If you’re visiting Athens, then one incredible trip you can do from the Greek capital is to visit the ancient and famous Delphi.
Delphi was seen by the ancient Greeks as the centre of the world. It lies in the mountains, near Mount Parnassus and is a truly unique location. This is the site where the legendary (female) Oracle used to give prophecies to people and many would travel huge distances to visit this sacred place and receive their prophecy. When you visit it really has an air of ‘something special’ about it – you can almost feel the history in this incredible setting. I still can’t believe they could build a city in such a remote location over 5,000 years ago!
Delphi is reachable by car from Athens in roughly 2.5hrs, and many companies offer tours there. We went with Michael’s Amazing Tours and had a fab guide called Panos. We drove straight to Delphi, and then made a few stops on the way back to make a day of it.
What to see at Delphi
At the Delphi site, there is the main site with the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, the legendary location of the Oracle giving her prophecies. There is then a good museum on site, detailing the history of the site and its excavation. Just down the road is then the Temple of Athena which is one of the most famous images of Delphi in all of the guide books (and of course on Instagram). I recommend allocating 2-3 hours for the whole site, and really take in the mountain views and the amazing feeling of this site.
Other places to visit on the way
Arachova is a mountain town (be prepared for the temperature drop) about 15 minutes from Delphi on the route back to Athens. It has lots of cute shops, pretty alleys and shops lit with fairy lights. We stopped and had a coffee for 15 minutes and spent about 45 minutes in total at the town.
B. Hosios Loukas Monastery
Hosios Loukas is about a 30 minute drive from Arachova, also on the route back to Athens. It’s an historic walled monastery and is one of the most important monuments of Byzantine architecture and art in Greece, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It lies in the mountains in a beautiful setting. The monastery itself is gorgeous and unlike any I’ve ever been in – it really did feel the point where East meets West. There is also an olive press on site, and small museum to learn about the history of the monastery. Overall we spent about 1.5 hours at the site.
Livadia is another 30 minute drive back towards Athens from Hosios Loukas and is known as the river village. It’s a nice place as the last stop on the drive back for a drink (cocktails for the non-driver, anyone?) to watch the sunset and relax. We spent about 30 minutes having a drink and watching the world go by.
After this stop, it’s time for the final 1.5 hour drive back to Athens. It’s a full on day, but a great way to see a few more areas of Greece and a totally different landscape to that of Athens.