When you arrive in the Nafplion, Greece cruise port, you’ll find yourself in a scenic coastal city on the mainland of Greece within the Peloponnese region. Known for its breathtaking water views, historic castles and fortresses, and close proximity to ancient sites, Nafplion (also known as Nauplion) will intrigue you with its history and beauty while visiting on your Greek Isles cruise. Cruises to Nauplion disembark next to a bustling downtown area with exciting squares, delicious restaurants, and great shopping.
This is the main square of Nauplion and home to some of the city’s most iconic structures and buildings that are mostly of neoclassical design. The eye-catching groundwork of the square was made with polished marble that gleams in the sunlight.
The Archaeological Museum, a gorgeous Venetian building with Baroque touches found along the perimeter of Syntagma Square, was built in 1713 and served as a Venetian arsenal. Inside the museum, you’ll find many artifacts from centuries past, particularly the Prehistoric Era and Mycenaean Era.
Also located along Syntagma Square, the Trianon Mosque (also referred to as Old Mosque) is one of the city’s oldest buildings which dates back to the 16th century. Featuring a domed roof and an attractive brickwork perimeter, it’s one of the oldest examples of Ottomon architecture. In present times, it often serves as a theater for local performances.
The only way up to this castle is to climb up 999 stairs, but it’s worth it for the views awaiting you at the top. The steps are carved into the rock and lead up a 216-meter hill. At the top, you can walk around the remains of the 18th century fortress while taking in the 360-degree views of the sea and town. It’s a favorite spot for visitors stopped here on cruises to Nauplion.
Bourtzi Castle, located a short boat ride away from Nauplion on a rocky islet called Agioi Theodoroi, is a fortress that’s a bit easier to get to. The well-preserved Venetian water castle seems to stand magnificently on the water. Bourtzi Castle was built in 1860 and was originally used to house the executioners of Palamadi prisoners.
Less than an hour’s drive from Nauplion, you’ll find the remains of the Ancient Greek city of Epidaurus, dating back to the 6th century. Walk around this impressive historic site to see a hospital, temples, and the famous Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, all of which will help provide you with a better understanding of what medicine was like during ancient times.
To get some fresh fish, head to the harborside promenade along the Bouboulinas, where seafood restaurants serve up a variety of tasty fare. The streets stretching from Syntagma Square to the waterfront also offer an assortment of eateries. For drinks, you’ll find a plethora of bars in the Yialos area of the city.
The ancient history of Nauplion is vast and includes Roman, Ottoman, and Greek settlements on its land. Nauplion (or Nafplio) rose to prominence in 1828 when it became the first capital city of Greece after the Greek War of Independence. It held onto this distinction for just a short while, since the capital moved to Athens in 1833. Today, Nauplion is still of cultural and historical importance. The city serves as the main hub for arts and various industries in the Peloponnese region of Greece. In addition to its cosmopolitan vibe, a big draw of the city lies in its lovely Old Town and nearby ancient ruins.
The Nafplion, Greece cruise port is a tender port, meaning your ship will dock offshore, and you’ll be brought into the city via a tender boat. This comfortable vessel will drop you off at the tender pier dock that’s just a short walk from the Old Town area of Nauplion. The pier is close to restaurants and cafes as well as supermarkets, banks, and souvenir shops. A tourist information center is also located a short walk from the tender pier for Nauplion cruises.
Taxis are available by the cruise pier. There are also free bicycles provided by the municipality of the city, which can be rented in front of the Town Hall and make for a fun way of getting around. While the Old Town area of Nauplion is extremely walkable, you’ll need other transportation to visit farther afield, making a taxi or shore excursion the best options. If you want to visit Palamidi Castle, there is a hop-on, hop-off bus that connects the castle with the cruise pier.
You’ll find many souvenir shops and other stores in the Old Town area of Nauplion, many of which are conveniently located just steps from the pier. For a memorable souvenir from Nauplion, look for worry beads called kombolois made from amber, or locally grown and produced culinary products.
The currency accepted in Nauplion and the rest of Greece is the Euro. There is an ATM in town by the bank. Many businesses accept credit cards, though it’s always good to ask before ordering any food or hiring a service. Small and family-run businesses may only accept cash. Tipping in Nauplion is appreciated, with 10% being the norm for restaurants. If ordering a cup of coffee or other drink, small change is usually left. Sometimes, a service charge is added to the bill, so double check before calculating what to leave.