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10 top-rated day trips from Athens

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As long as it takes to drink a glass of ouzo

All the history and things to do in Athens make it one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe. So how do you take your stay in the Greek capital to the next level? We’ve got the answer with 10 day trips from Athens that include world-famous archaeological sites as well as outdoor activities, national parks, traditional villages, beaches and lots and lots of food. So here they are… some of the best getaways by car from Athens that you won’t want to miss!

Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion is a must-see destination and a holiday favourite only about 1hr from central Athens. On the drive to Sounion, you can stop at Lake Vouliagmeni and any of the beaches of the Athenian Riviera (known for its nightlife and gourmet restaurants and one of Athens’ best-kept secrets). At Cape Sounion, you can explore the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, built in 444 BC, and enjoy one of the most majestic views of the Aegean Sea that the city has to offer, especially around sunset! Afterwards, you can go for a lovely walk on the beach and make your way to one of the seaside tavernas for an authentic seafood meal.

  • Distance from city centre: 62km 
  • Highlights: Culture, beaches, restaurants, sunset

Take a tour of the Temple of Poseidon
 

The Corinth Canal & Nemea

Founded in the Neolithic Period, the ancient city-state of Corinth is known for its history and culture and is only about 1hr from Athens. The area has several places of interest worth visiting, such as the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth (especially the Temple of Apollo), Acrocorinth Castle (one of Greece’s most impressive fortresses), Heraion of Perachora (a little-known gem of an archaeological site just above a tiny beach) and of course the Corinth Canal.

 

The Corinth canal, an ancient dream made real

Whichever you choose, don’t miss the opportunity to walk across the isthmus bridge and admire the impressive 19th-century engineering feat of building the canal before heading to the nearby town of Nemea for lunch. There, you can explore the ruins of the ancient city (where Hercules performed the first of his 12 labours by killing the Nemean Lion). Nemea is also known for its wine production, so there are plenty of options for a vineyard tour and wine-tasting.

Explore the wine routes of Nemea

  • Distance from city centre: 86km to Corinth, 119km to Nemea
  • Highlights: Culture, restaurants, wine-tasting

Nafplio, Mycenae & Epidaurus

Nafplio is a coastal town in the Peloponnese and the first capital of Greece after independence. Only 2hrs from Athens, it is known for its Venetian architecture, the Fortress of Palamidi and its layered history. Walking around the charming old town, you will understand why it is considered one of the most romantic getaways from Athens. A day trip to Nafplio pairs perfectly with a visit to the archaeological site of Mycenae, one of the oldest in Greece and known in mythology as the City of Agamemnon. On your way back, you can stop by Epidaurus and explore the ruins of the famous healing temple of Asclepius and the world-renowned ancient theatre, which is still in operation and forms an unforgettable summer venue for the Athens Epidaurus Festival.

  • Distance from city centre: 139km to Nafplio
  • Highlights: Culture, romance, restaurants

Take a tour of Nafplio’s romantic Old Town

Meteora

Located 4hrs from Athens, Meteora is a truly unique destination that will take your breath away. Here, you can explore the monasteries perched atop the dramatic sandstone megaliths formed over 60 million years ago and take in the incredible surrounding landscape. There are walking paths between monasteries and a range of epic outdoor activities to enjoy (from rafting and mountain climbing to truffle hunting and a food & wine tour) that will tempt you to extend your stay. Other nearby activities include the archaeological site of the Cave of Theopetra. And the sunset view from the monasteries is one of the most epic in Greece. For a bite before your trip back to Athens, head to one of the restaurants in Kalambaka (the nearest town to Meteora). Or for an even more authentic eating experience, you can journey a little further to the peaceful village of Kastraki.

  • Distance from city centre: 368km to Kalambaka
  • Highlights: Culture, nature activities, sunset, restaurants

Discover 9 awe-inspiring things to do in Meteora

Marathon

Around 1hr north of Athens, Marathon is a small town with a huge historical significance. It was from here that Pheidippides set out to tell the Spartans that the Persians had landed in Marathon and were planning to attack Athens, thereby getting the support needed for the Greeks to win the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Pheidippides’ 260km run inspired today’s marathon. In the centre of town are the Marathon Run Museum (with more than 4,000 exhibits from the first Olympic Games in 1896 until today) and the Tomb of Marathon, dedicated to the fallen soldiers. Nearby are the ruins of the ancient city and the Archaeological Museum of Marathon. The area also offers outdoor activities like hiking, biking and horseback riding. And nearby Schinias beach is a long, sandy beachfront backed by a national park. You can swim in the summer months and take a stroll along the coast all year round, followed by a taverna meal with views of the Aegean Sea. The Archaeological Site of Ramnous (known in antiquity as the sanctuary of the Nemesis, the goddess of revenge) is another nearby bonus. 

  • Distance from city centre: 44km 
  • Highlights: Culture, nature activities, beaches, restaurants

Delphi

Delphi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located a little over 2hrs from Athens, this ancient sanctuary of the Greek god Apollo was once home to the Oracle of Delphi and the priestess Pythia, visited by leaders and commoners alike from the 6th century BC to Roman times. It was also the location of the four-yearly Panhellenic and Pythian Games (second only to the Olympic Games). Delve into the mystical history of Delphi by exploring the archaeological site and museum as well as the Ancient Theatre.

Feel the mystical aura of Ancient Delphi

Galaxidi town

While you're in the area, you can also visit the nearby towns of Arachova or Amfissa or head to neighbouring Chrisso or Galaxidi on the coast for lunch. On your return to Athens, you can pop into the 10th-century Byzantine Hosios Loukas Monastery, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

  • Distance from city centre: 193km 
  • Highlights: Culture, restaurants

Arahova & the Parnassos Ski Centre

The picturesque mountain village of Arahova stands at an altitude of 950 metres on the slopes of Mt Parnassos, offering spectacular views and is only 2hrs from Athens. From picturesque village streets and traditional Greek architecture to boutique shops and delicious local cuisine, there is plenty to do in Arahova. For those looking for a more active day trip from Athens, the Parnassos Ski Centre is around 30mins further up the mountain and is the perfect setting for winter sports fun. The resort offers a variety of slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders (ranging from 1,640m to 2,260m altitude) and is also a beautiful place for hiking at other times of year.  Imagine adding a day’s skiing to your city break in Athens!

 

  • Distance from city centre: 193km 
  • Highlights: Nature activities, winter sports, restaurants

Enjoy the winter sports of Mt Parnassos

Evia

Despite being the second-largest island in Greece, Evia is connected to the mainland by a bridge in Chalkida, allowing it to be reached in just a 2-3hrs from central Athens. Alternatively, there are regular 1hr ferries to southern Evia from Lavrio (close to Sounion). Once in Marmari, you’ll find plenty of food choices and a selection of beaches, like sandy Megali Ammos just outside the town and Agia Paraskevi, Harakas, Verallaion, Giannitsa etc. The Castello Rosso fortress is another nearby attraction, above the popular summer escape of Karystos. Central Evia is most easily reached via Chalkida, from where you can easily reach destinations that are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking and kayaking as well as the archaeological site of Ancient Eretria. Central Evia also has stunning beaches with crystal-clear water (Chiliadou, Limnionas, Dafni, Kalamos, Thapsa etc) and traditional villages known for their local culture and cuisine (like Steni in Mt Dirfys). There is a reason Evia is a favourite holiday destination for Athenians.

  • Distance from city centre:  Chalkida (82km) and Lavrio (60km)
  • Highlights: Culture, nature activities, beaches, restaurants
     

Mt Parnitha

Mt Parnitha is one of three mountains on the outskirts of Athens and makes for one of the easiest and least expected day trips from Athens. Due to its elevation, it offers impressive views of the city and exciting activities like hiking and mountain biking and even rock climbing for those seeking adventure. It is the closest national park to Athens and the densely forested area provides plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as deer, foxes and birds of prey, while it is also a protected habitat for wildfowl. You can reach the top by road or cable car and there are numerous refuges (Bafi is a great choice, around 2hrs walk from the top of the cable car or easily reached by car) that are open and serve mountain food all year round.

  • Distance from city centre:  Bafi Refuge 82km 
  • Highlights: Nature activities, restaurants

Please note that Mount Parnitha was affected by the wildfires in August 2023. You can still visit the Bafi & Flambouri Refuges, which are open all year round.

Elefsina

Eleusis (modern-day Elefsina) is an ancient city located just 22km outside of Athens and is home to several notable archaeological sites. The most famous is the Sanctuary of Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility where the Eleusinian Mysteries were held in antiquity (an event still shrouded in mystery as participants were sworn to secrecy). The ritual involved the abduction of Persephone by Hades to the Underworld and her eventual return to Demeter, her mother, after the intervention of Zeus, in a cycle that represents death and the rebirth of nature and the changing of the seasons. At Ancient Elefsina, visitors can explore the ruins of temples and altars and learn more about the area's history at the museum. Elefsina is also known for its festivals, such as the Elefsina Carnival and the Festival of Demeter every August. If you're looking for an original cultural experience, this is a great day trip from Athens.

  • Distance from city centre:  22km 
  • Highlights: Nature activities, restaurants

Top-rated day trips from Athens

The Greek capital is surrounded by fascinating destinations that make for a great day out. Whether you're looking for thrilling excursions and rich cultural experiences, breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders, nearby islands (in the Saronic Gulf) or simply the peacefulness of a picturesque mountain village – there are unforgettable getaways to add to your holidays in Athens!

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