The best day trips from Athens include excursions to Delphi, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Meteora and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.
Discover the best places around Athens by taking a day trip. Choose from ancient sites, Athens day trips to Greek islands, historical landmarks such as Delphi, Mycenae, and Epidaurus, the monasteries at Meteora, and more!
Planning a day trip from Athens
Athens is a fantastic city to visit for a few days, with an abundance of things to see such as the world famous Acropolis. Athens also makes an ideal base from which to visit other parts of Greece.
Many people choose to spend 2 or 3 days in the city, and then put aside a day for a trip out of Athens. Popular places to visit on a day tour from Athens include Delphi, Mycenae, and Meteora, but there's many others to consider.
There's no better way to enjoy the myths and monuments of Ancient Greece than by taking one of these Athens day trips!
Which one you decide on may depend on the time you have available, and what type of things you like to see.
Best Day Trip From Athens
I've lived in Greece for over eight years, and my favorite day trip out of Athens is to visit Delphi. I must have been there 5 or 6 times now!
One of the things that stands out about Delphi for me, is the setting as much as the monuments and ruins themselves.
Delphi has an almost mystical feel to it – if you are lucky enough to visit on a quieter day in the shoulder seasons. Delphi is perhaps not quite as mystical in the peak season month of August!
As I live in Athens, I use my car to get to Delphi. I've even cycled once (had to stay the night in a campground so not quite a day trip!). Unless you've decided to rent a car in Greece, you'll want to choose between using public transport and an organized tour.
Tours From Athens: Organized vs DIY
If you only have a day to visit somewhere else outside of Athens, I recommend you take an organized tour out of Athens.
The transport, and in most cases a guide are provided for you, and you don't have to think about any of the logistics. It's the easiest solution, and some of the organized day trips out of Athens offer great value for money.
If you want to do it yourself, consider renting a car or using public transport.
Public transport from Athens to the ancient sites within a 2 or 3 hour drive of Athens is a bit hit and miss though. Even the seemingly straightforward half day trip to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon for sunset is a problem with the last bus back not timed well!
The Best Athens Day Trips are:
- Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon
- Delphi Day Trip From Athens
- 3 Islands in One Day From Athens
- Ancient Mycenae and Epidaurus Tour from Athens
- Full Day Trip to Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus
- Athens Excursions : Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nafplio
- Ancient Corinth & Daphni Monastery Trip
- Athens Day Tours: Corinth and Olympia
- Meteora Day Trip
- Marathon Day Trip with Winery Tour
- Hop-on Hop-Off Bus at Piraeus Port
- St. Paul's Footsteps Biblical Tour From Athens
Whilst each one of these destinations can be visited independently, an organized tour is convenient for most people, especially those with limited time.
With your transport laid on, and the benefits of an experienced guide who can give insights and explain more about each place, an Athens day trip is the easiest way to reach some of the archaeological wonders in Greece.
1. Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon
Visiting the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion for sunset is possibly the most popular half day trip from Athens. The position of the Temple of Poseidon and the view it gives as the sun slowly sinks into the sea is simply amazing!
Many people choose to visit Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon as an afternoon half-day tour from Athens. The drive there takes you along spectacular coastal roads, and you may even find time to check out a few beautiful beaches on the way in the summer.
Typically, tours to the ancient site of the Temple of Poseidon start later in the afternoon during the summer in order to have a good timing with the sunset. Tours may start earlier in winter when daylight hours are shorter.
By arriving at the archaeological site an hour or so before sunset, you can take a look around the temple of Poseidon, and then watch the sunset. I've visited this Greek temple overlooking the Aegean Sea a half dozen times now, and it never fails to impress me.
** Try this half-day tour to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon. **
You might also be interested in: A full day private day tour in Athens including trip to Cape Sounion – Click here.
Explore Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon independently: Read more about how to visit Cape Sounion.
2. Delphi Day Trip From Athens
Delphi was one of the most important ancient sanctuaries in the past, and is one of the most visited archaeological sites today. This was where the famous oracle gave out prophecies, and Ancient Greeks thought Delphi to be the navel of the world.
In recognition of its importance to Ancient Greek history and modern Greece, Delphi is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. I've been fortunate to have visited the archaeological site of Delphi several times now, and highly recommend you take a guided tour there if you can.
The archaeological ruins of Delphi are between two hours and two and a half hours drive from Athens city center, so an organized day trip is the best way to visit it. A day trip to Delphi will take in the Temple of Apollo and other ancient ruins, the archaeological museum, and usually pay a visit to the mountain village of Arachova for a traditional Greek lunch at one of the local restaurants.
Visiting Delphi is one of the most popular bus tours from Athens. There are a number of different types available, most of which are priced around 90 Euros.
An English-speaking tour guide will accompany, explaining features of the site as well as the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
** Check out a typical Day Trip To Delphi click here. **
Visiting Delphi Independently: The best way to visit Delphi would be by car. You can find information here about hiring a car in Athens. I have previously written an article about Delphi which you can read here – Delphi.
If you'd like to go by public bus, you'd need to check the KTEL schedule and which bus station it leaves from. Take as long as you can at the site, and you'll have the best day out from Athens!
3. Greek Island Day Trips: Hydra, Poros, and Aegina
If you're not such a fan of ancient history, perhaps a trip away from mainland Greece to a few islands in the Saronic Gulf will appeal instead.
Hydra, Poros and Aegina will give you a taste of what islands in Greece are about. They make a good day trip from Athens, particularly if you don't intend to visit any other islands as part of your Greece vacation itinerary.
This is a full day cruise from Athens which packs a lot in as it visits three islands in a day in the Saronic Gulf. You'll get to spend a few hours on each island, which will give a chance to explore some of the settlements such as Aegina Town and other highlights.
Note: You won't totally escape visiting an archaeological site. Most of these tours pay a visit to the ancient temple in Aegina!
This full day cruise is sometimes known as the classic ‘3 Islands cruise from Athens‘, or the Saronic Gulf islands tour.
Visit the three islands on an organized cruise: By far the easiest option. There are plenty available, of which this is a good example – Three islands tour from Athens.
Pro Tip – Prices on board these ferries to Hydra and other islands for soft drinks and food are very high. I suggest you bring plenty of your own water for the day trip.
Visit the three islands independently: It is possible to do this, but is probably going to be a pain for most people. A combination of different ferry times, prices, and ever increasing ferry strike action makes it a hassle you probably don't want on your vacation.
It's easier to visit just the small island of Hydra if you're determined to do it yourself, and it will give you more time to discover the beaches by water taxi.
You can read more about my experiences visiting Egina, Poros and Hydra here – Three islands Cruise. Yes, this was on an organised day cruise!
4. Ancient Mycenae and Epidaurus Tour from Athens
The Peloponnese, just an hour way from Athens, is an area connected with Greek mythology and rich in ancient history. Two of the most significant sites there are Mycenae and Epidaurus. A number of day trips from Athens combine the two.
Both the ancient citadel of Mycenae, and Epidaurus which is famous for its ancient theatre are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and can be visited together on a day trip from Athens. There is often a brief stop at the iconic Corinth Canal for photos along the way.
The ancient Mycenaean civilization built the fortress city of Mycenae, and it dates back to 1600 BC. This is thought to be the center of a powerful civilization, who dominated Greece and beyond in the Bronze Age.
The famous Lion's Gate is a stunning feature of this incredible archaeological site, and it has one foot in legend and Greek mythology. A golden death mask was discovered here, and has been linked with King Agamemnon. Perhaps the ancient Greek did fight in a Trojan War after all!
Epidaurus is a more recent site, with the ancient theatre being built in 340 BC. The acoustics of the theatre are incredible, and you can literally hear the sound of a pin dropping on stage from even the seats furthest away. The larger site was a sanctuary in ancient times, dedicated to a healing God. I've always thought of it as some sort of resort spa for ancient Greeks!
Here's my top selection of Mycenae and Epidaurus excursions from Athens: ** Mycenae and Epidaurus Tour **
5. Full Day Trip to Nafplio and Ancient Epidaurus
Nafplio is often considered to be one of the prettiest towns in Greece. It's streets are filled with colourful flowers, and there are many boutique shops. Additionally, Venetian architecture is present in fortifications, a castle, and port.
This day trip from Athens is a good combination for people who want to visit the UNESCO site and ancient theater in Epidaurus, but also want to see a different side to Greek history in the form of the Venetian period. The pleasant seaside town of Nafplio is wonderful to walk around at your own pace, and is a welcome break from the more hectic city of Athens!
Here's my top selection for the Nafplio and Epidaurus day tour from Athens: ** Nafplio and Epidaurus Excursion **
6. Athens Excursions : Mycenae, Epidaurus, Nafplio
Of all the possible day excursions from Athens, I think this one offers the most value in terms of what you can see during one day. You get to visit two UNESCO sites, as well as a town often described as the prettiest in the country.
Starting from the city, you would drive out to the Peloponnese, and most likely stop at Corinth Canal along the way. A stop at Ancient Corinth is also a possibility, but in my opinion, it's ruins are not the best in Greece.
After that, you would continue on to the ancient sites of Mycenae and Epidaurus, before reaching the wonderful town of Nafplion.
This sightseeing tour is a must for anyone who wants to see Corinth Canal and is interested in Ancient Greece and Greek history.
The archaeological site of Mycenae is arguably the birthplace of Greek civilization, being one of the most important ancient cities during the bronze age. The incredible walls of this ancient city still amaze to this day, due to the sheer size of the rocks used.
Epidavros is also a very important place, known mainly for the unique acoustics in the ancient theater. You can quite literally hear a pin drop in the open-air theater!
The Healing Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is also a must visit when on the site. This acted as a place of pilgrimage for people seeking cures from ailments. People from all around the ancient Greek world and beyond would travel here to be healed!
Finally, Nafplio is often cited as the prettiest town in Greece. You will see why when you visit and wander through its charming streets! The harbour with its views to the Bourtzi and Palamidi fortress is magnificent.
Note: Few people know that Nafplio was the first capital of the newly independent Greek state 1823 and 1834.
Taking a guided tour is probably the best way to experience these places if you have limited time. Find out more about visiting Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio on a guided tour here.
Visit Independently: You are going to need to hire a car to do this journey by yourself. Or, as I did one time, a bicycle. Personally, I would visit the three places but choose to stay overnight at Nafplio if driving rather than returning to the city in one day. You can read about my experiences in Mycenae here.
7. Ancient Corinth & Daphni Monastery Trip
When it comes to religious tours from Athens, this day trip is a good choice. In fact, the Daphni Monastery is also a UNESCO Heritage site – it's just not as high profile as places like the Acropolis and Delphi!
This 11th century Byzantine monastery has superb mosaics and artwork, and is a real treasure. It's definitely best visited with a guide, who can explain the significance of the iconography and artwork.
After leaving the holy monastery, the guided tour continues toward Corinth Canal where there's time for photos, before arriving at the site of Ancient Corinth. Your guide will explain how St. Paul lived and preached here for two years, along with the history and significance of the area.
My tops choice for this guided tour is: ** Ancient Corinth and Daphni Tour **
8. Athens Day Tours: Corinth and Olympia
This is one of the longer air-conditioned bus tours you can take, but certainly worth the effort.
Ancient Olympia was of course the home of the original Olympics, and t became a center of worship of Zeus and Hera. Thought to date back at least 3000 years, it's an impressive archaeological site.
It's truly remarkable to think that ancient Greek city states would have a truce period so their athletes could travel and compete there!
Due to the distances involved, this is really only possible when taking a private tour as opposed to a group one. It's also more expensive of course! Still, if this is the only way you can see one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, it's worth considering.
You can find out more here about a private tour to Corinth and Olympia.
Visit Independently: There's no escaping the fact you are going to need a car if you want to visit Corinth and Olympia on a day trip from Athens! In reality, you would probably want to stay the night at Olympia. You could then tie it in with seeing some other places of interest on the Peloponnese.
Somewhat randomly, I took some tourists on a 2 day drive in the Peloponnese, which included a trip to Olympia (this is not something I normally do!).
You can find out more here – My 2 day drive around the Peloponnese.
9. Meteora Day Trip
Now, I am not going to lie to you, Meteora is a LONG way from Athens. This is going to be a really full-on day trip, with a lot of time spent on a train or in a car.
If it is your only chance to visit Meteora though, I strongly suggest you give it a go. The area is quite simply breathtaking.
Meteora is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in central Greece. It is famous for its monasteries which are built somewhat precariously on the top of huge rock pillars.
This is an area of Greece where nature and man have connected harmoniously. The views and scenery are simply incredible. Due to its northerly location, this is the longest of the day trips from Athens, but still very possible.
I've visited the Meteora World Heritage area 4 or 5 times now, and will go once again in the future because I enjoy it so much. There's something indefinably appealing about the view of the natural rock formations and feeling of wandering around the area.
Visiting Meteora UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you have to visit Meteora as a day trip from Athens, an organised one is better than doing it yourself. There are a number of tours are in operation, and they mostly include a train journey to reach the area. This is a typical example – Meteora tour on train from Athens.
Combine Delphi and Meteora: Another good option is to take a two day tour from Athens that combines Delphi and Meteora.
Visit Meteora Independently: The most sensible option is to hire a car in Athens, and drive to Meteora. This way you will have the use of the car to drive around the area, which I highly recommend.
I have written several articles which you may find useful, including Meteroa – Mountains, Monasteries, and Monks. In my opinion though, you would be better staying the night at nearby Kalambaka. I've put together a useful list of hotels near Meteora here.
10. Marathon Day Trip with Winery Tour
We may associated the word Marathon with the famous race, and the Battle, but this area near Athens is also home to some fine wineries.
During this tour, you'll get to experience the historic side of Marathon by visiting the site of the battle and museum. In addition, there will be a winery tour and tasting, along with a stop at the lake, and a chance to find out more about Greek culture and history.
Take a look at the Marathon tour from Athens here: ** Marathon Sites and Winery Tour **
11. Hop-on Hop-Off Bus at Piraeus Port
If you've already visited Athens before, but have a cruise stop, you might like to choose a hop-on hop-off bus route instead.
There are several that might appeal, including ones that will take you along the Athens Riviera and to Vouliagmeni. Take a look at our best selection below.
FAQ About Day Trips from Athens Greece
Readers planning to spend some time exploring Athens and the surrounding areas often ask question similar to these:
What are the best day trips from Athens?
Visit the centre of the ancient world at Delphi or brush up on your history with a visit to Mycenae. Take a train to Meteora's monasteries for some breathtaking views as well as an opportunity to explore Greece’s religious side, before heading out onto scenic Cape Sounion where you can enjoy sunsets over one of Europe's most stunning coasts.
Where should I travel from Athens Greece?
The best day trips and getaways from Athens include:
Delphi – Delphi is a popular tourist destination, but it also has religious importance for thousands of years! It's the city where Apollo spoke to Zeus on behalf of Earthlings in his temple there–a good spot to contemplate our own place among all living things.
Meteora – This region offers breathtaking views that will take your breath away as you see these majestic monasteries perched atop mountainsides at dizzying heights not accessible by car or foot traffic (unless we're talking about wingsuit flying!). On top of looking amazing, they offer some really cool history too with more than 30 different structures built between 1450-1540 CE.
What are the closest islands to Athens?
The Saronic islands are perfect for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Athens. They're only 1-2 hours by ferry–great if you want to get out on a day trip or spend an entire weekend exploring what these charming little islands have in store!
The Saronic Islands, which can be found just over one hour's boat ride from Athens' port Piraeus, offer travelers everything they could hope for: beaches with white sand shores; ancient ruins like those at Aegina Town dating back 2200 years ago; friendly locals who invite visitors into their homes to share stories and food. These small but splendid isles will make great places to escape while still being close enough to enjoy on a day out from Athens.
Can you do a day trip from Athens to Santorini?
Whilst it may be theoretically possible to do a day trip to Santorini from Athens, it wouldn't be very practical. A day trip to Santorini would involve taking the very first flight out from Athens to Santorini, and then taking the latest flight from Santorini back to Athens. In a best case scenario, you might have 8 hours to do some sightseeing in Santorini, but it would be a LONG day!
Athens Tours and Side-Trips
With its abundance of things to see and do, Athens is a fascinating place to visit during your vacation in Greece. The Acropolis and Parthenon along with other sights and attractions such as the Temple of Zeus are certainly must-sees when exploring Athens.
The city is also ideally positioned so you can reach a number of interesting places and important historical sites in Greece on day tours from Athens center.
I've been living in an Athenian neighborhood for nearly 6 years now, and have visited all these places of interest and archaeological sites more than once on side trips.
Whether you are a traveler arriving by cruise ship and are looking for shore excursions, or are staying several nights, these Athens tours are my top choices.
Plan a trip to Athens, Greece
In addition to my top picks for tours and shore excursions in Athens, you may find these articles useful when travel planning:
- My Newsletter: Sign up here.
- Athens – Airport Transport: How to get from the center to the airport
- Piraeus – City Center Transport: How to get from the port at Piraeus to the historic center
- Sightseeing: My 2 days in Athens itinerary
- Accommodation: Best hotels near the Acropolis.
Dave is a travel writer originally from the UK, and now living in Greece. As well as creating this travel guide to day trips out of Athens, he's written many more blog posts about destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond: