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145km (90 miles) SW of Athens

Nafplion is the most charming town in the Peloponnese, with stepped streets overhung with balconies dripping with bougainvillea, handsome neoclassical buildings, enticing shops, restaurants, cafes, and two fine museums. You could spend several enjoyable days simply exploring the port town, but you'll probably want to use Nafplion as your base for day trips to the ancient sites at Argos, Nemea, Mycenae, Tiryns, Epidaurus, and -- if you didn't see it already -- Corinth. Keep in mind that lots of Athenians come here year-round on weekends. It's important to reserve your hotel in advance.

Nafplion (pop. 10,000) brings you face to face with the beginnings of modern Greece. For several years after the Greek War of Independence (1821-28), this was Greece's first capital. Although the palace of Greece's young King Otto -- a mail-order monarch from Bavaria -- burned down in the 19th century, you can see the former mosque off Plateia Syntagma (Constitution Sq.) where Greece's first Parliament met. Another legacy of those years is the impressive number of commemorative statues of revolutionary heroes in Nafplion's squares and parks.

All this would be reason enough to visit this port on the east coast of the Gulf of Argos, but Nafplion also has two hilltop Venetian fortresses, a miniature castle on an island in the harbor, shady parks, some boutique hotels and shops, and the best ice cream in the entire Peloponnese!