If you are looking for day trips from Athens Greece, you’ll be spoiled for choice! You can easily visit Ancient Delphi, Cape Sounion, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nafplion, Hydra and other Greek islands in the Saronic Gulf, and many more destinations.
Day tours from Athens
Day trips from Athens offer visitors the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful places in Greece. Although the Greek capital can keep you occupied for days, it’s definitely worth venturing out to see a different side of the country.
There are plenty of amazing destinations close to Athens. Depending on what you are interested in, you can explore archaeological ruins, find out more about ancient Greek history, enjoy the beautiful diverse landscapes, or go sailing and swimming!
I’m an Athenian, and have been living in Athens for several decades. While I love my city, I also like leaving the city behind, and enjoying a day out – preferably somewhere by the coast!
So, let’s have a look at some of the most popular places to visit near the Greek capital! You can visit them independently, or on an organized tour, where you won’t have to worry about transportation and any other logistics.
1. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ancient Delphi
Ancient Delphi is one of the most popular full-day trips from Athens. The incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in the region called Fokida, about three hours north-west of Athens.
In the ancient times, Delphi was one of the most important archaeological sites in mainland Greece, and was known as the navel of the world. This is where the Greek God Apollo, the God of Light, Sun and Music, was worshiped.
Ancient Delphi was also home to the famous Oracle Pythia, the high priestess who could predict the future. People came from all around the ancient world to consult her and take decisions accordingly.
Today, Delphi remains one of the most fascinating ancient sites in Greece. Visitors can see the remains of various buildings, such as the ancient temples of Apollo and Athena, the ancient theater and the large stadium. Many people comment on the site’s special energy – and whether you agree or not, the landscape is truly spectacular.
How to visit Ancient Delphi and the Delphi Archaeological Museum
Many visitors take an organized full day tour to Ancient Delphi. There are several options, such as this guided tour of Ancient Delphi and the museum, which also includes a stop at the picturesque Arachova village.
You can book your rental car here: Discover Cars.
Allow at least three to four hours for your visit, as there’s a lot to see in Delphi. Very importantly, don’t miss the ancient stadium! It’s located at the highest point of the site, and it offers the best views of Mt Parnassus and the wider area of Delphi. The climb is totally worth it!
2. The temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
The iconic temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion is a popular half day tour from Athens. It was built in 444-440 BC to honor Poseidon, the God of the Sea in Greek mythology, and it’s been very well preserved.
Cape Sounio is located about 70 kms (43.5 miles) south of the Athens city center. The winding coastal road that leads to the ancient site is a scenic route, known as the Athens Riviera. It stretches from the port of Piraeus to Cape Sounion and the nearby coastal town of Lavrion.
The ancient temple of Poseidon is perched on a rocky headland right at the tip of Cape Sounion. It overlooks the Aegean Sea, and offers some amazing sunset views to the lucky visitors.
Here is some more information: The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
Take a tour to the Temple of Poseidon
There are three ways to visit the majestic Temple of Poseidon: on a tour, by public bus, or drive yourself.
There are all sorts of organized tours to Cape Sounion. Usually, these do not include a guided tour inside the archaeological site, but they take away the pressure of driving on the narrow coastal road to Sounion.
Here is a highly rated option: Organized half-day tour to Cape Sounion
There’s also a hop-on hop-off bus tour to the archaeological site, which gives you access to these buses for two full days: Hop-on hop-off bus to Cape Sounion
Visit Sounion temple independently
Another idea if you are happy to drive on winding roads, is to hire a car and drive to the temple yourself. This way, you can plan your day without being on anyone’s schedule, and you can also extend this half day trip into a full-day activity.
You can book your rental vehicle here: Discover Cars.
Finally, there are also public buses to Cape Sounion. They depart from Pedion tou Areos, in central Athens, and the journey can take about 1.5-2 hours, depending on traffic.
Here is the bus schedule, which you’d need to confirm before your visit, as it changes now and then. Overall, if you are on a tight schedule, it’s probably best to avoid the buses as they aren’t all too frequent.
3. Day cruise along the Athens Riviera
The coastal route called the Athens Riviera is lovely, but can be challenging to drive on.
Another option if you want to see the Athenian Riviera is to take a boat tour. This is a relaxed day where you’ll get to enjoy the sea and sun, without really leaving the Greek capital!
Here are a couple of sailing tours from Athens:
Or, if you want to combine a sailing trip with a visit to the Temple of Poseidon, check out this small group tour: Sailing tour to the Temple of Poseidon.
4. Sanctuary and ancient theater of Epidaurus
Ancient Epidaurus is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece. It is located in the Peloponnese, a large region in southern Greece, approximately two hours away from Athens.
This magnificent ancient site was the sanctuary of Asclepius, the Greek God of healing and medicine. The Ancient Greeks traveled here from far and wide in order to be cured of their ailments.
The most impressive monument here is the ancient theater of Epidaurus, which was built in the 4th century BC and is known for its superb acoustics. There is also a small museum where you can read some really interesting information about ancient sanctuaries and ancient healing practices.
For more information, have a look at this guide to Ancient Epidaurus.
How to visit Epidaurus and the Ancient Theatre
You can easily visit Ancient Epidaurus on your own. There are a few public buses per day connecting Athens and Ancient Epidaurus. However, a rental car will offer more freedom, as you will be able to travel in your own time.
Another way to visit Ancient Epidaurus is on an organized day trip from Athens, with or without a tour guide. Most of these trips stop briefly at the Corinth Canal close to Ancient Corinth, and also take you to Ancient Mycenae and Nafplion, which are nearby. It’s a full day, but you will get to see a lot.
Tip: Every summer, several performances take place at the ancient theater of Epidaurus. If you get the chance, you should definitely try to see a performance and experience the amazing acoustics! Here is the official website, where you can find information and book your tickets.
5. The archaeological site and museum at Ancient Mycenae
Another easy day tour from Athens is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ancient Mycenae in the Peloponnese. It would only take about an hour and a half to drive there from Athens, and Ancient Epidaurus is only 45 minutes away.
Mycenae is where the ancient Mycenaean civilization flourished in the early 2nd millennium BC. The site is best known for its imposing fortifications and the ancient beehive tombs where kings were buried, known as tholos tombs.
The most iconic monument here is the famous Lion’s Gate, a massive entrance gate with two lions carved into it. It dates from around 1,250 BC, which is several centuries before the Acropolis of Athens was built!
Here is some more information: Guide to Ancient Mycenae.
How to visit Ancient Mycenae and the museum
Ancient Mycenae is an easy Athens day trip. If you want to visit independently, the best option is to hire a car. This way, you will have more freedom, and you will be able to visit other nearby archaeological wonders like Ancient Tiryns or Argos, which often fly under the radar.
It’s also possible to use the public buses from Athens to Mycenae. You will arrive at a small village called Fichti, which is about 4 kms from the ancient site. From there, you would need to take a taxi – unless you are happy to walk. For bus routes from Athens to Mycenae click here.
As mentioned earlier, you can also take an organized tour, where you will also visit Ancient Epidaurus and the historic town of Nafplion. Guided tours are the best option if you don’t want to drive, and you will see some of the highlights of the Peloponnese.
6. The coastal town of Nafplion
Another popular excursion from Athens is the quaint coastal town of Nafplion. It is located in the Peloponnese, a couple of hours away from Athens.
Nafplio was the first capital of modern Greece, following the Greek Revolution in 1821. It is a beautiful old town with quaint architecture, an impressive Venetian fortress, Palamidi castle, and a picturesque harbor.
There are also a few nice coastal walks around Nafplion, as well as a few beaches, where you will see people swimming year-round! All in all, it’s a lovely town to spend a few days, if you have time.
Here is some more information, including places to visit around Nafplion if you are staying longer: What to do in Nafplion Greece
How to get to Nafplion
If you want to only visit Nafplio, without visiting the ancient sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus, it’s probably easier to take the public bus, as there are several buses per day.
Alternatively, you can hire a car, which you will need to park at the designated parking areas just outside the historic center of the town.
Or you can always take the organized coach trip from Athens, combined with Epidaurus and Mycenae. Here is how to book the Nafplion – Mycenae – Epidaurus day trip.
7. The majestic Meteora monasteries
Another popular day excursion from Athens is to the majestic Meteora monasteries. The iconic UNESCO Site is located in the region called Thessaly, about 4.5 hours away from Athens by car.
The area is known for its unique rock formations and the stunning Greek Orthodox monasteries, which have been perched on top of the rocks for many centuries. These monasteries were built by monks who were looking to escape from earthly troubles and sought spiritual salvation.
There are six active monasteries today, where monks and nuns still live. They are all open to visitors, and they offer a unique insight into the history of monasticism in Greece.
The nearest town is Kalambaka, where you will have a wide choice of tavernas and cafes. There are also a few fantastic museums that are worth visiting, such as the Mushroom Museum and the Greek Education Museum.
Here is some more information about the amazing Meteora Monasteries.
How to get to Meteora from Athens
If you want to visit Meteora on a day trip from Athens, the best way is to go on an organized tour, as it’s a long drive from the Greek capital. However, if you can spend an extra day at Meteora, it’s totally worth it, as there is a lot to see.
Here are three highly rated Meteora tours:
- Day trip to Meteora from Athens
- Two-day trip to Meteora from Athens, with overnight in Kalambaka
- Two-day tour from Athens including Meteora and Ancient Delphi, with overnight in Kalambaka
If you have several days, you could also hire a car and drive there yourself, and explore more of Thessaly. You can book your rental car here: Discover Cars.
8. The cosmopolitan Greek island of Hydra
The Greek island of Hydra is another popular Athens day trip. The island is located in the Saronic Gulf, just a couple of hours away from Athens by ferry from Piraeus.
Hydra is one of the most picturesque Greek islands close to Athens, with narrow cobblestone streets, pretty architecture and a cosmopolitan feel. It’s also a car-free island, which makes it ideal for families and people who want to escape the city for a day.
Fun trivia: In 1957, the movie “Boy on a dolphin” was filmed in Hydra, as well as a few more places in Greece. It was one of the first movies about Greece, and it definitely helped to put Greece on the tourist map!
How to visit Hydra on a day trip from Athens
You can reach Hydra island by ferry from Piraeus port in Athens, and go on a walking tour on your own. There are many ferries per day, and the number of itineraries increases during peak season.
You can check routes and book your ferry tickets here: Ferryscanner.
Another option is to take a full day sailing trip to Hydra, which also stops at two more islands, Aegina and Poros. With this mini-cruise, you will experience three islands close to Athens, without having to think about the logistics.
9. The low-key Greek island of Agistri
Agistri is another island close to Athens. Like Hydra, it’s located in the Saronic Gulf, and it’s only an hour away on the ferry from Piraeus port in Athens. This makes it a good choice if you are looking for Athens excursions to nearby islands.
This low-key island is ideal for travelers who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. There are a few really stunning beaches, which you can easily reach on foot, by public bus or by bicycle.
I’ve been to over 60 of the Greek islands, and I still remember how beautiful the beaches were in Agistri. Given its proximity to Athens, it’s an ideal destination if you want to spend some beach time!
How to visit Agistri from Athens
You can easily reach Agistri by ferry from the port of Piraeus. There are several ferries per day, taking only an hour to reach the small island, so you only have to select the time that suits you the most.
Book your ferry tickets here: Ferryscanner.
Another option is to take a sailing cruise that also stops at Aegina island, and also takes you to Moni, an tiny uninhabited island with more gorgeous beaches!
You can book it here: Sailing cruise from Athens to Aegina and Agistri
Tip: If you have a choice, try to avoid the weekends, as this is when many Athenians also go to Agistri and Aegina. It’s best to go on a weekday instead.
10. A day out to Marathon and Ancient Ramnous
Few visitors venture out of Athens to see the sites of Marathon and Ancient Ramnous, which are about an hour and a half’s drive from the Greek capital. Which is a shame, as this region is quite unspoiled and you won’t see too many tourists!
Marathon is a small village with a fascinating background. This is where the Battle of Marathon, between the Persians and the Ancient Greeks, took place back in 490 BC. It is one of the most important battles in ancient Greek history, as the Greeks won, although they were greatly outnumbered by the Persians.
The Athens Marathon Race is organized every November as a tribute to the legendary ancient Greek messenger Pheidippides, who brought the victorious news all the way to ancient Athens. Visitors can learn more about the race, and see old medals and rare exhibits, in the Marathon Run Museum. The Marathon Archaeological Museum is also nearby.
If you are in the area, you should also visit the ancient city of Ramnous, an incredible archaeological site where you can see fascinating ruins of several ancient houses. Make sure to bring water and perhaps a couple of snacks, as there’s nothing nearby!
How to visit Marathon and Ancient Ramnous from Athens
On your way back to Athens, you can stop at the coastal area called Nea Makri for a snack or dinner. This is a popular destination for Athenians during summer, and there’s a nice coastal promenade where you can walk, with plenty of traditional restaurants to choose from.
FAQ about Athens day trips
Here are a few questions readers have asked me in the past:
Where should I go on a day trip from Athens?
Some of the best day trips out of Athens include Ancient Delphi, Nafplion, Ancient Epidaurus, Ancient Mycenae, the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, the Meteora monasteries, and the Saronic islands.
Can Santorini be a day trip from Athens?
In theory, you could visit Santorini on a day trip from Athens. Flights from Athens to Santorini (and vice versa) only take 50 minutes each way. It’s better, however, to allow for more time on Santorini.
Is a day trip to Delphi worth it?
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Delphi is one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Greece. It’s absolutely worth a day trip from Athens.
What is the prettiest town in Greece?
Some of the prettiest towns in Greece include Nafplio, Chania, Rethymno, Rhodes town, Symi, Naxos town, Ioannina, Kavala and Thessaloniki.
How many days is enough in Athens?
If you only want to see the main sights in Athens, such as the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum, even a couple of days are enough. But if you want to fully experience the city, you should aim to spend much longer.
Have a look at these guides about Athens:
- How to spend 2 days in Athens and Greece
- A 3-day itinerary for Athens
- Best things to do in Athens
- Hottest Greek islands in October
Which island is easiest to get to from Athens?
The easiest islands to get to from Athens include Aegina, Agistri, Hydra and Poros. Several ferries depart from Piraeus port on a daily basis to all of these islands. You can book your ferry tickets on Ferryscanner.
Also, have a look at this article about islands close to Athens.
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens, and I love sharing information about my country. If you take any of these Athens day trips, please let me know what you thought. Please follow me on FB and Instagram for more guides and news about Greece!