The only word to describe our trip to Greece this summer is incredible! This was a family trip to celebrate our daughter's graduation from high school. We were a group of seven for this trip, my husband and I took both of our mothers, and both of our daughters and a friend. Since this was a fairly big group, the planning took a bit more research than had it been just 2 of us or a family of 4. We ended up flying in and out of Athens and then rented a van to get to our rental house in Nafplio/Tolo Beach area. Throughout the trip we were able to see Athens, the Peloponnese area of Napflio and Tolo Beach, and Mykinos. We did have some driving to do all of this in one week, but it was well worth it. There are large (and very fast) ferries that can take you from the port of Athens to most any of the islands, this is how we took a day trip to Mykinos. We had already booked our stay at our rental house in Napflio prior to deciding to visit Mykinos, which meant having a bit longer day with the 2 plus hour drive from where we were staying to the port of Athens (and back). Next time, we would plan to do the day trip to Mykinos at the beginning or end of the trip to shorten the amount of time in the car, but it was a very enjoyable day trip either way!
One of the most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis (in eastern Peloponnese) as well as one of the most romantic cities all over Greece, Nafplio was the perfect destination for us. With its beautiful historic old town, surrounded by stunning blue water, outstanding beaches, great shopping and fine dining. We loved the main promenade in the evening, enjoying one of the many great waterfront restaurants for dinner and watching the big yachts stop in for an evening on the town.
According to mythology, the town was founded by Nafplios, the son of god Poseidon and the daughter of Danaida. The town’s history traces back to the prehistoric era when soldiers from here participated in the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan War alike. The town declined during the Roman times and flourished again during the Byzantine times. Frankish, Venetian and Turkish conquerors left their mark in the town and strongly influenced its culture, architecture and traditions during the centuries. We were in awe over the medieval castles, monuments and statues, ancient walls, Ottoman fountains and Venetian or neoclassical buildings – such unique architecture and beauty!
Unique Shopping ~ the Olive Tree Store
We visited many shops during our travels in Greece but there was one like no other in Tolo beach. The Olive Tree Store had the most amazing handmade olive products, which includes housewares, jewelry, cosmetics and more.. Located right on the main street of Tolo beach, you will want to go there more than once if you visit. It’s the perfect place to find gifts and personal pieces for your own home. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to look for one or two houseware items to take home that reminds me of the trip and the special memories.
Where to stay in Napflio / Tolo Beach
We knew we wanted to see Athens, mainland Greece and some of the islands. First, we looked into renting a boat to accommodate all of us, but decided against it because it would have been fairly tight quarters for the week and we worried a little about Olga and my mom being comfortable up and down stairs, especially in the case of rough seas. We definitely want to rent a boat for a week or two and sail around the Adriatic or Mediterranean, but it will have to be another year. In the end, we found a gorgeous rental house(NapflioBlue) in Napflio area of the Peloponnese and did day trips for all the other areas we wanted to hit.
Napflio Blue is the most spectacular home we have ever rented, while it wasn’t cheap, it is was worth it. With the sliding glass wall that opens to the pool and view of the sea, it’s truly amazing. The modern architecture was beautiful and relaxing. We loved it so much, it was hard to drag the family away from it and actually go see the sights. We rented this house through VRBO, but you can book directly through the link above.
What to do in the Pelopennese Area
There are so many different historical sites in the Pelopennese to visit, you will most likely run out of time. I like this list on TheCrazyTourist.com. I would have liked to have done everything but we were traveling with teenagers and grandparents, so we had to cater to a wider audience. One morning we did manage to hike up the 1000 step up to the Fortress of Palamidi in Napflio. The Venetian Palamidi fortress, cresting a rock more than 200 meters in height, was designed by the engineers Giaxich and Laselle. It’s a massive system of eight self-contained bastions linked by a wall. One of many remarkable things about Palamidi, is that it was completed in just three years up to 1714. Keep an eye out for the cisterns that are still used to collect rainwater, and the Chapel of Agios Andreas in the central bastion. This monument is at the centre of Nafplio’s independence celebrations on 30 November.
The hike is worth the views at the top!
Beaches and Boat Rental
Most of our time in the Tolo Beach/ Napflio area was spent on daily trips to the local beaches and several afternoon boat rentals. In Tolo Beach, Bik John Boat Rental(+30 697 280 2956) is the place to go. Bik is a super nice guy with a small fleet of affordable boats for rent. It is hard to get a picture of how beautiful the coastline and surrounding islands are without renting a boat. You can pack your supplies in a cooler and spend the day exploring, snorkeling and sunbathing.
Be prepared to gain a few pounds on your vacation in Greece, not because the food’s unhealthy, but because it’s just delicious. From the soulvaki, to all of the delicious grilled meats, to all the delicious feta / Greek salad. Everything is super fresh and made from scratch. One day at the beach, they set up a full fish fry for our group, which included a table and everything needed to enjoy fresh seafood by the sea!
My family loved our time in Greece and can’t wait to return! Back in Texas, I’m finding I am cooking many Greek foods and missing the authentic flavors of this very beautiful country! I will be posting some of my favorite Greek recipes that I’ve added into my list of monthly go to meals in the coming weeks.