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The capital of ancient Greece and the cradle of civilisation, Athens is a fascinating place to spend a holiday. It boasts landmarks that date back to 500BC! Just exploring the Acropolis, the citadel that rests on a hill above the town is enough to keep you entertained for plenty of time.
However, there’s more to Greece than Athens. And you may find that you want to swap the noise and bright lights of the city for beautiful countryside, dramatic landscapes, and islands instead. But how do you know where the best places to escape Athens actually are?!
That’s where we come in. Our team of expert travel writers have scoured the best day trips from Athens and come up with this list. 14 unforgettable day trips that cater to a wide range of tastes, budgets, and interests.
So, let’s jump straight in and check out the best day trips from Athens!
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As you might expect, there’s quite a lot of choice when it comes to places to stay in Athens. Do you want to live like a local within a stone’s throw of the Acropolis? Perhaps you’d rather be in a nightlife hotspot? Or maybe you don’t care at all, and just want a bed for the night. Whatever your travel needs, there’s a place in town for you. Let’s check out 3 of the best places to stay in Athens.
If you want to easily get around the capital, Elikon is a good option. It’s just 3 minutes away from Omonoia Metro Station which has connections all across the city! It’s not just the location that’s worth shouting about by the way. Rooms come with WiFi, air conditioning, a TV, and some even have a balcony. It’s easily the best budget hotel in Athens!
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If you’d prefer to be in the centre of the action, rather than a metro ride away, consider upgrading to a mid range hotel like this one: Athens Starlight Hotel. In addition to a great location, this three star option offers breakfast included in the price. Rooms are comfortable and have air conditioning, which can be a life saver if you’re travelling to Athens in summer!
If you’re looking to splash the cash in the Greek capital, there’s nowhere better to stay than here. This five star option is easily the best luxury hotel in Athens! It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Roman Agora and Monastiraki Hotel. However, you’ll probably not want to leave the hotel as there’s so much on offer in terms of facilities!
Not only is Delphi probably the most popular day trip from Athens, but it’s the best one! The journey lasts a little over 2 hours but it’s well worth it to see the epicentre of Ancient Greek culture.
There are a number of archaeological sites at Delphi, with the most famous one being the Oracle. For a broad overview, it’s a good idea to check out the Delphi Archaeological Museum, which will also give you some intriguing facts about Ancient Greece!
The other sites you can’t miss are the Athenian Treasury, Temple of Apollo, and Temple of Athena Prionaia. It’s possible to get to Delphi by public transport, but potentially tricky. Especially if you’re a first-time traveller. A guided tour is a great alternative!
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Meteora looks like something from a dream, and you’ll be wondering how on earth the 6 monasteries were constructed on top of these dramatic rocky outcrops. It’s a 5 hour journey each way from Athens, and it may sound a lot, but you won’t regret it.
One thing though, it’s quite tricky to get to the monasteries from the train station under your own steam. So, opting for a tour that will pick you up at the train station is a good idea!
Visiting the monasteries is a fascinating experience. You’ll find out about how these UNESCO World Heritage sites came to be constructed in such inaccessible places, and how the monks lived there. Just imagine how hard it was in the 14th century!
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Cape Sounion is one of the best day trips from Athens by car. If you’re feeling brave, rent a car and drive all the way along the Athenian Riviera and take in the beautiful beaches and quaint seaside towns on the way to the star attraction – the Temple of Poseidon.
The temple could not have been constructed in a more picturesque and evocative location. Right on the shore, it offers sweeping views of the blue waters of the Aegean Sea and the Saronic Gulf.
Of course, you won’t just want to take pretty pictures of those calm and inviting waters! Nearby, you’ll be able to find a beach where you can take a dip and cool off from the Mediterranean Sun.
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Mycenae is an archaeological site which showcases the ruins of the Eastern Mediterranean’s biggest civilisation between the 15th and 12th centuries BC. Along with Tiryns, it inspired epic poems such as the Iliad and the Odyssey and has influenced European art and literature for more than 3,000 years.
Look out for the intact walls of palaces and fortress walls in the “City of Agamemnon”. The Arguably the most notable site is the Tomb of Agamemnon! Not only can you enjoy an incredible UNESCO World Heritage site, but you’ll also get to appreciate the Peloponnese countryside, a truly beautiful sight.
The journey is an hour and a half either on a guided tour or by car, so it’s not really that far from Athens. Mycenae is definitely worth travelling the 120km for!
Name one better place to relax than a Greek island beach. Well, how about a beach you’ve got all to yourself on an uninhabited Greek island? That’s what you’ll get when you visit Moni, a small islet perfect for sailing and chilling on the beach and in its blue waters.
There are some locals that you should look out for when you’re on the island. These include deer, goats, and falcons. Just remember to bring bottles of water – as you won’t find drinkable water anywhere on Moni!
Moni is a great place to visit on its own, but you do have several options. If you’re into sailing, one of the best is the tour below. You’ll get to see Agistri and Aegina too!
Generally, Athens is a safe city for travel, but do bear in mind that it’s a European capital. So, there are a few things to watch out for such as petty theft and pickpocketing. Use your big city awareness and common sense and you’re likely to be fine. There are a few areas to avoid after dark, so check with your accommodation where they’d recommend missing out at night!
Hydra Island is one of the easiest places to get to from Athens’ Piraeus Port. And it only takes 2 hours to get there! However, that’s not what makes this the most romantic day trip from Athens for couples.
This evocative island has long attracted travellers and artists. It’s in part due to the beautiful landscapes. Although you could also argue it’s down to the incredible local food on the island, heavily weighted towards delicious seafood dishes. Or it might be the peace and quiet of no cars and motorcycles!
Whatever it is, explore the island to your heart’s content. There are plenty of places to find and call your own. Who knows, you might end up with a secluded beach or some ruins. Just you and the one you love!
Yes, Hydra is one of the Saronic Islands but that did deserve a spot all to itself. And we couldn’t miss out the other two, Poros and Aegina!
Hydra may be the most popular, but there’s plenty to see on the other islands too. Aegina’s temple of Aphaia was part of a triangle of important religious buildings to the Ancient Greeks. The other two were the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon (which we mentioned earlier). And Poros can show off a magnificent clock tower, which provides sweeping views of the Aegean Sea!
If you want to visit all three islands and just have a day, then a guided day tour is your best option. However, if you’ve got a bit longer, or there’s an island that takes your fancy ahead of the other two, great! Take a water taxi and really immerse yourself in one of the island’s cultures!
Just an hour from Athens, you can make the most of a trip to Corinth and still be back in Athens well before dinner! This narrow strip of land connects Athens with the Peloponnese peninsula and was the base of an ancient city (yes, another one). You’ll be equally as astounded by the ruins as you will with the views of the Corinth Canal!
Take the morning to explore the ancient city and see the pillars of the temples which still stand. Another interesting fact about Corinth is that the apostle St. Paul supposedly preached here for two years.
It’s possible to combine Corinth with other day trips, but to really get to know the place, the half day tour below is your best bet.
This charming city offers lots of culture, plenty of places to eat, and some great beaches. It has everything to keep the whole family entertained, so it’s the best day trip from Athens with kids!
Palamidi Castle stands more than 200 metres above sea level and hiking up to here for views of the city should be one of your first ports of call. For completing the hike, you’ll be rewarded with views of the town and the Bourtzi – a small Venetian fortress out in the sea. After all that, head to one of the town’s excellent beaches!
Nafplio is considered one of the most romantic cities in Greece. So, it’s also up for the award of best romantic day trip for couples from Athens!
The Ancient Greeks enjoyed their wine, and most of that will have come from Nemea. The area is Athens’ very own wine country and is steeped in tradition. Head to a winery and taste the best wines that the area has to offer.
However, it’s not just vineyards and wineries that make this area worth visiting. Take a trip to the Nemea Stadium, where the ancient Nemean Games were held. The event has recently been revived, and if you’re travelling at the right time of year, the games are something that should not be missed!
If you want to visit Nemea’s wineries, a tour is probably the best option rather than driving yourself. Greek drink driving laws are extremely strict, and you don’t want to risk ruining your holiday!
If you’re thinking the name sounds familiar, it was a Greek messenger running to Athens which inspired the modern-day running event. Yet another famous historical site, this one hosted battles between Persians and Greeks long before Christianity came to Europe.
Nowadays, it’s a bit more sedate and chilled out. The perfect place for a day trip from Athens! The beautiful lake stretches out against the backdrop of pine forests and mountains. Although you can’t boat or swim in the lake, it’s a lovely place to have a picnic or go for a stroll.
Looking to exert a little more energy? Take a hike in said pine forests. There are plenty of trails that will get you into the heart of this area’s nature.
Also known as the Apollo Coast, the Athens Riviera is a great option if you’re getting ruin fatigue. Yes, we know that all the ancient temples are beautiful and interesting, but it is possible to get sick of them after a while!
There are a couple of ways that you can take in the Riviera, and both have different advantages. If you rent a car and go at your own leisure, you can stop off at the area’s beautiful beaches or check out local tavernas and restaurants.
However, if you really want to push the boat out (or someone else to literally do it for you), take a catamaran cruise! You’re sure to find plenty of swimming spots in the blue waters of the Aegean Sea!
Just 10km away from Athens, you’ll find one of the coolest religious sites in Greece. The 11th century Monastery of Daphní was a Pagan Shrine, before it became a Christian monastery. In 1080, it took on the guise it has today.
This UNESCO World Heritage site has some of the most ornate and opulent mosaics you can see anywhere, making it a contender for one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches in the whole of Greece!
Because it’s so close to Athens, it’s good to combine this with a trip to Corinth, as it’s on the way!
Mount Parnis (also known as Parnitha) is the highest peak on the Attica peninsula. At 1,413 metres above sea level, it’s definitely achievable in one day, not that you’ll want to rush though. The area surrounding the mountain is largely a national park, where you can see lots of wildfowl species.
It’s easy to get to Mount Parnis if you have your own transport, taking less than 40 minutes to get to the cable car station at the bottom of the mountain. If you don’t want to trek all the way up the Parnis, you can get a cable car to 1,100m and hike the rest of the way to the peak!
So, that’s it! We’ve taken you through the 15 best day trips from Athens and we are sure that you’ll have found at least 2 or 3 that take your fancy. Whichever direction you take when leaving Athens, you’ll find either relaxing beaches, towering mountains, or quaint towns and islands. One thing is for sure, there’s no shortage of Ancient Greek ruins!
As the capital of Greece, Athens is well connected too. So, you’ll have no trouble finding your way where you want to go, no matter if you’re taking public transport, a tour, or being brave and renting your own car!
Whether you’re travelling solo, with the one you love, or even with the family, there’s something in Athens for you.
If you think we’ve left anything out, please let us know in the comments below. We hope you have a great vacation in Athens!
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.