Gazing at the sunset from the Acropolis in Athens must be experienced to be believed. It is a spectacular sight, with red, orange and blue colours lighting up the mountains that surround the city. Athens is Greece’s capital and the largest city, with a population of four million. It is a city of contrasts, with the modern merging with the ancient. There is plenty to see in Athens but once you have conquered the city, there is so much else on offer nearby that it would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of the day trips from Athens.
The city is close to both the sea and the mountains, so perhaps you would like a relaxing day on the beach, or if you are more energetic, you can hike in the mountains or in one of the national parks. Greece is steeped in history and there are plenty of archaeological sites to learn about the history of Greece. Many sites go back thousands of years, and you can see temples and shrines dedicated to the mythological Greek gods.
If you want to experience the laid-back life many Greeks lead, take a day trip to some of the islands close to Athens, such as Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. It only takes an hour or two to get to these islands and if you book a tour rather than just take the ferry, you will be presented with an authentic Greek meal on board. Here are our top 20 day trips from Athens to whet your appetite.
1 – THE ANCIENT RELIGIOUS SANCTUARY OF DELPHI
Delphi is 100 miles (161 km) north of Athens and is about a 2.5-hour drive or join this full-day bus trip.
In the 8th century, the ancient Greeks built the sanctuary of Delphi and dedicated it to Apollo, the god of sun and light. Pythia, the priestess who was the Oracle of Delphi, lived here, predicting the future for anyone who visited the sanctuary.
Dedicate around three hours to explore this archaeological site, as there is plenty to see apart from the sanctuary.
You can visit Athena’s temple and the Athenian Treasury, where the spoils of war were displayed.
However, the highlight is The Temple of Apollo with its stout Doric Columns and the inner sanctum of the Oracle.
If you have time, visit the Archaeological Museum, which houses artefacts and sculptures excavated from the Temple of Apollo.
If you enjoy hiking, there are trails around Delphi to explore. The footpath of Archaio Monopati is the oldest in Europe.
2 – THE MONASTERIES OF METEORA
Meteora is 222 miles (357 km) from Athens and is about a 3.5-hour drive.
It may seem quite far to travel in a day, but it is worth it if only for the spectacular scenery.
The six monasteries are perched precariously on steep rocks in the Pinos Mountain range and house priceless paintings and artefacts.
The panoramic views from the monasteries are amazing.
There are six active monasteries, all built in the 14th century, and you can visit them as long as you observe the strict dress code. Shorts, for example, aren’t allowed.
While at Meteora, make sure to visit the Hermit Caves of Badovas.
Until two centuries ago, monks lived a stark and hard life there.
It is a poignant reminder of both the physical and spiritual hardships the monks went through.
The caves are perched on the cliff of Pyxari and you will see the remains of the ladders and scaffolds used by the monks.
Check out this full-day trip to see the monasteries by train.
3 – CRUISE TO THE ISLANDS OF POROS, HYDRA AND AEGINA
Poros is 42 miles (69 km) south of Athens and takes one and three-quarter hours to get there.
Sail to the beautiful islands of Poros, Hydra, and Aegina through the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Saronic Gulf.
If you take an organised tour rather than take the ferry yourself, you will be provided with lunch and treated to a Greek folklore show but beware that you might be invited to try Greek dancing.
The islands are small and quaint, and you will get a taste of what life was like in Greece many years ago.
No cars or motorbikes are allowed on the island of Hydra, so you will have to rely on your feet.
Remember to wear comfy shoes.
Poros is famous for its pristine beaches, so you may want to relax on a sunbed.
Alternatively, visit the monastery of Zoodachos or the Citronne Art Gallery.
The relaxed island of Hydra invites you to stroll around the only village where you will see houses covered in colourful bougainvillea and whitewashed churches.
History buffs will enjoy visiting the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina.
However, those who want to relax will find excellent beaches, cafes, and bars dotted all over the island.
The Citronne Gallery is at 10 Papadopoulou L., Afon Virvili Square,18020, Poros.
4 – MYCENAE AND EPIDAURUS
Mycenae is 74 miles (119 km) southwest of Athens and takes an hour and a half to get there.
Epidaurus is another 32 miles (52 km) southeast of Mycenae and is about a 40-minute drive.
The drive from Athens to Mycenae in the Peloponnese is picturesque.
It passes by the attractive Saronic Gulf, which will tempt you with its clear waters.
Approaching Mycenae, you will see the hilltop ruins of the city built in the 2nd century BC.
The site is impressive, and you can visit the palace and tomb of Agamemnon.
Stop off at Nauplia on your way to Epidaurus for a cooling drink. In the Middle Ages, it was a buzzing seaport.
If you have time, visit the Venetian castle and the Hellenic fortress.
Epidaurus hosts another interesting archaeological site that houses an ancient theatre.
Imagine the ancient Greeks sitting there and cheering on the plays by Aristophanes, Euripides, and Sophocles.
Another site not to be missed in Epidaurus is the UNESCO-listed sanctuary of Askeplios, who was the Greek god of medicine.
The Sanctuary of Askeplios is at Epidavrou 21052. Find out more here.
5 – TEMPLE OF POSEIDON AT CAPE SOUNION
The Temple of Poseidon is 41 miles (67 km) south of Athens and about an hour and 10-minute drive.
Poseidon was the mighty Greek God of the sea, whose powers were only second to that of Zeus.
Iktinos, one of the two architects who built the Parthenon in Athens, built the Temple of Poseidon between 444 to 440 BC.
It is on top of a cliff that is 230 feet (70 m) above the sea and there is a magnificent view from the temple towards the Aegean Sea.
It is another lovely spot to watch the sunset, and worth the trip from Athens.
The temple is impressive at 20 feet high (6 m) and there are still 16 of the original 38 columns left standing, giving a good impression of what the temple used to look like.
6 – WINE TASTING AT ACHAIA CLAUSS WINERY
The Achaia Clauss Winery is 106 miles (172 km) northwest of Athens and about a 1 hour and 50-minute drive.
Book a tour of the museum, where you will learn about the history of Greek winemaking, which goes back thousands of years.
The wine tasting is informative as you will learn about the wines you are served from a knowledgeable guide.
You will be given a selection of whites, roses, reds, and sweet dessert wines and you will have the opportunity to buy your favourites.
Greek wine may not be that well known but you will be surprised at how good it is. Check out this wine tour from Athens.
The Aigialeia Winery is at Petroto Patras, 26500, Patras.
7 – NAFPLIO
Nafplio is 87 miles (140 km) southwest of Athens and about a 1 hour and 50-minute drive.
There is plenty to see at Nafplio to warrant a day trip from Athens.
The city was the first capital of Greece, with plenty of restaurants and bars with ocean views, it is a romantic place in Greece.
If you are interested in history, visit the Palamidi Castle, which the Venetians completed in 1714 and used to serve in naval and military operations.
It is 708 feet high (216 m) above sea level, and although you can drive there, you can walk up the 999 steps if you are reasonably fit.
Here you will get a magnificent view of the city.
Akronafpita fortress is situated on a spectacular rocky peninsula from which you will have a view of the sea, the harbour and the city. Sit back and let someone else do the driving on this full-day trip to Nafplio and Epidaurus.
8- ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF CORINTH
The Archaeological Museum of Corinth is 49 miles (80 km) west of Athens and about a 1 hour and 10-minute drive.
The museum is on the archaeological site of Corinth, which has excavations of a Roman Forum, baths, fountains and temples.
The museum has three rooms and a large courtyard, which exhibits sculptures, ceramics, and other artefacts from as far back as prehistoric times up to the Middle Ages.
The highlights in the museum are a marble funerary sphinx from the 6th century BC and a mosaic floor from the 1st century BC.
The Archaeological Museum of Corinth is at Old Corinth, 20010, Corinth.
9 – MOUNT OLYMPUS
Mount Olympus is 267 miles (430 km) north of Athens and is about a 4-hour drive or you can take this train trip with a guided tour.
It is a long drive to Mount Olympus, but the scenery is beautiful and if you are a fan of Greek mythology, it is a must.
Mount Olympus is Greece’s highest mountain and home of the mythological Greek gods.
The area around the mountain is now a national park, and it is possible to hike there.
Near the national park, at the northeast foot of Mount Olympus, there is an archaeological site that was the ancient city of Dion.
There are ruins from Roman and Greek times, including a temple dedicated to Zeus.
A museum houses artefacts found on the site.
10- THE ATHENIAN RIVIERA
The Athenian Riviera is 10 miles (16 km) from the centre of Athens and about a 20-minute drive.
If you enjoy relaxing in the sun or people-watching while enjoying a frappe or cocktail at a bar or cafe, the Athenian Riviera will suit you down to the ground.
It is situated in the southern suburbs of Athens, stretching from Piraeus to Sounion.
The beaches there are pristine and most have a Blue Flag accreditation.
If you enjoy shopping, go to the suburb of Glyfada, where stores intertwine with gourmet restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Head to Lake Vouliagmeni if you want to bathe in therapeutic waters, which are said to help with skin problems, arthritis and rheumatism.
The lake is just off the main beach road. This half-day catamaran sailing cruise is a fabulous experience.
11- COOPERATIVE WINERY OF NEMEA
The Cooperative Winery of Nemea is 72 miles (116 km) southwest of Athens and is a 1 hour 50-minute drive.
If you are looking for affordable wines that are still good quality, head to The Cooperative Winery of Nemea.
You will be able to try six different wines and then buy the ones you like the best as well as take a tour of the winemaking facilities.
Nemea Winery is at 22N Efstathiou, 20500, Nemea
12 – SCUBA DIVING AT THE BLUE HOLE
Scuba Diving at the Blue Hole is 10 miles (16 km) from the centre of Athens and is about a 20-minute drive.
If you enjoy water sports and want to see the fantastic array of sea life in the waters close to Athens, this scuba diving trip is for you.
The Blue Hole is a man-made well near Lake Vouliagmeni Lake.
You can descend up to 98 feet (30 m) and swim along the reef.
The crew use an underwater camera so they can capture your experience.
The best thing is that the photos are free.
13 – KAISARIANI MONASTERY
Kaisariani Monastery is four miles (6.4 km) southeast of the centre of Athens and takes 18 minutes to get there.
The 11th-century monastery is in the Vyronas Forest, where you can hike and enjoy the aromatic cypress and pine trees.
Inside the monastery, you will find stunning frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible painted in the 17th century.
The Kaisariani Monastery is at Kaisariani 16122.
14 – MARATHON
Marathon is 24 miles (39 km) north of Athens and is about a 55-minute drive.
Marathon is the site of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Despite being outnumbered, the Athenians beat the Persians.
On the battle site, you can see the Athenian Tumulus, a burial mound housing 197 Athenians who died during the battle.
It is an impressive 32.8 feet (10 m) high.
Marathon is also where the marathon race first took place, and you should visit the Marathon Run Museum, where you will find exhibits from marathon races from all over the world.
If you have time, go to the Marathon Archaeological Museum and see artefacts from the Neolithic, Classical, and Roman times.
15 – THERMOPYLAE
Thermopylae is 122 miles (197 km) north of Athens and about a 1 hour and 55-minute drive.
Thermopylae is where a battle between the Spartans and the Romans took place in 480 BC.
Its name comes from the Greek word for hot springs, which you can see there.
Legend has it that Athena created the springs for Hercules, the god of strength.
There is a spa in the village built in 1935 where you can ease your aches and pains.
Take a tour around the battlefield, see the statue of King Leonidas, and visit the museum. You may like this private tour.
16 – ELEUSIS
Eleusis is 13 miles (21 km) northwest of Athens and about a 20-minute drive.
Eleusis is a mainly industrial town now, but it has an ancient history behind it.
Here there is a sanctuary to the god Demeter, the god of harvest. Rites were held honouring him and Persephone, the goddess of spring.
The archaeological site is worth a visit to see the Sacred Court, temples and altars dedicated to the Greek gods were built in the 5th century BC.
Pottery, statues, and devotional objects from the area can be found in the Archaeological Museum within the archaeological site. The exhibits range from prehistoric times to the Roman era. Check out this tour.
17 – DAY CRUISE TO AGISTRI, MONI, AND AEGINA
Agistri is 32 miles (51 km) southwest of Athens and about a 1.5-hour journey, including the ferry.
This is another fantastic day trip from Athens to three beautiful Greek islands.
Book a tour instead of doing it on your own, and you’ll get lunch and drinks included.
Agistri has beautiful, pristine beaches to feel the sand beneath your feet and take in the views of the emerald sea.
If you want to explore the island, there are some lovely whitewashed churches.
The first thing you will come across when you dock in Moni is the beach bar.
Relax with a long cool drink and soak in the atmosphere.
Behind the pine trees, you may come across wild peacocks and deer who are all used to people and offer excellent photographic opportunities.
On Aegina, you can visit the temples of Aphaia and Apollo.
18 – ARGOS ON THE ARGOLIS PENINSULA
Argos is 58 miles (94 km) southwest of Athens and about a 40-minute drive.
There is much to keep you occupied in the town of Argos, the longest continually inhabited town in Greece.
Between 1500 and 1200 BC, the Mycenaeans ruled the country from here and built a theatre that held 20,000 people.
You can sit here and imagine what it was like to watch a play performed and wonder how the actors could project their voices in such a large area.
In this archaeological site, you can also see the ruins of Roman baths and the agora or market.
The Archaeological Museum is also worth a visit if you are interested in seeing artefacts from the Neolithic and Mycenae periods.
19 – HIKING IN PARNITHA NATIONAL PARK
Parnitha National Park is 13 miles (21 km) north of Athens and is about a 20-minute drive. A great way to explore is on a 4X4 Land Rover safari.
If you enjoy hiking, you won’t go far wrong in choosing the Parnitha National Park.
It covers 96.5 miles2 (250 km2) and has beautiful trails.
You can walk through forests of pine trees and perhaps see animals such as foxes, red squirrels, and red deer.
The National Park is set within a mountain range. The highest point is 4635 feet (1413 m) and is the highest point in Attica.
20 – SANTORINI
Santorini is 172 miles (278 km) south of Athens and a 51-minute flight.
If you feel extravagant, a day trip to Santorini is a memorable Aegean Sea excursion.
It is a beautiful island with blue and white buildings depicted in programmes about Greece.
Visit the Minoan ruins at Akrotiri or a traditional winery.
Relax on the black sand beaches created by the volcanic eruptions, and watch the sunset from the village of Oia. Relax on a volcanic islands cruise and visit hot springs.
The Blue Dome Church in Firostefani is the subject of many postcards from the island.