As the heart of an ancient empire, Athens is one place in Greece that everyone wants to visit. From the regal hilltop Acropolis to the Archaeological Museum to the Temple of Zeus, there is enough to see and do here to keep you occupied for days.
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Athens is known for its history. The city draws crowds eager to see beautiful and ancient landmarks. There are tons of Athens tours that you can take to explore every corner of the city. However, when this all becomes a little overwhelming under the hot sun, consider taking one of the many possible day trips from Athens.
After visiting the Greek capital, most travelers either continue north to Thessaloniki or south to island-hop in the Aegean Sea. While these are both great things to do, far fewer people take day trips from Athens, making it an excellent idea for an escape from the bustling city. Here are a few of our favourite options for these excursions.
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Best Day Trips From Athens
This 11th-century monastery is located just a 20-minute drive from Athens, and its hilltop location offers spectacular views of Athens without the commotion of the city. It’s nestled in a beautiful forest that you can walk through, and take a guided tour through the entire site. There are ancient ruins and restored sites to see, plus a garden featuring plants native to the region.
It’s best to drive or take a taxi here because buses can’t quite make it up the steep hill. For the perfect, easy day trip, pack a picnic lunch and some drinks. Kaisariani Monastery is the perfect destination if you don’t feel like venturing far from Athens.
Meteora is a massive rock formation on which an incredible collection of six monasteries are built. Originally there were 24 of them. However, the six that remain today are enough to give you an idea of what life was like here in ancient times.
The original monks that founded the monasteries came to the area in the 14th century and chose the rocky hilltops as a divine challenge. Today, Meteora is still a holy pilgrimage site for the devout, and is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are also six active monasteries that are open to the public. You can take tours inside the sacred buildings, including the Great Meteoron Monastery and learn about the daily operations there.
The rock formations themselves are also of great interest to visitors. You can walk around the area yourself, as well as ride on the gondolas that connect one peak to another.
Meteora is a great place to do some hiking, although the trails nearby are very steep and advanced, so make sure you come prepared with the right shoes if you plan to hike.
How to get there: Meteora is located 4 hours by car from Athens, which makes for a long day trip, so we recommend visiting Meteora overnight to give yourself lots of time to explore this beautiful area.
Short on Time? Consider traveling to Meteora by train on this customized Day Trip from Athens.
If you’re interested in ancient Greek history, then Delphi is one of the best Athens day trips for you. This small but remarkable city was once the epicentre of Ancient Greece and is world renown for its archaeological ruins. Today, Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the Delphi Archaeological Museum, you can see artifacts recovered from the ancient site. The museum houses one of the largest collections of ancient Greek art. In fact, some pieces date back to the 2 millennium BCE. Admission includes entrance to the museum and the archaeological site of Delphi, plus rates are discounted during the winter season.
When you’re visiting Delphi on one of your Athens day tours, you’ll have time to explore some of the fascinating ruins nearby, such as the ancient Temple of Apollo, the Treasuries, Sibyl Rock, and the Theater.
If you have time, there are countless other points of interest that you can visit on the site including the Sacred Way, an ancient ceremonial path ancient Greeks would follow to the Temple of Apollo.
Grab a guided tour to learn the incredible history of this place and how its religious and historical significance has stood the test of time.
How to get there: Situated about two and a half hours to the northwest of Athens, Delphi is easy to reach by car. There are also trains that have routes there as well, although the journey will be much longer.
Short on Time? Consider taking this Delphi day trip from Athens.
Volos is a charming seaside town to the north of Athens. Tours to Volos are usually private and individualized because the city is not the most popular tourist destination. Those who take Athens day trips here will enjoy the lovely ocean promenade and the comparatively modern but still picturesque cityscape.
Volos is a great place for shopping since it is a major trade port. You’ll find all sorts of Greek items for sale here, as well as various international imports.
The food in Volos is also particularly well known. For the best food in town, head to Palia. In this old neighbourhood, you’ll find local taverns, waterholes, and fun nightlife.
One of the very best things to do in Volos is to visit Mount Pelion, a nearby peak shrouded in myth. Not only will you learn about the legends that surround this place, but you’ll also catch the best views of the city from above.
Like Athens, Corinth is an interesting juxtaposition of ancient Greece and modern Greece. Located about an hour outside of Athens, this city is found on the Isthmus of Corinth, which connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese region and separates the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs.
The site of ancient Corinth is 9 km from the modern port town, and here you can see the massive Temple of Apollo and ruins of a theatre, other ancient temples, villas, and several other excavated structures. The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth is onsite, and houses artifacts and ancient art for viewing.
The modern seaside town has plenty of restaurants, shops and museums, and wine lovers can visit a nearby vineyard for a tour and wine tasting.
Its short distance from Athens and offers a huge selection of things to do make Corinth a great destination for a day trip. On the way, you can stop by Corinth Canal, a man-made canal that connects the Ionian Sea with the Aegean Sea.
How to get there: To visit Corinth, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself. The trip will take a little over an hour from Athens.
The stunning Peloponnese Peninsula sticks out into the Mediterranean to the southwest of Athens. Like most places in Greece, it is full of mythology and a bit of mystery. This is one of the best day trips from Athens for those who want a little bit of everything: long stretches of perfect coastline, rugged mountains, green valleys, and an incredible food and wine scene.
While visiting the Peloponnese Peninsula on a day tour from Athens, don’t try to fit in everything or you’ll end up needing more than just one day. A few of the best sites to visit are the Stadium at Olympia, the Vouraikos Gorge, Monemvasia, and Mainalo Mountain.
How to get there: By renting a car and traveling about two and a half hours to the southwest, you’ll land approximately in the center of the Peloponnese Peninsula. It’s great to have a car to explore this area, as it is quite vast.
This ancient city is one of the most popular destinations on the Peloponnese peninsula., This incredible archaeological site of Mycenae is the location of the city of Agamemnon, a city often mentioned in Greek mythology. At this Bronze Age site, you’ll see the ruins of a citadel, palace, several tombs, and the famous Lion’s Gate, the main entrance to the citadel.
To learn about the ancient Mycenaean civilization, visit the Archaeological Museum of Mycenae, within walking distance from the archaeological site. You’ll see a huge collection of artifacts and learn about everyday Mycenaean life and their impressive achievements.
You’ll have to walk in the sun for a while in order to see the entire site. So, if you plan on making this day trip we recommend getting there as early as possible to beat the heat.
How to get there: To visit Mycenae, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself. The trip will take about 1-1/2 hours from Athens.
If you already plan to visit Mycenae, you might consider adding Nafplio to your itinerary. This romantic seaside village is almost 2 hours away from Athens, but there are plenty of hotels in town if you want to extend your day trip.
Nafplio has beautiful castles open to the public, historic churches, museums, and white sand beaches within walking distance from the town. The scenic town also hosts the Summer Music Festival in July of each year.
For a unique experience, you can join a sea kayak tour where you learn about the ancient castles of Nafplio while viewing them from the Argolic Gulf. The boat tour includes a visit to Bourtzi Fortress, a castle located on an island in the port, plus a snorkeling excursion.
Mycenae is only about 20 minutes away from Nafplio. This makes a great 2-day trip if you stay the night in Nafplio. There are several hotels right by the beach and lots of restaurants within walking distance for a traditional Greek lunch.
How to get there: To visit Nafplio, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself. The trip will take about 2 hours from Athens.
Between Mycenae and Nafplio is the ancient town of Argos. There are several archaeological sites here open to the public, including an ancient market, Roman baths, the Larissa Castle, the Ancient Agora, the Ancient Theatre of Argos, and more.
In downtown Argos, you can visit the Byzantine Museum of Argolis and the nearby 17th century Kapodistrias Barracks. For an excursion that combines wine tasting with historical tours, this private wine trails tour will take you to three different wineries for tastings, plus different points of interest like the Corinth canal, the archaeological site of ancient Nemea, and a historic monastery.
How to get there: To visit Argos, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself. From Athens it will take around two hours, and about 15 minutes from either Nafplio or Mycenae
About 30 minutes northeast of Nafplio, Epidaurus is the site of the wonderfully preserved Ancient Theatre, which dates back to the 4th century BCE. You’re free to walk into and test the amazing acoustics of the theatre. Dont forget to chech out a small archaeological museum onsite.
If you have time, it’s worth taking the 10-minute drive to the coast to see the sunken ancient city of Epidaurus. It’s just a few meters from the shore. Also, you’re free to snorkel through the ruins and see the ancient ruins up close.
If you prefer guided tours, this one includes a visit to the Ancient Theatre, another smaller recently excavated theatre, and a snorkeling excursion through the sunken ruins.
How to get there: To visit Epidaurus, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself. It will take about 2 hours from Athens, and 30 minutes from Nafplio.
Short on Time? Look into taking one of the customized Peloponnese Peninsula day trips from Athens.
In the Saronic Gulf to the southwest of Athens, you’ll find a collection of picturesque islands called the Saronic Islands. The main islands of the group are Salamis, Aegina, Agistri, and Poros, all wonderful choices for day trips from Athens.
With charming towns, gorgeous beaches, and ancient ruins, the Greek islands are perfect for some rest and relaxation away from the chaos of the big city.
One of the best things you can do on Saronic Islands day tours from Athens is to go on a cruise of all the islands. While you won’t get to explore so much of the individual Greek islands themselves, you’ll get a taste of each of them while exploring the perfect blue sea in the Saronic Gulf. You’ll have plenty of time to swim, sunbathe, and eat some delicious local food while you’re at it.
How to get there: To reach the Saronic Islands, you’ll need to take a ferry boat from the main port of Athens located just southwest of the city. Depending on the island, the journey will take between two and three hours.
The island of Aegina is around 15 nautical miles from Athens, and you can easily get there by ferry. There’s plenty to explore here, like the archaeological sites of Kolona and the Temple of Aphaia, the medieval village of Paleochora, and the Temple of Hellanios Zeus.
There are also some beautiful hiking trails, ancient olive tree groves, and organic pistachio orchards that offer guided walking tours. There are several beaches with facilities if you want to go for a refreshing swim before the ferry ride back to Athens.
How to get there: To visit Aegina, you’ll need to drive a rental car or get a taxi from Athens to the port of Piraeus, which is about 15 km from the city centre. From the port, you’ll take a ferry to Aegina which will take between 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Located in the southern part of the Saronic Gulf, Poros Island is a perfect getaway for a day trip. The small island has beautiful beaches with facilities, art galleries, picturesque monasteries, and its port is full of cafes and shops to explore in the evening.
For an ancient history fix, you can visit the majestic Temple of Poseidon and the Archaeological Museum of Poros which houses artifact collections from Poros and nearby islands.
How to get there: To visit Poros, you’ll need to drive or get a taxi from Athens to the port of Piraeus, which is about 15 km from the city centre. From the port, you’ll take a ferry to Poros which will take about 2 hours.
Short on Time? Consider taking one of the Saronic Islands day tours from Athens.
On the southern tip of the Attic Peninsula, you’ll find Cape Sounion, one of the best day trips from Athens. Best known for its archaeological sites, Cape Sounion is a popular destination for both travelers and Athenians alike. Most people come here for the beaches and the beautiful resorts.
One place you can’t miss while on Cape Sounion is the Temple of Poseidon, an elegant seaside monument from the Golden Age of Athens. It is built on a cliff peninsula that juts out into the sea at the southernmost point of Cape Sounion, and it’s one of the best places in all of Greece to catch a magnificent sunset.
How to get there: To visit Cape Sounion, you’ll need to rent a car in Athens and drive down yourself.
Short on Time? Hope on an exciting Cape Sounion sunset tour from Athens instead.
As the country’s capital, Athens might be the most popular destination in Greece. That doesn’t mean that any of these smaller Athens day trips are any less worthy of your time. We’d highly recommend you get outside the metropolis and visit some of the lesser-known gems that Greece has to offer.