As Greece, Peloponnese has always been a busy tourist destination, planning a budget trip to the peninsula, known as a cradle of the European civilization, was a great experience. We were so excited to visit the birthplace of the Olympic Games, sacred places such as Epidavrus, Argos, Corinth and Tiryns, as well as the lands where Sparta was located. As part of the planning process, we also checked that there were some beautiful beaches in the area. Therefore, it sounded like a destination for culture and beach lovers. The trip to Greece, Peloponnese reminded us our vacations in Mexico where we were able to relax on the Caribbean beach and explore Maya ruins.
We decided to rent an accommodation in Nafplio which is considered to be one of the most romantic towns in Peloponnese. Its location in the northeast part of Peloponnese, making it easier to visit historic sites such as Epidaurus and Mycenae. Nafplio’s Old town features neoclassical buildings and vivid squares. The remains of the buildings of the various rulers can be seen between the streets. There is plenty of charming cafés and restaurants to choose from.
We found a nice place to stay in the Old city, which was at the foot of one of the three fortresses in the city. Therefore, we completed the first task – to find affordable and comfortable accommodation in Peloponnese. Then we had to decide which historical place to visit in order to stick to our plan to travel on a budget during peak season in Greece.
Budget Accommodation in Greece, Peloponnese
The best place to stay in Napflio is in the heart of its historic, neoclassical centre. Staying in the heart of the city allows one to easily walk around. We found a charming place to stay in Nafplio’s Old city – Pension Eleni. We booked a room directly and had a smooth communication with the owners. The price was 60 euros per three adults. The property consists of two buildings located on a narrow street just below the fortress’ wall. This is the most picturesque and quiet area of Nafplio. The main square Sintagma, the port and most restaurants are at a 2-5-minute walk from the property.
Pension Eleni offers rooms without a balcony or private outdoor area and rooms with balconies with sea view. We stayed one night in a room on the ground floor but then asked the owner to change he room with another with a balcony. He gave us a room on the third floor that partly faced the sea. The room was quiet and comfortable, offering everything we needed. Unlike other places offering stay for three people in one room, Pension Eleni was packed with a comfortable extra bed with a real matress. Among the amenities were an iron and ironing board, a kettle, coffee cups, glasses, plates, forks, knifes, spoons, corkscrew and bowls. Instant coffee, honey, butter and bread were among the extras. There was a fridge in the room with complimentary bottles of water.
The host, Mr Yanis and his family were very kind to help us find extra virgin olive oil from a local farm. They were warm and helpful anytime we asked for advice.
This accommodation is a smart choice for budget travellers. It looks more comfortable than many hotels in the area. For example, at the beginning of July 2019, Nafplio Palace hotel was sadly empty and only few guests and visitors could be seen in the complex. Nevertheless, the four-star hotel boasts excellent location overlooking the bay and the city.
Pension Eleni is located just a few steps from the elevator to the Acronafplia castle. The lift is hidden underneath the hill and takes the tourists to the oldest castle in Nafplio and one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city.
Ancient Sites in Greece, Peloponnese with Free Accsess
The Fortress of Acronafplía
Visiting the oldest fortress in Napflio – Acronafplía, is free of charge. The ancient complex consists of walls and buildings that have been partially restored. The castle is overlooking the town, the mountains of Arcadia and the Argolic Gulf. There is also a view of the Palamidi castle and Arvanitia beach.
The centuries-old Acronafplia dates back to the Bronze era but is well preserved. Tourists can explore the historical site on foot and at the end of the day they can admire the spectacular sunset.
The fortress of Asine is located on a hill between Kastraki beach and Plaka beach. The seaside citadel is an impressive archaeological site. Its history dates back to the Neolithic era (6500 BC). Visitors can explore the walls built by Mycenaeans and modified in the Hellenistic era. The Asine Acropolis was used during the WWII as a fortified position. Unlike the fortress of Palamidi, the complex of Asine provides extensive information on the importance of this location and the artefacts. The walking and the views are also impressive, so it is certainly worth a visit.
Historical Sites to Visit on a Budget
The Fortress of Palamidi
Students in EU universities can visit this landmark free of charge. The bastion sits at the top of a hill and makes the landscape around Nafplion really beautiful. The Fortress of Palamidi was built by the Franks. It offers 360’ stunning views over the peninsula. Yet, after visiting this historic site, we didn’t learn much about the people who lived within the walls. We wanted to know more details about the history of the place, but the monument had only few information displays. Therefore, we recommend skipping this monument and visiting the fortress of Akronafplia instead. You will save 8 euros per person, which is the entrance fee for Palamidi.
The Epidaurus is definitely worth visiting because the complex is well preserved and is still a venue for theatrical and musical performances. The ancient home of the God of medicine Asklepios consists of monuments considered the best masterpieces of ancient architecture from the 4th century. The Theatre of Epidaurus is one of the historic sites that everyone should see in their lifetime. The admission is free for students in EU universities.
The Epidaurus is situated 25 km east from Nafplio. The site is on the way to Porto Heli and Galatas where ferries to Spetses Island and Poros Island embark. So, visiting this sanctuary can be combined with island hopping.
Greece Island Hopping on a Budget
When in Nafplio, the most affordable trip to one of the Greek islands in the Saronic gulf, is going to Poros Island. We went to Galatas, which was at a 65 km drive from Nafplio and took a ferry to the island. The price for a vehicle and the driver was only 8 euro for one-way ticket. Other passengers paid only 1 euro each. The trip last less than 10 minutes. The last ferry from Poros to the mainland was scheduled at 22:40.
Poros Island features a charming city with houses that are amphitheatrically built. There are few beaches in a close vicinity to the town. Probably the most beautiful of them is Love bay, which is 3 km from the port.
Our view is that beaches are not the strength of the area around Nafplion. They are not as beautiful as Lefkada’s, Kefalonia’s and Zante’s. The sea bed is dark which explains why the water looks like a lake. Still there are some beautiful beaches worth visiting.
Plaka beach is 9 km from Nafplio. It is also very close to Tolo. Plaka is 2.5 km long and has a beach with fine gravel and sand. At the east end, there are many beach bars while the west part is wild. We stayed at Adrian’s beach bar facilities. The only price we had to pay was for the drink we ordered from the bar. Prices were amazingly affordable. The price of for a bottle of water was 0.5 euro; fresh orange juice – 3 euro; cold Greek coffee named Frappe – 2,5 euro. We usually had lunch at the neighbouring tavern Το Gefiraki offering straightforward, home-style cooking. This was the cheapest place to eat in the area. Still the dishes were so tasty and at the end, they offer a dessert from the house. We used to pay 22-25 euro for lunch for 3 persons.
This small stone beach is probably the most beautiful around Napflio. The water is transparent for snorkelling and the scenery is magnificent. The beach is just under the Ancient Asine fortress. There is an area to put your own umbrella. Otherwise you have to pay 4 euro per person for an umbrella and deckchair. The price includes one drink. There is a good taverna in the area with delicious local plates. It is next to the beach, behind the sunbeds. The terrace offers excellent views of the bay.
Karathona is a large, mainly sandy beach. The sea is shallow and there is a chance to spot sea anemones. The central part of the beach is well organised but the northern end provides plenty of room for people who prefer quietness. Trees offer natural shadow on some places.
Arvanitia is the main beach in Nafplio. We could reach the bay after a walk along the sea or by car. It is a pebbly beach with some concrete platforms. Visitors can use beach facilities provided by the BluBlanc bar. All they need is purchase a drink. In the afternoon there is natural shade all over the bay. The beach offers magnificent views of the fortress of Akronafplia and Palamidi.
Salt Water Pools in Nafplio
Other attractions, absolutely free of charge, are the seaside swimming pools. They are partly enclosed and offer refreshing natural seawater. These pools are at the port, at the beginning of the promenade to Aravantia beach. Concrete steps provide access to the seafront attractions. We saw many people swimming there.
There are two main beaches in Kiveri and several small ones. The sea is quite deep, and the water is not very clear.