Greek: Ναύπλιο (Naf-plee-oh)

When an independent Greece successfully separated itself from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, its capital was not Athens, but Nafplion! Roughly two hours from Athens, enjoy the amenities of a modern town while walking down cobblestone streets surrounded by fascinating architecture blended from neoclassical Greek to the style of the Venetians that occupied it in the late middle ages to the Ottoman influences that came after that.

There’s much to choose from in Nafplion, beyond the excellent seaside meals. For the art lover, Nafplion is home to a branch of the Greek National Gallery, dedicated particular to the theme of Greek liberation. For those who want to get active, there’s a visit to the Palamidi, a 15th Century Venetian castle that looks over the town, and can be reached by climbing its 999 winding steps. In the summer months, one can also visit the Bourtzi, another 15th century Venetian fortress. This one, however, is located on an island in the middle of Nafplion harbor!

If even this seems to be a little busy for your preferences, you can have lunch in Nea Kios, a nearby fishing village that looks out across the water at Nafplion.  This is my personal favorite spot for lunch (but note, to avoid sticker shock, that fresh whole fish can be pricey, so if you go, you’ll have the price for the whole fish that you pick, not the per kilo price), and I find it is generally tourist free, although it is a popular spot for native Athenians, as is Nafplion. Nea Kios and Nafplion are modern cities, roughly an hour to an hour and a half from Athens, and day trips can be accommodated to spend as much time there as you’d like.