If you’re looking for the best day trips from Athens so you can pick a few for your trip, this guide is for you! I cover seventeen places you can go, which ones can easily be combined as day tours from Athens, and which ones are my personal favorites! In the end, there are more resources to help you plan your trip to Athens.
Where to Stay in Athens
If this is your first trip to Athens, figuring out where to stay in the city can be a bit intimidating. Because of the location of the Acropolis, it really matters which neighborhood you choose to stay in, especially if you’re looking for Acropolis views, easy access to the metro, and a good value for your money.
For our hotel recommendations, Generally, budget means hostel beds for around $30 a night and singles/doubles for around $50, mid-range is from about $50-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night. However, note that availability, time of year, and how much in advance you book will play a role in how much accommodations cost in Athens.
Budget: If you want a hostel dorm bed in the heart of Psyri, check out the Acropolis Hostel. This basic-yet-clean hostel boasts what very few in the world can: Acropolis views from its communal terrace. You’ll enjoy having access to an elevator (no lugging you bag all the way up to your room), and you can enjoy the lively neighborhood atmosphere and come home when you want since the hostel has no curfew.
Mid-Range: For my most recent trip to Athens, we stayed in a couple of different places, but my favorite was the Ares Athens Hotel off of Omonia Square. I loved it’s location, close to Omonia station, across the street from a Coffee Island (my personal version of Heaven), and with views of Mount Lycabettus. The rooms are clean and comfortable, and each room has a private terrace.
Luxury: If you are a traveler who loves having stunning hotel views, book a stay at A for Athens, a boutique hotel in Psyri that has what is considered by many to be the best rooftop bar in the city. You can also enjoy Acropolis views from the panoramic terrace during breakfast, You can even get amazing Acropolis and Parthenon views from some of the rooms. This hotel is basically Instagram crack.
Don’t see a hotel that’s the right pick for you? Check out our complete Athens Neighborhood and Hotel Guide.
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Top 5 Athens Day Trips
I cover the entire list below with tour recommendations, etc. But here are my top five picks including many of the most popular day trips from Athens:
- Poros, Hydra, & Aegina
- Mycenae & Epidaurus
- Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
Day Trips from Athens: the Complete List
I’m obsessed with Athens, and I think people come here and leave too quickly. They use it as a base, but don’t dig deep into what makes the city so special. If you only have one or two days in the city, stay and explore! That being said, if you’ll be spending four days or more in Athens (or even a month like I did on my first trip) then you should take advantage of the amazing Athens day trips that are available!
Tourism in Athens is very developed, so you can combine many of these locations into single day trips. However, if you want to DIY your day trips from Athens, then many of these would need to be done on their own because public transit will eat up so much of your time.
Another option is to rent a car and drive to some of these on your own. If you do that, just make sure you know where you’ll be parking in Athens (or return your car at the end of the day). Both driving and parking in Athens are nuts!
I listed this as my favorite day trip from Athens for a few reasons. First, the scenery from the top of the hill, looking over the temple and the mountains took my breath away. Another reason is that the ancient Greeks thought that Delphi was the center of the world, so if you love ancient Greek history (like me) then there are tons to geek out on.
Major sites you’ll want to see while you’re in Delphi include the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, and the Temple of Athena Proinaia. You also want to set aside time to walk up the hill to the stadium.
You can technically visit Delphi from Athens via public transportation, but I found it overwhelming. Even after spending a month in Athens, I thought it would be likely that I would miss the connecting bus, so I went on a guided Delphi Day Trip from Athens. This tour combined a stop in the mountain village of Arachova on Mount Parnassus.
What I loved about the guided tour was the ease of not worrying about missing the connecting bus and having a tour guide who could explain everything we were seeing in detail. Greek tour guides tend to have an insane amount of knowledge because they have to undergo intense training.
What I wished was different about the bus tour was I wish we would have had more time at the site because I ended up missing the museum to spend more time at the stadium. However, I’m not sure this would have been better with public transportation because the bus times when I was going were pretty inconvenient.
If you only have one day to take a day trip from Athens, Delphi is a great option.
Meteora is not an easy day trip from Athens, but once you’re here you see why the long journey was worth it. To get here, you take a five-hour train ride from Athens each way, leaving you just a few hours to explore the monasteries. However, if you go on a guided tour like I did, like the Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train, then you’ll get picked up at the train station and taken straight to the monasteries.
There are six monasteries here that you can visit. However, they are very far from the train station, so you’ll be thankful for the bus that picks you up to take you to the ones that are open that day (they have different days when they are closed, but there are always a few open).
My favorites parts of visiting Meteora besides the monasteries was seeing the Game of Thrones and James Bond scenery and driving through the stunning landscape.
We also think that if you’re looking for a great winter day trip from Athens, Meteora is an excellent choice because the monasteries look amazing covered in snow. You can see photos of what Metora in winter is like in 25 Snowy Photos of Meteora in Winter.
The Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion is a beautiful ancient Greek temple set beside the sea. It’s also famous because Lord Byron carved his name into the temple when he visited in the nineteenth century. Though we don’t encourage you to follow suit, it is so cool to see the physical embodiment of the connection between modern literary history and ancient Greek history. Basically, Lord Byron was a temple fanboy, and we dig it.
I visited Cape Sounion as a day trip from Athens on a guided Temple of Poseidon and Cape Sounion Tour. The nice thing is this tour doesn’t take a full day since it is much closer than some of the other sites on this list. Another bonus is that the bus stops at a great photography spot before the actual Temple before continuing on to the site.
If you want to visit on your own, you can also take a public bus or go on the Athens Hop-on-Hop-off Bus & Cape Sounion Sunset Combo Tour. I wasn’t at Cape Sounion at night, but the pictures look spectacular.
If you love the Illiad and the Odyssey, or if you just love ancient Greek archaeology, then you should come and visit Mycenae. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Tirins. According to UNESCO:
The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture. These two cities are indissolubly linked to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which have influenced European art and literature for more than three millennia…
The citadel of Mycenae, with its strategic position for the control of the Argolid Plain, is the kingdom of the mythical Agamemnon and the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Its name was given to one of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory, the Mycenaean civilization, while the myths related to its history, its rulers and their family members (such as Klytaimnestra, Ifigeneia, Elektra, Orestes) have inspired poets, writers and artists over many centuries, from the ancient to the contemporary times. Significant stages in monumental architecture are still visible in the property, such as the massive defensive walls, the corbelled tholos tombs and the Lions Gate.
I visited Mycenae on a guided tour like this Mycenae and Epidaurus: Full-Day Tour from Athens, which also stopped at Nafplio and Corinth (below). However, if you go on your own then you can visit it with Tiryns so you can see both archeology sites. It’s really up to you which other sites you want to see on your trip.
Ancient Epidaurus is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece, which includes a beautiful ancient Greek theater and a small museum. According to UNESCO:
In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, developed out of a much earlier cult of Apollo (Maleatas), during the 6th century BC at the latest, as the official cult of the city state of Epidaurus. Its principal monuments, particularly the temple of Asklepios, the Tholos and the Theatre – considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – date from the 4th century. The vast site, with its temples and hospital buildings devoted to its healing gods, provides valuable insight into the healing cults of Greek and Roman times.
I saw Epidaurus on a Mycenae and Epidaurus: Full-Day Tour from Athens, which also stopped at Nafplio and Corinth (below). However, you can also visit on your own. If you go via public transportation you won’t be able to see quite as many sites in a single day. You might be able to do all the sites in one day if you rent a car. A car rental may or may not save you money over the price of the tour.
Hydra is an island in the Saronic Gulf, which you can visit with a water taxi from Piraeus, the port of Athens. Once you’re here, you can go to the beautiful Orthodox church, eat lunch at one of the tavernas on the harbor, go to the beach, and see the beautiful white-washed Greek architecture. Hydra Town is the island’s main city, but it has more of a village feel that you will love.
There are three islands near Athens that you can visit as day trips. I visited all three on a Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. I’m listing them in order of how much I liked each island, so if you only want to see one I would pick Hydra.
If you only want to visit one island and you love ancient Greek temples, then you need to pick Aegina. Along with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon and Cape Sounion, Aegina’s Temple of Aphaia forms a triangle that was important in the religion of the ancient Greeks. The temple also has way fewer visitors than the other two, so I got to visit practically alone.
Beyond the temple, there’s an important Greek Orthodox Cathedral that you don’t want to miss. If you have more time, get out and explore. The island is beautiful, with a great harbor to walk around and some off-the-beaten-path beaches for sunbathing and swimming.
I visited Aegina on a Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. If you don’t want to go on a guided tour, you can take the water taxis directly to Aegina and back from Athens. The main difference is you really can only visit one island on your own, so you do have to pick just one.
One of the smallest islands you can visit from Athens, Poros is actually two separate islands with a single name. While here, climb up to the landmark white clocktower, walk along the harbor, and visit Faros lighthouse.
Poros is a great slice of island life but still reachable from Athens, and its a favorite escape for many locals. I visited Poros Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra. If you want to go on your own, use the water taxis. You will need to choose just one island to visit in this case. There are pros and cons to both forms of travel. I chose the cruise so I could see all three islands, but if you go on your own you can spend more time exploring a single island.
Aigialeia Wine Tour
If you love wine tourism and you want to get out and explore the Peloponnese, then you should spend a day exploring the region on an Aigialeia Private Wine Tour. This tour includes a train ride through Vouraikos Canyon, the monastery of Mega Spileon, walking through a local vineyard, wine tasting, and lunch.
You can DIY this tour if you want to rent a car and explore the region on your own. Just be careful and avoid the tasting part of the wine tasting so you can safely drive back to Athens at the end of the day. The legal limit for alcohol when you’re driving is much less than most travelers will be used to. Consuming even one drink will put you over the legal limit.
Nafplio is a beautiful seaside town in Argolis, with a hillside citadel and a castle in the middle of the water. If you want to spend time on the coast, this is a great city to come to for the day.
You can visit as a day trip from Athens on your own by bus. I went on a guided tour that also visited Mycenae and Epidaurus, with a short stop in Corinth. I loved my time in Nafplio, but I definitely would like to go back for longer. If you want to visit on a guided tour but want more time in the city, I would go on this Full Day Trip to Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus which spends more time in the city (plus you still get to see Epidaurus)!
The city of Corinth is famous for its mention in the Bible (think first Corinthians, second Corinthians, etc). It’s ethereal looking Canal is another reason you may have heard of the city before.
Many visitors who come to Corinth are interested in seeing the town where St. Paul lived and preached for two years. Other important sites here include the ancient Temple of Apollo.
I only got to spend a few minutes in the city, seeing the canal, as part of my Mycenae and Epidaurus tour. However, if you’re interested in exploring Corinth more deeply, I suggest going on the Ancient Corinth Half Day Tour from Athens instead.
Visiting Mount Olympus in a single day from Athens would be very ambitious. There are no organized tours that I can find, and the driving time from Athens to Olympus is five and a half hours. I personally would never visit this as a day trip (which is why I haven’t visited Mount Olympus yet).
So why am I listing it? Because Athens is the kind of place people visit after dreaming about it for years. I know people who have rented cars and visited Olympus as a day trip. They did this because they were short on time, and it was the thing they wanted to see the most during their trip.
So, if you absolutely want to see Mount Olympus and you only have a single day, you can. Just rent a car and prepare to drive eleven to twelve hours that day. But if this is the thing you’ve been dreaming about the most, then do it!
It’s a much easier day trip from Thessaloniki, so if you’re trying to decide between Athens or Thessaloniki and this site is important to you, then I would go to Thessaloniki.
While a trip out to the Athenian Riviera is still technically “within Athens,” it’s a very different side of the city. Since you’ll also need to pack a beach bag, it’s not easy to combine a day here with other city activities. You can come out to the beach to explore the different harbors and go for a swim, or you can come out at night and explore the vibrant club scene.
I wouldn’t bother with any of the guided tours out here, but you might want to book a ticket on the Athens, Piraeus & Riviera & Beaches Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour so you can easily get from place to place quickly.
If you want to explore the Greek islands, but you want to avoid cruise ships and water taxis, why not go sailing! You can sail from Athens to Agistri. This Sailing Cruise to Aegina, Moni & Agistri includes swimming and relaxing on the beaches of Agistri before visiting the islands of Aegina and Moni. I can’t think of a better way to escape the bustle of Athens on a hot day than on a sailboat and swimming in the Greek isles!
The sailing cruise mentioned above, Sailing Cruise to Aegina, Moni & Agistri, includes a stop in Moni as its second port of call. In Moni, you eat a traditional Greek lunch before swimming in the clear blue waters off the island. It’s a small slice of paradise in the middle of your sailing cruise.
Another option for a wine tour is to visit the wineries in Nemea near Corinth. As I mentioned earlier, you can visit a few wineries in a rental car, but if you want to go on a wine tasting you need to visit on a guided tour. The legal drinking limit in Greece is much lower than in the UK or the USA. One drink and you’ll be over.
This Nemea Winery Private Tour includes pick-up at your hotel and takes you to Nemea, where you’ll go on wine tastings, explore the vineyards, and learn about the Greek winemaking tradition.
Blue Hole Dive
If you’re more interested in seeing what’s under the water than what’s above ground, you can go Scuba Diving at the Blue Hole at Vouliagmeni Lake. The Blue Hole looks like a man-made well near the lake. Here you can scuba dive the beautiful reefs and rock walls, with good visibility and warm water. Includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.
Should You DIY Your Athens Day Trip or Go on a Guided Tour?
I have gone on more guided bus tours from Athens than any other city I’ve ever visited. To put it into perspective, a few years ago I spent a month in Cyprus and Athens back-to-back. In Cyprus, I went on eight different day trips that I did on my own using the intercity buses and renting a car.
In Athens, this just wasn’t as easy. Everything I wanted to see was complicated on my own. Instead, I went on seven different day trips from Athens but I went only on guided bus tours.
This is due to a few unique factors about traveling in Athens:
- Some of the best day trips are far from Athens
- Public Transportation can eat up an enormous amount of time
- There are so many places to see that it’s easier to combine sites on a guided tour than on public transportation
- Car rentals in Greece can sometimes be as expensive as the guided tour
Of course, there are drawbacks to guided tours as well, like not having as much time as you want in a site. In this case, it might be worth it to travel and spend a night near where you want to go instead of trying to get there and back in a day.
For example, I would only suggest a guided tour for visiting Meteora as a day trip from Athens. If you want to DIY a trip to Meteora, you should spend a night in Kalabaka.
If you are only interested in day trips that you can visit without a tour, I would pick visiting one of the islands, going to the Athenian Riviera, or visiting the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
Athens Day Tour Recommendations
Here are all the Athens day tour recommendations from this post in an easy-to-reference list.
- Delphi Day Trip from Athens
- Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train
- Temple of Poseidon and Cape Sounion Tour
- Athens Hop-on-Hop-off Bus & Cape Sounion Sunset Combo Tour
- Mycenae and Epidaurus: Full-Day Tour from Athens
- Full-Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra
- Aigialeia Private Wine Tour
- Full Day Trip to Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus
- Ancient Corinth Half Day Tour from Athens
- Athens, Piraeus & Riviera & Beaches Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- Sailing Cruise to Aegina, Moni & Agistri
- Nemea Winery Private Tour
- Scuba Diving at the Blue Hole
Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Athens is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!
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