The charming coastal town of Nafpaktos is an ideal place to take a weekend break from Athens. With a picturesque port and large Venetian castle, its relaxing atmosphere is instantly appealing.
I recently visited Nafpaktos as part of a trip organised by Travel Bloggers Greece and Go Nafpaktia. The aim was for our group of bloggers to be shown the highlights of the town and surrounding area, so that we could then share what we found with our readers. As it happened, our trip also coincided with the anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Lepanto. More about that later!
Where is Nafpaktos?
I found this question a really hard one to answer when asked! About a four hour drive from Athens was the answer I eventually gave. The absolute correct answer, is that it is in Aetolia-Acarnania, West Greece. Perhaps the easiest description though, is that if your cross the Rio–Antirrio Bridge from Patras, and then follow the coast to the right on the other side, it is the first large town you arrive at.
Why Visit Nafpaktos?
I've already briefly covered what I think the main attractions of the town are, but let me go into them in more detail, beginning with the castle.
The Venetian Castle of Nafpaktos
Nafpaktos Castle is one of the largest, best-preserved, and dare I say beautiful castles in Greece. It is easily on a par with Koroni and Methoni castles in the Peloponnese, and sits high on a hill, overlooking the town and bay in front of it. With five defensive walls, there is a core section that has an entry fee of just two Euros. The rest of the castle and walls blend into parts of the town, making it a fascinating place to walk around. I would say that you should allow 3 or 4 hours to explore the Castle, Botsaris Tower, and walls. It's time well spent, and the views are amazing!
The port area of Nafpaktos is an obvious focal point. Shaped like a horseshoe, with fortified towers facing one another, the protected area is actually quite small. Bobbing up and down on the waters, are a number of tiny fishing vessels. Surrounding the port, are cafes and restaurants where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy the chilled atmosphere. This is what getting away from it all is about!
Although we visited Nafpaktos at the wrong time of year to enjoy the beach, it looked like a great place to be during the summer. There is a long stretch of lightly pebbled shoreline facing the oceans waters, backed by restaurants, bars and tavernas. Have you visited here during the summer? Let me know what it's like in the comments section below!
The Battle of Lepanto
The naval Battle of Lepanto occurred on the 7th of October, 1571 just off the coat of Nafpaktos. This was probably the most important naval battle you have heard nothing about! The two sides involved, were the Ottoman Empire and Holy League, which was basically an alliance of major Catholic countries with sea power, mostly financed by Spain.
The battle has significant importance for a number of reasons. Firstly, this was the last major sea battle to involve galleys. Secondly, the victorious Holy League more or less ended Ottoman supremacy on the seas of the Mediterranean. Thirdly the Ottomans lost a generation of sailors and archers, which were never adequately replaced.
Nowadays, the town of Nafpaktos celebrates the Battle of Lepanto with a festival on the weekend closest to the 7th. I visited the town just at the right time. The fireworks and displays were amazing, and it seemed like all 20,000 people from the town were surrounding the port to watch the events!
Here is one of the puppets from the Nafpaktos Battle of Lepanto celebrations. You can decide which one I am referring to!
Weekend Break or Road Trip?
Whilst visiting Nafpaktos makes an ideal weekend break from Athens, I think you could tie this in with a week long road trip starting and ending in Athens. Although I haven't tried this road trip myself yet, it seems that a route of Athens, Corinth, Olympia, Patras, Nafpaktos, Delphi, Arachova, Athens would be a good one. Maybe this is something I will try in the spring time next year. It might even make a good 2-3 week bicycle tour? Stay tuned folks, as you never know, this could be my next cycling trip!
Hotels in Nafpaktos
If you are looking for hotels in Nafpaktos, I recommend the following:
Hotel Akti – Hotel Akti kindly hosted me during my stay in Nafpaktos. It's a well run hotel, with colourful rooms, and a great breakfast! I recommend room Delta 4 as it had a lovely outdoor patio area with a nice view. Look here for the Tripadvisor reviews of Hotel Akti.
Hotel Nafpaktos – Whilst I didn't stay in this hotel myself, they kindly hosted part of our Travel Bloggers Greece team. Again, this was a well run hotel with great facilities. We also ate here for two meals, and the food was great. Compliments to the chef! You can check out Tripadvisor reviews of Hotel Nafpaktos here.
Thanks once again to Go Nafpaktia for organising our trip! I have another blog post about my trip to this area, which you can find here – Orini Nafpaktos.