Athens is the ideal starting point from where one can get to know favourite spots. Archaeological treasures, small towns and villages, islands dotting clear-blue waters: the palette of choices is never-ending. Using excellent overland connections and frequent sea passages, the travellers can experience the wealth of Greece that unfurls around Athens. They may have their fill of trips, experiences, aromas, flavours, all day long. And if they so wish, they can be back in Athens by early evening to spend another enjoyable night in the metropolis.
The shining islands
Athens is privileged to be situated just a stone’s throw from island paradises that are Greece’s trademark. The travellers have countless options for a one-day trip, a weekend or for a longer tour.
Secure on an organized trip or with an air of independence, one can set sail on the all-embracing sea. All the islands share the age-old culture of the Aegean Sea and echo their ancient past. Mycenaean footprints, the clash of the Myrmidons, Byzantine monuments, and rich folklore are the common features intertwined in an enchanting fusion. Wherever one chooses to be, there are things to be discovered.
The islands of Aegina, Agkistri, Salamina, Hydra, and Poros are so close to Athens that they are a perfect idea even for one-day trips. Infrastructure is excellent, yet at the same time the environment is unspoilt. Aegina with the majestic ancient Temple of Aphaea, Agistri with its many sunken antiquities, Salamina with the cave of Euripides and boundless historical wealth, Poros, an island-pair consisting of Sfairia and Kalavria, are all islands which however much you visit, you never have your fill. And there are always new places to discover, new things to see. Ideal places to combine touring with the beauty of their surroundings. Hidden beaches, bicycle rides, pine-clad hills, archaeological treasures, traditional products and shops, nightlife, each island is a world of its own.
The dazzling Cyclades Islands also lie very close to Athens. Linked to Piraeus by a large number of ferries, as well as with services between them, they are a must for anyone wishing to get to know Greece. In particular the fact that frequent services link each island makes island-hopping very attractive, even within the same day. Naxos, Mykonos, Paros, Tinos, Santorini, the eternal Delos, need no introduction. The same goes for Sifnos, Sikinos, Folegandros and the entire circlet of the Cyclades. Here, between the thirty-sixth and the thirty-eighth parallel north, in the centre of the Aegean Archipelago, a magical circle of islands captivates the hearts of all.
To the east of Athens, easily accessible via the Suspension Bridge at Chalkida lies Evia, a large mystical island. It is a destination of great beauty, pine-clad in the north and a Cycladic ambience in the south, with wonderful villages and an immensely rich history – let us mention the Dragon Houses, picturesque Limni, and Dimosaris Gorge. Easily accessible by ferry lines too, Evia has been included in the Natura 2000 programme for protection of its unrivalled beauty.
Short trips – great excitement
Around Athens the other Greece opens up. So close, yet so different from the modern capital. Short trips by car, on the bus or the suburban railway, promise unexpected discoveries and excitement.
A trip to Acrocorinth provides a first acquaintance of the Peloponnese and its history. Further inland, but with equally easy access, one can discover unique spots. Lake Feneos, Kalavryta, Cave of the Lakes, Mount Chelmos and Zachlorou. The beauties of Peloponnese are enticingly close to Athens. Mycenae, Argos, Tyrinth and Nafplio can all be combined in a one-day trip. Epidaurus with its impressive theatre, Troezen with the prehistoric cave, Fragthi, all these mythical destinations are two hours at the most from the capital.
To the north of Athens lies Central Greece. The city-state of Delphi. Hidden archaeological treasures, such as Mycenaean Tolophon, ancient Amfissa, ancient Kirra in the Bay of Itea on the Corinthian Gulf, all await discovery by the traveller. The routes are exquisite, passing through magnificent forests and incomparable villages. Authentic Greece, with living tradition and a variety of flavours that promises to satisfy even the most demanding traveller.
Athens is at the heart of this magic!