Athens is a fascinating city with a rich history, culture and cuisine. But sometimes, you may want to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital and explore some of the amazing destinations that are within easy reach. Whether you are interested in ancient ruins, scenic islands, natural wonders or charming towns, there is something for everyone in the vicinity of Athens. Here are some of the best day trips from Athens that you can enjoy.
Delphi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was considered the center of the ancient world, where the oracle of Apollo delivered prophecies to kings, generals and pilgrims. You can admire the impressive remains of the Temple of Apollo, the theater, the stadium, the treasury and the museum, where you can see the famous bronze statue of the Charioteer. Delphi is also surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, and you can visit the nearby village of Arachova for some local delicacies.
How to get to Delphi from Athens: You can join a guided tour that includes transportation, entrance fees and an expert guide on site. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Athens Liossion station to Delphi (about 3 hours), or rent a car and drive there (about 2.5 hours).
Meteora is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that will take your breath away. It consists of a series of towering rock formations that are topped by centuries-old monasteries. The monasteries were built by monks who sought isolation and spiritual enlightenment, and they are still inhabited by a small number of monks and nuns. You can visit six of them and admire their architecture, frescoes and relics. You can also enjoy panoramic views of the valley and the mountains from various viewpoints.
How to get to Meteora from Athens: You can take a train from Athens Larissis station to Kalambaka (the nearest town to Meteora), which takes about 5 hours. From there, you can take a taxi or a bus to the monasteries, or join a local tour. You can also book a full-day tour from Athens that includes train tickets, transportation and a guide.
Hydra, Poros and Aegina
If you want to experience the beauty and charm of the Greek islands, you can take a day cruise from Athens to three of them: Hydra, Poros and Aegina. Each island has its own character and attractions. Hydra is a picturesque island with no cars, where you can stroll along the cobblestone streets, visit the elegant mansions and museums, or relax at a waterfront cafe. Poros is a green island with a lovely town, a historic clock tower and a lemon forest. Aegina is famous for its pistachios, its ancient temple of Aphaia and its lively port.
How to get to Hydra, Poros and Aegina from Athens: You can book a day cruise that departs from Piraeus port and includes transportation, lunch and entertainment on board. You can also choose to join optional guided tours on each island for an extra fee.
Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio
If you are interested in the ancient history and culture of Greece, you should not miss this day trip from Athens that covers three of the most significant sites in the Peloponnese region. Mycenae was the legendary kingdom of Agamemnon, who led the Greeks in the Trojan War. You can explore the ruins of his palace, his tomb and the famous Lion Gate. Epidaurus was a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing. It is home to one of the best-preserved ancient theaters in Greece, with amazing acoustics and capacity for 14,000 spectators. Nafplio was the first capital of modern Greece, and it is one of the most beautiful towns in the country. It has a charming old town with neoclassical buildings, narrow alleys and colorful shops. It also has three fortresses: Palamidi, Bourtzi and Acronafplia.
How to get to Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio from Athens: You can join a guided tour that includes transportation, entrance fees and an expert guide on site. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Athens Kifissos station to Nafplio (about 2 hours), and then take another bus or taxi to Mycenae and Epidaurus (about 30 minutes each). You can also rent a car and drive there (about 2 hours).
Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
Cape Sounion is a scenic spot at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, where you can admire the majestic Temple of Poseidon, the god of the sea. The temple was built in the 5th century BC, and it is perched on a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea. You can marvel at the Doric columns, the inscriptions and the sculptures, and enjoy stunning views of the coast and the islands. Cape Sounion is also a great place to watch the sunset, as the temple glows with golden hues.
How to get to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon from Athens: You can join a guided tour that includes transportation, entrance fees and an expert guide on site. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Athens Sintagma square to Sounion (about 2 hours), or rent a car and drive there (about 1.5 hours).