Last Updated on September 17, 2020 by Nina Ahmedow
Living in Athens means that other travelers usually ask me for tips on what to do here. And look, there are some amazing things to do here like taking a stroll through Plaka and indulging in delicious food at one of the vegan restaurants in Athens. But I honestly don’t think Athens is worth more than a two-day stay. It can quickly get too loud, busy, and dirty. However, you can base yourself in Athens and do quite a bit of exploring on some day trips from Athens.
That’s why I wrote this post on the best day trips from Athens, Greece. I’m including day trips to archeological sites as well as day trips from Athens to islands so you get to relax, too. And I’ll even add one option for a weekend trip.
Some of these destinations will require a car for the best comfort level, but there are others that can be reached by public transport and boat. Personally, I don’t drive so I understand that this is not an option for everyone. But don’t despair, the alternatives are equally stunning.
Best Day Trips From Athens, Greece
Best Day Trips From Athens to Islands
I know that a lot of people are looking for the best day trips from Athens to islands, and that’s definitely an option if you stick to some of the less touristy islands, like Agistri. This tiny Greek island is less than two hours by boat from Piraeus which is itself only 30 minutes from the center of Athens by public transport.
And while Agistri gets busy with Athenian tourists on weekends, its lack of foreign tourists gives it an authentic atmosphere. And the water here is absolutely gorgeous. But unlike some of the other islands close to Athens, it’s a fairly green island. So you even get to enjoy some nature as well. For the active traveler, several places offer bike rentals to explore the island.
Day Cruise to Aegina, Poros, and Hydra
Three Saronic islands in one day, even somebody like me who hates boats can’t say no to that. So I’ve been on this cruise twice in my six years in Greece. And while you don’t have a lot of time on each individual island getting a glimpse of each of them is quite a magical experience. And you will really appreciate that you don’t need to go to a popular and expensive island like Santorini to experience the beauty of the Aegean islands.
But you could also go to only one of these islands and spend a whole day. Or go to each of them! That way you get three of the best day trips from Athens to islands instead of only one. Aegina is the most popular one as it’s closest to Athens and can be reached in less than one and a half hours by ferry from Piraeus.
A word of caution though: I wouldn’t really recommend Hydra because it’s an island that relies on donkeys for transport. I have an entire post about why riding donkeys is unethical, and I believe most vegan travelers would prefer not to have to see the donkeys lined up at the port of Hydra. As you can see there are other options for day trips from Athens to islands.
Evia is Greece’s second-largest island, although it doesn’t feel like an island because it’s connected to the mainland by bridge. By car, it will take about an hour to reach the main town Halkida, but from there you can keep driving until you find a beach you like. There are limitless options.
There’s also the option of taking a regional bus (KTEL) to Evia, but you’ll have to know in advance which beach you want to go to. A car is definitely the easier option here. If you don’t drive I think one of the Saronic islands that you can reach by boat are a much more accessible option.
Best Day Trips to Archaeological Sites
After all those day trips from Athens to islands you will also want to do some archaeological sightseeing. It will take little more than an hour to get from Athens to Sounio, home of the Temple of Poseidon. Unfortunately, public transport isn’t really a good option so you may want to rent a car for the day. The view from Sounio over the sea is breathtaking, and you will experience one of the most gorgeous sunsets here.
For those who do want to take a bus, you’ll need to get the KTEL bus from central Athens again. It departs every hour and should take about one and a half hours to reach Sounio.
Corinth is only about an hour away from Athens by train. Note that the famous Ancient Corinth is not located in the modern town of Corinth. But you can easily take a taxi to see the archaeological site. Modern Corinth is well worth a stroll itself. You will appreciate the lack of other tourists as you walk through the town center and along the sea.
This is one of the best options for day trips from Athens for people who don’t drive, don’t want to rent a car because of its easy accessibility by train.
More of the Best Day Trips From Athens
Nafplio is a very popular town among Athenians for day trips. Greeks find the town very romantic making it a favorite destination during both in the warmer season as well as for Christmas. I have a post on exploring Greek history in Nafplio because after all, Nafplio used to be Greece’s capital. You will have to rent a car for the trip if you want a convenient way to get to and from Nafplio. But this will allow you to visit some archaeological sites as well, such as Epidavros and Mycenae. In that case, you may even want to spend more time in the area.
You could again take one of the KTEL buses, but it will take a little more than two hours each way. Plus then you won’t be as flexible if you want to visit other sites around Nafplio.
Parnitha is a mountain range about an hour by car from Athens. Again, this is the easiest way to get there. If you do decide to do so you will be rewarded with tons of nature which is virtually non-existent in Athens. On the way up you will even see a few deer waiting for visitors they can beg for food. Super cute!
If you’re really determined to go and don’t mind combining different modes of transportation you can take the suburban trail from the center of Athens further north to the Metamorfosi station. From there you will need to take a bus (724) which drops you off at the foot of Mount Parnitha. Note that both the suburban train as well as bus 724 only depart once every hour so you would need to time this very well.
Again, a car would be much more flexible. I don’t think anyone living in Athens would go to Parnitha by public transport.
Best Weekend Trip From Athens
So you don’t want to travel from Athens all the way to the northern city of Thessaloniki? But flights can actually be as cheap as €20 return. The flight duration is about an hour so it’s really not that much of a trip. But this one is definitely a weekend trip because there’s so much to see in Thessaloniki.
Many Greeks consider Thessaloniki to be far more beautiful than Athens. It’s a student city so it’s full of bars and café. But as the second-largest city in Greece, it also has a lot of history and culture to offer. And note that Thessaloniki has direct access to the sea. You can go for wonderful walks along the promenade.
Too many tourists overlook Thessaloniki, in my opinion, so I had to include it even though it’s more of a weekend trip.
So if you’ve spent too much time in the Greek capital consider one of these day trips from Athens, Greece. It’s truly the best way to escape the hustle and bustle of Greece’s capital.
Have you been to any of these places? Would you rather see the archaeological sites or are you more interested in the best day trips from Athens to islands?