Weekends and holidays in Argolida in the Peloponese
Only a one to two-hours drive from Athens, the region of Argolida is an easy destination for weekend escapes and holidays. Gorgeous coastal towns, some beautiful beaches, major archaeological sites and a beautiful, tranquil hilly countryside, the so-called Greek Riviera in the area of Porto Heli (some luxury hotels and lots of private luxury villas there) – there is a lot to enjoy.
Nafplio is one of the must-sees in Argolida. Steeped in history, it is one of Greece’s most fascinating towns. Its development dates back to the Neolithic period and through the centuries it has been under Minoan, Roman, Byzantine, Franc, Venetian and Turkish rule. In 1828, it became the first capital of the modern Greek state until 1834, when the administration was moved to Athens. Today the Venetian influence remains most apparent in the historic part of town, with the odd mosque as the testimony of the Turkish presence.
The town is barely two hours’ drive from Athens, and greatly appreciated as a mini-break destination. It’s not hard to see why. Apart from its beautiful architecture and its great setting by the sea, it also has an excellent choice of charming little hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, boutiques and shops selling art and antiques. The atmosphere is peaceful and easy-going; compared to Athens, it feels like a village. The historic centre is first of all a place to just stroll around, to take in the unique atmosphere and discover its little shops, art galleries and restaurants. There are several small museums worth a visit (the archaeological museum on Syntagma Square; the Folk Art Museum displaying a beautiful collection of Greek costumes; the komboloi museum for worry-beads!). You should of course visit the old Venetian fort on top of Palamidi and the Acronafplia battlements that lie beneath it. In the summer you can cross by boat to the fortified island of Bourtzi, in the middle of the bay.
Mycenea and Epidavros
The other two must-sees of Argolida barely need introduction: the archaeological site of Mycenea and the ancient theatre of Epidavros. Both are easy excursions from Nafplio, so you may want to add one or two days to your stay for that. If you are there in July or August, try and catch a performance of an ancient Greek tragedy at the Epidavros Theatre. There have also been concerts and theatre plays in English in the past, but most performances are in Greek. Don’t let that put you off though… it is the experience that counts.
And then there is the little town of Ermioni. It’s on the coast of Peloponnese, but it feels just like an island. It’s off the beaten track, but very easy to reach, both by car and by boat. It is laid-back, unpretentious and definitely not ‘à la mode’, but the atmosphere is happy and animated, especially in the summer, when the port fills up with sailing and pleasure boats. There’s something about this little town opposite to the island of Hydra. Built on a ‘finger’ that stretches into the sea, it has a lively waterfront on both the north and south side, and in between, higher up on the hill, an old centre with a myriad of narrow, mostly pedestrian lanes and paths. At the end of the ‘finger’ is a small forest, Bisti, where you can walk in the shade of the pine trees and see the remains of Mycenaean walls and ancient temples and tombs. If you want to go for a swim, this is where you should go. There are several little coves and flattish rocks great for sunbathing and dipping into the clear waters.
Small hotels and other special places to stay in Argolida