As the cradle of European civilization, Greece is packed with remarkable ancient sights. From open-air theaters where Greek dramas were first performed to majestic temples ruins to the athletic facilities at the site of the first Olympic Games, here are our top picks of ancient sites accessible from Athens, Greece.
Corinth — 52 miles (83 km) from Athens
Though most of Corinth’s ruins date back to the Roman era, the fifth century BC, Temple of Apollo can be traced back to Classical Greece. As well as an archaeological site, Corinth also has an excellent museum. The museum houses lots of significant finds dating from ancient Greece.
Mycenae — 71 miles (115 km) from Athens
The UNESCO-listed ancient site of Mycenae is spread around the foothills of Mount Agios Ilias and Mount Zara. Between 1600 and 1200 BC, Mycenae was the most powerful kingdom in Greece and was even name-checked by Greek poet Homer, who told of the legend of King Agamemnon of Mycenae leading the Greek forces in the Trojan War.
Epidaurus — 87 miles (140 km) from Athens
The fourth-century BC Epidaurus Theater is the star of the show of this archaeological site in the northern Peloponnese. The 14,000-seater theater has astonishingly good acoustics; even a whisper at stage level can be heard from the seats farthest-up on the hillside.
Delphi — 110 miles (178 km) from Athens
Set on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, this archaeological complex was said to be home to the legendary Oracle of Delphi, who offered advice to leaders of the classical world from the Sanctuary of Apollo.
Olympia — 193 miles (310 km) from Athens
The site of the world’s first Olympic Games back in 776 BC, this fascinating mountainside complex includes remnants of the old sporting facilities, including a stadium, second-century BC gymnasium, and training hall. It also features structures that predate its time as a sports venue, such as the fifth-century Temple of Zeus. As the ancient Greek sight is a good distance from Athens, it’s best visited as part of a multi-day tour from the capital.
Lefkadia — 327 miles (527 km) from Athens
One of Greece’s less well-known ancient treasures, the theater of Mieza was discovered in 1922. Though smaller than its Epidaurus counterpart—it would have only hosted an estimated 1,500 audience members—the rock-carved venue is nevertheless fascinating, and has been restored to how it would have appeared back in the third and fourth century BC. It was a key venue in the town of Mieza, the site where Aristotle is said to have taught a young Alexander the Great.