5 easy must-do weekend trips from Athens

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Weekend trips from Athens

Why leave Athens at all? When you first arrive in the Greek capital, you might find yourself wondering exactly that. This beautiful city with its iconic archaeological sites from ancient Greece is also a very modern metropolis, full of great food, friendly people, and cultural activities. Plus, while prices for food, accommodation, and everything else you need on a vacation are higher in Athens than you'll find in other areas of Greece, it's still a remarkably affordable city by the standards of European capitals.

There are tons of good reasons to visit Athens, even if ancient ruins aren't your thing. But at the same time, there's much more to Greece than just its capital city. In fact, during the Golden Age of Athens, there was no such place as Greece, and instead, the country was divided into city-states that each have their own history and culture. You can still enjoy some of that cultural diversity now on the best weekend trips from the city.

The Greek islands make truly stunning destinations for weekend getaways, and you can reach many of them by boat from Athens and the rest from Athens Airport. There are also some wonderful places to explore on the Greek mainland that are easily accessible from Athens. So as great as the capital is, don't deny yourself the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful places in all of Europe at these weekend getaway destinations.

And before you go exploring the ancient world, don't forget to leave your bags behind at an Athens luggage storage. Bring only what you need, whether you're going on day trips or weekend getaways, and you'll have a much better time exploring all that Greece has to offer.

Weekend trip to Hydra from Athens

Saronic Islands

One of the most popular day trips from Athens, the Saronic Islands will give you a taste of what the beautiful Greek islands are all about without heading too far from the city. It's easy to book a boat trip from the port of Piraeus to the islands of Aegina, Poros, and Hydra, and there are plenty of places to stay on these beautiful and atmospheric islands to turn your day trip into a longer adventure.

Distance from Athens:

Aegina, as well as being the biggest of the local islands, is also the closest to Athens. It takes just over an hour by ferry to reach the island from Piraeus and a little longer to reach the other islands. It's also possible to take a private tour that will take you to all three of the islands so you can sample the unique atmosphere of each one.

Our activity recommendations:

Island hopping: Each of these beautiful islands has its own vibe, and it's not hard to find tour companies that let you travel from one island to the other by boat. Hydra is a laid-back island where there are no cars and donkeys are the most popular mode of transport, while Aegina is more developed and offers more options for bars, hotels, and restaurants. Travel to each of the islands and pick one to stay overnight, and you'll get a much more relaxing experience of Greek life than you would in Athens itself.

Ancient Greek monuments: All of these islands are as rich in archaeological ruins as the rest of Greece. Aegina, in particular, has some great places to explore, and you can easily spend a day or more traveling from one archaeological site to another on the island. Climb to the island's highest point to see the Temple of Ellanios Zeus, which predates the Trojan War and may be the oldest temple in Europe.

Best season to visit:

Greece's weather is mild all year round, but if you want to spend time on the beaches of the Saronic Islands, you probably want to do it in summer. Then again, summer is also the time when the islands are at their busiest, so if you prefer a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere, it might be better to visit in spring or fall. Traipsing around a treeless archaeological site in the middle of a hot Greek day is not much fun, so it's definitely worth considering visiting the Saronic Islands during the off-season to get the most out of your trip.

Mycenae weekend trips from Athens


The cradle of the ancient Mycenaean civilization, this island getaway offers a trip back in time as well as a trip to a gorgeous part of Greece. If you want to see a truly impressive archaeological site on your weekend getaway from Athens, this is a weekend trip you can't afford to miss. Explore the ancient history and enjoy a modern town on the Greek mainland.

Distance from Athens:

The modern town of Mykines is a little over 100 km from the Greek capital. That means you can reach it in around an hour and a half of driving. Public transportation is not great in this area, although Mycenae is popular enough that it's possible to take a private coach tour from Athens to see the archaeological site.

Our activity recommendations:

Archaeological site of Mycenae: The archaeological site of Mycenae is the major attraction in this part of Greece and one of the most important and most interesting archaeological sites in all of Greece - which is saying quite a lot. A popular destination for day trips from Athens, there's enough to explore here that you could easily make it a longer weekend trip. This ancient city dates back to the 12th century BC, and it provides a glimpse back into history and even Greek mythology that make it a must-visit for any fan of classical antiquity and one of the most striking archaeological sites in the entire world.

Larissa Castle Argos: Drive a little outside of Mykines to experience the more recent but still ancient history of this impressive medieval castle. The history in this area goes back at least 2000 years, but the current castle dates to about the 13th century. This part of central Greece has so many archaeological sites that this one flies under the radar, so don't expect a well-equipped museum or any guided tours here. But it is a great place to get away from the crowds, enjoy beautiful views, and explore a lesser-known side of Greek history.

Best season to visit:

As with most places in Greece, summers are hot and bring tourist crowds. The archaeological site is open all year round, so consider a visit during the shoulder season when you can still enjoy good weather but won't overheat and will have a more peaceful experience of this unique place.

Weekend getaway from Athens to Delphi


The former home of the most famous oracle of the ancient world, Delphi is a fascinating place to visit and get to grips with the religious and spiritual side of ancient Greek life. Visited by famous conquerors and historians of the past, Delphi provides a glimpse into the occult beliefs and practices of the ancient world and is an incredible place to visit for history lovers.

Distance from Athens:

Delphi is in central Greece, almost 200 km from Athens. That means you'll need to drive a little over two hours to get here. Because of Delphi's popularity with tourists, you can also take a bus, which will take around three hours.

Our activity recommendations:

Archaeological site: This sprawling ancient sanctuary was where people in ancient times came from across Greece and all over the Mediterranean to hear their future prophesied by the mysterious oracle. This was an important center of culture for hundreds of years, and you can see the cave where the oracle made her prophecies, along with an ancient theater and the stadium that hosted the Pythian Games. There is almost too much to see here, so it's well worth considering hiring a guide to explain the complex history of the many buildings.

Archaeological Museum: The perfect accompaniment to a visit to the archaeological site, the Delphi Archaeological Museum displays important finds from the region and tells the story of the oracle and the temples here from the earliest beginnings up to their decline and fall. Visiting the archaeological museum will give you a much clearer picture of what this famous location was all about and its importance in the ancient world.

Best season to visit:

You can visit Delphi at any time of the year. However, like many places in Greece, hot weather and tourist crowds make summer less pleasant than spring and fall.

Evia weekend trip from Athens


Greece's second largest island lies just off the coast of Athens, making it easy to reach from the Greek capital. Evia, also known as Euboea, provides a glimpse of Greek island life but is close enough to be accessible for day trips and weekend trips from Athens itself.

Distance from Athens:

It only takes around an hour to drive north of Athens and take a ferry over the Euboean Gulf to reach this large island. It's also accessible by public transit, but you'll get the most out of this island if you have your own vehicle to explore. There's also a bridge to the island which allows you to reach it from Athens in two hours.

Our activity recommendations:

Chalkida: The capital city of the island is where you'll find many of the top attractions of Evia, including, of course, a spectacular archaeological museum. You'll also find incredible restaurants, picturesque streets, quaint shops, and a seventeenth-century castle to explore.

Thermal Springs Of Edipsos: Mentioned in writing by Aristotle, these thermal springs have been a big attraction on the island for thousands of years. Nowadays, you can enjoy the springs and a natural pool close to a small beach like the ancient Greeks did. Alternatively, you can enjoy a historic spa that was built on this site in 1897 and provides a range of luxurious spa treatments to rejuvenate you on your vacation.

Best season to visit:

Despite how close it is to Athens, Evia is surprisingly uncrowded. That means this can be a great place to visit even in the summer, to give you a break from the tourists of Athens and to allow you to explore beautiful beaches and charming towns in the height of summer.

Weekend trip from Athens to Meteora


This legendary destination has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical importance. One of the most unique places to explore in Greece, Meteora is too far from Athens for day trips, but if you're looking for a longer weekend trip, it's well worth considering this incredible place.

Distance from Athens:

Meteora lies 350 km north of Athens, so it takes about four hours to reach by car.

Our activity recommendations:

Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron: Undoubtedly the top attraction in the area, this beautiful monastery dates back to the 14th century. Built on precipitous cliffs formed by the local rock formations, this is a truly unique place to visit and a sight you will never forget.

Wine tour: Wine has been made in this region for centuries, and there is still a working vineyard that you can visit to learn more about wine production and sample some of the best local vintages.

Best season to visit:

There's no bad time to visit this iconic site. Although summer can be crowded, there's enough countryside to explore here that you can easily get away from the tourist crowds.

Island ferry in Athens


Athens is surrounded by beautiful locations, and the best day trips from Athens as well as the best weekend trips, can show you some of the best of what Greece has to offer.

Athens itself has plenty to keep you busy, and if you only have three days in the city or so, you should focus on enjoying the capital. But if you have a little more time to spend, consider taking one of these fantastic trips to enjoy more of what Greece is all about.

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