places to pause and take in the view - which you will certainly do a lot of. Plus, there are some folks who have counted and say there are in fact only about 999 steps total. I highly recommend walking the stairs as the view is spectacular, however, if you just want to get right to the fortress then there is a way to drive up and park (but where is the fun in that). The Palamidi is a gorgeous Venetian fortress which boasts spectacular views across the town, harbor, and countryside so is certainly not to be missed when in Nafplio.
This is just one of many gorgeous views that makes the walk worth it!
Once you arrive back down in town, a short walk will bring you to the best gyros in town. They are the perfect reward after your climb! Another benefit to a stay in Nafplio is its close proximity to a number of ancient sites. With drives of half an hour or less you can visit the ancient sites of Mycenae, Tiryns, and Epidavros while 40 minutes will bring you to Corinth. The ancient site of Epidavros is impressive and a short drive brings you to modern Epidavros, another pretty little seaside village definitely worth a stop. If you're there for dinner grab a waterside table at Posidon, the friendly staff and good food is certainly worth a stop.
The view from our table at Posidon was almost as good as the food
Nafplio has a nice climate year round as is shown by the abundance of citrus grown in the area, so make sure to stop at a roadside stand to pick up some oranges, lemons, or pomegranates. Many stands will also have a selction of olives, olive oil and even wine - so keep an eye out!
Breakfast in Nafplio should always include fresh citrus!