Although an Athens travel guide will prove to you that Athens is one of the most significant destinations in Greece, it is not the end-all-be-all. Even if you only have a few days to spare, there is plenty of time to indulge in a day-trip from Athens, getting to know the Greek countryside and its beauty. Here, we suggest the best day-trips from Athens we can think of for you to enjoy.
Cape Sounio - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com
The destination with the closest proximity to Athens, Cape Sounion, lies 70 km southeast of Athens, in the eastern Attica region. Apart from the unmatched landscape and the views of the Aegean sea Sounio offers, it is known for its archaeological site, which includes the majestic Temple of Poseidon. The coastal route through Athens’ Riviera adds to the allure of the Sounio day-trip, providing the perfect opportunity for you to marvel at the natural beauty of the country. The Temple of Poseidon is perched on the edge of Cape Sounio’s cliff looking out towards the Saronic Gulf. Ancient Greeks really knew how to pick them spots! It was constructed between 444 and 440 BC on the ruins of an archaic temple and was considered a holy place, especially for sailors. Unfortunately, nowadays, only the two eastern porches and several of the columns of the eastern part of the temple are preserved. Following your visit to the archaeological site, you can enjoy traditional Greek flavors in one of the seaside taverns of the region; fresh fish and local delicacies enhance the charm of the idyllic setting. We would highly suggest staying in Cape Sounio long enough to experience one of its striking sunsets, where an explosion of warm colors takes place. If you fancy a swim, don’t hesitate to stop on your way to Sounio in Vouliagmeni lake, one of the 20 recognized thermal springs in Greece!
The streets of Nafplion - credits: solllya.bigmir.net/Depositphotos.com
Admittedly one of the most picturesque regions of Greece, Nafplio constitutes the ideal day-trip from Athens due to its close proximity to the city, and most importantly, its versatile nature and dazzling setting. Rich in things to do, experience and see, there won't be a dull moment during your trip. Its main attractions with historic value are the castle of Plamidi and the castle of Bourtzi. Climb the 999 steps that lead to the top of Palamidi Castle and discover the history hidden behind the fortress that was built between 1711 and 1771, while basking in the spectacular panoramic view of Nafplio and the sea. The fortress was built in record time, between 1711 and 1714. Bourtzi, or Nafplio’s ‘sea tower’ as some call it, is located on the islet of St. Theodoros, which can be accessed from Nafplio by boat. It was built in 1473 and it used to house the executioners of Palamidi prisoners. Nowadays, it is used as a cultural center. After learning about the rich heritage of the city, you can walk through its scenic cobbled streets, have a drink at Avissinia Square, the most emblematic meeting point of Nafplio and enjoy a meal in one of the many local taverns. The souvenir shops scattered throughout Nafplio are there to ensure you don’t leave this romantic city and its magical vibe with some memorabilia. It is no coincidence that Nafplio is one of the most loved cities amongst locals. If you want to, you can even combine a day-trip to Nafplio with a visit to Epidaurus and Mycenae for the ultimate Greek experience!
The sanctuary of Athena in Delphi - credits: peterlazzarino/Shutterstock.com
Delphi is an obvious must-see for the visitors of Greece that appreciate history, culture, and flourishing nature. The impressive archaeological site located in the region houses the famous oracle of Delphi. Delphi’s oracle is one of the oldest and most significant oracles of antiquity, famous for providing people with prophecies in regard to the most important moments of history, such as the Trojan War and the quest of the Argonauts. The archaeological site of Delphi as a whole played a catalytic part in the religious and political life of the country for hundreds of years, from the 8th century BC to 394 AD, when it got shut down following the domination of Christianity, only to be rediscovered during the 19th century. Once you’ve taken your history fix, you can wander around the nearby cosmopolitan village of Arachova, at the foothill of mount Parnassos. There, you can stroll its cobbled pathways and enjoy a Greek meal in one of its many traditional taverns that not only offer mouthwatering food, but also an unmatched atmosphere. A Delphi day-trip is only about a 2-hour drive from the heart of Athens and it will allow you to experience the relaxed vibe of central Greece, admire its one-of-a-kind scenery and explore the rich history of the region.
Grapevines in Nemea - credits: ollirg/Shutterstock.com
If you’re a fan of wine, I don’t think there’s much to debate here. The broader area of Nemea is the largest wine-growing region in Greece, where well-known wines of the Highest Quality Designation of Origin are being produced, including the variety of ‘Agiorgitiko’. Nemea has been famous for its wine since antiquity, but if you haven't heard of it for that reason, you’ve probably heard it in the context of one of the most popular tales of Greek Mythology, the tale about Hercules and the Nemean lion. Located one and a half hours from Athens, half an hour from Corinth, Loutraki, and Nafplio, Nemea is a small town in the prefecture of Corinth, built at an altitude of 370 m amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mount Profitis Ilias. Its name comes from the homonymous Nymph, daughter of the Asopos River, which crosses the region up to this day. Apart from its delicious wine, Nemea is also known for its production of olive oil and raisins. In the summer and early autumn of every year, a variety of cultural events and festivals make the region an attractive destination. Don’t miss the opportunity for a day-trip to Nemea from Athens, where you’ll get to taste incredible local wines, discover the fascinating tales of Greek Mythology and let your eyes wander through the breathtaking scenery -you can even indulge in a 5-course dinner at the end of your Nemean adventure!
The Corinth canal - credits: tetiana u/Shutterstock.com
Corinth is a town and the most important port of the Peloponnese. It is the capital of the prefecture of Corinthia, while it is the third-largest city in the region of Peloponnese. In 1858, the old town of Corinth, now known as Ancient Corinth, was flattened by an earthquake. This led to the construction of the modern city near the ancient harbor of Lechaio on the shores of the Corinthian Gulf. On your way to Corinth, you’ll witness the Cornith Canal, which consists of a narrow strip of land that connects Central Greece with the Peloponnese, while the canal brings together the Saronic Gulf with the Corinthian Gulf. After taking in the imposing view the canal offers, take a trip down history by visiting the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth. Remnants from the Temple of Apollo and the ancient Agora, among others, will leave you stunned. Additionally, pay a visit to Acrocorinth, the acropolis of Corinth, to discover its secret water spring and the myth behind it! On the Acrocorinth, you will also find what’s left of Goddess Aphrodite’s sanctuary, where you’ll get an insight into the ways gods were worshiped in ancient times. A day-trip to Ancient Corinth from Athens is always a good idea; it will leave you rich in knowledge and awed by the beauty of Greece!
The archaeological site of Ancient Olympia - credits: Wondervisuals/Shutterstock.com
Home to the ancient Olympic Games, Olympia is the place where fair-play was nurtured, located at the meeting point of the two sacred rivers Alfeios and Kladeos in Elis region in Peloponnese. The Panhellenic sanctuary of Olympia is thought to be one of the most important sites of the ancient Greek world. Used as a sanctuary for most of its existence, it later became the motherland of the Olympic games, gathering people from all around Greece every four years. The Olympic games, before becoming the most popular sports event in the world, were first established as a festival dedicated to the worship of Zeus. The importance of the games is highlighted by the fact that during them, all wars and feuds were seized, only to be revisited once the competition was over. In the 5th century, the glamor of Olympia reached such a point that political, philosophical and artistic groups used to gather there, due to the large audience they could find to disseminate their ideas. Nowadays the site of Ancient Olympia remains impressive reflecting the golden times of the past. With a day-trip to Olympia, get ready to witness Greece's glorious heritage in a way that no one that hasn't visited Olympia can!
The island of Aegina - credits: leoks Shutterstock.com
Last but absolutely not least, you should consider visiting an island of the Saronic Gulf for a day-trip away from the bustling city center. Our favorite one is Aegina, due to its vibrant atmosphere, lovely beaches, and archaeological significance. Reaching Aigina may require you taking a ferry, however, it will only set you back 40 minutes and around 9-14 euros, making a day-trip there the optimum choice! Local tavernas along the seaside and souvenir shops will lure you in, while the Temple of Aphaia will satisfy your curiosity about the country’s intriguing past. It is located 15 km from the capital of Aegina and was built in 500-490 BC. on top of a pre-existing, that was ruined after a fire around 510 BC. The new temple took its final form in 500 BC. and it is an excellent example of archaic architecture. Apart from its archaeological site, Aegina will offer you the opportunity to experience the life and vibe of a Greek island without the hassle of traveling hours away from Athens. It’s a win-win situation!
Whether you’re looking to experience its culinary traditional, archaeological sites or local culture, you can do so without having to leave Greece’s capital for too long. Do your research, pack your backpack and delight in an enlightening day-trip from Athens. Go, go, go!