Oh Athens, how we love you. We have visited the city three times, but it wasn’t until our most recent trip that we actually spent time really immersing in the energy of this vibrant capital of Greece. While many people immediately jet off to the Greek Islands there are plenty of exciting adventures that can be done on a day trip. From incredible archaeological sites to gorgeous beaches, Athens is not only a destination in itself but also a launchpad for numerous exciting day trips. From the islands off the Athenian Riviera to ancient sites steeped in myth and history, let’s embark on a journey to explore the best day trips you can make from Athens.
Top Day Trips from Athens
We have driven in Greece many times and it is very easy to navigate. We suggest getting a rental car for your stay in Athens as they are more affordable than other European destinations. You can compare car rental prices here.
If you aren’t comfortable driving, we have suggested the most popular day trips from Athens with links to help you plan your trip.
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Below are some of the top day trip tours from Athens. Don’t forget to plan ahead when visiting Greece!
Top Day Trip Activities and Tours from Athens:
Delphi is just a two-hour drive from Athens and is an essential destination for history and archaeology lovers. This incredible archaeological site is a UNESCO World Heritage housing the Sanctuary of Apollo. Take a guided tour to see the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the ancient theater, and the stadium. Be sure to check out the Athenian Treasury and the Polygonal Wall with its inscriptions.
You will also want to stop by the Delphi Archaeological Museum to learn more about Greek history. Here, you can view its collection of artifacts found in the ancient ruins. One of the most iconic pieces is the bronze Charioteer of Delphi, one of the best-known sculptures surviving from Ancient Greece and take a walk along the Sacred Way which was the main route through the Sanctuary of Apollo, used in processions to the temple. When you are finished at these fascinating ruins, make your way to the modern town of Delphi for lunch at one of its many restaurants, shops, and cafes.
2. Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
Cape Sounion is a favorite getaway for both locals and tourists. Including us! Just 60 minutes from downtown Athens, Cape Sounion is also known as the Athens Riviera. There are beaches and resorts making for a fantastic day trip from Athens, or you can book a weekend getaway.
The main attraction here is the most beautiful setting for archaeological ruins that you can get. The Iconic Temple of Poseidon sits high on a seacliff offering incredible vistas of Cape Sounion. Begin your visit by exploring the Doric columns of this 5th-century BC edifice, and don’t forget to seek out Lord Byron’s famous graffiti etched into one of the temple’s remaining pillars.
The Athens Riviera gives a taste of Greek Island Life without having to leave the mainland. Beaches like Sounio Beach and Legrena Beach are just a short drive from the temple. Before leaving, make sure to witness one of the most celebrated sunsets in Greece from the viewpoint near the temple of Poseidon. For food lovers, there are seaside tavernas close by, offering delicious Greek cuisine with a fantastic sea view.
3. Hydra Island
Only a two-hour ferry ride from Athens, Hydra Island is the perfect day trip from Athens for those seeking a taste of the Greek Islands. No motorized vehicles are allowed on Hydra making for a quiet retreat from the city. It is known for its picturesque harbor and narrow, cobbled streets lined with boutiques, art galleries, and local eateries.
Don’t miss the chance to visit the Historical Archives Museum and the Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum to learn more about Hydra’s rich past.
For outdoor lovers, there are hiking trails that offer beautiful views of the sea. The trail from Hydra town to the Monastery of Prophet Elias is a particular favorite. Beach lovers can enjoy island life by heading to either Vlychos or Kaminia.
At the end of the day, relax at a waterfront cafe, enjoying local cuisine as boats bob in the harbor. You don’t have to head back to the Greek capital you can book a night on the island to extend your stay. Book a night at the Four Seasons Hydra for a luxurious stay. Check reviews on TripAdvisor
4. Poros Island
Poros is part of the Saronic islands which are easily accessible by a quick ferry ride from Athens. It offers a taste of island life with a more local feel than the popular tourist destinations of Greece.
A visit to the Archaeological Museum of Poros is a must. It houses finds from the sanctuary of Poseidon at Kalavria. Explore the Lemon Forest, a fragrant grove with more than 30,000 lemon and orange trees. Be sure to visit the Clock Tower, the island’s most famous landmark, for panoramic views of Poros and the surrounding sea.
If you’re a beach lover, spend some time at Love Bay or Askeli Beach, both known for their clear waters. Wrap up your day by enjoying a meal at one of the many seaside taverns.
5. Corinth Canal
The Corinth Canal is an engineering marvel linking the Aegean and Ionian seas. This artificial canal is an impressive site slicing through the narrow isthmus that connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. This 4-mile-long canal was built between 1882 and 1893 and separates the Peloponnese Peninsula from the mainland.
You can book a day trip from Athens to see views of the Corinth Canal and visit Ancient Corinth to see where St. Paul lived and its ancient Agora, and Apollo’s Temple. You will also visit the ancient port of Kechreai.
Visit the submersible bridge at Isthmia, one of only two in Europe. For adrenaline junkies, bungee jumping from the canal’s bridge is an option.
Ancient Corinth is a fascinating archaeological site, where you’ll find the Temple of Apollo and the Bema, where St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians. You can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Corinth to get your fill of ancient Greek history.
On your way back to Athens, make a stop at the Acrocorinth, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, a monolithic rock overseeing the ancient city.
Visiting Meteora should be at the top of everyone’s Greek bucket list. Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage site located four hours from Athens. The area is famed for its towering rock formations and the centuries-old monasteries perched precariously upon the high monoliths.
If you have a car, arrive early in the morning to view the monasteries on your own time ahead of the crowds. You will want at least one full day here to see the impressive monasteries such as the Great Meteoron Monastery, Varlaam Monastery, and Rousanou Monastery. Read more: Monasteries of Meteora, Greece – Magic Monoliths in Photos
We highly recommend taking a walk through the numerous hiking trails snaking around the rock formations, offering panoramic views of the landscape away from the crowds. Better yet, book one of the guided tours offered to learn more about the ruins. We took this hiking tour from Kalabaka that follows the historical paths of the monks.
You may want to consider taking a guided tour to get insights into the history and significance of the area. Before leaving, visit the local town of Kalabaka to try local cuisines. We recommend spending a couple of nights in Meteora and we stayed at The Divani Meteora Hotel which was located right in the heart of the ancient site.
This 4-day Classic Tour lets you see many of the best day trips from Athens in one convenient tour. You’ll explore the best of Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi & Meteora.
7. Mycenae and Epidaurus
Mycenae and Epidaurus offer a deep dive into Greek history to the time of King Agamemnon and the Trojan War. Visit Mycenae, a UNESCO World Heritage that was the center of the Mycenaean civilization which dates back to two hundred BC.
Here you’ll explore the ancient temples including the famous Lion’s Gate, Royal Tombs, The Tomb of Agamemnon, and the Archaeological Museum. The Cyclopean Walls which were named for their massive size, are a must-see.
Next, head to Epidaurus to visit the ancient theatre, dedicated to the Greek God of Medicine Asclepius, famous for its exceptional acoustics and symmetrical construction. Don’t miss the Sanctuary of Asklepios, an important healing center in the ancient world, and its ancient theatre.
The theater at Epidaurus is one of the best-preserved theaters of ancient Greece and its performances still take place today. Imagine yourself living in ancient times watching the likes of Homer or Greek Mythology performed in this impressive archeological site.
From May to October one of the most famous cultural events takes place here and at the Acropolis in Athens. This festival showcases music and artists and has attracted the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra. The 2023 lineup will see eclectic artists such as Herbie Hancock, Bill Burr, and the Opera de Paris.
This highly rated tour is a full-day guided day trip from Athens that touts itself as carbon neutral. Over the next 10 hours, you’ll visit the Corinth Canal, Mycenae, and Epidauraus as well as Nafplio (Nauplia), the former capital of Greece.
Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece, combines history, architecture, and stunning sea views. Visit the Palamidi Fortress and enjoy the panoramic view of the city and the Argolic Gulf. Stroll around the old town with its Venetian houses and neoclassical mansions, stopping at Syntagma Square to explore the Archaeological Museum.
Take a boat ride to Bourtzi, a Venetian fortress on an island in the middle of the city’s harbor. Lastly, enjoy local dishes at a seaside restaurant and explore the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Combine some of the best day trips from Athens with this highly rated guided tour. Your tour guide is a qualified historian who will take you to the Corinth Canal, Palamidi Castle, the Acropolis of Nafplio, and the famous Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. You’ll also have a stop at Karathonas Beach for a dip in the Aegean Sea.
9. Spetses Island
Spetses is one of the most picturesque Saronic islands that is a two-hour-long journey by ferry from Athens. This beautiful island boasts a rich maritime history and elegant architecture.
Discover the island’s history at the Museum of Spetses and the House of Bouboulina, a museum dedicated to the female admiral who played a significant role in the 1821 War of Independence. The Old Harbor area, with its old mansions and the grand Poseidonion Hotel, is well worth a visit.
Rent a bike or a horse-drawn carriage to explore the town or hop on a water taxi to visit some of the island’s beautiful beaches like Agia Marina and Agioi Anargyroi. Remember to sample local delicacies at one of the island’s numerous seafood restaurants or taverns.
This e-bike cycling tour is a half-day tour that takes you around the main sights of the small island to see the old harbor and learn about the island’s history.
10. Aegina Island
Aegina is an idyllic island known for its pistachio orchards, ancient ruins, and white stone houses. Start your trip by visiting the Temple of Aphaia, an ancient architectural masterpiece that forms a sacred triangle with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion.
Explore the charming town with its traditional houses, and don’t miss the local market where you can buy the famous Aegina pistachios. For beach enthusiasts, Marathonas, Agia Marina, and Perdika are all excellent choices. If you have time, a visit to the tiny island of Moni, a nature reserve full of peacocks and deer, is highly recommended.
You can also book a day cruise to Aegina. This full day boat tour lets you discover the Saronic Sea on a classic wooden sailboat. Enjoy views of the Saronic Gulf as you sip cocktails and enjoy snacks en route to the islands of Agistri and Aegina. Enjoy the beaches and take an optional bike tour. You’ll also have stops at Moni or Nisis Metopi.
11. Lake Vouliagmeni
Just a short drive from the city center, Lake Vouliagmeni is a stunning natural lake with therapeutic properties. Swim in the warm, mineral-rich waters, which maintain a constant temperature year-round. For the adventurous, explore the lake’s underwater cave network, home to the elusive Lutra, a small underwater sea creature.
After relaxing by the lake, visit the nearby Vouliagmeni town, known for its upscale restaurants and beautiful beaches. Try some local cuisine or take a stroll along the marina.
Day tours can be booked from Athens to see Lake Vouliagmeni combined with the Athens Riviera. This highly rated private tour takes you by van to see Lake Vouliagmeni, the historic town of Lavrio, and the Temple of Poseidon.
Journey to Mystras, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the ‘Wonder of Morea.’ Once a thriving Byzantine city, today, it’s an archaeological treasure. Start your day by exploring the Palace of Despots, the city’s most prominent monument. Then, visit the Peribleptos Monastery to admire the best-preserved frescoes in Mystras.
Do not miss the Pantanassa Monastery. It is the only inhabited part of the site that is actually home to a small group of nuns. Make sure to hike up to the Castle on top of the hill for a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes.
Wrap up your visit by exploring the Museum of Mystras, where you’ll discover a collection of artifacts that offer insights into the city’s past.
This tour takes you to Mystras and Ancient Sparta skip the bus ride and enjoy an air-conditioned van to see Sparta, Mystras, and the Corinth Canal.
Who wouldn’t want to see the birthplace of the Olympic Games? Begin by exploring the archaeological site, which includes the Temple of Zeus, once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Statue of Zeus. The Temple of Hera, the ancient Olympic Stadium, and the Palaestra are also must-sees.
Extend your knowledge at the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, which hosts a fantastic collection of artifacts from the site. Don’t forget to visit the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games to learn about this essential aspect of Greek culture.
14. Mount Parnitha National Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a trip to Mount Parnitha National Park, an oasis of greenery on Athens’ doorstep. For hiking enthusiasts, there are numerous trails weaving through the park, offering panoramic views over Athens. As you explore, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife, including red deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species.
Visit the Mpafi Refuge, where you can rest, have a meal, or even spend the night. If you’re a fan of mystery and history, explore the park’s abandoned royal summer residences and the Tatoi Palace, adding a touch of human history to the natural grandeur.
Nemea is a paradise for wine lovers. Known for its red wine production, especially the Agiorgitiko grape, visiting the local wineries and vineyards should be at the top of your to-do list. Take a wine-tasting tour, visit the cellars, and learn about the region’s wine-making process.
In addition to wine, Nemea is rich in history. Explore the Archaeological Site of Nemea, which includes the ancient stadium where the Nemean Games were held, and the Temple of Zeus. Be sure to visit the Archaeological Museum of Nemea to further delve into the region’s fascinating past.
Book a guided tour to the Vineyards of Nemea. This wine tour takes you to one of the largest vineyards in Greece where you’ll taste local wines at two separate vineyards and Visit Ancient Nemea and see the 4th-century-B.C. stadium
Revisit ancient history when visiting Marathon. Marathon is synonymous with long-distance races due to the legendary run of Pheidippides from the battlefield to Athens.
Start your visit at the Marathon Tomb, a burial mound for the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Marathon. The nearby Archaeological Museum of Marathon offers further insights into the area’s history.
Nature lovers should visit Schinias National Park, home to the beautiful Schinias Beach and a coastal pine forest. If time allows, make a trip to the Marathon Dam, an impressive feat of engineering, and enjoy a picnic at the Lake Marathon Reservoir.
Where Should I Go on a Day Trip from Athens?
There are numerous Athens day trips that are easily accessible. Some excellent day trip destinations include the historical site of Delphi, Cape Sounion with the awe-inspiring Temple of Poseidon, Hydra Island, or Poros Island.
Other day trips from Athens include the engineering marvel of the Corinth Canal, the majestic landscape of Meteora, the historical sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus, the elegant city of Nafplio, the maritime town of Spetses Island, the idyllic Aegina Island, the therapeutic Lake Vouliagmeni, the ancient city of Mystras, the Olympic birthplace of Olympia, the green oasis of Parnitha National Park, the wine paradise of Nemea, and the legendary town of Marathon.
What Islands Around Athens are Day Trips?
Several islands around Athens are suitable for day trips, offering a variety of experiences. Some of the top islands for day trips include Hydra, known for its car-free cobblestone streets and relaxed atmosphere, Poros with its blend of historical sites and beautiful beaches, Spetses which boasts a rich maritime history and stunning architecture, and Aegina, famous for its pistachio orchards and ancient ruins.
Can you Do Day Trips to Islands from Athens?
Doing day trips to islands from Athens is a popular choice for many visitors. The three closest islands suitable for a day trip are Aegina, Hydra, and Poros. These islands are easily accessible by ferry, making them perfect for quick getaways from the hustle and bustle of Athens.
What are the Three Closest Islands to Athens Me
The three closest islands suitable for a day trip are Aegina, Hydra, and Poros.
A visit to Athens is one of the most memorable vacations we’ve ever taken. The Cradle of Western Civilization, Athens is filled with important ruins that helped to shape the world as we know it.