Category: Greece mainland villages & towns (page 1 of 9)

Nafplio’s scenic seaside walks: The Arvanitia promenade and the Karathona beach path

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Greece, Peloponnese, Arcadia, Nafplio, coast, seaside, walkway, promenade, trail, Arvanitia, Arvanitia promenade Nafplio, Nafplio coastal walkway, walkway, path,

The Arvanitia promenade is a stone-paved walkway that winds along the seaside from Nafplio’s historic Old Town to Arvanitia beach 1 kilometer away

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, trail, path, coast, seaside,

The sand and dirt path to Karathona beach begins near Arvanitia, and meanders southward along the Argonic Gulf coast. The walking distance between the two beaches is roughly 2.7 kilometers, about a 30- to 40-minute trek.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, Karathona Bay, Karathona Beach, docks, harbour, harbor, fishing boats,

Boats docked in the north corner of Karathona Bay. From here, Karathona beach extends nearly 2 kilometers around the bay. It takes half an hour to walk from this spot to the south end of the beach.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, church, Greek Orthodox church, Agios Nikolaos Church,

A separate, third trail leads from Karathona beach to Agios Nikolaos church, which sits on a windy slope above the sea. It’s a pleasant, short hike that’s worthwhile if you reach the south end of Karathona Bay and wish to view more coastal scenery before your return walk to Nafplio.

 

Wonderful walks:  Nafplio is commonly called “one of the most beautiful towns in Greece,” and rightly so — its historic Old Town is one of the prettiest places we have seen during our travels to more than two dozen islands plus a wide variety of places on the mainland and in the Peloponnese. 

With its picturesque alleys, lanes and streets, charming old buildings, impressive public parks and squares, myriad monuments and historic sites, and an extensive selection of restaurants, bars and shops, Nafplio is fascinating to visit, whether just on a daytrip or for several days or more.

Though the town itself is lovely, one of the features we personally love most about Nafplio is the surrounding natural scenery — an exhilarating expanse of rolling hills and mountains, rugged rocky peninsulas and shorelines, and captivating sea colours in the bays, beaches, coves and harbours that indent the  Argolic Gulf coast.

Walking is the best way to observe and savour the marvellous scenery, and Nafplio boasts two wonderful seaside paths that rank among our favourite coastal walks in all of Greece — the Arvanitia promenade, and the footpath to Karathona beach. We make a point of walking at least one of the paths each day we are in Nafplio.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Acronauplia, Acronauplia peninsula, coast, seaside, Argolic Gulf

Aerial view of the Acronauplia peninsula’s south side. The Arvanitia promenade can be seen at the base of the rocky cliffs and is partially visible where it snakes through the line of trees above the shore. The walkway ends at a square above Arvanitia beach (bottom right).

 

The Nafplio Old Town is positioned on the northern slopes of Acronauplia, a thumb-shaped peninsula that juts into the Argolic Gulf (a body of water between the Arcadia and Argolida regions of the Peloponnese). The Arvanitia promenade begins at the Nafplio waterfront area known locally as The Shore, and curves around the western tip of Acronauplia, hugging the base of imposing steep cliffs covered in wide swaths of prickly pear and other cactus plants. The walkway ends at Arvanitia Square, a walking distance of approximately 1 kilometer.  The town’s popular sunbathing and swimming spot, the stone and pebble Arvanitia beach, is a short downhill walk from the square. 

The footpath to Karathona starts a mere stone’s throw beyond the Arvanitia beach entrance. As it meanders south, it passes above several coves and secluded inlets as well as the pebble and stone strands known as Neraki beach. The path is a favourite route for local residents to power walk, jog, cycle and exercise their dogs. At a casual pace, it takes about half an hour to walk the 2.7 kilometer distance to a small harbour at the northern tip of Karathona beach. 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Karathona, Karathona Beach, beach, coast, seaside

Beach view from the south side of Karathona Bay

 

Karathona is an exceptionally wide and gently curved beach that stretches nearly 2 kilometers — almost as long as the path from Arvanitia. While it has several sections organized with beach chairs, umbrellas and bars, there are plenty of wide-open spaces in between.  There is another small harbour at the southern end of the beach, along with several houses and Agios Konstantinos Church.  Across the road and parking area behind the houses is the starting point of yet another coastal path, this one a short, narrow trail that leads up and over a hill to the small whitewashed church of Agios Nikolaos. It takes less than 15 minutes to hike to the church, with superb views of the gulf and the mountainous coast of Arcadia throughout the trek (followed by excellent views of Karathona Bay and beach on the way back.)

Strolling the Arvanitia promenade is often suggested as a “must-do” activity for Nafplio visitors, and we certainly agree. But we recommend that walking enthusiasts also make the invigorating hike to Karathona and onward to take a quick look at Agios Nikoloas Church.  These walks offer a great opportunity to get some exercise and fresh sea air while enjoying the tremendous views of coastal landscapes and the Argolic Gulf.

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolis, Nafplio,Bourtzi castle, castle, fortress, bay, sea, Banieres, coast,

From the Arvanitia promenade, walkers can view two castles: the Bourtzi sea fortress, seen from a lookout spot above the Banieres swimming area …

 

Greece,Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Palamidi castle, castle, fortress, mountain, peak,

… and the massive Palamidi castle on the peak high above Arvanitia beach, seen as evening sun casts a golden glow on the mountain

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Nafplio, Argolic Gulf, bay, sea, coast,

Both walking paths overlook alluring turquoise waters in the Argolic Gulf …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, cliffs, landscape, mountain, seaside,

…  exhilarating coastal landscapes …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Argolida, Argolic Gulf, sea, bay, coast, mountains,

… mountains in the Arcadia region of the Peloponnese to the west …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona, coast, seaside, shore, sea, bay, cove, water, Argolic Gulf,

… pretty bays and quiet coves along the rugged shoreline …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Arvanitia, Arvanitia beach, beach, seaside, coast, sunbathers, swimmers, sea,

… organized beaches, like Arvanitia, which offer bars, restaurants, lounge chairs and umbrellas …

 

Greece, Peloponnese, Nafplio, Karathona path, beach, Neraki beach, Neraki beach Nafplio, coast, seaside, sea, water,

… and quieter beaches, like Neraki, with no facilities (or crowds)

 

Please click on the links below to continue reading and to see many more photos of the Arvanitia promenade, Arvanitia beach, the Karathona path,  Karathona beach, the trail to Agios Nikolaos Church and of course the church itself.

Page 2 contains some general information about the walking routes, as well as photos of the Arvanitia promenade.

Page 3 features photos of the Karathona footpath and Karathona beach.

Page 4 has pictures of Agios Nikolaos Church and its access trail.

 

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Winter views of Nymfaio, the pretty ‘fairy tale’ village in northern Greece

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This film by Studios Trasias captures breathtaking views of snow-covered Nymfaio, a traditional mountain settlement in the Florina region of northern Greece. It’s regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in Europe.

 

Alpine gem: When winter storms brought freezing temperatures and snowfalls to many parts of Greece this week, my social media newsfeeds quickly filled with photos and videos of snowy scenes from places as diverse as Ancient Messenia, Kalavrita, Meteora, Arachova and Thessaloniki, and such islands as Kefalonia, Evia, Skopelos, Skyros, Lesvos and Crete.

The winter wonderland scenery in many of the images looked impressive, but far more striking are the scenes in this film of Nymfaio, which I stumbled upon today while researching for another blog post I’m writing.

Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters on a ridge of Mount Vitsi in the northern Greece region of Florina, Nymfaio has been inhabited since 1385. It is often described as looking like something out of a fairy tale, and it has been named to lists of the most beautiful and most picturesque villages both in Greece and in all of Europe. From the opening seconds of the video, it’s easy to see why — Nymfaio looks simply picture postcard perfect under a crisp blanket of fresh snow. 

Though it’s a year-round travel destination, Nymfaio isn’t a place you can easily visit for a quick look-see — roughly a 7-hour drive north of Athens, it’s well off the main tourist routes in the southern half of Greece. (It’s much closer to and easier to reach from the cities of Ioannina and Thessaloniki, which are less than 2 hours’ driving distance.) But this alpine gem certainly appears to be well worth the trek, particularly for visitors who have already seen or who want to avoid the busy tourist magnets like Athens or the islands.

If you’ve become intrigued by Nymfaio and want to learn more about it, here are links to websites and blogs offering photos and detailed information about the village:

♦ the Nymfaio page on Greece Virtual will take you on a virtual tour of the village with its more than 20 panoramic / 360-degree photos;

♦ In April 2018, the Greek travel agency Fly Me to the Moon published a destination spotlight on Nymfaio on its blog;

♦ In May 2016, the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper highlighted Nymfaio in a feature list of the best places to visit in northern Greece;

♦ In a 2014 post, the travel blog Moco Choco profiled Nymfaio as one of the 10 most beautiful mountain villages in Europe;

♦ The Discover Greece article Nimfaio, The Mountain Nymph of Stone and Snow includes photographs and information about accommodations in and near the village, which the Greek tourism website describes as “one of the best winter holiday destinations in Greece”;

♦ the Visit Greece article A Fairytale Escape to Nimfaio in Florina includes photos and brief descriptions of the history, traditions and activities of what it hails as “a year-round charming destination.” 

 

Greece, mainland Greece, northern Greece, Nymfaio, Nymfaio village,

The red marker pinpoints Nymfaio’s location in northern Greece on this map from Google

 

Some photo highlights from our return visit to Nafplio

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Nafplio waterfront

Nafplio waterfront view to the Bourtzi sea fortress 

 

Back again: Exactly two years ago, we travelled to Nafplio for the first time and spent a full week exploring areas in and around the town. We liked it so much we decided it was high time to come back for a return visit. And here we are, enjoying Nafplio just as much as we did the first time. It truly is one of our favourite places in all of Greece.

Below are some sights and scenes from our first couple of days in the historic Old Town district of the picturesque seaside town.  I will publish more images in separate posts.

 

Nafplio street

A canopy of bougainvillea in a lane in the Old Town district of Nafplio

 

Nafplio waterfront

Cafes and palm trees along the Nafplio waterfront promenade

 

Nafplio street scene

A rustic building on a street corner in the Nafplio Old Town

 

 

cruise ship at Nafplio

The MSC Poesia cruise ship, viewed from the Arvanitia coastal promenade.  Daytrippers from the cruise gave the Old Town a lively buzz, but didn’t overcrowd the streets or make the town feel uncomfortably busy in any way.

 

Banieres swimming area of Nafplio

The Banieres swimming area on the Nafplio waterfront is a popular place for locals to sunbathe or take a dip in the sea

 

a street in Nafplio

One of the colourful pedestrian streets in the commercial area of the Old Town

 

Palamidi Castle and the Land Gate

The Palamidi Castle (top) and the historic Land Gate, the original main entrance to the Nafplio Old Town

 

Palamidi Castle view of Nafplio

An evening view of the Old Town, from a point roughly two-thirds of the way up the nearly 1,000 steps to the Palamidi Castle

 

Palamidi Castle steps

A steep flight of steps leading to the mountaintop Palamidi Castle. I counted 80 stairs on this particular stretch of the climb to the top.

 

Acropnauplia fortress stairs

It’s much easier to reach the Acronauplia fortress, one of the three castles at Nafplio, since considerably less stair climbing is involved. This is the stepped path leading from the upper Old Town to one of the Acronauplia entrance portals.

 

Nafplio coast

Coast and sea views from the Acronauplia fortress

 

Coast views from Acronauplia

Acronauplia fortress views of the sea, coast and Arvanitia beach

 

Arvanitia beach at Nafplio

Part of Arvanitia, a stone and pebble beach that’s popular with locals and tourists alike since it’s only a short walking distance from the Old Town

 

Rooftops in Nafplio

From a vantage point in the Acronauplia fortress, a view of Syndagma Square (upper right) and the first Greek Parliament building — the building with the domed roof at center left.  Nafplio was the capital of Greece from 1823 until 1834, when the Parliament was relocated to Athens. 

 

Syndagma Square in Nafplio

A quiet morning moment at Syndagma Square, which is lined with cafes, shops, restaurants and the archaeological museum (top)

 

a street in Nafplio

A street in the pedestrianized commercial area of the Old Town

 

steps in Nafplio

A long flight of steps on a hillside lane in the Old Town

 

Kapodistriou Street in Nafplio

Part of Kapodistriou Street, where our accommodations were located

 

a lane in Nafplio

A lane near the top of the Old Town’s hillside area

 

Catholic church in Nafplio

A peek at the exterior of the Catholic church in the Old Town

 

Philellinon Square at Nafplio

Philellinon Square and the memorial to the French soldiers who fought for Greece in the country’s war of independence

 

a street in Nafplio

A restaurant patio along one of the main pedestrian streets in the commercial heart of the Old Town

 

steps in nafplio

Steps in a narrow hillside lane in the Old Town

 

Bourtzi sea fortress at Nafplio

Nafplio waterfront view to the Bourtzi sea fortress

 

Bourtzi sea fortress

People can take a small excursion boat to visit the castle. The trips are offered daily and cost €4.50 per person; they include a 20 minute stop for a walkabout on the castle islet (the interior of the fortress is closed for maintenance construction) and a short ride along the waterfront so passengers can enjoy sea views of the Old Town.

 

Arvanitia promenade

The Arvanitia coastal promenade and the Banieres swimming area of Nafplio

 

Arvanitia promenade at Nafplio

A tree-shaded section of the Arvanitia coastal promenade that leads from the Nafplio Old Town to Arvanitia beach

 

Arvanitia promenade

View from the promenade toward Arvanitia beach and the Palamidi Castle, partially visible on the mountain peak at upper right

 

waterfront in Nafplio

The waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees on one side, and boats on the other

 

a building in Nafplio

A rustic corner building on a hilltop in the Old Town

 

 

Where to dine, drink and shop local in Kyparissia’s Old Town

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Palia Agora in Kyparissia

Street view of Palia Agora, where a selection of scrumptious mezes topped off our enjoyable visit to Kyparissia 

 

Fab food & drink: Take us to a town or village with sensational views and scenery, and we will probably like it. If there are archaeological sites, or historic buildings or places close by, we will certainly like it even more. Picturesque streets and interesting architecture?  Beautiful beaches, majestic mountains or scenic seasides in the vicinity? A relaxed setting and laid-back atmosphere? Those are guaranteed to tick off even more boxes on our “like” list.

But a destination won’t completely win our hearts if we don’t go home with fond memories of restaurants and cafes. (We’re not foodies or wine snobs by any stretch of the imagination, but we do like to eat, we love good coffee, and we enjoy sipping some nice wine as well.) Since Kyparissia has many of the characteristics that make us happy on holiday — plus really good food and drink in particular — we couldn’t help but love our short visit there in May 2017.

What impressed us on the food & drink front were three places we discovered in the charming Ano Poli (Old Town) district of  Kyparissia:  a shop selling a wide range of local food items and other Made in Messenia products, a comfortable cafe-bar; and a delightful estiatorio – mezedopoleio. Conveniently and coincidentally enough, all three establishments were located  just a stone’s throw apart on Eleni Chameri Street, the main road of Ano Poli.

Here’s a closer look at each:

♦ Palia Agora

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

Palia Agora’s beautifully decorated bar and dining room 

 

A late lunch at Palia Agora was the highlight of our afternoon in Kyparissia. We took one of the tree-shaded tables in front of the restaurant and ordered wine and a selection of cold and hot mezes (small plates perfect for sharing),  then sat back and relaxed while our meal was prepared. The local wine was delicious, and the food was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best meals of our spring 2017 vacation. Some of the standout dishes included the grilled pleurotus mushrooms, local sausage, pork slices accompanied by potatoes and pieces of oranges, the fava with olives and onions, and cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios. Equally impressive was the friendly and efficient service. We would go back to Kyparissia just to have another meal here, the food was that good.

Not surprisingly, Palia Agora is ranked as the #1 restaurant in Kyparissia by TripAdvisor, and it recently received the 2018 Gold Award for Quality and Taste from the leading Greek gastronomy website estiatoria.gr

You can read over 200 customer reviews, and see more than 100 photos of the restaurant and its tasty dishes, in the Palia Agora listing on TripAdvisor.   There are dozens of additional photos on the Palia Agora Facebook page.

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

The grilled pleurotus mushrooms (left) were divine.  Also tasty were the cheese balls rolled in chopped pistachios, and served with a salad and  pita. 

 

Palia Agora restaurant Kyparissia

From the restaurant’s Facebook page, a photo showing the Palia Agora sign, entrance and part of its streetside dining area

 

Palia Agora restaurant in Kyparissia

If you visit Palia Agora for a meal but sit outdoors as we did, make sure to take a peek inside the restaurant to check out the lovely decor and the interesting interior design details, like the light fixture above. 

 

♦ Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar

 

Algorithmos cafe bar

Street view of Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar, which occupies the ground floor of this beautiful building on Eleni Chameri Street

 

Algo-rithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

In addition to its streetside tables and indoor seating area, Algo-rithmos has an open-air balcony out back, where customers can enjoy views of Kyparissia and the sea

 

We stopped at Algo-rithmos for two coffee breaks during our walkabouts through the Old Town and to the Castle of Kyparissia. We sat at one of the tables out front, next to the street, both times, but we could have chosen to sit inside or on the town- and seaview veranda at the rear of the building had we preferred.

Though we only ordered coffees and tea, the cafe has a full bar serving beer, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Snacks and light food dishes are available, too. The shop interior is cozy and comfortable, with an eclectic interior design (there’s a bicycle, musical instruments and several bookshelves mounted on the walls, and a stack of hardcover books suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room.)

The service was friendly and prompt, and we liked the music that was playing.

You can read more about the cafe-bar in the customer reviews posted on the Algo-rithmos listing on TripAdvisor.

 

Allgorithmos Cafe Bar in Kyparissia

This image, which Algo-rithmos provided for its listing on TripAdvisor, shows part of the cafe-bar interior

 

♦ Messinia Gi

Travelling shopaholics won’t find many stores to browse in Ano Poli, but they will find it worthwhile visiting  Messinia Gi, especially if they like to support regional artisans by “shopping local” for food, fashion accessories and other items to give as gifts or to take home for personal use or souvenirs.

Messinia Gi boasts an extensive selection of food, beverage, fashion and souvenir products made either locally or in the  Messenia region.  Food items on offer include sweets, healthy snacks, honey, packages of handmade pasta, olive oil, olives, herbs and spices, nuts and many more. General merchandise includes jewellery and other women’s fashion accessories, personal care products, and ceramics. (You can view dozens of photos of the shop’s seasonal and regular merchandise in the albums and posts on the Messinia Gi Facebook page, and see additional pictures on the Messinia Gi listing on TripAdvisor.

We picked up postcards and several local food items to bring home for friends and ourselves, including jars of delicious figs stuffed with nuts, while our friends walked out with several bags containing what looked to us like enough food to prepare a week’s worth of meals once they returned to Athens.

The pleasant young lady who was minding the store was very helpful in explaining the contents and sources of the various food items we were considering, and in making suggestions for products to try.  

If you’d like to take home some tastes of Messenia, be sure to visit the shop while you’re in or near Kyparissia.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

If you visit the Old Town, you’ll find a vast variety of local products at Messinia Gi. The made-in-Messenia items make great gifts or personal souvenirs.  This photo of the storefront is from the Messinia Gi page on Facebook.

 

Messinia Gi shop in Kyparissia

Local product displays are shown in this photo that Messinia Gi management provided for the shop’s listing on TripAdvisor. Below is another photo of the store interior, also from its TripAdvisor listing.

 

Messinia Gi  shop in Kyparissia

 

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