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Essential Day Trips from Athens

Delphi Temple of Apollo

Essential Day Trips from Athens

story by: House of Travel Specialist

Athens. The name itself just oozes history. Surrounded by hills looking out to the shining Aegean Sea, the city is a 4000 year old time capsule with interest on every street corner. However, it is also a very modern city: hot, noisy and bustling.   If you need an escape there are a number of diverse and amazing attractions a short distance away that show another face of Greece.

Delphi was considered to be the centre of the world by the ancient Greeks. It is peaceful and serene; the antithesis of Athens.  Situated three hours drive from Athens high on the wooded slopes of Mt Parnassus overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, it has been a place of pilgrimage for over 5000 years.  Dedicated to the god Apollo, the famous Oracle was consulted by kings, politicians and ordinary citizens who went there to have their fortunes told.

Mycenae is an ancient city, the ruins of which lie two hours south west of Athens. This was the mightiest city in Bronze Age Greece; Athens was merely a small town that was subservient to powerful Mycenae at the time of the Trojan War. The ruins straddle a pass between 2 mountains and are extensive. The famous Lion Gate is the main entrance and is in remarkable condition belying its 3500 year old age.   There are graves, bathrooms, and if you take a torch you can climb down a stairwell leading to an underground spring. The beehive tombs and Museum are well worth visiting.  Doing this trip as a tour is highly recommended; the tour guides explain in detail the history and paint a picture that brings the ruins to life. Most tours also include a visit to Epidaurus, a brilliantly preserved amphitheatre in the hills surrounded by olive trees.    Other local places of interest are the ruins of Tiryns (home of Hercules) and the port town of Napflion which has brilliant Venetian ruins, and was the first capital of modern Greece.

Cape Sounion
Cape Sounion is a prominent landmark, jutting out into the deep blue Aegean Sea. Dedicated to Poseidon, god of the sea, it was mentioned by the returning Trojan War heroes on their way back to Mycenae. It is an easy day trip from Athens being only 65km away through a scenic coastal drive. Standing by the ancient pillars on the cliff edge, the sunsets are truly spectacular and the atmosphere unbelievable.

Many people go to Greece for the islands, but if you only have a few days in Athens then a visit to the island of Hydra is a must. A ferry from the port of Piraeus takes you to the steep island, which has no cars- walking or donkeys are the best way to get around. Situated on a hilly island, in a lovely bay, arty cafes and shops abound, you can take a water taxi to other villages, and the experience is one to savour. Only 90 minutes by ferry from Athens, Hydra is another world away but one to be savoured.

By House of Travel Specialist: Paul Murray 

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