Athens is the capital city of Greece and is one of the most interesting destinations to visit in the world. The cultural and economic center of the country, Athens serves as the primary gateway to Greece and is home to some of the world-renowned cultural attractions and sites, making it a hub for tourist activity. From the ancient Parthenon to the Acropolis, there are plenty of things to do to keep you occupied during your visit to the city.
Travelers visiting Athens are rewarded with interesting landmarks, picturesque scenery, top-notch museums, and incredible Greek cuisine, among others. However, visitors who are staying for a longer period may want to go beyond the city center and its iconic landmarks and discover wonderful places beyond the city limits.
Luckily, there are a number of popular destinations away from the Greek capital that can be visited in one day. Below is a list of the best day trips from Athens including a mix of ancient villages and hiking trails to seaside locations and idyllic islands.
Pro tip: Temporarily leave your luggage or other unneeded items at a bag storage locker in the city so that you don’t have to carry your big bag during your day tours. And remember, if your planned day serves you inclement weather, take the opportunity to see the best museums in Athens to learn more about ancient Greece, Greek mythology, or religious sites and ancient sanctuaries.
How to Get Out of Athens
Public transportation in Greece is decent and most of the day trip destinations below can be reached by public bus. The Athens Train Station also connects travelers with Northern cities. and the port of Piraeus. However, the most ideal and convenient option to get to these places is to rent a car. By doing so, you have more flexibility with how you want to spend your time; you get to move at your own pace and see more destinations as you go. If you are traveling in a group, the rental car option might even come out cheaper as you divide the costs between yourselves. There are numerous companies in Athens that provide car rentals at reasonable rates.
If you do not know how to drive or are not comfortable with driving, don’t fret. Greece has an extensive network of public buses, known as KTEL, that will take you to almost anywhere in the country. All you have to do is visit the KTEL bus station and book a ticket to your chosen destination. Alternatively, you can reserve bus tickets online through the official KTEL website. If you need a more in-depth understanding of the city’s public transport system, check out this guide on how to get around Athens.
Another option when planning a day trip from Athens is to book a guided tour with one of the many reputable tour companies in the city. The advantages of booking a day tour are that it is extremely convenient; simply pay a tour fee and the company will arrange everything that you need, including transportation, entrance tickets, and other inclusions indicated in the tour package. Your guide will tell you all the facts you need to know to give you a deeper understanding of the place. The downside, however, is that it can be quite expensive, especially if you want to visit more than one destination.
From Athens to Delphi
Situated on the slope of Mount Parnassus is the incredible archaeological site of Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Greece’s most significant religious centers. Located about 110 miles outside of the city center, it is among the most popular day trip destinations from Athens because of the accessibility and abundance of ancient attractions.
A key attraction located within the ancient site is the Delphi Archaeological Museum, which houses one of the world’s most valuable collections of Greek artifacts such as the Sphinx of Naxos and the Charioteer of Delphi. It is also home to the Sanctuary of Apollo, which, according to ancient Greek history, is the site where the famous oracle Pythia shared some prophecies and advice. Other points of interest include the Altar of the Chians, the Sybil Rock and the Ancient Theatre.
How to get to Delphi: The drive to Delphi from Athens will take about two to two and a half hours via private car. For those traveling via public transportation, ride the KTEL intercity bus to Delphi’s Liosion station. The travel time takes about three hours per way.
From Athens to Meteora
Photographers, hikers, and rock climbers flock from Athens and several parts of the country to visit Meteora, a stunning rock formation located in the town of Kalampaka in central Greece. Meteora is home to multiple Byzantine monasteries and the biggest complex of its kind in the world. Out of the original 24 that were built here, there are only six that remain open and in good condition.
Meteora is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most renowned ancient sites in the region. The monasteries are uniquely located on top of rock monoliths that stand up to as high as 300 meters above sea level, offering visitors excellent and unique views. The most popular one is the Great Meteoron Monastery, which functions as a museum, church, and sacristy.
How to get to Meteora: Meteora is located about 225 miles from Athens and driving a private car can take at least three to four hours. Another option is to take the early train from the Athens station to Kalampala train station; the train journey will take about five hours.
From Athens to Mycenae
Located about 120 kilometers outside of the Athens city center is Mycenea, which is the real-life site of Greek mythology’s famous city of Agamemnon and one of the best day trips from Athens. The center of the ancient Mycenaean civilization, which is referenced often by Homer and other prominent Greek writers, the Mycenae archaeological ruins date back to 7000 B.C. and are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the noteworthy attractions found within the ancient ruins include the famous Lion’s Gate, the Ancient Mycenae Museum, and the Tomb of Agamemnon.
How to get to Mycenae: Take a KTEL intercity bus headed to Nafplio and get off at Fichti, which is the town closest to the site. The travel time via public bus takes around one hour and 45 minutes while the drive will take about one to one and a half hours.
From Athens to Nafplio
Athens may be the current capital city of Greece but this was not always the case; there was a time when the pleasant seaside town of Nafplio served as the country’s capital. Found on the Argolic Gulf, Nafplio is full of culture and history; the town has been around the Prehistoric Era up until the Trojan War and was conquered by the Romans, Ottoman Turks, and Byzantine Empire, to name a few. Today, these influences are still evident in the various monuments and landmarks in the region, such as medieval castles, Turkish mosques, and more. Points of interest in Nafplio include the Bourtzi fortress, Palamidhi Castle, and Syntagma Square.
How to get to Nafplio: Napflio is about 86 miles outside of Athens and can be reached via private car or public bus. For the latter option, take the KTEL intercity bus from Kifissos station to Napflio; the journey takes around two hours.
From Athens to Corinth
A must-visit for history lovers, Ancient Corinth is another historic site in the region and one of the most popular day trips from Athens. Situated about 85 kilometers outside of Athens, this stretch of land serves as the link between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese and offers some unbeatable views of the land and the sea.
Although it is now a bustling port village with modern amenities, Corinth still has remnants of the ancient city that it was once; see ruins such as the Acrocorinth fortress, the healing sanctuary of Asclepius, the temple of Octavia, and more. During your trip to the site, do not forget to stop by the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, where you can find an extensive collection of antiquities such as sculptures, mosaics, and pottery.
How to get to Corinth: To get to Ancient Corinth via public transportation, take the KTEL intercity bus (which departs every hour) from the Kifissos station in Athens until the Korinthos bus station in the main city of Corinth. The bus journey takes about an hour per way while the drive can about 45 minutes to an hour. Once in Corinth city, take another bus or a taxi up to the ancient Corinth archaeological site.
From Athens to Cape Sounion
Undoubtedly one of the most renowned popular day trips from Athens, Cape Sounion is located on the southern tip of Attica, which is approximately forty five miles outside of the city. Overlooking the beautiful Saronic Gulf, Cape Sounion is an ancient worship site and home to the famous Temple of Poseidon. This iconic temple, which is made out of striking white marble, is a renowned pilgrimage site for philosophers and writers.
According to ancient legend, Cape Sounion is the spot where King Aegeus jumped to his death, which is why the Aegean Sea was named after him as an homage. While the site is beautiful any time of the day, it is highly recommended to visit Cape Sounion in the afternoon as it offers spectacular views of the Athens Riviera and the loveliest sunset in Athens. There’s also a nearby beach in case you want to go for a swim before heading back to the city.
How to get to Cape Sounion: Ride a KTEL intercity bus from the Pedion Areos station in Athens to Cape Sounion; the bus journey takes about an hour and a half.
From Athens to Mt Parnitha National Park
If you are looking to get away from all the ancient sites and archaeological ruins and want something new to do, the Mt. Parnitha National Park is one of the best day trips from Athens that you can do. Situated around 25 kilometers outside of the city, the public park boasts a range of peaks where you can find several hiking trails.
The highest point is the Karavola, which is over 1400 meters above sea level. There are also a variety of other activities that can be done at the Mt. Parnitha National Park, such as walking and mountain biking.
How to get to Mt Parnitha National Park: Go to the Athens metro station and take the green line to the Nea Ionia. After reaching the station, ride a bus to 724 with the Thrakomakedones route and alight at the Parnitha Funitel. The journey time from the city to the park takes about one hour per way.
From Athens to Aegina
One of the best Greek islands to visit from Athens is the small but wonderful Aegina. Located in the beautiful Saronic Gulf, the island has everything you could possibly need – standard ancient ruins, pristine beaches, and traditional restaurants (known locally as ouzeries) serving fresh seafood and Greek cuisine. No doubt, the restaurants here will feature some of the tasty items we have listed in our guide What to Eat in Athens.
While you are in Aegina, do not forget to try the famous Aegina pistachios and stop by to visit the quaint fishing village of Perdika. Other points of interest that are worth checking out include the Agios Nektarios church and the Temple of Aphaia.
How to get to Aegina: Ride the metro leading to the Piraeus harbor, which takes about 25 minutes. Once at the harbor, take the hydrofoil (40-minute trip) or the ferry (1 hour 15 minutes long) to Aegina’s Agia Marina Port.
See Ancient Greece on a day trip
Athens is truly a remarkable tourist destination and offers plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and activity not just within the city in museums, ruins sites, and rooftop bars but also in the surrounding areas. As the gateway to Greece, it also allows travelers to access nearby destinations and explore the different attractions that the city has to offer.
If you have time to spare, we highly recommend that you visit these day trip spots to truly soak in the archaeological wonders of the ancient world and picturesque sceneries in the region. You may want to check our guide on Wine Tasting in Athens as a wonderful day trip option.