A world-class city, Athens is crammed with attractions and entertainment that can fill weeks of any visitor's time.
But a number of other outstanding destinations are located within easy reach of the Greek capital – whether you travel by public transportation, by boat or with your own wheels. From ancient ruins to island beaches, these day trips from Athens are well worth the journey.
Travel time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece, is one of the prettiest towns in the country, with splendid Venetian and neoclassical architecture and fortresses like the hilltop Palamidi (a famous 999-step climb) or Bourtzi (a small fortified islet in the harbor). Plenty of elegant boutique hotels, tasteful shops and small restaurants hidden in narrow alleys make Nafplio a hugely popular destination for a day hop or a longer stay.
Further south is the posh resort of Porto Heli, where Greek and international jet-setters own luxurious villas and mansions. The region also has some agreeable sandy beaches and numerous local wineries, many open to the public.
How to get to Nafplio from Athens: By car, the journey is around one hour and 45 minutes. The intercity bus from Athens Kifissos station to Nafplio takes two hours and 10 minutes.
Travel time: 40 minutes / 1 hour 15 minutes
A trip to Aegina is the quickest way to find yourself on an island if you're staying in Athens. The Saronic Gulf island boasts a perfect combination of important ancient ruins, attractive sandy beaches, charming neoclassical architecture and local delicacies like the internationally renowned local pistachio variety.
Outside the picturesque Aegina Town, the Temple of Aphaia, which is among the country's top ancient sites, and the villages of Agia Marina and Perdika are also worth a visit. The huge Orthodox church of Agios Nektarios is a popular pilgrimage destination among both Greek and foreign visitors. Avoid the summer weekends if you can, as the island gets packed with Athenians escaping the city heat.
How to get to Aegina from Athens: Take the ferry (one hour and 15 minutes) or the hydrofoil (40 minutes) from the harbor of Piraeus. Departures are frequent, and there's no need to book in advance.
Travel time: 3 hours
It might be on the long side for a day trip, but spending time in beautiful Delphi is worth the journey. Myths, history and spectacular mountains combine here – in Greek mythology, the two eagles released by Zeus met there, determining the Navel (or center) of the World. The Sanctuary of Apollo, built in the 7th century BCE, was a revered ancient oracle and home to Pythia, the priestess who mumbled her notoriously ambiguous answers on important or everyday matters to visitors from every walk of life.
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Allow your teeth to break through a crisp, golden pastry shell and the reward of soft clouds of sweetened ricotta await. Sicily’s emblematic dessert — the cannoli — has captured the palates of food enthusiasts worldwide, but there’s also a fascinating story behind its shape.
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I’ve enjoyed a lovely four- to five-day circular trip using ferries and bikes. We took the Brittany Ferries overnight sailing from Portsmouth-St Malo, then cycled along La Véloscénie [signposted cycle route] passing Mont Saint-Michel. At Domfront we took La Vélo Francette to Ouistreham and then the ferry back to Portsmouth. At least three-quarters of the ride is off road along former railway track cycle paths that are well maintained. Plenty of accommodation is available. With the exception of a hilly few miles around Flers, it’s all very easy and with the prevailing wind. The final 40 miles from the impressive Viaduc de Clécy is all downhill, passing Pegasus Bridge.Keith Perry
I was deep in the folds of the mountain of Tryfan when it first happened. When time seemed to stop ticking at the breakneck pace it always does when I’m sitting at laptop, working on a deadline. Instead of blue light from a screen, I was sitting at my tent door, basking in the purple glow of dusk as it crept into the Ogwen Valley, in Eryri/Snowdonia national park. The luscious green of the grass on the mountainside had turned a more muted shade and the blue of the Menai Strait in the distance had become barely distinguishable from the twilight sky.
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