One of the top things about a voyage to Athens is its proximity to outstanding whitewashed Greek islands, charming villages & ancient historical cities. Each has a clear-cut character, culture and color. The occupants themselves, known for their filoxenia or, graciousness & hospitality, will welcome you with a smile and ask for you to try their local specialties.
Even if you are in Athens for simply a couple of days, i urge you to spend a day or two at one of the below destinations. You will be glad you got along. While in Athens, hop on all over to one of the islands of the Argosaronic Gulf.
The islands off the coast of the Saronic Gulf are ideal one-day pickups. Agistri, Aigina, Hydra, Poros and Spetses are popular destinations amongst the Athenians, indicating their special standing among Greece's many islands. Cruises that tour the islands in one day are available, as are easy connections from each, should you choose to explore them at your leisure time. Enjoy.
1. Ancient Olympia
Where: Prefecture of Elia in southern Pelopponese 320 km (200 miles) south of Athens Why: One of the most sacred ancient centers of religious worship, Olympia, built in honor of Zeus and easily accessible by boat, was chosen as the birthplace of the
Olympic Games. In times of peace and war, the Greeks would compete for a crown wreath made of olive leaves. The Olympic Museum housing such ancient sports artifacts including bronze athletes' discuses; bronze strigils used by athletes to scrape the oil and dust off their bodies; and halters, stone or lead weights held by jumpers for greater momentum.
How to get there: By car, bus or train Approximate travel time from Athens: 4.5 hours by car Don't miss: The ancient stadium, the ancient gymnasium, the Temple of Zeus, considered to be one of the finest examples of Doric architecture.
Where: 145 kilometer (90 miles) southwest of Athens
Why: The first working capital of contemporary Greece, Nafplion, has one of the top pleasant ports and marble paved proms in Greece. The Venentian fortress higher up & the mini-castle on the tiny island in the harbor are factors that have held Nafplion one of the most charming towns in the Peloponnese. It is also your ideal home base for day trips to the ancient sites at Argos, Nemea, Mycenae, Tiryns, Epidavros, and Ancient Corinth.
How to go there: By car, bus or train Approximate travelling time from Athens: 3 hours Don't miss: Venetian Fortress of Palamidi; Bourtzi, the mini castle on a mini island in the harbor (a boat will take you there in the summer). Beaches: Arvanitia, Karathonas Must try: An ice-cream sundae at one of the numerous cafes on the promenade.
Where: 85 kilometer (53 nautical miles) southwest of Piraeus Why: Horse-drawn carriages through Venetian determined architecture, worldwide nightlife and a favored amongst Athenian aristocracy. How to get there: By high-speed hydrofoil from Piraeus. Connections available from neighbouring islands Hydra & Poros. By car: Drive to Costa (60 minutes) in the Peloponnesian Peninsula & get the 15-min ferry ride over.