While there are plenty of things you can do on your own while you’re in Athens if you want to get a more in-depth look at the Greek capital’s fascinating history and modern delights, consider taking one of the tours led by locals that can allow you to do just that. And, with so many enticing day trip possibilities, you might join an organized excursion so you can take it all in without the stress of being behind the wheel too.
Table of Contents
- What are the best day trips to take while staying in Athens?
- A Food Tour
- Meteora Day Trip/Tour
- Athens Bike Tour
- Acropolis and Acropolis Museum
- Day Trip to Delphi
- Athens Street Art Walk Tour
- Private Cruise to Poseidon Temple at Sounio Cape
- Athens Highlights Mythological Tour
- Day Tour to Hydra
What are the best day trips to take while staying in Athens?
The area just outside of Athens has tons to offer ambitious visitors, including:
- Food tours
- Visiting Meteora
- Bike tours
- Visiting the Acropolis
- Visiting Delphi
- Taking a street art tour
- Private Cruise to Poseidon Temple at Sounio Cape
- Day Tour to Hydra
Keep reading for a bull breakdown of why these are some of the best ways to kill a day while staying in Athens.
A Food Tour
If Greek cuisine makes your mouth water, explore Athens’ culinary scene with an expert food guide. A variety of tours are available, with a small-group tour ideal. You’ll see the sights and meet some of the best chefs in the city, sampling authentic cuisine like Greek honey dumplings called loukoumades, boutgatsa (a sweet or savory pastry), sesame koulouri (a sesame-topped bread), olives, and more.
Tours include visits to specialty food shops with meats, spices, and all sorts of fruit, as well as the Varvakeios Market.
The bustling markets is filled with unique aromas and flavors, including dried fruits, nuts, Greek cheeses, traditional Greek sausages, and much more. This is one of the best ways to experience authentic Athenian life, jam-packed with locals and merchants who shout out to advertise their products. In the process of your explorations, you’ll learn why the Mediterranean diet has become a model for healthy living and more about the country’s rich culinary heritage.
Meteora Day Trip/Tour
Meteora is a must-experience, but it usually requires an overnight stay when traveling from Athens. If you don’t have the time or just want to enjoy the sights along the way instead of focusing on the road, you can join a full-day tour that includes pick up right from your hotel.
Located about four hours northwest of the capital, you’ll enjoy a scenic drive along winding roads to reach the complex that sits high atop rocky outcrops. One of the country’s largest pilgrimage sites, its name translates to “suspended in the air.” Gaze up at the dramatic cliffs which rise over 1,200 feet into the sky with the medieval monasteries accessed by climbing a rock staircase, following the same paths the monks have used for centuries.
Nuns and monks still inhabit these sacred places that include Byzantine artifacts, icons, and wall paintings. Six are open to the public, providing an unforgettable experience, complete with breathtaking views.
Enjoy a stop for lunch and visits to other historic sites like Thermopylae, where 300 Spartans managed to take on a hundred thousand Persian in a battle. Here you can admire the statue of Leonidas, a stone lion, which was built to ensure everyone remembered the name of the king who died in the fight.
Athens Bike Tour
Discover the highlights of central Athens on two wheels, with this easy 3.5-hour bike tour following a 5.5-mile course that takes in many of the most popular historic sites in the Plaka district as well as visiting the National Gardens.
You’ll travel bike-friendly streets and paths with stops along the way to learn about the legends and history behind the places you’re viewing. The Roman Forum, Ancient Agora, Keramikos Cemetery, the old city walls and Acropolis are all included.
The bikes are high-quality conventional trekking cycles and you’ll be fitted with a helmet too.
Acropolis and Acropolis Museum
While you can easily explore the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum on your own, consider taking a small-group tour that will bring it all to life.
You’ll get a much better understanding of the city’s most important landmark, the heart of the place that gave birth to western civilization. Your guide will reveal its rich history, including interesting antidotes you’ve probably never heard before. It’s the best way to envision what it was really like to live here over 15 centuries ago, immersed in its glorious splendor while viewing the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, Propylaea, Theater of Dionysus, and more.
Day Trip to Delphi
The UNESCO-listed site of Delphi sits at the base of Mount Parnassus about six miles from the Gulf of Corinth. Considered by the ancient Greeks to be the center of the world, it’s the seat of the oracle of Apollo, the country’s most significant temple. Discover it on this full-day trip leaving from Athens alongside a knowledgeable guide.
You’ll wander through the archaeological sites to see the significant ruins and structures, including the Temple of Apollo. Stroll the Sacred Way which winds from the entrance – it was once lined with statues that were presented from city-states like Sparta, Marathon, and Athens, to give thanks to the god while showing off power and wealth.
Your tour includes a visit to the Delphi Archaeological Museum with long-lost wonders like the Sphinx of Naxos and the Charioteer of Delphi. It contains most of the finds from the site as well as featuring remarkable ancient Greek works of art and many treasures from the prehistoric era through the late Byzantine period. On your way back you’ll get to stop in the picturesque towns of Arachnova and Levadia too.
Athens Street Art Walk Tour
Street art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the chance to take this tour that reveals the city’s thriving street art scene. Discover the modern side of the city as you go off-the-beaten path on a three-hour excursion led by a local artist.
You’ll get a great look at authentic Athens’ life while checking out many impressive works from murals to graffiti art while learning about the medium’s history and evolution. It covers some of the trendiest neighborhoods and as it limited to just a dozen participants, it will be easy to get answers to all the questions you’re bound to have from your guide.
Private Cruise to Poseidon Temple at Sounio Cape
If you’re craving time in and on the water, this tour is a private cruise that will allow you to enjoy the Athens Riviera with time for swimming or snorkeling and a visit to the sacred site of the Poseidon Temple too. You’ll be picked up from your hotel for the journey to Souinio Cape which sits at the southernmost tip of Attica.
The temple sits atop a hill that overlooks the brilliant blue of the Aegean Sea, providing some fantastic photo-ops.
Built in 444 BC, it’s made of local marble and Lord Byron is said to have been so impressed with it that he decided to carve his name on one of the columns. After exploring, you’ll stop at two beautiful places to take advantage of the crystal-clear waters, Arsída and Vrachos Pothito, enjoying an hour’s time at each.
Athens Highlights Mythological Tour
Learning about the many myths that Athens holds is a great way to discover the ancient history of the city in a fun and entertaining way. This four-hour tour will immerse you in the world of Greek legends and myths while visiting some of the top sights, including the Temple of Athenian Zeus, Acropolis, Theater of Dionysus, Temple of Athena Nike, the Erectheion, Parthenon, and Ancient Agora.
Your guide will tell you the tales of Greek heroes and gods as well as how the stories and their social, cultural, and political context helped launch the city’s path to becoming one of the greatest in the world.
Day Tour to Hydra
If you want to experience one of the Greek Islands from Athens, it can be done on a day trip with several options close by. Hydra makes for an especially tranquil escape, enjoyed hassle-free with a self-guided tour that includes car service from your hotel in the city to Piraeus port.
Here you’ll hop on the ferry to reach the romantic car-free island that has a long history and well-preserved stone mansions that were once home to great captains and naval families of the Greek Revolution. Locals and visitors alike can take advantage of the donkeys and small boats that serve as local transport.
Explore museums and art galleries or just unwind with a glass of wine while enjoying the atmospheric vibe. It’s like a time-warp here minus the sounds of engines – instead, you’ll hear the clip-clopping of hooves.
There are opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, or diving, and hiking too. Afterward, you’ll return to Piraeus by ferry where a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in the city.