The acropolis at Ancient Assini gets a mention in Homer, as somewhere that sent ships to fight in the Trojan War.Today you can still see remnants of the ancient Cyclopean walls, similar to those at Tiryns and Mycenae.
Itís a small but interesting site, with the bonus of good views along the coast to Tolo and out across the sea. You can explore it thoroughly in less than an hour. You donít have to pay to get in.
Recent work on the site has created a footpath that winds up and around the hill of the acropolis, with handily placed benches for resting and taking in the view. When we were here in December 2014 this work wasnít quite complete.
The Cyclopean walls can be seen from the beach in front of the site, and by taking the road to the left of the site, which goes down to a camp-site and another beach.
Assini is about 8 kilometres from Nafplio, and takes around 30 minutes on the bus. You need to get the bus to Tolo Ė these go quite regularly.
The bus does a circular trip, stopping in Aria, Drepano and Ancient Assini on its way out, and Assini village on the return journey. For one person, one way, a ticket in December 2014 was 2 euros. You buy tickets from the driver as you get on.
Tell the driver you want to get off at Ancient Assini, as local buses donít always stop if no one is waiting to get on.
From the bus stop itís a couple of minutesí walk to the site. We had it to ourselves on a bright winter's day, which was perfect. The siteís proximity to Tolo and various camp sites means it will be much more crowded in the summer, though.
In season there is a taverna in the pretty little cove by the site. We walked along the road and then the beach into Tolo, which is about a mile. We had a cup of coffee there and then picked up the bus back to Nafplio.
There are regular numbered bus stops along the main street in Tolo. Because the bus does a circular route, and leaves Tolo by the upper road behind the town, the stops are all on the right hand side of the road. This means the buses arriving in Tolo, and leaving Tolo for Nafplio, use the same stops.
Tolo itself is a modern resort, full of hotels and apartments. It's busy in the summer, and is a popular package tour destination. Itís not terribly beautiful in itself, but is in a wonderful setting, has a sandy beach and (in season) tavernas beside the sea.
Out of season it has a not-quite-alive feeling, with lots of closed hotels and empty apartments. There is enough of a local population to warrant a school, and the main street has a few shops and cafes which are used by locals and open all year.
If you are interested in exploring the area around Assini more, we'd really recommend a great little book written by an English woman who lives in Assini.
She gives detailed and easy to follow directions to about 20 of her favourite walks in the area.
You can download it (for free) from her webiste Hiking in Greece