12 amazing day trips from Athens worth every cent

While there is a lot of history in Athens, hence the many archaeological sites and museums, depending on your interests the Greek Capital may not occupy your entire holiday. Or maybe you have a lot of time to spend when you visit the city of Athens. Either way, it would be nice to explore the surrounding treasures without venturing out too far from the hotel you’ve already paid. So here are 12 amazing day trips from Athens, to really get to know Greece! The list starts with the usual recommendations, but you’ll find the off-the-beaten path experiences towards the end!



Amazing day trips from Athens:

1. Catch the sunset at Sounion Cape
2. Go sailing in the Saronic Islands: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina
3. Or go sailing to the Saronic Islands of Agistri, Moni, and Aegina
4. Go to Argolis and see Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus
5. Discover Ancient Olympia and/or the Corinth Canal
6. Visit the cliff monasteries of Meteora
7. Go snorkeling near Marathon
8. Get pampered and relaxed at the Loutraki Thermal Spa
9. Visit Greek wineries and experience a wine Spa treatment
10. Go on a scenic train journey to a century-old wine-production site
11. Explore Kapsia Cave and the Mantinia wine region
12. Go hiking in the National Park of Mount Parnitha


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Temple of Poseidon, near sunset, at Sounion Cape, in Greece

1. Catch the sunset at Sounion Cape

This day trip from Athens takes you only 70 kilometers away from the Greek Capital, to the southernmost point of the Attica region. Here, you can visit the Temple of Poseidon, sunbathe or swim in the sea.

Standing at 60 meters above sea level, the Temple of Poseidon is surrounded by the sea on three of its sides. Raised between 444 and 440 BC, the temple was build around the same time as the famous Parthenon. Today, only a part of its columns still stand, but in the past it may have resembled a lot the Temple of Hephaestus on the Acropolis.

Other things to visit in the area are the Temple of Athena and the Sounion Fortress. Oh, and try searching for Lord Byron’s name inscribed on one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon during one of his visits.

At the end of the day, make sure you are by the temple, ready to watch the beautiful sunset from Sounion Cape.


Want to make this day trip from Athens more intense?

You can make this trip a bit longer and more intense by arriving at Sounion Cape for the sunset after visiting Vravron and Thorikos, too. At Vravros, you can visit an open-air archaeological site, while in Thorikos you can explore the Mycenaean ruins of the settlement established in the 5th century BC.

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beach with Greek taverna, boats, and people on the Saronic Island of Hydra, Greece

2. Go sailing in the Saronic Islands: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina

The great advantage is that you get to see three Greek islands in only one day trip. There are many cruises to choose from which can take you to Hydra, Poros, and Aegina, the gorgeous islands of the Saronic Gulf. These islands are full of history, but they also have a certain cosmopolitan vibe.


Hydra

Hydra is a very small island, and when you get there you feel as if you’ve stepped into a living museum. Its traditional buildings remain yet untainted by any modern interventions.

You can wander on paved streets and discover the important mansions which once served as fortresses to the locals. They were used as havens against the pirates, but also during the liberation struggles in 1821.


Poros

On Poros, you can climb on the hill with the historical clock tower on top. Built in the year 1927, the clock tower is actually the city’s most prided landmark. And, from the top of the hill you get a pretty awesome view of the harbor and the coastline. This will give you a chance to discover why Poros has been called the island of romance.


Aegina

Aegina is the larges of the Saronic Islands and it takes its name after a nymph who is said to have fallen in love with Zeus. Going from myth to history, in 1826 Aegina became the first capital of Modern Greece. The island is well-known for its culture, religious sites, antiquities and… pistachios!

When on Aegina, make sure you visit the Temple of Aphaia, referred to as the first Parthenon of Greece. Considered an inspiration for the iconic building on the Acropolis of Athens, the Temple of Aphaia is thought to be one of the wonders of ancient architecture. Together with the Temple of Poseidon on Sounion Cape and the Acropolis it forms the “sacred triangle” of the antiquity.

You can also visit the Monastery of St. Nektarios, one of the most famous Greek monasteries.

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marina with boats, houses, and church on the Saronic Island of Aegina, Greece; mountain in the background

3. Go sailing in the Saronic Islands: Agistri, Moni, and Aegina

An alternative to the one-day cruise in the Saronic Gulf from above is to travel to Aegina and two other islands: Agistri and Moni. This option is more relaxed than the one above. Since you have the Aegina information above, I’ll focus on Agistri and Moni next.


Agistri

A small island only 10 minutes away by boat from Aegina, Agistri only has three settlements: Megalochori, Skala, and Limenaria. With a total population around 1,500 inhabitants, it’s a great place to relax away from the crowded city of Athens. The best place to do it is the long golden beach between Megalochori and Skala.


Moni

On Moni you can go swimming and even do some snorkeling. While the waters are of an enchanting blue, the beaches are mostly rocky, which may seem as a minus for some. For those I mention that there is also a small sandy beach available!

And for hikers and World War II enthusiasts, I recommend going up to the highest point. It’s an easy hike, and besides a great view at the end, you’ll also find two stone sheds built and used by the Germans during the second World War.

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Epidaurus theater with people visiting it

4. Go on a day trip from Athens to Argolis: Mycenae, Nafplio, and Epidaurus

Argolis is an area in northeastern Peloponnese, rich in archaeological sites. On your way to Mycaenae, Epidaurus, and Nafplio, you will also come by the Corinth Canal. This narrow canal connects the Aegean Sea to the Ionian Sea. It is worth a short stop to watch the boats passing through.


Mycaenae

Mycenae is located around 120 kilometers away from Athens. Mentioned in Homer’s epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, it is the place where you can visit the ruins of one of the most important settlements of the Mycenaean civilization. Make sure you don’t skip on the Lion’s Gate, the Cyclopean walls, and the royal tombs!


Nafplio

Nafplio is a picturesque seaport town in the Argulic Gulf. Once the capital of the First Hellenic Republic and of the Kingdom of Greece, Nafplio is now only capital to the region of Argolis. Here, you should visit the Palamidi Fortress and Acronauplia, the oldest region of the town.


Epidaurus

In Epidaurus you must visit the 4th-century BC theater. It s one of the most important monuments of ancient Greece, and very well-known for its incredible acoustics. The theater is still used to this day for various performances, including ancient dramas, operas, modern dance performances, and symphonies.

Epidaurus is also the home of the Asclepion. Asclepion was the son of Apollo, and he had very strong healing powers. The Epidaurus Asclepion was a healing center used in the Greek and the Roman world. Starting with the 6th century BC, people would come to the Asclepion to go to sleep on one of the many prepared beds. It was said that the god himself would whisper in their dreams what actions to take in order to heal themselves.

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Ancient Olympia archeological site with trees in bloom behind; blossoms colored in pink

5. Discover Ancient Olympia and/or the Corinth Canal

Once you get to the Corinth Canal, you can follow the route above or do something entirely different on your day trip from Athens. You can spend more time in the area of the Corinth Canal and go on an off-road safari on the Kineta route.

This will give you the chance to visit the Osios Patapios Monastery, from where you’ll get a stunning view of the Gulf of Corinth. Afterwards, you can explore the archaeological site Heraion of Perachora, passing through many picturesque traditional Greek villages on your way. You can finish the day with a walk to Vouliagmani lagoon, followed by a well-deserved swim.

You can, of course, spend less time in the Corinth Canal area, and head towards Ancient Olympia. This is where the ancient Olympic Games were born in Classical Greece. Besides the archaeological site, you can also visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and the Museum of Olympic Games.

Make sure you don’t skip the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Hera, the Pelopion, the Phillipeion, and the Phidias workshop. And the stadium, of course!

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cliff monastery in Meteora Kalambaka, Greece

6. Visit the cliff monasteries of Meteora

Included in the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Meteora is a rock formation located in the center of Greece. At the top of its tall cliffs, several complexes of Orthodox monasteries were built, similar to those on Mount Athos.

Queen Mary of Romania (you may remember her from the article about Balchik, in Bulgaria) was the first woman to be allowed inside the Great Meteor monastery. This is also the most important monastery complex at Meteora Kalambaka.

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girl in blue bathing suit going snorkeling under water

7. Go snorkeling on a day trip from Athens to Marathon

You can also opt for a day trip to learn about the battle of Marathon and to visit the Marathon Tomb. And in case you were wondering, marathons got their name from a legend about a soldier who ran from Marathon to Athens… and died. But that shouldn’t discourage anyone from running a marathon!

While you’re here, you should also head to Lake Marathon to see its pure marble damn. Another option is to head to the bays of Marathon Cape. The latter make a great destination for those who love to go snorkeling or cliff-diving. With the help of a boat, one can also explore the fantastic waters by the isolated island of Dipsa.

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bright sun setting over the sea and mountains across from Loutraki, Greece

8. Feel relaxed on a day trip from Athens at Loutraki Thermal Spa

About 85 kilometers away from Athens, there is the ancient town of Thermae, now known as Loutraki. You can start your day trip from Athens with a soothing spa treatment, followed by some sightseeing, as Loutraki is a wonderful seaside town.

Not far, are the archaeological site Heraion of Perachora and the Vouliagmeni lagoon. If you haven’t visited them during a day trip from Athens to Ancient Olympia, you should really go this time! And, as you can see above, catching the sunset is also a good idea.

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sunset on the beach seen through a glass of white wine during a day trip from Athens to Evia Island in Greece

9. Visit Greek wineries and enjoy a wine spa treatment

Speaking of spa treatments, maybe thermal baths aren’t your thing. Not sure you’ve tried it yet, but maybe a wine spa treatment is for you! It is supposed to help with skin renewal and make you feel more energetic

You can try this on a visit to Evia, an island bridged to the Greek mainland. The wines in the region have earned medals in both national and international competitions. While you can enjoy wines which you can find mostly anywhere in the world, I suggest you try the local varieties: Malagousia and the rare red Mavrokoundoura of Evia. Pair them with some local savory treats, too.

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green vineyard on a hill

10. Go on a scenic train journey to a century-old wine production site

The day starts in the historic city of Kalavryta, about an hour and a half away from Athens. An interesting visit here is the Museum of the Kalavritan Holocaust.

Like the day trip to Meteora, you’ll find here a route which is really interesting to do by train. Starting in Kalavryta, a small train will take you through the stunning Vouraikos Canyon.

This day trip from Athens is also great for wine lovers, as it gives you the opportunity to visit the monastery of Mega Spileon. This magnificent eight-story monastery complex is a century-old wine production site.

You can walk through the vineyards, admiring the canyon, and, of course, taste the wonderful wine!

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white ripe grapes and vine leaves

11. Explore Kapsia Cave and the Mantinia wine region

Kapsia is one of Greece’s most impressive caves, a true wonder of nature. Besides visiting Kapsia Cave, this day trip from Athens is a great opportunity to discover Mantinia, one of the famous wine regions in the Peloponnese.

Here, you can wander through the vineyards and visit some wineries.
If you prefer white wine to red, you should definitely taste the Mantinia wines, produced from the aromatic varieties Asproudes and Moschofilero. The latter is a type which is very acidic and can also produce sparkling wines.

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red baby fox outside burrow in a grassed hill

12. Go hiking in the National Park of Mount Parnitha

If you’re into hiking, you probably already went up Lycabettus Hill and Philopappos Hill, in Athens, and want to get a taste of something outside the city. My suggestion is an easy hike of about three hours, on which you can even take the kids if you have any.

The route takes you from the Bafi Refuge to the Mola plateau and back. On your way, you will pass the Koromilia and Mesiano Nero springs, and several points from where you can snap some gorgeous photos.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot a fox or a red deer!

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So this is the end of my list of 12 day trips from Athens.

Which one fits you best? And which one would you recommend to a friend?



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snorkeling near athens, greece boat by Skyros or Evia, an island near Athens, Greece

20 thoughts on “12 amazing day trips from Athens worth every cent

  1. Arunima Dey says:

    That’s a very comprehensive list of some amazing day trips. Did not know I could go snorkelling from Athens for a day trip! I like how you have given a range of options so there is something for everyone to pick as per their likings.

  2. Irina says:

    Athens is definitely on my to-do list, sooner rather than later, so I will definitely keep in mind your blog when planning. The photo of the Corinth Canal looks amazing, I love the juxtaposition of the colors.

  3. Mei and Kerstin says:

    Ah your post is making us dream ! We lived in Athens for 6 months back in 2010 and had had many day trips (plus some longer trips to further Greek islands). But unfortunately we didn’t have day to go to Meteora (I was finishing up my thesis, so university career went first…), and now we truly regret it. Ever since then, we’ve been wanting to visit Meteora, but still haven’t made it! Hopefully soon!

  4. Anjali Chawla says:

    Athens itself has so much to see and do. And then there are so many options for day trips from Athens. It’s overwhelming. I know now where to look while planning the Greece itinerary 🙂 I’d love to visit the Cliff Monasteries of Meteora.

  5. Yukti Agrawal says:

    I loved Greece and there is so much to do in and around Athens. I went for 2 days trip to Delphi and Meteora from Athens so could not able to do other day trips. But next time, I will be able to go for Agistri island cruising as it looks interesting.

  6. The little lai: Beyond limits says:

    Truly, Athens is actually everybody’s dream place to visit. I would love to witness the stunning sunset at the Sounion cape. since I always find sunset, beautiful and never get tired of gazing at it. I hope I can traipse my feet here soon.

  7. Darah says:

    So many great day trips from Athens! I’m especially keen on the sailing trips or snorkeling in Marathon. I had no idea they had a damn made of pure marble!

  8. Marvi says:

    These are really amazing day trips recommendations! Good to know you can do most of the itemised places in a day. It seems like I’ll need about two weeks to see everything! 😀 I look forward to doing the cruises and visiting the Ancient Olympia too 🙂

  9. Heather says:

    These are all fabulous suggestions. I’ve been to Greece and stayed in Athens. We left Athens and drove north all over Greece eventually ending up in Philippi. I haven’t done all the things on your list, but we did see Nafplio, Olympia and the Corinth Canal and Meteora. I wish we had had time to do Hydra and Poros (we did Santorini and Zakynthos instead). What would be the longest and shortest of the day trips do you think?

  10. Candy says:

    I get motion sickness quite easily, so I’d have to avoid the sailing adventures, but good thing there are so many other things to do. I would love to visit the incredible cliff monasteries and possibly go hiking on Mount Parnitha.

  11. Karie says:

    Didn’t know there were so many amazing day trips from Athens. Personally I would love to watch the sunset from Sounion cape and would be exciting to find the pillar with Lord Byrons name. Also those Sailing trips and visit to the wineries looks exciting. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Yara says:

    I wish I had this list when I visited Greece a few years ago! The internet is flooded with island hopping ideas but very limited when it comes to historical day trips. I loved ancient olympia and would have really enjoyed a visit. Thanks for sharing this great list!

  13. Lance says:

    Since we live in the States, it often is difficult to wrap our minds around buildings, temples, etc that are so old. We simply don’t have a lot of historically significant and ancient buildings. So, our family would love to visit Greece and we would enjoy most of these day trips. I could see us exploring the ancient ruins, or taking a hike in the national park, hoping to catch a glimpse at the wildlife.

  14. Jane Frith says:

    These trips all look very well worth doing. For me though, the one I would love to take is the Cliff Monasteries of Meteora. I have read about these before and been intrigued. Next up would be the wine tours. I love visiting wineries and tasting the local wines. Some great suggestions here.

  15. Punita Malhotra says:

    Its been many years since we visited Greece and its time for us to rediscover this magical country. You mention that Meteora is a day-trip from Athens? I was assuming it needs more than just a day.

  16. Alison says:

    Can I please sign up for all of them?! I haven’t been to Greece yet so absolutely ALL of them are appealing to me although I would have to say that the one that speaks to me the most is The Cliff Monasteries of Meteora. So stunning. Top of the list. And Greece keeps inching its way to the top of my travel list!

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