When people say they’re going on a trip to Athens it conjures up a couple of days spent touring the city’s historic sites, museums, and many marvelous neighborhoods. But few people realize that so much more of Greece is easily accessible thanks to day trips whether partaking in an organized tour or making your own way there via public transport.
In this blog post, I guide you through the best Athens day trips which include Meteora, Delphi, Ancient Olympia along with many other hidden gems whilst also guiding you on which Greek islands can be visited in a day.
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The best day trips to take from Athens
1. Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
On the most Southern point of Attica, Cape Sounion awaits, a beautiful place with views out to the islands of Kea, Kythnos, Serifos, and Aegina. Well-loved for its sandy beaches, sunset views over the Aegean Sea, and its archaeological site, this is where you’ll find the Temple of Poseidon (the ancient Greek god of the sea) which was built in the year 444 BC making it one of Greece’s ‘golden age’ temples.
How To Get To Sounio:
- Tour – Full day tours which include a guided tour of the Temple of Poseidon, and half-day sunset tours are both available.
Check here my favorite Sounio sunset tour from Athens
- Public Transport – KTEL Attica buses depart from the Pedion Areos bus stop (aka Mavromateon Terminal) located on the West side of Pedion Areos Park (just past the National Archeological Museum) from 5 am alternatively, you can hail the bus from Fileninon Street which is located close to Syntagma Square.
The sanctuary of the legendary oracle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important archaeological sites in the whole of Greece and is one of the best day trips from Athens. See the Temple of Apollo dating back to the 4th century BC, the amphitheatre, the ancient stadium and treasury of Athenians and the archaeological museum as you explore the heart of the classical Greek world.
How To Get to Delphi:
- Tour – There are many organized day trips going to Delphi. I recommend this 10 Hour Guided Day Trip to Delphi.
- Public Transport – KTEL buses depart Liosion bus station (bus terminal B) several times a day with the first bus leaving Athens at 7.30am. Journey times take approximately 3 hours each way.
As the biggest and most iconic monastic centre in Greece, the hanging monasteries of Meteora are certainly a bucket list item for many travellers. See these huge rock pillars with ancient yet still working monasteries and nunneries built on the summits with your own eyes as you take in the incredible panoramic views.
With 6 to visit today, the Monastery of Great Meteoron is iconic with its red roof but due to its altitude, it is not the easiest to reach, however, the 16th-century Monastery of Rousanou is located lower down the rock pillars so more easily accessed for non-hikers.
How To Get to Meteora
- Tour – There are 2 types of day tour available, the first is a private day trip by road (driver only), the second is a rail tour (you will need to navigate the railway stations on your own) with a guided tour of the monasteries by bus upon arrival at the nearest town.
- Public Transport – There are 2 options for public transport, the train or bus. Taking the train is not only faster but also much easier with several daily services departing Athens Railway Station for Kalambaka Train Station which is located 1-2km from the Meteora monasteries. The train journey takes 3.5-4 hours with the first train departing at 7.11 am. From Kalambaka, it’s recommended that you hire a driver or hire a moped for the day so that you can reach each monastery as trekking between the monasteries really requires longer.
For more information, you can check my detailed post on how to make a day trip to Meteora from Athens.
4. Ancient Olympia
The archaeological site of Ancient Olympia is the place where the original Olympic Games took place in the 8th century BC. As you walk around this picturesque place within the Peloponnese you’ll see the stadium, Temple of Zeus, the tomb of Pelops, and the remains of the athletic training areas with artefacts from the sites on display in the archaeological museum.
How To Get to Ancient Olympia:
- Tour – A day trip to Ancient Olympia from Athens by road will often include a stop to see the Corinth Canal too. Check this 12-hour private tour to Ancient Olympia here.
- Public Transport – KTEL buses depart Athens Kifisou Bus Station (Terminal A) to Olympia via the town of Pyrgos. The journey time is approximately 5.5 hours, the first leg of the journey taking 4-5 hours and the second leg just 30minutes. The first bus to depart Athens for Pyrgos leaves at 9.30am with 1 bus every 2 hours between Pyrgos and Olympia, these usually timed to coincide with arrival of the Athens bus.
5. Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio
Journey into the Peloponnese to see 3 of the country’s most historic towns. Mycenae, a fortified city that dates back to the 2nd century was the most important city of the Mycenaean civilization between 1600 and 1100 BC and also the city of mythical Agamemnon, the hero of the Trojan War. Here you can wander the hilltop ruins of the archaeological site, seeing the artifacts in the museum.
Meanwhile, nearby Epidaurus is where Apollo’s son was born. An important place of ancient healing, visitors can walk the archaeological site of Asklipieion, admiring the baths, hospital, sanctuary, and amphitheater before visiting the museum.
Last but not least, Nafplio is an extremely picturesque seaside town that became the first capital of modern Greece after the war of independence. Explore the charming backstreets with their Venetian, Frankish, and Ottoman architecture, climb up to Palamidi Castle, then head out to sea to see Bourtzi Fortress before exploring the archaeological museum, war museum, folklore museum, or art museum.
How To Get to Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio
- Tour – A variety of day trips are available with coach travel and professional guide, some going to 2 places, others all 3. My recommendation is this full-day trip from Athens that includes Mycenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio.
- Public Transport – For Mycenae and Nafplio, KTEL a bus departs Kifisou Bus Station (Terminal A) every hour from 7.30 am with a journey time of 2 hours to Mycenae and 3 hours to Nafplio. There is no direct bus from Mycenae to Epidaurus, instead, travelers must go via Nafplio and make the 3x a day connection to Epidaurus which takes 30minutes.
6. Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth is not as far away as other Athens day tours meaning you can visit the site of this ancient city including the breathtaking Corinth Canal in half a day. Ancient Corinth is the place where St Paul lived and preached and, along with learning about Greek mythology, you’ll be able to see the remains of the Acrocorinth, the 6th century Apollo Temple, visit the archaeological museum, and take in the stunning views along with seeing the iconic Corinth Canal which is 4 miles long and connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean.
How To Get to Ancient Corinth:
- Tour – Half day (5 hour) guided tours from Athens are available to Ancient Corinth and the Corinth Canal. My personal favorite is this 6 hour Ancient Corinth Guided tour from Athens.
- Public Transport – You can reach the modern city of Corinth (located 5km from Ancient Corinth) by bus or train from Athens. Buses depart Kifisou Bus Station (Terminal A) approximately every 30 minutes from 5.30 am, the journey from Athens to Corinth taking 90 minutes. A direct train also runs from Athens Airport to Corinth with trains also leaving Athens Central Train Station via SKA station. There are regular bus services from the city of Corinth to Ancient Corinth.
7. Parnitha National Park
This stunningly beautiful national park is located just outside the city on a densely forested mountain range offering a selection of hiking routes with a cable car up to the summit. You can also visit Filis Fortress which is located within the national park and climb up to see inside Panos Cave and for non-nature fans, there’s even a casino!
How To Get to Parnitha National Park:
- Tour – This Hiking Trip in Parnitha National Park is a 6-hour tour from Athens which includes bus transfer, a 3 hour guided tour at the National Park walking the 6km route, and a traditional lunch at a taverna.
- Public Transport – Most of the popular hiking trails in Mount Parnitha National Park start from the town of Thrakomakedones with a popular route on the south face of the mountain starting from the village of Fyli, both places can be reached from Athens using public transport. For Thrakomakedones, the easiest way is to take the metro (green line) to Nea Ionia and then the number 724 bus to the town. For Fyli village, take the B12 bus which departs from the Liosion Bus Station (Terminal B) to Ano Liosia and then the 723 bus to Fyli.
8. Sailing Cruise Along the Coast
Many companies operate sailing tours on modern yachts from Kalamaki Marina, also known as Alimos Marina. Whether you choose a morning half-day tour along the idyllic azure-colored coast or an evening tour so that you can catch the sunset, you’ll have plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and more simply, soaking up the incredible views as you travel along the coast and back again.
How To Get To Kalamaki Marina (EDEM stop):
- Tram – Catch the tram from Syntagma Square that is heading towards Voula, journey time to Kalamaki Marina is about 45minutes with trams running every 30minutes from 5.30am-midnight.
- Bus – The X96 bus goes directly to Kalamaki Marina EDEM stop from Athens Airport every 20-30 minutes with a journey time of 90 minutes.
9. Hydra, Aegina, and/or Poros
These Saronic islands the closest to Athens, each one idyllic and offering a slice of quintessential Greek island life with picture-postcard-perfect views, fishing boats bobbing in the harbour, and whitewashed backstreets to explore. Hydra is a colourful cosmopolitan port with striking architecture and crystal-clear beaches. Aegina, once a maritime power, is famous for its pistachio nuts and ancient Aphea Temple. Meanwhile, picturesque Poros is full of Neoclassical architecture and instead of olive groves, has lemon groves!
How To Get to the 3 Islands:
- Tour – This is one of my favorite day trips from Athens I have done it more than 3 times with friends visiting from abroad. The Hydra, Poros, and Aegina Day Cruise is an 11-hour tour allowing you to see the highlights of 3 of the Saronic islands in 1 day. With collection from your hotel, you’ll make your way to the port of Piraeus to board your boat, being entertained onboard with live Greek music and traditional dancing en route to the islands where you’ll have time to explore each of the 3 picturesque port towns.
- Public Transport – There are multiple ferries each day departing for the islands, however, not all of the islands are linked to each other by public ferry routes ie you cannot travel between Aegina and Poros directly, and not all islands have timetables suitable for a day trip. Therefore, if only allowing yourself 1 day to island-hop, it’s better to take the organized tour. Alternatively, you can take a day trip to 1 island at a time.
Getting From Athens to Piraeus
Take the metro from Athens to Piraeus port (there are direct lines from the metro stations Monastiraki and Omonia), trains running regularly with a journey time of just 15 minutes from Monastiraki. Alternatively, catch the X80 bus which runs daily from Syntagma Square from 7am with a journey time of approximately 30 minutes.
Piraeus > Aegina – Ferries depart several times a day with a 45-75 minute journey time depending on the company used.
Pireas > Poros – Ferries depart depart many times per day and have a journey time of 1 hour.
Pireas > Hydra – Ferries depart many times per day and have a 1.35 hour journey time.
Another Saronic island, Agistri is a tiny island, known for its natural beauty with turquoise water and stunning coves along with a scattering of picturesque whitewashed churches. It’s so small that it takes just 10 minutes to drive from North to South making it an ideal island day trip from Athens!
How To Get to Agistri:
- Tour – This Athens Guided Day Trip to Aegina and Agistri allows you to see the highlights of these 2 Saronic islands in 1 day and includes a cooking class so you’ll be able to whip up some traditional Greek dishes once you go home.
Public Transport – There is no public ferry route between the two islands but you can reach Agistri independently from Pireaus. Ferries depart daily with a journey time of between 1-2 hours depending on the ferry company.
This iconic Greek island needs no introduction and by taking the plane you can see Santorini on a day trip from Athens. Of course, we would recommend you spend longer on this beautiful island but if a day trip is all the time you have, go for it!
How to Get to Santorini:
Flights depart Athens International Airport for Santorini almost hourly starting at 6.10am with a journey time of 45-55minutes. Since you’ll be catching an internal flight you only need to be at the airport 1 hour before your flight departs. The last flight from Santorini back to Athens departs at 23.55. Once on the island, you can join one of the many sightseeing tours or explore the island on your own making use of the excellent public bus service.
- Tour – From sightseeing tours around Fira and Oia to a catamaran cruise, sightseeing bus tour, or wine tasting tour, there are many day trips to choose from allowing you to explore the beauty of Santorini.
- Public Transport – Buses depart Santorini Airport to Fira, the main transport hub, daily from 7.20am. From Fira bus station you can reach other parts of the island such as the iconic town of Oia and Akrotiri where you’ll find Red Beach and the Ancient Akrotiri archaeological site. Services run regularly to the top tourist resorts and attractions in the Summer months.
Check out my post on how to do a day trip from Athens to Santorini.
Again, the cosmopolitan party island of Greece hardly needs an introduction however, it’s not all about beach parties! Mykonos Town is a magical place to explore with its whitewashed windmills, and winding back streets and hip boutiques leading to the iconic ‘Little Venice’ waterfront.
How to Get to Mykonos:
- Tour – A Mykonos Day Trip by Ferry Boat leaves each day from Athens with the option to explore with a tour guide or on your own upon arrival.
- Public Transport – There are 2 options for visiting Mykonos on your own, the fast ferry or plane. Between April-October the fast ferry (Seajets) departs Pireus daily at 7 am with the journey taking just 2.5 hours. Meanwhile, flights depart Athens airport multiple times per day with a flight time of between 35-50 minutes. The earliest flight leaves Athens at 5.10 am with the latest flight from Mykonos back to Athens at 11.59 pm, flights running regularly throughout the day.
For more information you can check my post a Mykonos day trip from Athens.
Who realized that there were so many places within easy reach of the capital?! With so many Athens day trips available maybe you’ll consider staying longer in this city so that you can explore the ancient cities of classical Greece as well as the islands closest to Athens.
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