Hit the road and experience amazing natural settings and historic sites, all within a couple of hours from Athens.
One of the most magical things about Athens is its disappearing act. Sure, the city has tons to offer in terms of culture, nightlife, and history, and it is no accident that it is evolving into one of the most happening city-break destinations in Europe. But sometimes one just wants to get away from that city bustle and experience more tranquil moments.
Luckily that is easier than you might think. Head out of the city in any direction by land or sea, and the city will soon vanish, replaced by a far more bucolic setting. You can spend the day recharging your batteries seemingly a million miles away from the capital, and be back in time for dinner.
Below are our top nine recommendations for quick day trips out of Athens:
One of the mountains defining the edge of the Attica basin, Parnitha is a nearby and very popular day excursion for Athenians. Some come for the well-known casino, while many others come to breathe fresh air. It is a national park, and it’s almost hard to believe that such a blissful natural reserve exists so close to the capital.
There are dozens of footpaths to follow, and a designated mountain bike trail at Aghios Merkourios. Rock climbing is also possible at “Arma”,”Katebasma Gouras”, “Flambouri”, “Megalo Armeni”, and “Korakofolia”, and you’ll find two mountain refugees at Flambouri and Bafi.
The landscape was damaged by fires in 2007, but it is still a beautiful, green mountain full of wildlife (you’ll likely see deer, foxes, and rabbits), and much of the burnt areas are gradually making a comeback thanks to major reforestation efforts. A day here will bring fresh air to your lungs, and peace to your mind. You can also visit the multiple beautiful churches and monasteries.
SARONIKOS AND THE ROAD TO SOUNION
Another popular excursion is a drive along the coastal road out of Athens to the southernmost tip of Attica: the cape of Sounio, where the temple of Poseidon crowns the hill surrounded by the dreamy blue backdrop of the sea. Its location creates an isosceles triangle with the Acropolis and the site of the temple of Aphaia in Aegina island, making this an interesting place to visit not just for the iconic Doric columns; but as a lesson in early science, geometry, and astronomy.
Along the way, is the municipality of Saronikos. In the summer, Athenians head here for the beaches, which are cleaner and less busy (some of them at least) than the ones closer to the city. If you enjoy windsurfing, Anavyssos bay has some of the best conditions on offer and features a windsurfing club.
Saronikos is more than just its coast however, with a mountainous, forested interior that makes for wonderful hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The area of Kalyvia Thorikou also has a long tradition of animal raising and is renowned for its tavernas and grill-houses (which can get very busy on weekends).
You’ve probably heard of the Corinth Canal; the project of connecting the Gulf of Corinth and the Saronic Gulf that was actually attempted in antiquity, and ultimately completed after many trials and tribulations in 1893. Historic figures have visited it, Péter Besenyei has flown through it, Robbie Maddison has jumped it, and you can easily reach it on a day trip from Athens.
Aside from seeing the impressive canal (from above or even while bungee-jumping), there are several more reasons to visit Corinth. Even long before the completion of the canal, it was a key area for both trading and military purposes, and therefore one of the largest ancient cities in Greece. You can visit the ruins of the ancient city of Corinth and learn about the area’s historic significance at the Archeological Museum.
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