Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, surrounded by sea and mountains, is a top destination for action seekers all year round. Simply pack the right equipment, bring along a mood for adventure, and get ready to discover a unique dynamic side of this city. The mountains around Athens offer nature's beauties and reveal history, myths and memories of the past. Meanwhile, at a stone’s throw away from the city centre you’ll come across a large number of excellent beaches (some of them well hidden), where you’ll get the chance to enjoy various activities and sports, moments that will remain unforgettable.
Head for the mountains
Mount Parnitha, home to a National Park, is the tallest mountain in Attica, located 30 km northwest of Athens. The Ancient Greeks believed that God Pan, with his goat hind legs, used to visit Parnitha to play music and dance.
On this mountain you’ll enjoy a large number of trails in a dense pine and fir forest ideal for hiking or mountain biking. Follow the signs in the area for Agiou Merkouriou leading you towards small caves as well as monasteries such as Agia Triada, Moni Kleiston, Moni Agiou Kyprianou and more.
One of the nicest and fairly easy trails is the one starting from Agia Triada church, goes through the fir forest and ends up to Panos Cave where you can admire a rich “collection” of stalagmites and stalactites in its interior. Then again, if you are thinking of giving yourself an adrenaline rush try to cross the gorge starting from the cave and ending up to Moni Kleiston Monastery.
Some other excellent hiking paths are those from Mola to Katsimidi and from Bafi Refuge to Thrakomakedones. You can have an overnight stay on the mountain at Bafi Refuge (alt. 1,160 m) or at Flambouri Refuge (alt. 1,158 m) with a sleeping capacity of 50 people/refuge. If you are a climbing lover, Parnitha will not disappoint you. Test your strength in the climbing areas of ‘Arma,’ ‘Katevasma Gouras,’ ‘Flambouri,’ ‘korakofolia,’ and ‘Megalo Armeni.’
In case you want to stay close to Athens, test your strengths in hiking or in downhilling Ymittos Aesthetic Park, which has a dense network of well-signposted walking routes and trails passing through beautiful glades in the pine forest that offer panoramic views of Athens and the Saronic Gulf. The routes Kalopoula-Fragkomonastiro or Kalopoula-Pyrgos Anthoussas are ideal for jogging, while the challenging circular route of Agios Giannis Kynigos is only for the very well-trained hikers.
If you have an off-road vehicle, the dirt roads of Penteli (towards the radar) and Dionysos (from the German Cemetery to Stamata) offer an exciting adrenaline rush.
Conquer the snowy mountain slopes!
Once the first snow falls winter sport enthusiasts from the capital of Athens – among others- head toward Mt. Parnassos for experiencing the ultimate adventure. Here, the serenity of the white snowy landscape contrasts with the intensity of the human will and endurance. The premium ski resort of Parnassos, the largest in Greece, has excellent infrastructure and spectacular breathtaking ski runs. Among the overall 23 ski runs, the red runs, presenting the greatest degree of difficulty, are Odysseus at Kellaria, Charioteer and Sahara at Fterolakka. For extreme downhill skiing choose among 12 off-pistes runs with deep powder snow!
So after experiencing downhill skiing or snowboarding at the red runs of Parnassos, slaloming on its snowy ski runs, on off-pistes runs, night skiing or snowmobiling in the pine forest, you’ll have an adrenaline buzz packed with energy for hours on end.
Scour the seas to seek their beauty!
The endless coastal terrain of Attica offers tourists many thrills. Just thirty minutes from the city-center, the famous Athenian Riviera welcomes the visitors and offers them what they dream and much more! Along the Saronic Gulf, dozens of sandy beaches with suitable facilities for water-sports and many free shores stretch from the southern suburbs of Athens to Cape Sounion. The western coast of Attica completes the coastal panorama. Most beaches are ideal for water skiing. There are, however, some favourite ones by skiers because of their location and the facilities offered by the nautical clubs and schools located there; among these are Karavi at Marathonas, Eden Beach at Saronida, Vouliagmeni, Voula and Lagonisi. So get into the best possible mood and indulge in an all-day adrenaline party, going for all kinds of skiing: bare-foot, mono ski, double ski, wake board, knee board...
Gone with the wind!
The water track and field of Attica is a paradise for surfers. People who enjoy wind and kite surfing can practice slalom and freestyle. Windsurfing schools and equipment shops facilitate things for those deciding to take part in the thrilling activity on a whim. Favourite hot-spots are the beaches of Marathonas, Schinias, Anavyssos, Varkiza, Loutsa and Vouliagmeni.
Sail to windward!
If you have a yacht or if you rent one, then you can enjoy the coast of Attica and beyond. Travel cost to cost to the Temple of Poseidon, at Sounion and set sails and head for the Saronic Gulf Islands: Spetses, Hydra, Poros, Methana, Agkistri, Aegina. If you are interested in sailing races sign in to participate in one among the many races held each summer.
An underwater universe!
The clear water, the stunning underwater seascapes and the impressive morphology of the seabed will fascinate you. Underwater walls, cavities, caves and canyons, reefs full of life as well as wrecks offer the divers images of unparalle beauty.
The magnificent shimmering colour of sunlight, as it reflects on the transparent water, gives a sense of peace and eternity. The deep blue of the sea is illuminated by the bright colors of the red coral reefs, adorned with colorful shells and orange starfish, making up an invisible world, yet pulsating and alive. The entrancing iridescence of the sunlight, diffracted by the crystal-clear waters, the sense of peace and eternity prevailing beneath the surface of the sea, the reduction in human weight lending a sensation of flight and freedom, all make diving an exhilarating experience.
In the Attica region there are more than 40 diving destinations. Certain diving destinations are extremely popular and have become meeting points for scuba-divers to share their passion for exploring the deep, for undertaking underwater photography or for underwater fishing.
Limanakia in Vouliagmeni, the so-called Erotospilia near Porto Rafti, Patroklos Isle near Cape Sounion with the two famous shipwrecks, the small islands Arsida and Pothitos near Anavyssos and Fleves and Flevopoula at the 49 km of the west coast of Attica are among the most popular destinations for scuba divers.
Also within close reach of Athens lies the island of Salamina, where scuba diving is allowed in the marine archaeological site.