The Acropolis is probably the highlight of Athens, but the city has many more corners to explore and behind each of them are mythological stories that fascinate travellers and locals alike. I tell you all about the best tours to discover them:
1. Guided bike tour of Athens
The use of bicycles is widespread in Athens, which is why there are many tours that use this means of transport to get around the city. The price of these tours, in addition to the guide's guidance throughout the tour, includes the rental of the bicycles. This option allows you to cover a larger area of the city in less time and avoiding crowds, which is why it is one of the most popular among guided tours.
In the two tours I propose, the bicycles used are electric and easy to handle, to avoid excessive fatigue on the part of the traveller. Even so, I recommend that you come to the tour with comfortable shoes (a helmet is included in the bike rental). When you make your reservation you can choose between the different dates and times available.
Three-hour guided tour
The three-hour bike tour of Athens is available in English, Spanish, Italian, French and Dutch and costs £30. Before you start your guide will give you safety instructions and bottled water for the tour. This is the itinerary for this option:
- Acropolis Hill (site where democracy was founded).
- The Herod Atticus Odeon Theatre
- The Acropolis Museum
- The Theatre of Dionysus (the first in the world)
- The Temple of Zeus
- Hadrian's Arch
- The Zappeion Conference & Exhibition Center
- The Presidential Mansion
- The National Garden
- The Plaka district (an Athens must-see)
- The Tower of the Winds and the first water clock
- The Agora or Athenian Square
- The Agora or Roman Square
Four-hour guided tour
If this tour is too short for you, there is also a four-hour bike tour of Athens with food and wine tasting available in English, French, Spanish and Italian. This one costs 66 euros, but also includes, in addition to the services of the guide and bike rental, water and food during the tour.
You will be able to taste two Greek delicacies: Souvlaki (a kind of meat skewer) and Loukoumades (a very popular Greek sweet). The main stops are:
- The Temple of Zeus
- Panathinaikó Stadium (where the first modern Olympic Games were held)
- Zappeion Conference & Exhibition Center
- The National Garden
- Syntagmatos Square
- The Hellenic Parliament
- The Academy of Athens
- The Museum of Athens
- The Central Market
- Monastiraki Square
- Hadrian's Bookshop
- The Tower of the Winds
- Athens Cathedral
- The Plaka quarter
2. Athens Mythological Walking Tour
I admit to being partial to this tour, and lovers of the ancient world will share my opinion once they have taken it. It's a four-hour walking tour of Athens, available in English and French, with the presence of a specialised guide and a wireless audio system that allows you to comfortably follow his directions. The best part? It focuses on Greek mythology and is for small groups of a maximum of 14 people.
What this tour consists of
The tour includes an in-depth visit to the Acropolis where you will visit its main monuments (Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechteion, Propylae, Theatre of Dionysus...) and you will be able to put their history into context thanks to the guide's explanations. If the names of Zeus, Hephaestus or Athena Ergani are familiar to you, prepare a pen and paper so that you can take note of everything you will discover about them.
Although the tour is focused on Athenian mythology, it does not leave behind historical explanations about the way of life of the city and its evolution since its foundation. If you have to choose only one tour to do during your visit to Athens, this is one of the most suitable for you in terms of duration and quality of the explanations. Don't hesitate to ask your guide for all kinds of recommendations to complete your visit to the Greek capital; he/she will be happy to give them to you.
Ana's Traveller Tip
The city of Athens has a lot of ancient history behind it, so the explanations of a guide in certain places are essential.
3. Tours to Delphi from Athens
The city of Delphi was described as "the centre of the world" in Ancient Greece and today its ruins are one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. If you travel to Athens you have the opportunity to visit these ruins, which are located just two hours' drive from the Greek capital. Delphi is home to key historical sites such as the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, the Sanctuary of Athena and the Delphi Museum itself.
There are many tours to Delphi from Athens, but I recommend you choose between these two: the same-day round trip or the two-day tour that also includes a visit to the Byzantine monasteries of Meteora. Here's what you need to know about each:
Delphi Day Trip
It costs £80 and includes entrance to the ruins, transfer to and from your hotel in Athens and the services of a specialised guide who will accompany you on the tour and give you a guided tour of the most important sites of Delphi including the archaeological museum and the temple of Athena Pronaia (the most photographed site in Deplfos). This day trip to Delphi from Athens is available in English, Spanish, Italian and French.
Delphi and Meteora two-day tour
If you have enough time during your trip, you can opt for this tour which combines a visit to the ruins of Delphi with a visit to the Byzantine temples of Meteora. You will spend the night in a 4-star hotel in Kalabaka with dinner and breakfast included. You can do this tour in English, French, Spanish or Italian.
This two-day tour to Delphi and Meteora from Athens includes: accommodation, meals with dinner and breakfast, transport between the points of interest, pick-up and drop-off directly from the hotel in Athens, entrance fees to the monuments included in the tour and the services of a specialized guide.
4. Private day tour of Athens and the Acropolis Museum
For true fans of Greek culture, this private day tour of Athens and the Acropolis Museum is the VIP choice among tours of the city. This is a private tour of Athens with a fully personalised service, where an expert guide will be at your disposal for half a day and can take you to the sites of your choice in a luxury air-conditioned vehicle, interspersed with walking tours of the sights of your choice.
Pick up and drop off at your hotel is included in the price, as well as entrance fees to the Acropolis and its museum; take the opportunity to visit this site with your guide during the tour instead of doing it on your own. Spend the rest of the time at more remote sites that are not so easy to see on your own.
The Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, Syntagma Square, the Dionysus Theatre... there are many options, but if you can't decide , ask your guide. He will guide you according to your interests and will know how to make the most of your time. Don't hesitate to ask him for gastronomic or any other kind of recommendations that may be useful for the rest of your trip.
5. Private Peloponnese highlights tour from Athens
The Peloponnese is a Greek peninsula linked to Athens by the Corinth Canal and located two hours away by road. Here you will find places of great cultural interest such as Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplio and Epidaurus. On this private tour of the highlights of the Peloponnese from Athens you will get to know them all with an expert guide who will be exclusively at your disposal.
The tour is available in English, Spanish and German and lasts one day. If you and your travel group are interested in Ancient History, I assure you that you will get the most out of this private tour. Wear comfortable clothes and don't hesitate to ask your guide for any recommendations that might be useful for the rest of the trip.
What is included in this tour
- Round trip transfer from your hotel in Athens in a luxury vehicle.
- Lunch by the sea in the town of Nafplio
- Personalised attention from an expert guide throughout the day
- Flexibility in route planning
6. Day trip to the Greek Islands from Athens
Who doesn't dream of visiting the Greek Islands one day? This day trip to the Greek Islands from Athens makes it possible to visit the Greek Islands in one day from Athens, something that would be difficult to do on your own. With this full day Greek Islands cruise you will visit three of the Greek Islands: Poros, Hydra and Aegina.
The tour costs are available in English, Spanish, French and Italian. A car will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the boat. On board you will enjoy a traditional Greek buffet lunch and a folklore show to make the most of the time spent travelling between islands.
Once you arrive at Poros, Hydra and Aegina you will have free time to enjoy the scenery, do some shopping or join additional guided tours organised by the cruise ship. This activity is ideal if you don't want to be left with the nagging feeling that you missed out on the Greek Islands after your visit to Athens.
7. Other popular excursions from Athens
If this selection is not enough, there are other places close to Athens that you can visit during your trip to Greece. However, for some of them you'll need more than a day if you want to see them in depth and take advantage of all they have to offer. Here are three more suggestions:
An island in the Aegean Sea that you've probably seen in photos. It is indeed the one with the white houses on the slope of a mountain. It's far enough away from Athens to get there and back in a day, but you can plan an inter-island flight and make it one of the stops on your trip. I recommend avoiding the summer months as this is one of the busiest islands in Greece.
Mykonos is party, party and more party. It's a great place to go with friends for unforgettable nights and sunsets. You can get there by ferry or plane from Athens or Santorini. Whichever option you choose, save your strength for your visit and book your accommodation as soon as possible.
If you're interested in seeing the temple of Poseidon, this is another excursion you can do from Athens, this time without spending more than a day.
If you are interested in excursions from Athens, you will also be interested in
When preparing a trip to Greece, the first thing that comes to mind is the islands. Athens has an impressive culture and history, but it lacks the clear waters and paradisiacal landscapes of the Greek Islands. That's why there are different cruises that take you to places close to the capital of Greece so that you don't have to give up anything during your trip.
If you want more information about this kind of excursions, I recommend you this article on Cruises in Athens where you will find recommendations and tips that will be useful during your trip.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to enjoy the city to the fullest and explore every corner of it, the tourist bus is one of the most efficient ways to do so. Get rid of the idea that tour buses tarnish an authentic experience and discover their benefits in my guide to the benefits of the bus. Athens Hop on Hop off Bus Tours.