Athens is a city with rich history, culture, and vibrant metropolitan life. It has been the capital city of Greece for more than 2,500 years, and it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. For international visitors, the city offers the opportunity to tour the beautiful, historic Acropolis and many famous landmarks, including the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Temple of Hephaestus. You’ll also find plenty of museums, ancient sites, and art galleries to keep history enthusiasts happy.
While there are plenty of great places to discover in Athens, it is also conveniently located for day trips to other major destinations in Greece. Travelers who wish to explore more areas around the capital can benefit from a private transfer tour that will allow you to see the area on your schedule.
With Athens as your base, here are a few of the best places to visit near Athens for your short day trip or longer overnight stay.
Best Places to Visit Near Athens
One of the most popular day trip options from Athens, the ancient archaeological site of Delphi is located only 2 and a half hours away from the capital. According to Greek mythology, this was the navel (center) of the world and where a sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo was built. The site overlooks a verdant valley of olive trees and requires a steep uphill walk to enjoy the panoramic view from above. After your visit, it is recommended to visit the museum to learn more about the area. Afterward, you can dine in one of the various traditional tavernas found on the slopes of Mt Parnassos around Arahova, Agoriani, and the surrounding villages.
The site of Mycenae, known as Mykines in Greek, is about 120km from Athens and will take just 1 and a half hours to reach. Located in the Peloponnese, in the southern region of Greece, it is known for the well-preserved ruins of the palace of the Mycenaean kings and its role in the Trojan War. The main attractions at the site are the Treasure of Atreus also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon.
Temple of Poseidon
If you prefer something closer to Athens, the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion was one of ancient Greece’s most important religious sanctuaries. Reaching the cape from downtown Athens will take just over an hour and offer you the chance to enjoy the most spectacular sunset. Dining in one of the fish taverns nearby Lavrio would be an excellent way to make the most of the day.
The city of Nafplio is located on the southern coast of the Peloponnese in the Argolic Gulf. It is known for its impressive medieval castles and romantic vibes that visitors can enjoy all year round. At only 137km away from Athens, this is a great day trip option but is also well suited for longer overnight stays – there is so much to see. The charming waterfront is lined with plenty of options for drinking and dining, and its picturesque port is visited by yachts and catamarans from across the Mediterranean that wish to bask in its old charm and luxurious ambiance. Do not miss the chance to visit the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi, the castle located in the middle of the islet and visible from the waterfront, and Palamidi Castle, which sits high above the hill.
Not far from Nafplio, the ancient theatre of Epidaurus can be combined with a visit to other places of significance in the Peloponnese, like the archeological site of Mycenae. In antiquity, Epidaurus was renowned as a place of healing, rest, and rejuvenation and was the most important of more than 200 sanctuaries known as Asclepieia. The Epidaurus Theatre, build during the 4th century BC, can accommodate more than 13,000 spectators and is one of the best-preserved theatres of the ancient world, renowned for its acoustics. Every year between May and October, the Epidaurus Festival welcomes musicians, actors, and performers from all around the world.
If you are traveling during the summertime, you may also enjoy a refreshing swim in the Argolic Gulf around the charming village of Tolo. The fish tavernas are an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.
Only a 50-minute drive from Athens, Marathon is one of the most popular places to visit near Athens. Lovers of history will appreciate learning more about the setting of the Battle of Marathon that took place there in 490 BC and touring the Archaeological Site of the Ancient Battle of Marathon. Visiting with a professional guide is recommended.
According to the story, after the victory of the Greeks against the Persians, a messenger raced from Marathon to Athens to share the happy news; he then died. The story served as the inspiration for the modern event of marathon running as did the distance, 42 km, between the two locations.
You can also visit the Marathon Run Museum for more information and insights on the first marathon race, and a chance to see the original gold medal of the first modern Olympics Marathon winner in 1896, Spiros Louis.
Another excellent option for a short getaway from Athens is Mount Parnitha. The highest mountain in the region of Attica, Parnitha stands at 1,413m and is a great spot for those who wish to discover nature and the outdoors. If you are up for a walk, there are numerous short and longer trails to discover in the national park. The rich flora and fauna include deer, foxes, hundreds of bird species, and wild herbs and flowers.
Islands of the Argosaronic Gulf
The Argosaronic Islands are a group of about 20 islands and islets scattered around the Saronic and Argolic Gulf and located very close to the capital of Athens. They make for an excellent day trip option for sailing enthusiasts, with lots to offer in terms of their history, beaches, food, and cultural experiences. The main inhabited islands are Aegina, Salamina, Agistri, Poros, Hydra, and Spetses.
Aegina – the closest island to Athens, Aegina once served as the temporary capital of Greece and is adorned with beautiful neoclassical mansions that are worth visiting. A stroll through the charming waterfront is a must as is trying the local pistachios.
Salamina – another historic island, Salamina is a laid-back and unpretentious destination, steeped in history. This was once the setting where the great battle of Salamis between the Greeks and the Persians took place 2,500 years ago. After touring the ancient port and catching up on local treats and delicacies, you can see the Folk Art and History Museum and the Maritime Museum.
Agistri – a nature lover’s paradise, with plenty of opportunities for excursions as well as water sports such as sailing and kayaking. The capital of the island, Megalochori, has plenty of options for dining and plenty of charming streets to discover.
Poros – only one hour from the port of Piraeus, Poros welcomes visitors to a different world, where artists and writers used to find solace and inspiration. The Clock Tower, located high above the city, is a must-see for visitors.
Hydra – with no cars or other motor vehicles allowed on the island, Hydra is your chance to unwind and relax among the rustic beauty of its enchanting setting. Famous as a celebrity hotspot, this is where musician Leonard Cohen spent many summers after first visiting in 1960.
Spetses – another island with a rich naval tradition that played an important role during the Greek War of Independence, Spetses is another car-free option near Athens. For a different experience, try to visit during September when the festival of “Armata” takes place.
. . .
We Know Transfers provides customized transport solutions in Athens and other Greek destinations for business and leisure travels. Our Mercedes-Benz fleet of quality and stylish vehicles includes options for 4 to 21 guests to suit all your needs and occasions. For families traveling with children, we offer baby seats and booster seats for comfort and safety.
Contact us today to learn more about our services.