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Best Day trips from Athens

Sunset over the Plaka, the old town of Athens, Greece, with the Parthenon Temple at the Acropolis

With a temple of Goddess Athena crowning above the city on the Acropolis Hill, Athens is a magical place, filled with impressive historic and cultural sites. The city is also bustling with young, contemporary culture; you will see what we mean when you visit Exarcheia, the quirky city quarter with street art murals with political messages, loads of rare vinyl record stores and the popular Valtetsiou pedestrian street field with low-key vegetarian cafés and budget-friendly Mediterranean eateries.

If you want to come closer to the Greek culture and escape the urban bustle, Athens is also a great hub for excursions. This guide will help you navigate amongst the best Athens day trips.

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Day trip from Athens to Delphi

Delphi is also associated with its former name “Pytho” that refers to the ancient sanctuary, believed to be the seat of Pythia, the high priestess who served at the Temple of Apollo. Pythia was an oracle, and people would turn to her with important life decisions. The ancient Greeks also regarded Delphi to be the centre of the world, which they marked by a stone monument known under the name “Omphalos of Delphi”, which means “the navel”. 

Further up the hill from the Temple of Apollo, you will find the ruins of the ancient Delphi theatre. The site was originally built in the 4th century BC and was used during the Roman emperor Nero’s visit to Greece in year 67. Another important site of historic and cultural significance is the Tholos of Delphi, a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Athena, believed to be constructed in the 4th century BC. Nowadays, the Tholos ruins present three restored columns in Doric style, but originally the site consisted of 20 Doric columns in the exterior and 10 Corinthian columns in the interior. 

The historic heritage of the city is not the only interesting attraction in and around Delphi! The city, recognized as one of the Greek UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is situated near Mount Parnassus, overlooking the ancient district of Phocis, so have your camera ready and prepare for breathtaking nature sights too!

There are several daily bus departures from Athens (Liossion KTEL Bus Station) to Delphi. The trip takes roughly 3 hours, and you can expect to pay between 18 – 23 USD for a one-way single journey. If you are a travelling group or a family, you may consider renting a car for the day and driving to Delphi on your own, which will save you both time and money!

Day trip from Athens to Delphi

The beautiful ancient theater in Delphi, Greece

Day trip from Athens to Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion marks the most southern part of the Attic peninsula and is mostly known for its temple of Poseidon, of which remains are surrounded by the sea on three sides. The temple was constructed around 440 BC on the ruins of another temple from the earlier, Archaic period. Nowadays the temple of Poseidon is also associated with the Sounion Kouros (monument of a nude, young man from approx. 7th century BC), which was discovered on the temple grounds in 1906. Tourists visiting the temple today will be able to see 15 of the original 36 marble columns of the Doric order; part of the colonnade that surrounded the rectangular temple area.

Cape Sounion is also famous for the remains of the fortress raised around 400 BC, during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenians and the Spartans. Today the visitors can still wander around the remains of the fortifications, exploring the fort ruins and former bastions. The ruins are also a popular spot to observe the sunset over the Aegean Sea from; start your visit in the late afternoon and finish with a glimpse of the setting sun.

The earliest remarks of Cape Sounion come from Homer’s Odyssey, and the ancient historian Herodotus spoke about a sacred Athenian festival that took place in Cape Sounion in 6th century BC. Nowadays the city is a popular excursion spot for tourists and Athenians alike, but public transportation options are still limited. Cape Sounion is approximately 70 kilometres away from Athens, but the bus ride will take around 2 hours (bus ticket fares start at around 5 USD for a one-way journey). Driving is the quickest way to get to Cape Sounion from Athens, so we recommend renting a car for the day or joining a guided tour from Athens.

Day trip from Athens to Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion Greece : Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion attica Greece

Day trip from Athens to Meteora

Listed as one of UNESCO Heritage Sites in Greece, Meteora is a rock formation in the central part of Greece. The area is famous for the many Eastern Orthodox monastery complexes, most well known are the Monastery of Great Meteoron (the largest at Meteora, erected in the mid 14th century) and Monastery of Varlaam, which is the second-largest at Meteora and houses a museum in its refectory (dining hall). The exact date of establishment of the cloister complexes is unknown, but some of them are believed to date back to the 11th century.

The easy-to-remember name refers to meteors, but the direct translation of the words is “lofty” or “elevated”, which corresponds with the hire-rise location of the cloisters. In the past, access to the monasteries was (purposefully) difficult and limited; both people and goods were conveyed to the monasteries using large woven nets, baskets or ropes. Women were not allowed to visit the cloisters at all, up until the year 1921 when Romanian Queen Marie visited Meteora and became the first woman ever to enter the Great Monastery. 

The unique geological formation of the site also deserves a mention! Instead of hard, volcanic stones, the area consists of much softer sandstone that gives the formation a unique look with soft signs of vertical stone layering.

Meteora is located only 4 kilometres from the town of Kalambaka, a popular spot for train trips from Athens. It is a tranquil village with loads of great dining options that you can try out after your exploration of the monasteries. To visit Meteora with public transportation, first, take the train to Kalambaka. The train journey will take around 5 hours, and the first train departs at 8.20 AM. Do not let the long travelling time disencourage you, Meteora day trip from Athens are easy to arrange, but if you do not want to spend time in public transport, simply book a convenient guided tour from Athens!

Day trip from Athens to Meteora

Monastery of the Holy Trinity on cliff. Greek destinations. The Meteora monasteries, Greece Kalambaka. UNESCO World Heritage site.

Day trip from Athens to Olympia

Olympia is the name of both a Greek city on the Peloponnese peninsula and an archaeological site that used to serve as a religious sanctuary and place for the ancient Olympic Games that were held every 4 years from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. 

Nowadays the site is a major tourist attraction; it has two museums devoted to both ancient and modern Olympic Games. There used to be around 70 different buildings in the area, and ruins of some of them can still be viewed today, although the main Temple of Zeus from the 5th century BC (beginning of the Olympian Golden Age) remains only as stones on the ground. Apart from the Zeus Temple, the ruins also include sites like the Olympian Gymnasium (an ancient training facility) and “bouleuterion” (ancient assembly house) with the “altar of oaths”, where Olympic competitors swore to obey the rules of fair play.

Olympia is located about 300 kilometres away from Athens, and the bus journey from Kifissos KTEL Station in Athens takes almost 5 hours. The travellers take the bus to Pyrgos (approx. 4 hours) and then change to a direct bus to Olympia (45 minutes). When booking a guided tour from Athens to Olympia, you will not save much travelling time (the drive will still take about 4 hours), but reserving transportation and a guide, makes the day trips from Athens to Olympia much more comfortable.

Day trip from Athens to Olympia

Olympia, Greece - Tourists visiting the ancient Olympia, Peloponnese, Greece. In antiquity the Olympic Games were hosted every four years in Olympia from 776 BC.

A trip from Athens to the Greek Islands

This excursion is often offered as a multi-day trip to give the visitors enough time to freely explore and flow with the tranquil atmosphere of the Greek Islands. The famous islands of the Aegean Sea include Syros, Mykonos and Santorini, and all three are a popular destination for Athens excursions.

The island of Syros is popular amongst visitors who yearn for some peace and relaxation. Less crowded than the neighbouring islands, Syros attracts with its calm atmosphere and beautiful sites like the Town Hall of Ermoupolis located in Miaouli square or the Vaporia Quarter with the church of Saint Nicolas, who is considered the patron saint of the island.

Mykonos is famous for its iconic windmills, the origin of which dates back to the 16th century. The mills are situated close to the Alefkandra quarter, the eastern side of which is known as “Little Venice” because of its very picturesque old houses. During your visit in Mykonos, make sure to take a walk in the Old Harbour and remember your camera to take a picture of the small church of Agios Nikolaos, crowned with a characteristic blue dome.

The blue domes are probably most commonly associated with the island of Santorini though! You will be able to catch a glimpse of many of the chalk-white buildings with azure blue rooftops when visiting Pyrgos, the highest village on Santorini. Another famous island village is Oia, well-known as the best place to watch the Santorini sunsets from. Oia is also famous for its local art galleries and an exquisite dining scene. The village is also home to a maritime museum and at its highest point, you will find ruins of a Byzantine castle. The island of Santorini is also famous for its wine tourism. The white grapes: Aidani, Athiri and Assyrtiko are native to the island, so try booking a wine tasting tour while visiting Santorini!

You can reach Santorini from Athens by plane. Prices for domestic low-fare flights start at around 41 EUR (approx. 45 USD) for a single one-way ticket, so if you are interested in day trips from Athens to Greek Islands, we recommend to take the plane. However, if you wish to explore several of the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea, we suggest booking a multi-day tour and travel between the islands by ferry for an authentic sailing experience.

A trip from Athens to the Greek Islands

Vaporia district of Ermoupoli town on Syros island.

Day trip to Acropolis in Athens

For the Athenian Acropolis trip, you don’t have to leave the city you will start at its very centre! Listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Acropolis in Athens is an ancient Greek citadel. It contains the remains of several temples, like the Old Temple of Athena the Virgin (Athena Parthenos) or the Sanctuary of Artemis and other structures of historical and cultural significance like the Odeon (a specific building used for singing, musical performances and ancient poetry contests) of Pericles and the theatre of Dionysus.

Most of the buildings, of which remains we can see at Acropolis today were either rebuilt or constructed during the so-called “Golden Age of Athens” in the 5th century BC. With changing times and rulers, the buildings at Acropolis came to serve different purposes, like Parthenon that was used as a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary during the Byzantine period.

Throughout times the buildings have suffered from war destruction and decayed majorly due to poor maintenance or misguided restoration attempts. In the 1970s a serious restoration project began, but after so many years the delicate structures are sensitive even to air pollution!

Since 2009 the visitors to Acropolis can also tour around a dedicated Acropolis museum; its construction raised controversies, as it was the first modern structure built so closely to the ancient site (the museum is set less than 300 meters from Parthenon). The museum was built to showcase artefacts found on the slopes of Acropolis and in the temples, and areas of the archaeological excavations have been included as parts of the museum. Ticket fares and opening hours vary with season, so we suggest checking the website for detailed information before your visit. The museum is also known for its restaurant! Every Friday the eatery is open until midnight, there are a special gourmet menu and live jazz music performance!

Day trip to Acropolis in Athens

Acropolis hill with Parthenon temple, Athens, Greece. Famous ancient Acropolis is a top landmark of Athens. Scenic view of Ancient Greek ruins in the Athens center. Remains of the antique Athens city.

Athens food tour

If we caught your attention with the gourmet dinner with views to Acropolis, how about dedicating more time to exploring the Athenian food scene? You are probably familiar with the Greek Kalamata olives, tzatziki and feta cheese but have you heard of Revithada (traditional dish made with chickpeas traditionally cooked in a special ceramic pot) or Lahanodolmades (mix of rice, ground pork and herbs, wrapped in softened cabbage leaves, served in a mildly sour white sauce)?

To get close to the local dining scene and learn more about traditional Greek foods, we recommend you book a guided tour with a local “foodie”. Your guide will be able to tell you more about the specific dishes (important if you have allergies!) and will curate the tour so you both get to see where the food comes from (a visit to the local markets), tell you more about the history and cultural meaning of the various dishes, and in the end they will lead you to local spice shops where you will get some time to shop for unique seasonings to recreate the tasty Greek dishes at home!

Note that during the tour you will also pass some of the Athenian tourist attractions like the Omonia Square and the church of Agioi Theodoroi, so you will not only learn about the local food scene but you will get closer to the historic and cultural heritage of the Greek capital as well! You can book a food tour separately or look for guided tours that combine food tasting tours with eg. a visit to Acropolis.

Athens food tours

Street food. Roasting and selling sweet corns and chestnuts at Ermou street Athens, Greece.

Athens Wine Tasting Tour

Greece’s history of winemaking is thousands of years old, so after one of your day trips from Athens, you may consider ending your day with a relaxed wine tasting. Book a session with a Greek sommelier, the wine tasting tours usually take place in beautiful surroundings, with a view over Acropolis and you get the opportunity to taste different wines from all over Greece.

If you book a wine tasting tour it will usually take 2 hours, and the wine will be paired with locally baked bread, cheeses and cured meats, and other Greek delicacies.

During a wine tasting tour, you will not only learn about the wines and their origin but will also hear legends and myths about Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, who is also believed to be the protector and patron of the theatre.

Athens Wine Tasting Tour

Dinner at rooftop with the view of Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Recommended Best day trips from Athens

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Best Day trips from Athens

Best Day trips from Athens

Best Day trips from Athens

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!