Trip to Nafplio and Corinth Canal
The moment I was in Athens, I was waiting to drive along the coast and have a look at the
Mediterranean sea! Finally the day had arrived. Today, we planned to go on a day trip to the famous Peloponnese. Peloponnese is a region in the South which is separated from the Central region by the Corinth Canal. This area has so much to offer that you can spend at least 3-4 days if not a week exploring the various ancient archaeological sites like the Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia (where the first Olympic Games were ever held!), the ancient city of Corinth, Sparta! (need not say more esp. for Hollywood fans! :D).
But unfortunately, we just had a day to spend here, so we thought we will explore the port town of Nafplio. We were lucky to have some sunshine in winter. It was just a 140 km drive with good road conditions. Th drive was very pleasant with nice views of the sea and the hills. We made a stop at the Corinth Canal and spent some time looking at the ships crossing the canal. After sipping hot tea we started driving towards Nafplio.
The first thing we did once we reached Nafplio was search for directions to the Palamidi Fortress which is on top of a hill. This is a must visit when you are in Nafplio. The venetian fortress is huge and well preserved. The view from here is breathtaking. You can see the Nafplio harbour, old part of town, the sea, many hills and mountains in the distance. This view was unique because there were snow capped peaks in the background of the blue sea. We spent a good 3 hours here exploring the castle, taking photos of the amazing view.
Instead of taking the route back to the town, we took a random winding road which took us
to the sea. The drive was quite adventurous as there were only mud roads. The area around Nafplio is nice for hiking in summer. In winter, it was too cold to walk so we chose to drive around and made random stops near the coast.
Once we reached the town, we walked to the old town, which is towards the port and sat at a restaurant with a view of the sea. After eating, we walked near the port and the old town which has really pretty pedestrian streets with shops and cafes.
It was close to sunset time and then we decided to walk around the Akronafplio Fortress which is situated by the sea. The sunset was beautiful and we were lucky to have clear skies. We strolled around the old town of Nafplio which is very beautiful with small cafes and narrow streets. After the sun set, we headed back to Athens after a relaxed day trip.
Trip to Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon
The next day, we set out to drive along the west coast towards Cape Sounion, which is the southern most point of Attica Peninsula and also where the Temple of Poseidon is located. We were lucky to have two continuous days of sunshine, so were going to use it to the full extent. The drive from Athens to Cape Sounion is hardly 80 km, so it can also be a half day trip. Normally, people go here to watch the sunset. But we decided to have a relaxed outing and spend an entire day here.
There are two routes you can take to reach the Cape and of course we chose the E91 coastal road. We encountered slight traffic near Piraeaus (Port), but after that, there was hardly any traffic. This route is so beautiful! This is the best route I have ever driven. There is always a view of the beautiful sea along the winding roads. Once we were closer to Cape Sounio, we could see the Temple of Poseidon from far, and added to the lovely view. We made as many stops as we could on this coastal highway. There are nice parking bays which are provided throughout the route just to make a quick stop and enjoy the view. I was so happy! This was a dream drive! I only wished I had a better car! 😉
I never wanted this road to end! But we eventually we arrived near the parking area of the Temple of Poseidon. There were very few tourists. The temple area is closed on 25th December, so we could not go close to the Temple. But the view from far was also good. We
knew that the temple would be closed but chose to come here as there was nothing much to do in Athens on the 25th Dec., plus, the weather was awesome today. After spending some time around the temple, we decided to hike a bit on the coastal highway and then went to a beach. I was so tempted to just dip my feet in water and as expected, the water was ice cold. There were so many cats on the beach! There was one cute cat and it was so playful and friendly that I almost felt like taking her back home.
We decided to spend the rest of the evening in the cafe with a view of the Temple of Poseidon and wait for the sunset. Unfortunately, today we did not have clear skies and could not see the sunset. After this slight disappointment, we headed back to Athens.
In summer, due to longer days, perhaps you can try to combine Cape Sounio with other activities in Athens. There are plenty of other Day trips from Athens. The most popular are Delphi and Meteora. Our initial plan was to drive to these places but because there was heavy snow in the area, and I felt it was a bit risky with my car (without winter tires) we decided to go to other places instead. So the next visit to Greece, we plan to cover Delphi, Meteora and Thessaloniki.