Athens is an incredible destination, with so much to see and do that you may not be able to tear yourself away. However, the surrounding region is so fascinating historically and culturally, and the natural landscapes so beautiful, that it is well worth taking some time to get out of the city and see more of what Greece has to offer. Here are some incredible day trips from Athens:
Delphi is on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, and the ancient Greeks believed it to be the navel or womb of the world. Delphi is perhaps most famous for the legendary Oracle, renowned or centuries throughout the ancient world. It was also the site of temples, treasuries, monuments, and sporting activities, honored and celebrated throughout ancient Greece and Rome.
Today, a visit to Delphi offers an opportunity to tour the Sacred Way to the Temple of Apollo, with the nearby Gymnasium and Sanctuary of Athena Pronea and other sites. Guests can also take the short climb up to the Stadium, an impressive site with gorgeous views overlooking the valley. The Delphi Archaeology Museum is an fantastic attraction that offers important insights into the area, the culture, and the ancient life of Delphi. And the nearby town is a charming place to break for lunch.
Hydra is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece and is just a short trip from Athens. This wonderfully-preserved community doesn’t allow cars or motor vehicles, and locals get around by water taxi or by riding charming mules and donkeys. The island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and stunning natural landscapes, with a charming town serving as the main port. A visit to Hydra offers a glimpse into the maritime past of Greece, as the island grew in naval importance and blossomed in prosperity in the later 1800s. The town has mansions, museums, monasteries, and cathedrals, but many guests enjoy horseback riding, exploring the little villages, and relaxing over meals and wine overlooking incredible views. Hydra has lured the wealthy and famous to make holiday homes there for decades, and is a popular day trip from Athens.
Cape Sounion is at the southernmost tip of the Greek peninsula, and the end of the Athenian Riveria. It was an important site in Greek history and mythology, and hosts incredible ruins, notably the famous Temple of Poseidon. It is also a popular summer home for the elite of Athens, with numerous sites for swimming and water sports, and a sunset view over the Aegean Sea that is one of the most sought-after sights in the world. Cape Sounion is just a short trip from Athens and is an incredible experience of the Golden Age, as well as being a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy ocean-fresh seafood and spectacular views.
Nafplio is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Greece, situated on a stunning harbor overlooking the Argolic Gulf. The city was briefly the capital of the Kingdom of Greece, from 1821 until 1834, but the food, architecture, and culture bear witness to a unique merging of cultures due to long periods of Venetian and Ottoman rule. Today, ancient medieval fortifications, Ottoman fountains, Turkish mosques, Venetian fortresses, and traditional Greek architecture make Nafplio a fascinating place to visit.
Epidaurus is an ancient city, rich with history and archaeological sites. But it is most famous for its ancient Greek theater, constructed between the 2nd and 4th centuries BCE. The theater is renowned for its classical beauty, incredible natural scenery, and nearly perfect acoustics. Unlike other theaters of the time, it was never modified for Roman preferences. It is still in use today, and classical Greek plays are staged here in the summertime.
Mycenae was once one of the major centers of Greek civilization, giving rise to the term “Mycenaean Greece” for the period from 1600 – 1100 BC. It is an extraordinary archaeological site, predating the classical, Hellenistic Athens by centuries. It is a place steeped in myths and legends, home of the mysterious Lion Gate and the Tomb of the House of Atreus. This incredible place offers fascinating insights into a very special period of the ancient past of Greece.
These are just a few of the ways that a trip to Athens can also include a wider experience of Greek life, culture, and the natural surroundings of the sea and mountains. Take a day outside of the city to explore more of all that Greece has to offer.