Athens is not only the national capital of Greece but also the cultural and spiritual one.
The stage for the many myths and legends that have emerged from Ancient Greece, it’s a hub of tourist activity, as well as world-class Greek cuisine.
The countryside surrounding Athens is no less spectacular, with temples and monasteries peppering the Mediterranean landscape and some unimaginably beautiful beaches and stretches of coast lining emerald and turquoise waters.
On day trips from the capital, you’ll be teleported back in time to the age of Gods and Goddesses and heroes that immortalised Greek mythology in the history books with a sense of adventure rarely found in other European countries.
Let’s have a look at the best day trips from Athens:
One of the most popular trips to take from Athens is the excursion to Delphi, and it’s easy to see why.
Considered by many as the crux of Ancient Greek history, Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage marvel and is bursting at the seams with archaeological sites, each more captivating than the last.
The most famous of these is The Oracle of Delphi, which can be perfectly complemented by a trip to the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
Here, you’ll come across intriguing artefacts like the Sphinx of Naxos and learn about the area and its undeniable cultural significance.
For something a little different, swing by the town of Arachova on your way back to the capital – some say it’s like crossing a threshold into the Swiss Alps, so be prepared for a surprise.
Legend tells of the ancient Mycenaean civilization that was written about by Homer and other distinguished Greek authors, where archaeological objects date back to 7000 BC. If you’re prepared to undertake the 120 km journey from Athens to get there, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.
The “City of Agamemnon” is a hotbed of near-prehistoric sites and artefacts including the remains of palaces and fortress walls and most notably, the Tomb of Agamemnon.
Located in a hilly area of the Peloponnese, the grassy expanses of the Mediterranean countryside are also a marvel to behold.
If you have time, try not to miss the nearby sanctuary of Asklepios in Epidaurus.
Venture out to where the land meets the sea and where another ancient site lies, the city of Corinth.
The narrow stretch of land that connects mainland Greece to the Peloponnese offers unbeatable views of Corinth Canal impossible to find elsewhere.
Combine a tour of the fascinating ruins with a day by the sea, where after a morning of exploring you can take a refreshing dip in the Saronic Gulf.
4. Cape Sounio
What better place to have built the majestic Temple of Poseidon than in Cape Sounio, overlooking the Saronic Gulf? Take in the breathtaking views of the Athens Riviera and relish some incredible photo opportunities along the way before even arriving at your destination.
Once you reach the ancient worship site, you’ll have the chance to explore the monument dedicated to one of the most revered figures in Greek mythology as well as enjoy sweeping views of the Aegean Sea and the Saronic Gulf.
Make sure you set aside a couple of extra hours to relax afterwards as there’s a nearby beach where you can soak in the emerald waters of the Aegean.
5. Attic Riviera (Coast of Apollo)
If you’re after something a little different than temples and archaeological ruins then you can head to the Coast of Apollo, a pristinely beautiful stretch of coastline between Athens and Cape Sounion that has many attractions to offer other than the usual ancient sites.
Heading down the coast, you’ll find a vast array of golf courses, beautiful beaches and marinas filled with luxury yachts and sailing clubs.
Venture out to the sun-kissed expanses of the Riviera and indulge in some of the finer things in life.
For the record, if do happen to be seeking more archaeological adventures, the Coast of Apollo is also full of them.
A truly fantastical dreamscape, the mountains and boulders of Meteora offer some truly unbelievable and beautiful sights.
The captivating region is famed for its Byzantine-era monasteries that sit precariously atop rocky outcrops overlooking the hills of Thessaly.
Find out everything there is to know about why these monuments were built on the sandstone peaks and why their inhabitants chose to live their monastic lives there.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 14th Century is a must-see, only if you’re into history, but also as an architectural and cultural marvel.
7. Hydra Island
A perfectly picturesque escape from the capital comes in the form of exploring a beautifully rustic island a mere 2 hours away from Piraeus Port in Athens.
Hydra Island is popular among everyone from artists to travellers and food lovers and is well-known for allowing no cars or motorcycles of any kind.
As a result, it makes for an irresistibly pleasant day out exploring the cosmopolitan streets of rustic buildings built into the many hillsides.
Hydra Island has everything on offer from abandoned churches and secluded beaches, so get ready for a blissful day of wandering around finding your ideal activity.
8. The Monastery of Dafní
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Monastery of Dafní is an easy 10km away from the center of Athens and was originally a pagan shrine that was then converted into a Christian monastery and then to the present monastery in 1080.
The building is a must-see for its exquisitely ornate furnishings on the interior, which include 11th Century mosaics that grant it the reputation of being one of the most magnificent Byzantine churches in Greece.
9. Kaisariani Monastery
This 11th Century church is one of the most serene and tranquil places you can visit from Athens, not simply because of it’s beautiful courtyard with glittering spring water flowing from a rams head – but because of it’s truly stunning and peaceful surroundings.
The area known as Forest Park is littered with cypress trees, shrubs and Mediterranean flowers, making it an ideal place for reflection and clarity.
The park even has a botanical garden containing flora native to Greece, so once you’ve visited the monastery you can spend some time strolling amongst the many colours of Greece’s nature.
10. Lake Marathon
Nearby to the village of Marathon, famed for a number of historic occasions including the site of great battles between Greeks and Persians hundreds of years before Christ, lies the beautiful and peaceful Lake Marathon.
Formed by a dam used to create a reservoir, the lake cannot be swam or sailed in but the surrounding shores could not be more perfect as a place to enjoy an outdoor picnic or walk in.
The pine forests around the lake stretch for miles, so there’s no shortage of mini hikes you can take should the mood strike.
11. Mount Parnis
For a more endurance worthy hike, Mount Parnis offers an idyllic escape into the mountainscapes surrounding Athens that can be reached by road.
Soak in the pristine pine forest scenery as you ascend up many sharp turns and bends to reach the summit, or alternatively park at the mountain hut and begin the ascent by foot.
The beautiful hike will take you past the Chapel of Ayía Triáda where you can stop and explore before continuing the climb to the scenic peak.
For an insight into some clandestine history, there’s no better day trip than the infamous Eleusinian Mysteries, a series of secret religious sites that contain ancient sanctuaries dating back to 1400 BC. The mysteries themselves revolve around various rituals that were performed in honour of Greek deities and involved processions, ritual baths, fasting and to this day unknown incantations.
A must-see ruin is the Sanctuary of Demeter, one of the main protagonists in the story behind the inspiration of the buildings.
13. Attica Countryside
Otherwise simply known as the area surrounding the city of Athens, the Attica countryside is an expanse of land bursting with treasures both contemporary and ancient.
For archaeological wonders, head to the Temple of Artemis, renowned for its role in the life of religious Athenian women.
Each of these sites almost always caters to a specific religious group of people and this temple is particularly fascinating in its portrayal of their life and devotion to the Goddess of childbirth.
One for the wine lovers, Nemea is Athens’ very own wine country, boasting traditional methods that hark back to ancient times and give the wine a distinctive flavour.
As you might expect from wine country, the landscape is magnificent and beautifully Mediterranean.
On your visit, head over to a stadium where the Nemean Games were held centuries ago and have recently been re-established.
Visits to various wineries are also a must, though the one closest to the stadium is a tourist favourite and highly reputable.
15. The Temple of Apollo
One of the furthest trips you can take from Athens at a lengthy 300 km, lies an archaeological site.
The Temple of Apollo sits in an impossibly picturesque location on the shores of Lake Trichonis, some kilometres away from the town of Thermos.
The temple represents the devotion of the followers of the Sun God Apollo and is a testament to the architectural prowess of the builders at the time.