The spirit and the pace of Athens are spellbinding. Despite the fact that so much of its glory lies in the past, modern Athens is unstoppably dynamic, verging on hectic. While we love the city's pace, we recognize that even the most committed urbanities need a break every now and then. So we've come up with a few day trip suggestions, from the nearby suburb of Kifissia, to the easily accessible island of Aegina, and on to glorious, ancient Corinth.
Athens Day Trips
Leafy Suburb: Kifissia
Highlights: lovely park; upscale cafés; well-shaded lanes
Duration: three to five hours
Exertion level: low
Accessible by: metro
Though Kifissia is a suburb of Athens, it provides a definite escape from the hubbub and pace of Greece's biggest city.
Kifissia sits at the end of the green metro line about fifteen kilometers from the center of Athens. The suburb's vibe is at odds with that prevalent in Athens proper. It has a relaxed, genteel pace. The tiny newsagent on the corner sells newspapers in several languages, and one senses that Kifissia has its share of diplomats in residence. For a suburb of Athens, Kifissia is remarkably well shaded. Kifissia's park is inviting and cozy, and its narrow, leafy streets are quaint.
Go to Kifissia for its cafés, which spill out from trendy interiors onto sidewalks. The iced coffee you drink at a café in Kifissia will likely cost more than the coffees you purchased in Athens itself, but no matter. The key here is the pleasant ambiance. To find the most appealing cafés, walk along the park across from the metro stop. When you've reached the top of the park, poke around and find a café to nest in for a few hours, reading material in hand.
If a restful café break doesn't quite hit the spot, Kifissia is also home to the Goulandris Museum of National History, a fabulous investigation of Greek wildlife.
Ancient Jaunt: Corinth
Highlights: stunning ancient ruins; good hiking; edge of northern Peloponnese
Duration: six to ten hours
Exertion level: low to high
Accessible by: train, bus, taxi, foot
CCorinth itself, known from here on out as "modern" Corinth, isn't the most attractive city in Greece. Many guidebooks, in fact, will instruct you more or less to leave it alone. We find its modern tumult to be counter-intuitively interesting, though perhaps not deserving of a day trip.
The real appeal here is Ancient Corinth. Ancient Corinth is a sprawling site of major archaeological interest. Entrance to the main archaeological site costs €6 for adults and €6 for senior citizens of the E.U. and students. Highlights include the fifth century BC Temple of Apollo and remains of a Roman city.
Ancient Corinth's crowning glory is the Acrocorinth, which guards over the lower town. It's a longish walk from Ancient Corinth's lower town to the Acrocorinth, but it's definitely worth the exertion. And for those who can't make it by foot, there are taxis for hire.
The Acrocorinth is Corinth's ancient acropolis. It's packed full of remains of buildings erected by various inhabitants. Chapels and mosques provide some of the most striking evidence of the fortress's many former inhabitants, though there are countless examples of antiquity here.
It takes between 90 and 120 minutes to journey from Athens to Corinth by train. A round-trip train ticket between Athens and "modern" Corinth costs as little as €6. Buses leave every hour from modern Corinth to Ancient Corinth. For more information about Ancient Corinth, check out the Hellenic Ministry of Culture's Ancient Corinth page.
Though we don't often recommend relying on local tours to get around, we've found day tours to Corinth from Athens to be exceptionally good deals. These tours will typically consolidate all costs, offering both convenience and value in the process. Check with your hotel to price out Corinth day tours.
Island Escape: Aegina
Highlights: closest sizeable island; great swimming; quaint villages
Duration: six to ten hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: metro; hydrofoil
Aegina, the closest sizeable island to Athens, makes for a fantastic day trip. The island's main settlement, Aegina Town, manages to be both lively and relaxing, very much at odds with the hectic pace of the big city.
In Aegina Town itself, find pleasant cafés and restaurants and a gentle pace. Pistachios are the trademark local food, and if you're not offered a bowl of the local delicacy at a café, be sure to request a handful of nuts.
Beyond its relaxed cafés, Aegina Town features a lovely beach, Avra Beach, which is well serviced by beach vendors and tavernas alike. About five kilometers south of Aegina Town is the village of Marathonas, which has two great beaches of its own. To reach Marathonas, catch a bus in Aegina Town. Buses depart every hour from morning until late afternoon.
Farther afield is the Temple of Aphaia, which was constructed in the fifth century BC. The temple is a good distance from Aegina Town, however, and is best visited by car or bus. Buses between Aegina Town and the Temple of Aphaia leave every hour. Admission prices to the site are €4 for adults and €2 for senior citizens of the E.U. and students; 18 and under are free.
From Piraeus, Athens' port town, it's a quick boat journey to Aegina. Roundtrip tickets cost around €25. Make sure that your boat is headed for Aegina Town and not another destination on the island of Aegina. Other destinations on the island aren't as appealing as Aegina Town.
We like this unofficial guide to Aegina.
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