It’s no secret that I love Greece (and really, who doesn’t?) and as much as I love it for its magical Greek islands, like Santorini, I’m also super fascinated by all of the country’s rich culture and ancient history. If you decide to spend some time in Athens, be sure to take advantage of all the day trips from Athens you can do.
Athens is simply incredible. You’ll find plenty to see and do within the Athens area but I highly recommend that you consider venturing out for one of the many worthwhile day trips available.
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To help you out, I’ve put together this list of 8 Athens day trip ideas that I think you’ll love. Check it out!
8 Day Trips from Athens
There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the classical myths and history of Ancient Greece than at the ruins of Delphi—it’s one of the top day trips from Athens. As you stand at this famous archaeological site nestled between two peaks of Mount Parnassus, you can almost hear the voice of Apollo’s oracle speaking her prophecies.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Delphi once stood as one of Greece’s most prominent religious centers in the 6th century BC. The Temple of Apollo is really amazing!
Pilgrims from all over made the journey to walk the “Sacred Way” to hear the prophetess—who was believed to channel the words from the one and only Apollo—speak her truth from Delphi’s sacred temple.
Another Delphi highlight you don’t want to miss is the Delphi Archaeological Museum which displays what is considered to be the best collection of sculptures, bronze artifacts, pottery, and friezes from Ancient Greek that were excavated from the site. Among the most famous are the Sphinx of Naxos and the Charioteer of Delphi.
The trip from Athens to Delphi takes about 3 hours via public transport. If you have a car, you can get there in about 2 ½ hours, but most tourists opt for a small group tour like this one since that’s the best way to get all of the fascinating histories behind this major attraction.
A two-hour drive from Athens will get you to Nafplio, a picturesque historic town in the Peloponnese region in the south that’s worth the day trip.
The huge fortress of Palamidi—which you can reach by climbing up 999 grueling steps—overlooks the town and creates a spectacular backdrop, especially when it’s lit up at night!
Within the town square, you’ll find a wide variety of tavernas where you can simply sit and enjoy the feel of being in a whole other world. Narrow cobbled streets greet you as you wander through the village where you’ll see some of the most amazing Venetian-style houses.
Nafplio is a seaside town with an elegant harbor that provides both some stunning views and some unexpectedly fabulous boutique shopping. You might enjoy going on a full day tour of Nafplio and Mycenae here.
Besides Palamidi, you can also explore Boúrtzi Castle, a smaller 15th-century castle that sits in the middle of the harbor.
3. Cape Sounion
While you’re in Athens, you’ll want to make the day trip to one of the most amazing sunset spots you’ve ever seen: the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion.
Many even claim that the temple is the most picturesque coastal vantage point over the Aegean Sea in all of Greece—being that it’s the temple for the Greek god of the sea—I have no doubt that it’s true!
Because of the awe-inspiring ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, which was built in the 5th century, Cape Sounion is one of the most popular day trips for tourists visiting Athens.
As you can imagine, the most visited time of day is around sunset when onlookers can capture the temple’s columns cast in a heavenly golden glow.
You can reach Cape Sounion from Athens in about 1 ½ hours by car.
Guided half-day tours are a popular choice because the scenic coastal route gives you the chance to take in some really beautiful views.
If you’re an ancient Greek history and mythology buff, you’re probably familiar with Mycenae—most notably as the city of Agamemnon. If you’re not, the mention of Agamemnon’s role in Homer’s The Iliad might ring a bell…he was the brother of Menelaus, the man who married Helen who ran off with Paris and basically started the whole Trojan War.
Here’s another reference: the actor Brian Cox played Agamemnon in the Hollywood movie Troy!
Well, Mycenae is a real place, and tourists from around the globe visit the archaeological ruins that date back to the Bronze Age.
By touring the site, you’ll see a variety of super famous remains of the Ancient Greek world, like the Tomb of Agamemnon (or Treasury of Atreus) and Lion’s Gate.
Mycenae lies almost 75 miles away from Athens and about 15 miles from Nafplio. By going with an expert guide, you’ll really get the full history and stories behind why Mycenae is so significant, which is why most people opt for a guided tour.
And who doesn’t like to come home from a vacation feeling smarter?
For a mix of ancient and modern, Corinth is a popular day trip choice. It’s a port town about an hour’s drive from Athens where you’ll find a lot of waterfront restaurants, shops, cafes, and an overall pretty active scene.
But if you ask most tourists, they’ll probably tell you that Corinth’s main draw is the Ancient Corinth archaeological site that’s located about 5 miles outside the main town. The star of the ancient site is the Temple of Apollo with its enormous Doric columns that stand regally at the highest point.
You’ll also find other ruins at the Ancient Corinth site that date back even farther to the era of Roman rule in the 1st century AD—cool things like the forum, an ancient theater, bathhouse, and the healing sanctuary of Asclepius.
To see many of the relics excavated from the site on display, the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth is just a short walk away. The collection includes lots of mosaics, pottery, statues, and busts.
I highly recommend exploring ancient Corinth on a guided tour like this one.
6. Aegina, Poros and Hydra Islands
Let’s face it, Greece is synonymous with gorgeous islands. And while you’re exploring Athens, it’s well worth taking the day trip to see one (or all) of the picture-perfect islands surrounded by the blue crystalline water of the Saronic Gulf—Aegina, Poros, and Hydra.
The island closest to Athens is Aegina, which is a quick 40-minute ferry ride away. Besides the amazing sea view, this little gem is chock-full of important ruins and temples.
The most famous (and Greece’s best-preserved ancient temple) is the Temple of Aphaia Athena, dedicated to the grand goddess of wisdom herself. There are also the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo and the famous sculpture of the Aegina Sphinx at the island’s Archaeological Museum.
Just a one-hour ferry trip away from Athens you’ll find the island of Poros, best known for its perfect waters and sandy golden shores. Poros is well-equipped with restaurants, cafes, shops, and other comfortable vacation amenities which makes it a popular destination for families looking to escape Athens for a weekend.
The island of Hydra is a bit farther away but still totally doable for an easy day excursion involving a 90-minute ferry ride from Athens.
Donkeys are the island’s only form of public transportation, so it’s either on foot or on a donkey (the island is totally walkable so don’t worry if that sounds scary to you!). My recommendation would be to hoof it yourself—I’m not sure how things are in Hydra, but on Santorini, the donkeys looked really unhappy and poorly treated, and I did not want to patronize the people who ran the donkey rides.
The other cool old-world parts about Hydra are the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets you can explore as you make your way to the island’s lively harbor and capital, Hydra Town. With yummy seafood, chill beaches, and scenic walks, Hydra pretty much has it all.
Something important to note is that logistically speaking, you can’t visit all three islands in one day if you travel by ferry. With the ferry’s limited schedules and routes, it’s not possible to make it to more than one and have enough time to explore, eat, and relax—which is kind of the whole point.
The best way to visit all three is to take an organized day cruise tour and make a big island-hopping day out of it, which sounds like a perfect day to me!
I love the idea of those massive open-air amphitheaters from ancient times. So much drama and history.
If you’re like me, then you’ll want to check out Epidaurus, a lovely Saronic Gulf seaside town. Epidaurus is famous for its 14,000-seat theater set amidst rolling hills that has served as a drama performance venue since the 4th century.
Actually, if you time it right, you can even feel what it’s like by attending a performance during the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, one of the most celebrated annual arts summer programs in Greece between June and October.
Can you imagine watching a Greek drama in that amazing outdoor theater under the summer sky? Uhh-mazing.
Another fascinating Epidaurus spot is the Temple of Asklepios. It’s known as one of the ancient world’s most famous healing centers.
It included a grand “sleeping hall” where patients would sleep through the night to have the healing god visit and speak to them in their dreams. You’ll see other remnants of the past, like remains of former Greek baths and physician quarters.
Within the Sanctuary of Asklepios, there’s an archaeological museum with even more treasures on display. Visitors can easily learn more about the town’s ancient history by browsing through the collection of coins, pottery, and statues that have been uncovered at the site.
You have several options to get to Epidaurus. If you want to use public transportation, the bus ride there takes about two hours with several departing daily from the Kifissos Bus Terminal.
Or, if you want to drive yourself and make a road trip out of it, it will take you about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Epidaurus with the option of visiting nearby Mycenae and Nafplio if you’re up for it. And, of course, you opt for a day tour that includes Epidaurus as a stop.
8. Parnitha National Park
You’ll most likely have your fair share of delicious Greek food and delicacies (and wine!) So why not work up an appetite for more with some spectacular hiking out in nature?
Just an hour outside of Athens, you’ll find beautiful Mount Parnitha that’s part of the protected area known as Parnitha National Park on the Attic Peninsula. All the hiking trails—from those suited for beginners to advanced fitness levels—are lined with incredible scenery.
Caves, springs, pine forests, gorges, and wildlife are all on the list of possible things to see!
To enjoy this natural wonder, you can either take a guided tour or get there by car. Many of the Parnitha National Park’s most popular hiking trails start from a town called Thrakomakedones in Athens’ northern suburbs.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the best day trips from Athens! Now your itinerary should be filled with plenty of options. Writing this already has me wanting to hop on a plane and head back to Greece!
Be sure to tag me on Insta @wtfab so I can see where you decide to go!
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You can take day trips from:
The best time to visit Athens is from March to May or September to November.
It is recommended to spend 3 – 4 days in Athens to really experience everything the city has to offer.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.