Hiking in Athens is perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when planning a trip to the Greek capital. In all honesty, the majority of Athenian itineraries follow pretty much the same schedule: Acropolis. Check. Roman Agora. Check. Syntagma square. Check. After hitting the main touristic sites, people usually leave Athens and head to the islands, never having really seen all the beauty that the city has to offer. This is especially true when it comes to hikes and Athens walking trails.
Whether you are looking to go off the beaten path amid beautiful nature, or are open to the possibility of alternative walking routes through the city, some of the best hikes in Athens are detailed below. Note that routes mentioned on this list are accessible by public transport, and are no more than an hour or so away from Athens city centre (at maximum).
Hikes in Athens, Greece
Discover Ancient Monasteries Nestled in the Woodland
Difficulty Level: Beginner – Intermediate
Duration: 30 minutes to Kaisariani Monastery, three hours to the peak
One of the most tranquil and cultural routes as far as hikes in Athens go is to follow the worn footpath that leads through Vyronas forest, past the ancient monasteries of Kaisariani and Asteriou, and up to the peak of Mount Hymettus. The nice thing about this route is that it is flexible depending on hiking ability and interest – you can go as far along the trail as you like.
The route starts at the intersection of Leof. Eth. Antistaseos and Leof. Alimou Katechaki in Athens’ southern neighbourhood of Kaisariani. The easiest way to reach this point from the city centre is by using the 250 bus, or by taking a cab (the latter should cost no more than 4-5 euros).
After twenty minutes of walking along the trail you are met with the first monastery and notable landmark – Kaisariani monastery. The monastery’s interiors are every bit as beautiful as the structure’s grand exterior – filled with vibrantly coloured frescoes and Orthodox paintings. Just outside the courtyard, there is a charming little cafe where visitors can enjoy a coffee or a pastry amid the peaceful ambiance of the Vyronas forest.
Continuing onwards, the trail zig zags through the lush landscapes of the Vyronas forest and leads past the Asteriou monastery before gradually ascending towards the peak. Up here, hikers can enjoy one of the best views of Athens city.
Hike Lycabettus Hill at Sunset
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 45 minutes
The quaint white chapel that sits atop Athens’ Lycabettus Hill seemingly towers above the Greek capital. Though the peak looks relatively high, the route to the top is not at all challenging and the winding ascending path is very well-built and on stable terrain. From the top, you can enjoy some of the best views over the city which overlook the Acropolis, the Panathenaic stadium and the sun bleached ruins of central Athens. On a clear day, you can even see out to Piraeus port.
The best time to hike Lycabettus is at sunset as the skies are illuminated in picturesque hues of orange and pink. The whitewashed church at the top is well worth a visit (Agios Georgios), as are the paths that twist and turn through the woodlands and gardens scattered up the hill. The main entrance to Lycabettus is via the upscale Kolonaki neighbourhood which is a pleasant place to stop for a lunch prior to your hike, or for an evening tipple afterward.
Explore a Slice of Tranquility in the City Centre
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 1-2 hours
With ramshackle buildings and higgledy-piggledy streets, central Athens is not exactly the most attractive city in Europe. That said, it does have its areas of charm and tranquility amidst the chaos. The cobbled streets of Dionysiou and Apostolos Pavlos are two such examples. Running parallel to the Acropolis, these streets offer excellent views over the monument. On weekends and during the summer months, it is not uncommon to see musicians and street performers put on a show for the crowds here, and artisanal vendors setting up stores to sell their wares.
Dionysiou and Apostolos Pavlos are both very well sign posted. This is quite a touristic area and it is easy to see where all of the nearby sites of interest are located. From Dionysiou, a left turn leads to the foothills of Filopappou Hill. A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon in Athens is to explore the various walking trails that wind around Filopappou. Many points of historical and cultural interest can be found here – including Socrates prison, the quaint church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris and a scattering of ancient Greek ruins.
Ascend the Highest Peak in Attiki
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Duration: 3 hours +
Standing proud at a height of 1,413m, Mount Parnitha is the tallest mountain in the Attica region of Southern Greece. It boasts numerous hiking trails to the peak and around Parnitha’s slopes and woodland areas, thus acting as a perfect getaway from busy city life and into nature when visiting the Greek capital. Along the various routes, hikers will pass by dense woodlands and numerous defensive sites and crumbling fortresses.
Getting to Mount Parnitha is actually relatively easy. First of all you need to get to Kifissia (accessible via the Green metro line which runs through Omonia). From Kifissia station, hop on board the 504 bus to Thrakomakedones. You can ask the driver to notify you when you arrive. From Thrakomakedones, walk down Thrakis street until you reach an old turnstile and an area of greenery at the end of the street. This marks the entrance to the foothills of Mount Parnitha.
There are Mount Parnitha hiking trails to choose from, all of which which are numbered and well sign-posted. There are hikes that suit varying abilities and offer varying durations so it is important to check the specificities of each trail beforehand. Following the path from Thrakomakedones to Bafi refuge is a popular trail that leads to breathtaking views over Attica, with tiny Athens in the distance. It is popular to enjoy traditional Greek cuisine at the restaurant at Bafi refuge, to stay overnight and rest, or to continue onwards.
Several other trails in the area lead past wild deer, natural springs, and beautiful forests. Popular routes for hikers who consider their experience as beginner-intermediate are the trails from Bafi shelter to Skipiza, and Bafi Shelter to Mola. The duration of both routes is approximately 3.5 hours.
Trek Past Ancient Caves and Tranquil Lakes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 4 hours
The scenic trail that takes you to Marathon Lake is one of the lesser-known hikes in Athens. Marathon Lake is not exactly a tourist attraction. In fact, Marathon Lake is a man-made reservoir that was created to solve Athens’ water shortage several decades ago. With that said, its location in the heart of the beautiful Greek countryside makes it the perfect place for a spot of hiking.
One of the best trails to follow in this region is the route that leads from Oinos Gorge and winds up at Marathon Lake. Hikers should take the bus to “Oinos” from Pedio Areos station in central Athens. From Oinos, a worn,cobbled path leads you from Oinoi tower, past fields filled with cattle, beautiful woodlands, fragrant flower fields and ancient caves. The path is very well marked – just follow the signs for “route 4”.
The end of the Oinos – Marathon trail is obvious: You will see the waters of Marathon Lake glistening in front of you. The grassy banks of the lake make a lovely place to stop and have a picnic, or to an enjoy an iced Freddo espresso at one of the nearby cafes. If you have energy left over, you can walk onwards to the village of Vothonas and enjoy dinner at one of the local tavernas.
Explore Greece’s Smallest National Park
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 2-3 hours
Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon is a popular day trip to take from Athens. That said, the vast majority of day-trippers simply venture down to the temple, dine at local tavernas, and then return back to the city. Little do they know that the rewarding trails and nature of Greece’s smallest national park also awaits just a stone’s throw away.
Sounion National Park is neither well advertised nor well sign-posted which may well be one of the reasons why it is so frequently overlooked by travellers. To find the park, look out for an unmarked dirt trail that veers off from the main road towards the Temple of Poseidon. Follow the trail to the church of Agia Varvara. From here, an asphalt road leads you straight to the entrance of the park.
Archaeological work in this region suggests that cavemen resided in the shelters of Sounio National Park some 40,000 years ago. The path leads past ancient cave dwellings, tunnels that lead though the mountains and rock faces, and fragrant flower fields.
Wander Along the Kavouri Coastline
Difficulty Level: Easy
Duration: 2-3 hours
The Kavouri region is a glamorous, upscale area just south of Athens. This self-guided walk leads you along off-the-beaten-path beaches, past sprawling mansions, glamorous eateries, and areas of undisturbed natural beauty. Though Athens is often seen as a crowded, chaotic capital city, the beautiful coastline and the Athenian Riviera awaits just 30 minutes from the centre.
Start this urban hike at the Mikro Kavouri beach of the Athenian Riviera. One option is to spend the morning relaxing at the beach and swimming in its cerulean waters, before enjoying a traditional lunch at the nearby fish tavernas (Garbi restaurant and Gialos Vouliagmeni are local favourites). When the intense heat of the midday sun has subsided, you can enjoy a pleasant afternoon hiking from Mikro Kavouri beach to Makro Kavouri.
Stroll along the coastline and follow the footpath that leads away from the main road at Dim. Lampraki. The palm-tree lined path leads past areas of woodland and incredible coastal views. At its end, you will be met with the pebbled shores of Makro Kaovouri beach where you can reward yourself with a cocktail overlooking the sea at one of the chic bars nearby, or by swimming and snorkelling in the beach’s secret coves.
Advice for Hiking in Athens and Surroundings
Exploring the various hikes in Athens is a nice alternative way to spend some of your Athens itinerary. The majority of the trails included on this list are well-signposted and lead across stable, well-built footpaths. Hiking alone is generally okay, provided you let someone know of your plans and whereabouts. The routes and their areas are safe. That said, there are always things to keep in mind when planning hikes in Athens.
Pack Plenty of Water
The Athens hikes that lead through urban areas will provide you with plenty of opportunities to stop for refreshments but that is not so much the case at Hymettus, Parnitha, Sounion national park, and other routes. Ensure that you pack plenty of water with you as you will not have the chance to purchase more along the trail. It is also advisable to pack a few light hiking snacks. Keep in mind that it gets very hot in Southern Greece during the Spring and Summer months and dehydration is a real risk.
Download a Digital Map
A free offline map app that I always use for hiking is Maps.Me. Not only does the app show detailed maps of towns and cities, it also does the same for hiking areas and trails. The maps work offline and follow a GPS. This is much easier than carrying a paper map (though they can be purchased for most trails). Be sure to also pack a power bank in case your phone battery runs low while out hiking.
Wear Comfortable, Study Hiking Shoes
Comfortable hiking sandals offer the support that your feet need for walking for extended periods of time over sometimes rocky and bumpy paths. Wear flip flops at your peril!
Consider Travelling Further Afield
Those with a love of hiking and getting back to nature will certainly enjoy the beauty of the Saronic Gulf islands that are accessible within just a few hours of boat travel from Athens. The islands of Methana, Hydra, Poros, Spetses, Aegina, and Agistri all offer plentiful unspoiled natural beauty.
Have any questions about hiking in Athens Greece or about Athens travel in general? I live here in Athens’ quirky Pagrati neighbourhood and would be happy to assist with any questions you may have. Feel free to drop me a comment below. Safe travels! Melissa xo
Disclaimer: This article on hikes in Athens may contain affiliate links. This means that should you choose to make a purchase through one of the links contained here, I may obtain a small amount of commission at no additional cost to you. This aids me in managing the running costs of High Heels and a Backpack so that I can continue providing free Athens travel content.