7 wonderful things to do in Argos

by Fabian Jürgens
Published: Last Updated on

Despite its historic prevalence in the Argolis region, Argos leads quite an unremarkable existence. While it is certainly true that the city lacks the romantic flair, the culinary depth, or the sandy beach front of other Greek towns, its storied past renders a trip down to the Peloponnese definitely worthwhile. 

Overshadowed by its chic neighbour Náfplio, few travellers will find themselves in Argos. 

The city’s glory days have certainly passed, and she feels a bit rundown at times (the city centre has been renovated very nicely though), however, this should not deter you from visiting this absolute Methuselah of a city! 

Its numerous archaeological remains (spanning a period of over 3500 years!), its central location in the region, making it the perfect base for exploring the nearby sites, and the absence of tourists create a quite underrated Greek travel destination that shouldn’t be missed on your next visit to this southern European country (it is definitely the cheaper alternative to Náfplio!).

Therefore, without further ado, here are seven wonderful reasons to add Argos to your next Greek itinerary.


Remnants of fallen civilizations can be found all around the city, some of which date back thousands of years, to a time when the Mycenaeans buried their kin in giant, underground tombs and erected Cyclopean walls to shield their settlements. Most sites that can be visited today, stem from Greek and Roman times, however.

Hewn into the side of Larissa Hill in 320 BCE, the theatre of Argos stands out as the most impressive of these structures. During its heyday, more than 20.000 spectators (arranged in 83 rows) would have converged on its smooth stone steps and eagerly lend their ears to the pervasive voice of masked actors reciting their tales, making it the largest theatre in the Hellenic world!

In the second half of the 2nd century CE, emperor Hadrian himself ordered the expansion of the complex. Rebuilt in the Roman style, the theatre acquired a monumental façade, a circular orchestra (one of only two existing ones!), and, in the 4th century CE, even a pool for water sports. In Roman tradition, theatre performances were now complemented by gladiatorial fights and poor souls were thrown into the dust of the arena to combat exotic beasts.

From 270 BCE onwards, the theatre also played host to the Nemean Games, as part of the Panhellenic Games, and was held every two years (one year after and before the Olympic Games) in honour of Zeus, head of the Greek Pantheon. Performances ceased during the 5th or 6th century and the seats began to overgrow with grass and cacti yet stayed visible throughout the centuries.

multiple rows of stone steps of a roman theatre surrounded by trees, Argos, Greece

Only overshadowed in hight by the surrounding pine trees, the remaining mudbrick walls of the Roman baths, located right next to the theatre, are another remnant that hints at the splendour of this once magnificent city. Erected as a sanctuary for the Egyptian god Sarapis in 280 BCE, the complex was repurposed for bath therapy under emperor Hadrian, before becoming a public bath in the 2nd and 3rd century CE. The building featured a large courtyard encircled by colonnaded galleries, a large room at the head of the ensemble, used for public gatherings and socializing, a frigidarium (cold bath), and three rooms for the caldarium (hot bath), among others. The rooms were lavishly decorated with beautiful mosaics and marble floors, while delicate statues, depicting gods and heroes, adorned the long hallways and niches, testifying to the luxury of Argos in Roman times.

The ruins of an odeon (comparable to a theatre but sheltered and used for instrumental and chanting performances) and a sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite can also be found on the premiss. Across the street of the archaeological park, the ancient agora of Argos has been excavated but doesn’t seem to be accessible.

Opening hours | 8:30-15:30

Entrance fee | General admission: 3€; EU citizens 25 and under: free

Free admission days | March 6 | April 18 | May 18 | October 28 | last weekend of September | first Sunday of every month from November 1 till March 31

Closed | January 1 | March 25 | Orthodox Easter Sunday | May 1 | December 25-26.

rows of stone seats in front of a red mudbrick wall, Argos, Greece


Archaeological findings suggest that the area around Aspida hill was first settled around 5000 BCE, a whooping 2500 years before the Egyptians erected the Great Pyramid of Giza!

Even though Argos was reduced to village size numerous times throughout its history, a permanent human presence has been confirmed, crowning Argos as THE oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, as well as one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on Earth.


For centuries, the Peloponnese belonged to the heartland of Byzantian culture, yet surprisingly, the Byzantine Museum of Argos, conveniently situated in the city centre, is the very first museum on the peninsula dedicated to the Eastern Roman Empire.

Although the exhibition is relatively short (calculate roughly an hour if you thoroughly inspect everything), it offers an excellent overview of Argos’ Byzantine history, as well as the history of the wider region in general. Furthermore, it takes a closer look at the emerging Christendom and the tremendous consequences this fundamental transition of faith had on Roman society, as well as the socio-economic structures of the Eastern-Roman Empire and every-day rule under the Byzantines. The last section is dedicated to the different civilizations that shaped Argos and the surrounding region during the Middle Ages and modern times.  

Opened in 2017, the museum is housed in the Kapodistrias Barracks, named after Greece’s first head of state, Ioannis Kapodistrias, following its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1827. Built by the Venetians in the 1690s, the building first functioned as a hospital under the caring eyes of the Sisters of Mercy, before the Turks used it as an agora (marketplace) and post office. In the later stages of the Greek War for Independence, Kapodistrias ordered the complex to be reconstructed as barracks for the cavalry. 

Though brief, a visit to the Byzantine Museum of Argos is highly recommended for those curious minds, who want to expand their knowledge on one of Europe’s great empires and the region’s storied history.

Opening hours | 8:30-15:30

Entrance fee | General admission: 4€; EU citizens 25 and under: free

Free admission days | March 6 | April 18 | May 18 | October 28 | last weekend of September | first Sunday of every month from November 1 till March 31

Closed | January 1 | March 25 | Orthodox Easter Sunday | May 1 | December 25-26.

pieces of a religious wall fresco, showing a woman and a child, complemented by the stylized drawing of the missing parts, Argos, Greece
pieces of a wall fresco, showing a priest, complemented by the stylized drawing of the missing parts, Argos, Greece


The origins of Larissa Castle can be traced all the way back to the 13th century BCE, when the eponymous hill was first settled and fortified by the Mycenaean civilization.

Perfectly positioned to control the terrestrial trade routes, connecting the south-eastern Peloponnese with Attica and Boeotia (historical regions in central Greece), as well as the maritime routes linking mainland Greece to the Aegean islands, the castle played an integral military role from Antiquity up until the 19th century, when it fell into decay following the Greek War for Independence.

After the fall of Rome, the castle was occupied by both Visigoths and Slavs before it received its current form during the Middle Ages. The Byzantines constructed a new citadel on the foundation of the old Mycenaean fortifications, which was in turn expanded upon by the Franks in the wake of the 4th Crusade and the sack of Constantinople in the early 13th century. The advent of artillery led to major alterations and its battlements were heavily fortified during Ottoman and Venetian rule two centuries later.

Interestingly, all the evolutionary steps of Larissa Castle are still visible to the trained eye, from the large stones of the Mycenaean Cyclopean walls to Ottoman bastions and Frankish crenelations.

Even though there is not a lot to see today, other than the walls that stood the test of time, the views alone make the ascend worthwhile!    

Arrive shortly before dusk when the sun gently sets behind the towering mountains of the Peloponnese and watch in serenity as its last beams turn the Argolic Gulf into a sparkling carpet and the slopes into golden fleece.

well preserved castle walls bathed in the warm light of the setting sun, Argos, Greece


Lending its name to one of Greece’s great prehistoric cultures, Mycenae is regarded as the most important city of the Mycenaean civilization, which first appeared in the 18th century BCE and later surpassed the Minoans to become the dominant Greek civilization before it vanished in the cataclysmic Bronze Age collapse.

According to myth the city was founded by Perseus, son of Zeus and the beautiful Danaë, whom the Greek godfather impregnated disguised as a golden shower (yeeeeaaah, Greek mythology is weird like that).

Though the exact origins of the name are unknown, Pausanias, a Greek traveller who visited the site in the 2nd century BCE, gives us two explanations. He argues that Perseus either choose the name because the pommel (mykes) of his sword fell to the ground and he took it as a sign to establish a city there, or that he discovered a spring underneath a mushroom (also mykes).   

Whatever theory holds truth, its advantageous defensive position on a small plateau, shielded on either side by rugged peaks, and its ability to control the local trade routes, paved the city’s road of becoming the dominant Mycenaean settlement by the 14th century BCE, before its aforementioned decline at the beginning of the 11th century BCE.   

During its heyday, the site consisted of a luxurious palace, which included the megaron (the political, administrative, military, and economical hub of Mycenae) and was adorned with colourful murals and intricate mosaics, shrines and temples, a separate quarter for the artisans and craftsmen, an underground cistern to secure the city’s water supply, and additional administrative and commercial buildings.

"cyclops" walls encircling the ruined palace of Mycenae located on an elevated plateau between two pointy peaks, Greece
main gate leading into the ruined site of Mycenae featuring two lions leaning on an altar carved into a single stone above the entrance, Mycenae, Greece

Beside the acropolis, the giant Cyclopean wall encompassing the city, and every tourist’s favourite photo motif the Lion Gate (good luck getting a free shot here during high season), the highlight of a visit to Mycenae are the enormous tholos tombs of the deceased aristocracy. Rising walls flank the path leading towards the imposing portal before you enter the cool interior sheltered by a beehive vault. Perfectly built, these chambers are acoustic masterpieces and will echo the softest word and most gentle footstep (in the very middle of the room), even if the roof has already collapsed.

Three graves can be visited on the premiss, however, take a short stroll on the slopes behind the parking lot and you might find a bunch of unspoiled (yet mostly destroyed) tholos tombs in the pleasant shade of olive trees (one is in perfect condition though!). The largest of the burial grounds, the illustrious sounding “Treasury of Atreus” can be found just a short walk (or drive) down the road towards the village of Mykines.

Since 2007, the site also features a museum, showcasing a plethora of ancient artifacts (from painted pottery to occult clay figurines and coins) and informative boards about various aspects of Mycenaean society, perfectly complementing the archaeological park to paint a vivid picture of this fascinating culture. Of all the displayed items, the most famous piece has to be the golden Mask of Agamemnon, though. (Indeed, the chad king, who led half of Greece into a decade long conflict with Troy to avenge the honour of his brother, because some goddesses deemed it wise to let a mortal be the judge in their beauty pageant)

Opening hours | 8:00-18:30

Entrance fee | General admission: 12€; EU citizens 25 and under: free

Free admission days | March 6 | April 18 | May 18 | October 28 | last weekend of September | first Sunday of every month from November 1 till March 31

Closed | January 1 | March 25 | Orthodox Easter Sunday | May 1 | December 25-26.

gravel path flanked by rising walls leads towards the monumental entrance of a tholos tomb, Mycenae, Greece


Tiryns was another centre of the Mycenaean civilization on the Peloponnese, as well as one of the most important Bronze Age settlements of Europe. Erected by Lycian cyclopes (let’s not question this), the site is situated on a freestanding limestone rock, between the towns of Argos and Náfplio in the Argolis region of the Peloponnese.  

Even though not much remains of the fortification besides its impressive walls, the city is deeply rooted in Greek mythology. Not only was it the seat of Perseus before he founded the neighbouring palace of Mycenae, but the fabled Greek hero Hercules also resided in Tiryns.

Unfortunately, the most exciting part of the complex (at least photography wise), “the Galleries” (long corridors ending in pointy arches), was not accessible when I was there. I would still deem the site worth a visit though as it lies right next to the main highway connecting Argos and Náfplio, which certainly justifies the short detour.

If you want to attain a deeper understanding of the Mycenaean civilization beside witnessing epic ruins, Mycenae is the place to be, however.

Opening hours | 8:00-15:30

Entrance fee | General admission: 4€; EU citizens 25 and under: free

Free admission days | March 6 | April 18 | May 18 | October 28 | last weekend of September | first Sunday of every month from November 1 till March 31

Closed | January 1 | March 25 | Orthodox Easter Sunday | May 1 | December 25-26.

triangle shaped portal leading up to a stone staircase, Tyrins, Greece
cone shaped alcove in a stone wall, Tyrins, Greece
"cyclops" stone walls on a limestone outcrop, Tyrins, Greece


By some considered to be Greece’s most beautiful town, it is undeniable that Náfplio or Nauplia in English, possesses a quite unique charm among the Greek cities, due to its long association with the Italian city state of Venice.  

Sold to “La Serenissima” (as the republic was called) by French crusaders in 1388 CE, the port of Náfplio was subsequently ruled by Italian merchants for one and a half centuries. To strengthen their influence on the Peloponnese and the wider region, the Venetians invested heavily to incorporate the city into their maritime realm. The already existing fort (Acronauplia), stemming from the Byzantine and Frankish eras, as well as the lower city were expanded upon and modernized, which made Náfplio one of Venice’s most vital harbours in the eastern Mediterranean.

In 1540, after two failed attempts, the Ottomans finally seized the city, therefore ending 150 years of Venetian rule. Even though the port was “briefly” recaptured from 1685-1715, it firmly stayed in Turkish hands until the Greek War for Independence (1821-29), thereafter.


To be fair, if you are not visiting Greece in the midst of winter, the possibility of storms is very little. However, should the flood gates of heaven open regardless, fear not!

Whether you want to learn more about Greece's struggle for independence (War Museum), deepen your knowledge about the region's prehistory (Archaeological Museum), or gaze upon richly embroidered folk costumes of the 19th and 20th century (Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation Museum), Náfplio has your indoor activities for rainy days covered.

Despite the Ottoman’s presence for 250 years, the city’s appearance has remained distinctively Italian. A single mosque on Plateia Syntagma (Constitution Square) reminds visitors of Náfplio’s Muslim past, whereas the Venetian influence is ubiquitous. The winged Lion of Saint Mark, that can be spotted throughout the city, leaves no doubt whom this settlement once belonged to.

Truly, if it wasn’t for the restaurant menus written in Greek script and the obligatory white and blue flag of the Hellenic Republic, an unsuspecting visitor might imagine himself on the Italian instead of the Peloponnese peninsula.

More likely to be found on the Adriatic coast rather than the Aegean Sea, the colourful buildings of the old town boast dainty, little balconies, often decorated with potted plants and flowers, which, together with matching doors and shutters, provide a very pleasant atmosphere for travellers who wish to wander through the towns narrow alleyways, while sharing the cobblestone streets with strolling cats.

six matching balconies with blue railings and doors; the upper ones feature a white marquee, Nafplio, Greece
faint purple door and framed windows in a stone wall, Nafplio, Greece

To ramble about the port of Náfplio would be incomplete, however, without mentioning the town’s most prominent feature: the fortress of Palamidi. Named after a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the citadel was erected by the Venetians following their reconquest of the city from the Turks and their subsequent 30-years rule (1685-1715) over Morea (Romanic term for the Peloponnese since medieval times).   

Built in the Baroque style of the era (in a record time of three years!), each of its eight bastions (each named after a hero or important Greek figure) would have been autarch, to ensure that soldiers could continue the defence even if one (or a couple) of the bastions were taken by the enemy. Hailed as one of the most impressive achievements of Venetian military architecture, the Italian builders completely neglected the outer wall though, ultimately leading to the quite unspectacular capture of Palamidi by the Ottomans in 1715 and the Greek separatists in 1822, respectively. After the Greek War for Independence, the fortress lost its military importance, even though Náfplio became the first capital of the newly founded Greek Republic, and Palamidi was converted into a prison, which operated until 1926.

Today, supposedly 999 steps lead up to the main gate, however, this number is apparently significantly lower (to be fair, I did not count them myself). Nonetheless, once you reach the fort and head up to its highest bastion, you will be greeted by a marvellous panorama of the Argolic Gulf, the old town of Náfplio in unison with Acronauplia, and the rising mountains across the azure blue bay. Look northward and you will even spot the castle of Larissa and the city of Argos in the distance.

Also remember that you can actually explore the entirety of the fortress and walk all the way to the very last bastion to the south if you wish to. Just keep an eye out for narrow passageways in the western wall (righthand side if you look southward).      

Unfortunately, the entrance fee is really steep (8€), as you can only walk around the fortification.

Venetian fortress sitting on top of a massiv rock behind the older remnants of another fort, Nafplio, Greece


When Christianity emerged from the obscurity of private cubbies and hidden cellars to establish itself as the new dominant faith within the Roman and later Eastern Roman Empire, there arose the need for public places of worship (churches), as well as more secluded places (monasteries), where devout Christians could practice their religion in an appropriate environment or even devote their whole life to the study of faith.

The basilica, modelled after the homonymous, secular, public building of the Roman era, became the new landmark of this Christian state. Often richly decorated with mosaics depicting crucial events from the Old Testament, ikons, liturgical items, and the all-dominating cross, churches quickly established themselves in the centre of Byzantine life. In Argos alone, eight basilicae of the early Byzantine period have been excavated.

Today, the large number of religious buildings, that grace the hills and plains of the Peloponnese, stands as a testament for the crucial role Christendom had (and still has) in the region.

Noteworthy monasteries in Argos include the Agion Anargiron Monastery to the west of Larissa Castle (in the picture), Agia Marine Monastery below the parking lot of the castle, and Panagia (Holy Mary) Monastery on the cliffside above the town.

Byzantine era monastery bathed in golden light of the sun setting behind the mountains, Peloponnese, Greece

For the latest prizes and opening hours of the archaeological sites in and around Argos, check the official website of the Argolis region.



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