Two of the best-preserved and architecturally beautiful Medieval cities in Europe found in one of Greece’s most stunning regions. Their seaside locations and proximity to a host of Classical Ancient sites make both ideal destinations.
Nafplion was originally built by the Venetians and retains much of its original architecture centered around the pretty old town area just behind the main marina. It is crowned by PalamidiCastle dominating the skyline above & illuminated at night; whilst in the bay lies Bourtzi castle constructed to protect the local harbor.
A modern town adjoins the old & is of reasonable size but most visitors stick to wandering the charming streets of the original city with its more recent upmarket jewelry & craft shops, hotels, and restaurants. Combined with its Yacht Marina & a short distance from Athens for local tourism, Nafplion has a wealthier & more cosmopolitan feel than most Greek cities.
Monemvasia was founded in the 6thC as a powerful fortress-city and is called the ‘Gibraltar of the East’ because of its location on a large rocky islet only accessible by crossing a 200-meter causeway over the sea. Its name comes from the Greek words ‘mone’ and ‘emvasia‘, meaning “single entrance” Today, visitors still need to leave their cars behind at the causeway to enter through the old City Gate.
Stepping back in time, the well-preserved remains of Byzantine churches, old walls, and cobbled streets are there to enjoy, as well as buildings from Ottoman and Venetian times. Neoclassic houses built during the resurgence of Greece after its independence in the 19th century make a beautiful addition to the environment. Many are renovated to boutique guesthouses with sea views and quiet corner cafes to uncover.
Monemvasia has no vehicles and the old town of Nafplio is also in large part composed of narrow & pedestrianized streets (although cars can enter). Both are best experienced at a slow pace by foot and in the warm evenings of the summer with time to slow down and eat out under the stars. In Monemvasia the Byzantine churches of Agia Sofia and Christ Elkomenosswim are well preserved & worth visiting.
Holidays using Nafplion and Monemvasia as a base are perfect from which to combined with day trips to the nearby Ancient sites and we take advantage of this in our private tours & holidays to the area. From Athens, we visit the sites of Ancient Corinth the Corinth Canal, Epidaurus with its famous Theater, & Ancient Mycenae before reaching Nafplio.
Continuing southward to Monemvasia we visit locations such as Sparta & Mystras. These are wonderful two or three-day trips, but if you have more days available we continue westward to stunning locations like the Mani Peninsula in our 7-Day Peloponnese Highlights Tour for example, or Ancient Olympia with further locations such as Delphi and Meteora.
4 of our most popular Nafplion & Monemvasia-Tours are listed below, but you can see all Day-Tours, Multi-Day Tours, and Packages from our main menu, & ask us to tailor any further options you like.
In Nafplion, a Sightseeing bus can bring you up to Palamidi Castle & you can enjoy the wonderful views inside whilst a short water taxi from the marina in front of the Cafe area will take you to Bourtzi Castle & is a fun thing to do around lunchtime before siesta.
Nafplion has a very vibrant shopping & commercial area & due to the wealthier nature of the city has a larger variety of upmarket shops so this is a great place to window shop or pick up local quality produce
Monemvasia was called ‘Malvasia’ by the Venetians which has given its name to the local ‘Malmsey‘ wine. For wine lovers, a visit to the local wineries for a tasting or tour is recommended. The Peloponnese in general have over 60 wineries producing high-quality varieties but in small quantities that are not exported, so uncovering this local industry is both eye-opening & informative as well as enjoyable.
Nafplion Hotels can in some cases be unmodernized & also overpriced due to the high demand which lasts throughout the year. We recommend the family-run Ippoliti and Nafsimedon which are small friendly and well renovated from traditional buildings
Similarly, with Nafplion your hotel in Monemvasia should be chosen with care & especially for those who may be less able on their feet who want to avoid many steps. Our recommendation would be the well-run Panorama Hotel which also has great sea views.
In Nafplio the Antica Gelateria di Roma in Nafplion with its jolly Italian owner makes the best home-made Ice Cream you will try in Greece. At the end of a tour & lunch, a stroll here will provide the most pleasure its possible to have without being arrested.
The Oinomelo Restaurant in Monemvasia with its views & wonderful environment is our recommendation for a visit to dine. Good traditional dishes to go with the local spirits of Tsipouro, Ouzo, and Raki.