Athens is full of amazing ruins, sites, restaurants, and viewpoints, but I recommend getting out of the city for at least a day while you’re here. Any (or all!) of these day trips could be paired with my Athens itinerary to make for a perfect Athens trip before you head to the islands or further inland.
So here are the best Athens day trips!
Ancient Greeks considered Delphi to be the center of the world. In Greek mythology, Delphi was home to the Oracle, who prophesied about the future of the ancient world.
Delphi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, and the ruins are in one of the most stunning areas of the country. Perched on the side of Mount Parnassus, Delphi has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and olive grove valleys.
When you visit, you’ll walk the original road through the ancient town to what’s left of the Temple of Apollo. Further up the hill from the temple is the theater, which gives you the best views of the entire archaeological site.
The Delphi Archaeological Museum is just a short walk from the main ruins. And the Tholos – a sanctuary of Athena – is below the main ruins on the opposite side of the main road.
I recommend going on a guided tour to have a tour guide and transportation. It’s time-consuming to get here via public transportation, and a guide enhanced my experience because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have recognized or understood the importance of a lot of what I saw.
Cape Sounion is a peninsula of a peninsula about 43 miles/70 kilometers southeast of Athens. The sunset from here is one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. You’ll need to time your arrival to have about an hour before sunset to explore the ruins and hillside and get a good spot for the sunset.
The Cape is dominated by the Temple of Poseidon (pictured in the very first photo on this page) overlooking the sea. In Greek mythology, Cape Sounion was the port for ships returning from the Trojan War, and it’s supposedly where the Athenian king Aegeus threw himself into the sea after mistakingly thinking his son, Theseus, had been killed by the minotaur on Crete.
It’s easy to see why the beauty and geography of this place made it hallowed ground to ancient Greeks.
The Temple of Poseidon is the must-visit site in Cape Sounion, but it’s not the only thing to do here. The Sanctuary of Athena is on a hill less than a mile northeast of the temple. There’s a beach at the foot of the temple and more beaches in the nearby towns of Legrena and Lavrio for laying out or swimming. There are also spas and hot springs in the area.
So, you could make Cape Sounion a full-day or half-day trip from Athens. Or, if you just wanted to go straight to the temple for sunset, you could make this trip in a couple of hours (in more like a third-of-a-day trip from Athens).
It’s challenging to get here via public transportation, but it’s only about an hour’s drive from Athens. So if you rent a car or go on a group tour, then you can get here relatively easily and quickly.
Hydra is a picturesque island just a two-hour ferry ride from Athens. There are no cars on Hydra, and all of the town’s stone buildings and winding streets have been preserved. So you could almost trick yourself into thinking you were walking through a village from the past. Hydra is one of the Best Greek Islands To Visit!
This island is a perfect escape from the city for a day (or a few days, if you have the time). While here, you should do a walking tour of the main harbor town. If you want to do some hiking, I recommend the 4-hour round trip trek to the Monastery of Prophet Elias for some extraordinary views.
If you want to swim, I recommend diving off the rocks of Spilia Beach. Or if you want a lounge-on-the-beach day, then you should take a short taxi boat to Vlichos beach. I also suggest eating at a seaside taverna to enjoy the culture and ambiance of this island.
There are five ferries a day between Hydra and Athens, and you can book tickets here.
The Meteora Monasteries are one of the most incredible destinations I’ve ever visited. These six monasteries are perched on top of the towering Meteora rock formations in Central Greece, where ancient Greeks believed the battle between the Titans and Olympians took place. The beauty and uniqueness of the monasteries and the landscape are unparalleled.
Meteora is the furthest from Athens of these day trips. One way, it’s a four-hour car or bus ride or a four and a half-hour train ride from Athens. If Thessaloniki is on your Greek itinerary, then Meteora would be a better day trip from there. But, I cannot stress enough that the Meteora Monasteries are worth a long day trip.
When entering the monasteries, women and men should wear loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms to your elbows and your legs below the knees.
Fun fact: Meteora was in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, and the TV show Game of Thrones wanted to film here, but the monks didn’t grant the show permission.
For more information, here’s my Ultimate Guide to the Meteora Monasteries!
Mycenae and Epidaurus
Mycenae and Epidaurus are archaeological sites on the Peloponnese Peninsula. These ancient cities are further from Athens than some of the other day trips, so if you’re not renting a car, I recommend going on a guided tour. Public transportation to these sites takes much longer than a car or tour bus. Some tours even stop at the Corinth Canal or the picturesque town of Nafpoli.
Epidaurus is home to the best-preserved classical Greek theatre in the world. It’s even still used today because of its fantastic acoustics!
Mycenae is a Unesco World Heritage Site. In Greek mythology, Mycenae was founded by the demigod Perseus, was where Hercules was commissioned to perform the 12 labors, and was the home of King Agamemnon, who led the fight against Troy in the Trojan War.
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