Monemvasia to Nafplio: Roadtripping the Peloponnese

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Welcome to our journey driving from Monemvasia to Nafplio!

Part of our epic campervan trip across Europe, this particular leg took us through the heart of the Peloponnese, and trust me, it’s as charming as it is unexpected.

Our adventure started in Monemvasia, a town that wooed us with its medieval vibes—winding cobbled streets, towering hills, and a sparkling coastline. It was a delightful surprise and set the bar pretty high.

Next up was Nafplio, often hyped up as Greece’s prettiest town.

As we rolled through the scenic route, filled with interesting stops and little discoveries, we couldn’t help but wonder: Would Nafplio live up to its reputation, or had we set our hopes too high?

Stick around as we share the real scoop on Nafplio, complete with personal stories and many photos from our travels.

Let’s find out if Nafplio is the crown jewel of Greek towns.

Views on route of mountains just passed Monemvasia
Views on the drive from Monemvasia towards Nafplio ©Lifejourney4two

Quick Takeaways from Our Monemvasia to Nafplio Journey:

  • Unexpected Medieval Charm: Monemvasia wowed us with its medieval allure, offering picturesque cobbled streets, commanding hills, and stunning coastal views that felt like stepping back in time.
  • Scenic Drives and Unique Stops: The drive from Monemvasia to Nafplio was dotted with scenic views and captivating stops, including:
    • Kastraki Beach: A beautiful and serene beach perfect for a quiet day or a relaxing overnight stop in our campervan.
    • Sampatiki Harbour: A quaint harbour town nestled among the hills. It offers charming views and a peaceful spot to watch local life by the sea.
    • Kato Koutroufa: Home to a 2000-year-old olive tree, adding a touch of historical wonder to our journey.
    • Mylio: This is a delightful detour for a geocaching adventure, providing a picturesque meeting point of river and sea.
  • Nafplio’s Mixed Impressions: Despite its reputation as Greece’s prettiest town, Nafplio didn’t entirely meet our expectations, overshadowed by its heavy traffic and less quaint first impressions, though the historical sites offered some redemption.
  • Cultural Encounters: Our journey was enriched by interactions, such as meeting Constantinos, who shared deep dives into Greek mythology and local history, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the places we visited.
  • Travel Tips for Camper Vans: Traveling outside the busy tourist season provided us with quieter experiences and easier parking, making it ideal for campervan travellers seeking more intimate encounters with nature and history.

Getting to Nafplio from Monemvasia

Our scenic route from Monemvasia to Nafplio

Our Monemvasia to Nafplio Driving Route Map

We continued our road trip around Greece and arrived at Monemvasia in the Peloponnese before heading north towards Nafplio.

This map shows the route we took from Monemvasia to Nafplio. It is not short of scenic views and interesting stopping places.

However, if you are looking for the quickest route (this route includes tolls), then the map below shows a more direct albeit less scenic route:

Monemvasia to Nafplio quick route
Quicker route – 194km and almost 3 hours
Powered by GetYourGuide


As we approached the new part of Monemvasia on the mainland, we could see the small but commanding island that houses the old town.

The island is connected to the mainland by a 200-metre causeway and we easily found a park for the van in a quiet empty car park ( Camper car park coordinates N36.6885 E23.036638). Scooting around outside of the busy tourist season has its benefits.

The old town of Monemvasia clings to the coastline on the island.

monemvasia road sogn
Arriving in Monemvasia – the old town is on the island ©Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to Greece?

Old and New Monemvasia

The next morning, we began our walk across the causeway to the island to visit the old town of Monemvasia.

Just short of the causeway, still on the mainland (the new town of Monemvasia), we discovered an ‘Awarded Beach’. Weirdly, though, only a portion of it was awarded — as marked by the signs. Our best guess was that it had most likely won this accolade because it was remarkably clean of litter.

We cannot say the same for many of the other beaches we have been to so far in Europe — I guess we might be a bit spoilt being used to our beautiful, pristine beaches in Australia.

beach sign
The end of the awarded beach! ©Lifejourney4two

Monemvasia means ‘single passage’; its name derives from a single passageway linking it to the mainland. The island was originally formed when an earthquake struck in 375 AD, separating it from the mainland. 

Shelley walking the causeway to Monemvasia
Walking across the 200m causeway to the old town of Monemvasia

Monemvasia Castle

Once across the causeway, there is a short walk around the side of the island before you come to the ancient fortress walls of the old town of Monemvasia. Stepping through the medieval castle wall entrance, you immediately feel like you are in a fairytale world.

Monemvasia entrance to old town
Old town Monemvasia entrance ©Lifejourney4two

As you stroll through the old, cobbled streets and arched passageways, you occasionally catch ocean glimpses through small doorways, always within the watch of the towering hills above.

The town’s architecture and history seep into your bones, and you can almost hear the clatter of hooves and chatter of artisans from medieval times.

pretty cobbled street with flowers
A pretty cobbled street in Monemvasia ©Lifejourney4two

These kinds of experiences are just one of the many reasons to visit Greece.

old town charm of monemvasia
Monemvasia charm ©Lifejourney4two

The main street through the enchanting walled castle of Monemvasia is lined with cafes, tavernas, shops and artisans’ workshops.

monemvasia alleyway
Stone-walled alleyway of Monemvasia ©Lifejourney4two

In the upper part of the town are the ruins of mansions that once belonged to the Venetian aristocracy. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the area.

On one of the highest points on the island sits the Church of Agios Sofia. Originally built in the 12th century, it is one of the oldest Byzantine churches in Greece.

Monemvasia Main Square

In the main square of the lower town of Monemvasia, you’ll find the largest medieval church in southern Greece, Elkomenos Christos.

monemvasia town square
Monemvasia ©Lifejourney4two
monemvasia central square
Old Monemvasia’s central square and nearby Church of Elkomenos Christos -it’s a great viewpoint here, too ©Lifejourney4two

As we wandered through the intimate laneways, the local stray cats were warming themselves in the winter sun but were keen to stir from their spot for some love and patting.

Shelley and cat
Monemvasia’s locals were very friendly 😉 ©Lifejourney4two
end of ramparts at monemvasia
The end of the old town of Monemvasia where the old fortress walls still enclose it. ©Lifejourney4two
view of monemvasia new town
View of Monemvasia’s new town from the old town ©Lifejourney4two

Best Time to Visit Monemvasia

As it was the winter season, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Therefore, Monemvasia definitely lends itself to a crowd-free winter visit.

You can then experience the magic of this walled castle town and explore its beauty in peaceful surroundings. The only drawback may be that the weather is cool. However, we were there in November, and the temperature was around 23 degrees C.

The most popular tourist months are June, July, and August, meaning that accommodation will charge peak prices. However, the weather will be much warmer, and swimming will more than likely be on the agenda.

The Monemvasia to Nafplio Drive

We planned to head from Monemvasia towards Nafplio, which we had heard was one of the prettiest towns in Greece. But as usual, there were many things to see and experiences to have along the way.

Our drive was filled with canons and castles, goats and Greek mythology, olive trees and endless ocean views.

We left Monemvasia late afternoon after successfully finding the elusive ‘Blueberry and Goji’ tea. Travelling Europe in a campervan is fun and full of exciting new adventures, but it can also bring about latent obsessions – haha. I lost count of the number of herbal and fruit teas we tried!

And did I mention the hundreds of dark chocolate varieties too?

Stops on the Way from Monemvasia to Nafplio

Perfect Find: Kastraki Beach

About ten minutes out of Monemvasia, we hadn’t gone far when we came to Kastraki Beach, an idyllic little spot to park the camper for a day or two.

Kastraki Beach map
Kastraki BeachN36.728555 E23.026278
parked at kastraki beach
Perfect place to park the motorhome on Kastraki Beach ©Lifejourney4two
views of monemvasia
Monemvasia in the background; our motorhome is parked on Kastraki Beach ©Lifejourney4two

Sampatiki Harbour, Peloponnese

Leaving Kastraki, we drove sedately through the mountains to Sampatiki (also Sambatiki), a pretty harbour town nestled among the hills of the Arkadian coast.

After navigating very narrow roads, we arrived at a car park overlooking the harbour, where we parked for the night.

We watched the commotion in this quaint harbour for almost an hour: fishing boats chugging in and out, locals collecting the day’s catch, and someone in a wetsuit snorkelling and circling the bay.

A great place to relax, have a drink and enjoy the idyllic view with the late afternoon sun streaming into the van.

sampatiki harbour
Sampatiki Harbour on the Arkadia Coast, Peloponnese ©Lifejourney4two


On our third stop on the route from Monemvasia to Nafplio, we visited a 2000-year-old olive tree in the village square of Koutroufa.

Getting there: Make sure to put Kato Koutroufa [Κάτω Κούτρουφα,] into Google Maps, or it gets confused.

 Its trunk measured about 11 metres in diameter; for being 2000 years old, it still looked pretty hardy. It was replanted to its current location in 2010 as it was dug up to be sold, but luckily, that plan didn’t go ahead, and it now holds pride of place in the village square.

We found it as part of our geocaching hunts, and info on that website mentions that the village holds an annual festival at the end of July, in ‘Tribute to the Olive Tree’. Villagers share olive dishes and play Greek music.

Visitor Tip: Geocaching is an activity directed from an app that points you to a hidden location in search of a ‘cache’ or container where you can log your details on paper and do the same online. It’s akin to a treasure hunt.

The beauty of this is that locals hide these caches in the most scenic places, so you get to see sites you might otherwise pass by.

katroufa olive tree 2000 years old
Koutroufa 2000-year-old Olive Tree ©Lifejourney4two


Another detour on our way to Nafplio was to find a Geocache near the small village of Myloi.

We followed the Geocache coordinates, which led us down an overgrown path beside the River Lerna. Here, where the river met the sea, an old wooden bridge set the scene, with sea mist hovering over the ocean as a backdrop.

These little unexpected pleasures make the journey more important than the destination.  A sentiment echoed in the many road trip quotes we’ve gathered along our journeys.

River Lerna
 Where The River Lerna meets the sea close to the small village of Myloi ©Lifejourney4two

The particular geocache we found gave us information about a concrete compass in the nearby area. It was apparently built by the Germans and originally had a canon in the middle pointing towards the town of Nafplio across the bay.

concrete compass
Concrete compass at Myloi ©Lifejourney4two

Lesson in Greek Mythology Along the Way

On our way, we encountered Constantinos, an elderly Greek gentleman who was clearing the overgrown reeds near the river.

With excellent English, he started up a conversation. He proceeded to tell us about the area’s Greek history, including the story of Hercules and the many-headed snake Lernaean Hydra, which had its lair in the area.

Constantinos explaining the land to us
Constantinos, our Greek mythology enthusiast ©Lifejourney4two

He told us about his favourite philosopher, Plato, and his favourite quotes. Constantino was quite the storyteller, regularly laughing between his ever-increasing divergent stories.

In his younger days, he had been a bartender and travelled through the US, which explained his great penchant for spinning a yarn.

He explained that he was clearing the river surrounds of his own accord and was upset that they had been left to overgrow.

Reluctantly, he let us go on our way, leaving us much wiser in aspects of Greek mythology and the many inventions that originated in Greece.

river lerna nice spot
A beautiful spot on the River Lerna near the village of Myloi, Greece ©Lifejourney4two

Nafplio First Impressions

Arriving at Nafplio, I have to say our first impressions weren’t great. I envisaged a pretty little town like Monemvasia, but these visions were promptly slashed.

Heavy traffic and the huge car park we entered by the harbour didn’t meet our expectations of a small, picturesque town. 

An online article in the ‘Telegraph’ stated it was a serious contender for the most beautiful Greek town, and numerous other articles exulted in its beauty. More recently, CNN has touted it as one of Europe’s most beautiful towns.

nafplio harbour
Nafplio Harbour with the small fortress of Bourtzi on the rocky islet of Agioi Theodoroi ©Lifejourney4two

We tried not to judge on first impressions and made our way to the old town, through narrow streets, and onwards to the ruins at the top of the hill. At the tip of the headland, we encountered The Five Brothers.

The ‘brothers’ are five canons that point out towards the bay. You get a great view of the Bourtzi Fortress, situated just off the coast on a small rocky islet. This is apparently the most photographed iconic spot of Nafplio.

Perhaps we had raised our expectations too high, but we still weren’t feeling the splendour that others obviously do in this ancient town.

One of the 'Five Brothers' cannons lying in wait on the old walls of Nafplio
One of the ‘Five Brothers’ cannons lying in wait on the old walls of Nafplio ©Lifejourney4two

 As we walked further up the hill, we came to the walls of the oldest castle in Nafplio, Acronauplia. The ruins were impressive, but I was much more taken, by the multitude of prickly pear plants growing along the walls.

To be fair, by this point in our journey, we had seen numerous Greek ruins, which may be another reason we weren’t as impressed.

nafplio castle
Nafplio Castle ©Lifejourney4two
fortress cacti
Cacti decorating the walls of the historic Nafplio Old Town ©Lifejourney4two

Sorry Nafplio: We’re Just Not That Into You

To be honest, the old town area was worth a visit, and you may find, as many seem to do, that you fall in love with Nafplio.

However, for us, love at first sight, was not the case, and we weren’t even up for a tentative second date.

It was a ‘Thank you, but we’re just not that into you.’ from us.

We did enjoy the journey from Monemvasia to Nafplio, though. As mentioned earlier, it’s the journey, not necessarily the destination, that is often the most enjoyable. 

The plan had been to overnight in the ‘prettiest town in the Peloponnese’, but the vast port car park wasn’t enticing for us.

Therefore, we headed off to find somewhere a little less busy and more scenic.

Hopefully, we’d find a stopover in a more appealing location as we set off towards our next destination.

The journey, not the destination matters.

– TS Eliot
old monemvasia square
Old Monemvasia’s town square ©Lifejourney4two

Monemvasia to Nafplio… That’s a Wrap

We’d love to hear what you think of Monemvasia or Nafplio. Remember, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about travelling to the area in a motorhome.

If you are planning a Greece Road Trip – remember to download our free 23-page road trip planner.

Download here or find out more about what’s included here.

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Before You Go – Are You Planning Your Travels?

These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

2 thoughts on “Monemvasia to Nafplio: Roadtripping the Peloponnese”

  1. I love Greece deeply! I’ve been travelling there o a little Vespa bike 125cc with my husband and a little tent, and we had some of the best time of our life! So reading about your trip made me dream a bit af all those scenarios, smells, tastes, and cheerfull people. Looking forward to go there once again, thaks a lot!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment on our post Jasmine. It sounds like you have beautiful memories of your times exploring Greece. We agree that it’s definitely a country that is a delight to the senses and it was one of our favourite places in Europe. We also look forward to visiting again 🙂


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