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Day Trips from Athens
- Where the Locals Go -

Day Trips from Athens - Where the Locals Go

20 August 2020

Athens is a gem on its own but what is even greater about Athens is its proximity to other beautiful destinations. Escaping the city for a day is a favorite hobby of local Athenians and there are many destinations for all interests and seasons. In a short distance, you can have the opportunity to know more about the Greek land and culture. From 30-minute to 3-hour driving distance, you will find lush mountains, beautiful lakes, famous landmarks, mythical kingdoms, traditional villages and sublime views unfolding before you! Here are 14 of the best day trips from Athens:

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Aerial view of Hydra island, day trip from Athens - Credit: Dronepicr [CC BY 2.0]

1. Corinth and Nemea day trip from Athens

Just an hour away from Athens, you will find the Isthmus of Corinth which separates mainland Greece from the Peloponnese. The artificial canal cuts through the land and creates a narrow passage for ships to travel from the Aegean to the Ionian Sea faster. It is indeed an admiring spectacle. Nearby you will find the remains of the Ancient Corinth, the seat of the ancient Isthmian Games, one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, alongside the Olympics.

The Isthmus of Corinth, day trip from Athens

Continuing your trip, you will reach Ancient Nemea after about half an hour. With a rich history, important archaeological sites and wonderful vineyards, Nemea is one of the best destinations nearby Athens. In a tranquil Mediterranean area, Nemea remains another terra incognita for most travelers in the Peloponnese. One of the most revered myths of ancient Greece is Heracles' first labor to kill the Nemean lion. The skin of this beast was impenetrable and Hercules was forced to wrestle with it and eventually drown it. Using the lion's own nails, he managed to remove the lion’s fur and wore it as an overcoat. Discover the myths while walking the sacred grounds. Visit the ancient stadium where the Nemean Games were taking place, the museum and the colossal Temple of Zeus. After your sightseeing, head to one or more vineyards of the area that produce some of the best wines in Greece! There are many estates where you can enjoy a wine tasting experience, tour the premises and learn all about wine and the vinification techniques.

The Temple of Zeus in Nemea, day trip from Athens

2. Arachova day trip

Just 2.5 hours from Athens, Arachova is the most favorite winter destination for local Athenians. The old traditional village near the Parnassos Ski Center may be busy during winter, however, it is a wonderful destination all year around. The main street of Arachova, from the famous Clock to the junction with Delphi and the ski resort, is packed with life: shops, traditional stores, taverns and cafes! You can take several walks there and go deeper into the village by following the cobbled alleys which will lead you to little traditional houses and taverns. The cobbled streets of Arachova are stone-built picturesque alleys that form the "heart" of the village. As you explore them, you will be enchanted by the smell of smoke from the chimneys and all the delicacies from local bakeries! Arachova is very picturesque with a rich tradition in the art of weaving and a folklore museum that exhibits the evolution of the art. It offers many things to do in and around and it is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for nearby destinations from Athens.

3. Delphi day tour from Athens

According to Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles, one from the East and the other from the West, to find where the center of the world is; the eagles met in Delphi which was considered the ‘Omphalos of the World’ (the center of the world). In antiquity, the most famous oracle of the Greek world functioned here and its contribution to the political and societal life of the ancient civilization is literally incalculable. Your visit to Delphi should begin with your tour of the archaeological site and museum, to get a glimpse into the history of the site and draw some of its energy. Continue a little further down to the modern settlement, admire the breathtaking views of the gorge and valley below. Take a stroll down the main street, packed with traditional taverns and restaurants, guesthouses, thoughtful cafés and folk souvenir shops. Climb the picturesque narrow streets and cobbled stairs to the upper side of Apollonos Street - which starts from the characteristic plane tree at the entrance of the city. At the top, you will find the patron saint Ag. Andreas and the house of Angelos Sikelianos, a great Greek poet and father of the Delphic Idea, housing now the Museum of Delphic Festivities.

Hint! Arachova and Delphi can be combined in a one-day trip from Athens!

4. Lake Doxa and Τrikala Corinthias excursion

One of the best day trips from Athens to take is little known even to the locals! About 2.5 hours away from Athens, you can start your exploration by visiting the artificial lake of Doxa. The area offers spectacular views and beauty, and it is ideal for walking, cycling, horse riding and picnic! If you visit in Autumn, you will be rewarded with a colorful pallet from the falling leaves of the trees. Visit the old Saint George Monastery which offers a panoramic view of the lake and taste the homemade spoon sweets that the monks are making. Less than an hour further and driving through the mountains, you will reach Trikala Corinthias. This is a complex of three different villages, the Upper Trikala, the Middle Trikala and the Lower Trikala. Since you probably won’t have enough time to explore all of them, set a route towards our favorite, Ano (Upper) Trikala. Located on the slopes of Mount Kyllini, the village is ideal for walking the cobblestone alleys, having lunch in one of the traditional taverns and enjoying a warm coffee in a cozy café with panoramic mountain views.

Lake Doxa, day trip from Athens

5. Nafplion day trip

In a short distance from Athens, shortly after entering the Peloponnese, you will find the beautiful city of Nafplion. Nafplio is a picturesque, romantic city that can captivate you with its history. You can climb up to the Fortress of Palamidi with its 999 steps (we dare you to count the steps - don’t worry, you can also get to the top by car) and gaze the magnificent panoramic view of the city and Argolikos gulf. Walk around the Castle, in Akronafplia neighborhood, taking the well-known promenade of Arvanitia, continue your stroll along the seaside and take a boat to the sea fortress of Bourtzi. Bustling with traditional products in the alleys of the Old Town, you will be charmed by the picturesque New Town of Nafplion, starting from Syntagma Square.

Fun fact! Nafplion was the first Capital of Greece!

Panoramic view of Nafplion, day trip from Athens

6. Mycenae and Ancient Epidaurus day tour

An excellent suggestion to get acquainted with the heritage and beauty of the Greek culture is the excursion to Argolida area in the Peloponnese (once again). Amidst the orange groves, next to the coast and beautiful settlements, the day trip to Argolida promises an unparalleled one-day tour of natural beauty and historical treasures! You can stop to the Isthmus of Corinth as you enter the Peloponnese and admire the canal which connects the Aegean with the Ionian Sea. Then, set route for the "Multicolored Mycenae”, as Homer described the kingdom of Agamemnon. There, you will admire the vaulted tombs of the famous kings of the Trojan War, the Lion's Gate, the royal palace and other archaeological findings connected to one of the most important civilizations that flourished in Greece.

The Lion Gate of Mycenae, day trip from Athens

Continuing your trip, you will reach Epidaurus! With thousands of people from all over the world visiting it every year, Ancient Epidaurus hosts major archaeological monuments of world cultural heritage. According to Greek Mythology and Hesiod, Asclepius, the God of Medicine, was born there and built the Asclepius Hospital, one of the most famous hospitals in the ancient Greek world. The sanatorium was the reason for the rapid development of the city, which led to the building of the world-famous Ancient Theater of Epidaurus (4th century BC). The structure itself is the finest specimen of ancient theater in Greece and one of the most breathtaking in the world, in terms of symmetry and flawless acoustics.

Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, day trip from Athens

7. Aegina island cruise

Aegina is an island just a breath away from the Greek capital. Take the ferry from Piraeus port in the morning and in about 1.5 hours you will be in a Greek island! The round trip ticket costs about 18€ per person. Start your exploration by strolling through the picturesque harbor, between well-kept neoclassical buildings, traditional boats selling fresh fruits, roam the alleys, drink coffee by the sea opposite the marina and enjoy Greek ouzo with meze next to the waves! If it is summer, you can also swim without even living the town, with the Kolona beach being the best option, beneath the homonymous archaeological site - an ancient temple of god Apollo. If it is too hot to walk the distance, dive into Avra, the small sandy beach with very shallow waters, just a 2-3 minute walk from the port.

Hint! Visit the magnificent ancient Temple of Aphaia which stands in a beautiful spot above the pine forests in the hills of Aegina, with fabulous views across the Saronic Gulf.

A tavern in Aegina island, day trip from Athens

8. Kalavryta day trip from Athens

Located on the mountainous part of Achaea and just a couple of hours away from Athens, Kalavryta is a beloved destination for Athenian, especially during the winter. Besides the Ski center, Kalavryta can satisfy many interests. If you are a nature lover you can head to the waters of Styx, a river god that according to Greek Mythology springs from the center of the Underworld! You can also hike in the gorge of Vouraikos river or explore the Kastria Cave. Kalavryta is famous for its “Odontotos”, a special train that can travel through the canyon to Diakofto village. The ride lasts about an hour and it is a must! Enjoy your lunch in the village of Kalavryta, stroll around the dozens of shops on its main street and visit the Monastery of Agia Lavra, a few kilometers outside the village. Your day trip from Athens will be worth it for the whole family!

9. Vytina, Dimitsana and Stemnitsa road trip

About 2 hours away from Athens you will come across the magical lands of Arcadia. On the highlands of the proud Mainalo mountain, you will find many Greek villages still keeping their traditional character and authentic way of life. Stone villages, lush mountains, gorges with stone bridges, rich waters, incredible hiking routes, beautiful monasteries and a rich history… there are so many things that can make you fall in love with this place. Of course, staying in front of the warmth of the fireplace admiring the unique view is also an option.

Hiking in Mainalo, day trip from Athens

The village of Vytina is the first stop. You will understand its beauty even before you enter the village. At the entrance, you will find yourself in front of a unique spectacle of nature. You will cross a road covered with fragrant maple trees and plane trees enjoying the musical performance of the birds, which constantly tweet. The locals call him "the road of love", not only for its beauty. Long ago, the young people of the village made their way along this road, anticipating their future husbands and exchanging amorous looks and messages, always in line with the strict morals of the time. Entering the village the surprises continue. Beautiful scenic cobbled streets, stone-built mansions, houses with gardens and peacefulness!

Next stop is Dimitsana! Another beautiful village where you can get lost in the narrow cobblestones with the old mansions, the churches and the nice atmosphere. You can also have the opportunity to visit the Open-Air Water Power Museum which highlights the importance of water-power in traditional society. Relax at a cozy café in the square of the village and start a conversation with the owner or the locals to discover the important role of the old village during the Ottoman years and the Greek Revolution. If you have spare time, book a local guide and enjoy a scenic hiking route!

Dimitsana, day trip from Athens

The last stop can be Stemnitsa village with the long tradition in silversmithing and the countless small churches. Visit the Folklore Museum to learn more about the way of life and the art of the locals. Walk its cobblestoned alleys and rich the village’s square with the bell tower. Sit at the traditional café and enjoy homemade wine and meze! This is definitely one of the best day trips from Athens, which can enrich you with authentic experiences and knowledge about the Greek way of life at its core.

View of Stemnitsa, day trip from Athens

10. Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon

About 70 km from Athens, Cape Sounion is always a good idea for a day trip. It is renowned for its Tempe of Poseidon, the god of the Seas, and the spectacular view of the sunset over the Aegean Sea! The seaside route to the Cape is one of the most beautiful routes in Attica, always with the sea on your right hand while admiring the so-called Athenian Riviera. During your way to Sounion, you will discover many neighborhoods of Athens, resorts and countless beaches where the Athenians like to escape for swimming in the summer. The incomparable beauty and the exquisite location of the temple, at the southeastern tip of Cape Sounio, impress anyone who visits it for the first time.

Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, day trip from Athens

The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion proves abundantly that the ancient Athenians knew very well where to build their temples. The panoramic view from the southeastern tip of the Cape to the Saronic Gulf will impress you. This stunning specimen of the classical period was erased between 444 and 440 BC. and was considered a sacred place, especially for sailors. Listen to stories about the god of the Seas and the first King of Attica who drowned at its waters waiting for his son to return from his quest. A day trip to Cape Sounion can be combined with swimming if it is summer or a stroll to Lavrio, a city with a rich history and industrial identity on the southeastern tip of the Attica coastline. With its harbor, the Aegean at its feet, the backdrop of Makronisos and the ridges of nearby Tzia island, the beautiful square and its palm-lined streets, you can spend a wonderful morning or afternoon or a morning in Lavrio. Attractions include several neoclassical buildings, such as the first mining company offices in the port that currently houses the Town Hall, as well as restored historic industrial buildings that currently host cultural activities, such as the Lavrion Technological Cultural Park housed in the former Galairion Metropolitan Company's premises.

Tip! Take a break at the Clock at the port for coffee or cocktails overlooking the sailboats.

Sunset from the Temple of Poseidon, day trip from Athens

11. Hyrda, Poros and Spetses day cruise

A beloved one-day excursion for the Athenians is the escape to the Argo-Saronic islands Hydra, Spetses, Poros! These islands are just off the mainland and you can arrive there fast by ferry. You can combine more islands or you can spend the whole day in one. Whichever you choose, you will enjoy a whole day of walks, swimming (if it is summertime) and delicious seafood. Wonderful islands with unique character, spectacular sights, beaches and waters that can compete with those of the more famous Cycladic islands. Take the ferry to Spetses where no cars are allowed and bike your way around the island! Have lunch at a seaside tavern and enjoy the sweets in Dapia. Hydra, the “Lady of the Saronic Gulf”, offers beauty and elegance. Start your exploration from the port with the two cannons, continue to the clock, the Maritime Museum and the Port Authority. Wander around the narrow streets of the island town and see the beautiful mansions and the picturesque squares. Enjoy your meal at the harbor and the sunset at Akroneta!

Check also: One Day in Hydra Best Things to Do (Insider Guide)

Spetses, day trip from Athens

12. Evia excursion from Athens

Evia is the second-largest island of Greece and in a short driving distance from Athens. Chalkida, the capital of Evia, is located less than an hour from Athens and it is the gate to the island. You will cross the bridge over the “Crazy Waters” of Evripos, a tidal phenomenon that occurs in the river. The Old Bridge is a famous romantic spot from where you can watch the water changing direction every 6 hours. On the other side, there is the fortress of Kanithos on the mainland and the lush Castle Karababa on the other side. In the center of Chalkida, you will find the large pedestrian street, lively, full of shops, cafés and ouzeris with tasteful seafood from the gulf and the gentle breeze from the sea.

Chalkida, day trip from Athens

A breath away from the northern Lichada of Euvoia and across from Kamena Vourla, the area holds its precious secret… the endless blue islands called Lihadonissia which are compared by many to the Caribbean islands! The cluster of islands is a creation of volcanic eruptions. The largest island in the complex is called Manolia. It is overgrown with turquoise waters and a well-organized beach bar. Continue your exploration with a spectacular visit to the wreck, west of the island. You can see it without using diving equipment, in a series of dunes, as it is only six meters deep. One of the most pleasant surprises in the area is the presence of a family of seals, who have for some years now chosen Lihadonisia as their home!

Lichadonisia in Evia, day trip from Athens

13. Pelion road trip

Almost 3 hours away from Athens, you will find Pelion which offers the ultimate combination of mountain and sea, making it an ideal destination for all seasons. The home of the proud Centaurs in Greek Mythology, Pelion offers vast forests, complexes of small mountain villages with traditional products and impressive beaches! Make a stop at Portaria village, explore the village and hike to the Centaur's Path which starts just outside the village. Make a quick stop to shop traditional products from the Women’s Agricultural Association and then, head to Makrinitsa village with the amazing panoramic views to enjoy a traditional meal. Admire the magnificent mansions with their unique architecture, surrender to the calm sound of the running water and the greenery, and of course, drink a lot of ouzo or tsipouro!

Tip! Because of the long drive, it would be better to stay overnight in a village of Pelion or in Volos city and continue your exploration of Pelion the next day, before you get back to Athens or your next destination.

View from Makrinitsa, Pelion day trip from Athens

14. Hiking trip to Parnitha

Just an hour away from the center of Athens, in the beautiful and unknown, for many, Parnitha Mountain you can escape to a green paradise, with many activities and things to do. If you are up for hiking, this will become your favorite place in Athens! Parnitha offers mountain shelters as a place of rest and relaxation in a warm environment, where you can enjoy coffee, drinks and even food at the wooden tables in the courtyard or next to the huge fireplace. An organized shelter suitable for visitors of all ages, providing not only traditional warm hospitality but also helping them to experience the unparalleled beauty of the place to relax in the fresh air with beautiful views and discover the unique fir forest of Attica within the National Park of Parnitha! Leaving the mountain top you can stop at the so-called “haunted” sanatorium and gaze at the view at the uncanny Park of Souls, or take a visit at the Casino of the area and try your luck.

A day trip from Athens can be full of adventure, peacefulness, exploration and so many other things! There are so many options for all interests and we can help you organize your ideal day trip; contact us for more details. If you are staying in Athens for at least a day and you wish to make the most of your time, we can create a day tour tailored to you. If you are looking for more travel ideas, check also our Top 10 Alternative Destinations in Greece.

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