Athens is a beautiful city full of people and new opportunities! However, sometimes you want to explore what else Greece has to offer because, after all, you might only be there once.
In order to make the most of your study abroad in Athens experience, I have compiled a few day trip options that might help you decide where to spend the precious free time you have.
1. The Oracle of Delphi Ruins
Delphi is a small ancient ruin site three hours outside of Athens. It seems like an eternity getting there, but the wait is worth the gorgeous view. Old columns, carved into the side of a mountain that touches the clouds, welcome you. The mythological oracle is a story I was not familiar with, so I looked up the story in order to understand the buildings better. I think investing in the history of this site beforehand will pay off when visiting.
If you take a walk up further into the mountain side you’ll pass impressive structures, like an old music theater and a sports stadium that the ancient Greeks used for disc throwing and running. If you choose to come here, I suggest you either get a guided tour (touristy, I know…) or get a public bus to the museum, which is about 10-minute walk from the archaeological site. The average price for both the museum and archeological site is about 12 euros total! Also, don’t forget to try and get a student discount while you’re here!
2. Hydra Island
I was lucky enough to have the beautiful Hydra Island as one of my day trips included in my AIFS program. This island is about 40-45 minutes by ferry from the center of Athens, which is extremely short if you know how the ferry system works in Greece.
The quaint little island is inhabited by locals, donkeys, and the occasional Greek cat. During the summer, tourists from around the world park their boats in the harbor while visiting the rocky, blue beaches. Although Hydra does have tourists, the number is considerably less than some other islands. I am a little biased because Hydra was my overall favorite island that I visited on my summer program.
This trip can easily be done on a weekend, if your schedule allows, or during the week for one day! Also, the main strip of the island can be walked in less than 15 minutes. Everything seems to be picturesque and perfect for a one-day stay for those who want to see a lesser-known island.
3. Nafplion Port
This port city is about an hour and a half from the center of the city by bus or car ride — perfect for a day trip from Athens.
Walk the cobblestone pathways full of shops and souvenirs. Nafplion is lovely for just walking around or sitting and having a coffee, soaking up the life around you. The pace is much slower here and can be seen as a little touristy with shop vendors catering to those who like to collect souvenirs.
If you have time, try checking out the Bourtzi castle, which lies in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Nafplion. This cute little city also is packed with blooming pink and purple flowers in neoclassical style squares. For all of the “Mamma Mia!” fans, the amount of blue doors will give you plenty of Instagram pictures for the rest of the year, so make sure to pack your overalls — yours truly forgot!
A two-hour drive from Athens will take you to one of the oldest theaters in Greece. Originally, the theater was used for medicinal purposes, like healing sicknesses with common medicine practices. However, as time went on the massive stadium started being used for plays and music concerts.
The reason this theater has become so special because of the mechanics the Greeks used in building the outdoor concert hall. If you stand in the middle of the stage and clap, the sound resonates through the whole stadium at the same volume. A popular thing to do is to start at the edge of the stage and work your way inward, clapping to see how the sound echoes and resonates. It is well worth it for history buff or architecture enthusiast.
5. National Archaeological Museum
So, this last one is a bit different but hear me out! The National Archaeological Museum is top-ranked in the world and has floor upon floors of ancient artifacts. Although it is not technically a day trip from Athens, you can stay in this building all day!
It is located close to the center of Athens by Omonoia Square. The fee for students is five euros and can be reached by the local metro. This museum has tons of rooms full of marble statues, ceramics, jewelry, and war weapons found right in Athens. Some of the pieces date back to the 5th century. If you like a good history lesson or just want to marvel at the relics the ancient Greeks used, then this is a must-go for you!