Delphi vs Meteora: Choosing an Athens Day Trip

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by Olivia Ellis


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While time in Greece is typically spent at one of the many diverse and exciting Greek islands or the capital city of Athens, there’s much more that the ancient country of Greece has to offer. If you’re spending time in Athens, a day trip to the historic sites of Delphi or Meteora is the perfect addition.

In general, choose Delphi if you want to visit striking Ancient Greek ruins that are easily accessible and within quick reach of Athens. On the other hand, Meteora is great for those interested in Greek Orthodox history and are happy for a bit of hiking.

From the Ancient archaeological site of Delphi, magically situated on the slopes of Mount Parnassus to the monasteries in Meteora located on otherworldly rock formations, read on to decide which day trip is better for you!

Delphi

One of the most well-regarded and popular ancient archaeological sites in Greece, Delphi is a mystical site in central Greece known to once have been the home of the famous Oracle of Delphi. For ancient Greeks, Delphi marked the center of the world and to this day, Delphi is an incredible place to visit.

Temple of Apollo in Delphi
Temple of Apollo in Delphi

Accessibility

Located around 180 km northwest of Athens, Delphi is easily accessible, both by public transportation and car.

If car transportation isn’t an option, or for whatever reason, you prefer to take public transportation to the site of Delphi, Greece’s national bus system, or “KTEL” which offers direct buses to Delphi from Athens. Buses depart from either Athens’ Liossion or KTEL bus station frequently, with a journey of around 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Accessibility is an important factor to consider when deciding between visiting Meteora or Delphi, as the bus connection to Meteora from Athens isn’t direct, leaving you with the necessity of taking a taxi.

The bus journey to Delphi itself is a treat, transporting you away from the city through rural Greece, passing small countryside villages, and winding through ancient Olive groves.

Due to the bus route being the only mode of public transportation to Delphi, it’s a popular journey that books up quickly, so it’s best to reserve tickets in advance. Find and book bus tickets here.

If you decide to travel by car, Delphi is an enjoyable road trip from Athens. In under 3 hours, you’ll arrive at the ancient archaeological site of Delphi. You can browse car rental options here.

Once arriving at Delphi, all of the important sites that you’ll want to see during your visit are close to each other, making it easy to get around if you’ve traveled by bus.

The two main parts of the area that are essential to a visit to Delphi, are the Archaeological Site of Delphi and the Archaeological Museum of Delphi and both are within walking distance to each other.

Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia
Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia

Affordability

The affordability of any given destination is also an incredibly important factor when planning a trip.

With that being said, is Delphi an affordable destination? Well, the main costs for a day trip to Delphi are ultimately transportation, activities, and restaurants.

We’ve covered transportation, bus tickets, and car rental, which ends up coming out to be pretty affordable for a day trip from Athens.

As for activities, admission for both the Archaeological Site of Delphi and the Archaeological Museum of Delphi are combined, typically €12 with reduced tickets available in low season and for concessions. Tickets can be booked here.

Meteora on the other hand, is free to enter if you’re just wishing to visit the rock formations and outdoor area. If you wish to visit the monasteries upon the rocks of Meteora, you’ll have to pay a small fee at each monastery.

This still comes out cheaper compared to Delphi, if you’re trying to decide whether to visit Delphi or Meteora when it comes to activities costs.

Beyond transportation and activities, food will be your other main cost with a day trip leaving you to plan for at least one meal out during your time in Delphi.

Luckily, Greece in general is quite affordable when it comes to eating out and Delphi is no different. Most taverns/restaurants in the area are local small-town restaurants with local prices and delicious food.

Statue of Sphinx in Delphi Museum
Statue of Sphinx in Delphi Museum

Things to do in Delphi

It’s no surprise that Delphi is one of the most famous Ancient Greek sites, not just known in Greece, but also internationally.

From the enigmatic and ethereal archaeological site of Delphi to the local, quaint, nearby town of Arachova, Delphi has a great deal to offer to anyone looking for a rich and meaningful day trip from Athens.

If you plan to visit the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, it’s best to visit first before spending time at the Archaeological Site of Delphi. The museum is home to an impressive collection of artifacts from Ancient Greece, along with many famous statues from the time.

Known as one of the most important museums in Greece, I highly recommend visiting if you’re keen to dive further into the history of the area and Ancient Greece.

At the Archaeological Site of Delphi, you can explore the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena.

You’ll also have the opportunity to wander through the sacred ruins of Delphi along the “sacred way” and witness the Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle of Delphi would deliver her prophecies to the ancient inhabitants of Delphi.

After exploring the Archaeological Site and the museum of Delphi, a great way to round out your day is by heading to the nearby town of Arachova for a delicious meal and stunning surroundings. Arachova is a quaint, classic Greek mountain town, known for its buzzing winter skiing atmosphere as well as an ideal stop near Delphi for lovely views, delicious food, and pleasant locals.

Arachova village
Arachova village

Day Tours from Athens to Delphi

If you prefer to visit Delphi with a group, giving you flexibility in planning and transportation, these guided tours are ideal for a day from Athens to Delphi:

For those interested in exploring the Archaeological Site and Museum of Delphi as well as the local mountain town of Arachova, this full day tour is a great option.

The trip includes comfortable coach transportation to/from Athens, time at the Archaeological Sites of Delphi, and stops in the towns of Livadia & Arachova.

This guided tour offers hotel pickup to/from Athens in a comfortable coach, admission to both the Archaeological Site and Museum of Delphi, an informative guide while visiting the sites, and free time to spend in the towns of Arachova and Levadia. You can also book a private tour with a similar route.

Of course, if you can’t decide between the two of them, then this two-day tour takes a trip to both Meteora and Delphi.

Ruins in Delphi
Historical Delphi

Meteora

Meteora, like Delphi, is an important destination in Greece regarding ancient sites and monuments. Located in central Greece, Meteora is renowned for its mesmerizing rock formations, which are the bases for stunning Eastern Orthodox Monasteries.

Meteora, along with the area surrounding it, is extremely unique, stunning, and the perfect day trip from Athens and an excellent addition to any trip to Greece.

Accessibility

When it comes to public transportation, reaching Meteora is relatively straightforward, albeit with a few limitations.

If you’re traveling from Athens and prefer public transportation, Greece’s train system offers direct trains to Kalambaka, the town where Meteora is located. Trains depart regularly from Athens’ Larissa Station, and the journey typically takes around 5 hours.

When deciding between Meteora and Delphi and an important factor for you is being able to take a bus, the only bus option from Athens to Meteora is to take a bus from Athens to the town of Trikala. From there, it’s necessary to take a taxi to Meteora.

Similar to the journey from Athens to Delphi, the bus, car, and train journeys to Meteora are beautiful journeys. As you leave Athens, you’ll mainly be traveling through the Greek countryside, passing picturesque villages and ancient, lush landscapes along the way.

If you decide to drive to Meteora from Athens, be aware that the journey is longer as Meteora is further away from Athens compared to driving to Delphi from Athens in around 2 ½ hours.

Meteora rocks
Meteora rocks

Affordability

When compared to a Delphi, a day trip to Meteora does come out more expensive due to a few particular costs. If you decide to drive during your day trip, costs will be around the same for car rental with total gas costs being slightly more expensive if you head to Meteora vs Delphi.

Additionally, if public transportation is your mode of transport for the day, Meteora comes out more expensive as well, compared to Delphi. With roundtrip train tickets being a lot more pricey, and bus and taxi even more expensive as well, it’s safe to say that transportation to Meteora isn’t the most affordable option.

On the contrary, Kalambaka, the city that you’ll spend most of your time in while you’re not exploring the monasteries and landscape of Meteora, is a budget-friendly city with local prices, similar to those of Delphi.

Furthermore, the activity costs of visiting Meteora are affordable as well, with the only costs being small entry fees to each of the monasteries that you wish to visit. Meteora itself is a free site, with open access to the UNESCO site and outside of the monasteries being free to access.

The Holy Monastery of Rousanou
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou

Things to do in Meteora

Meteora, literally meaning “suspended in the sky” is an unforgettable destination for anyone searching for a mesmerizing day trip from Athens.

As one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in Greece, Meteora has something for everyone; whether you’re someone interested in Eastern Orthodoxy and Monasteries, or you’re a nature lover – keen on hiking the trails to the top of Meteora.

As the largest archaeological site in Greece, Meteora holds a special experience, no matter why you visit or the time of year that you visit.

Hiking through the ancient trails of Meteora to the top of the iconic geological formations is an incredibly special experience and a must for anyone visiting Meteora that appreciates both nature and history. While it is possible to drive to most of the monasteries that make up Meteora, hiking to them adds to the experience of visiting Meteora.

In total, there are 6 monasteries atop the magnificent rock pillars of Meteora, all unique, but also serene, extraordinary, and magical.

The 6 remaining monasteries, St. Nikolaos Anapafsas, Great Meteoron, Roussanou, Holy Trinity, Varlaam and St. Stephen’s have varying visiting hours depending on the day and season, so if there’s a particular one that you wish to visit, try and plan your trip accordingly.

The Monasteries/Nunneries are all still active Monasteries/Nunneries, so a strict dress code is in place, but with the entry fee for each monastery, an appropriate covering is included if you aren’t prepared. To be further captivated by this remarkable location, try to stay for sunset and witness an otherworldly sunset suspended in the air atop the cliffs of Meteora.

After exploring Meteora or throughout your day, make sure to spend time in the local town of Kalambaka. Although small in size, Kalambaka has a fair amount of restaurants, bakeries, bars, and pleasant shops to visit and get a taste of local life in Meteora.

Agios Stephanos Monastery in Meteora
Agios Stephanos Monastery in Meteora

Day Tours from Athens to Meteora

While you may be set on embarking on a day trip to Meteora from Athens, a guided, pre-organized tour may be what suits your preferences better than traveling and planning the day alone.

If you’re interested in exploring outside of the monasteries of Meteora, this guided tour is a great option, as it not only includes round-trip train transport to/from Athens, a local guide accompaniment, and time in 3 of the 6 monasteries but also some time in the nearby hermit caves and the village of Kastraki.

This guided tour is a full-day trip, including return train transport from Athens to Meteora, visits to 3 of the remaining monasteries of Meteora, and a local guide to accompany you throughout the day, giving an in-depth look and context into Meteora. You can also book a private tour here.

Sunset in Meteora
Sunset in Meteora

Delphi vs Meteora: Which is Better to Visit

While both Delphi and Meteora are extraordinary sites and destinations in Greece, you may only have time to visit one of the two as a day trip from Athens. Ultimately, the best between the two is the one that suits your needs and interests best.

Both places are steeped in rich history, like the majority of sites in Greece, but Delphi and Meteora make up different parts and facets of Greek history.

Delphi is the spot for you if you’re someone with a deep interest in Ancient Greek history and mythology, whereas Meteora is the ideal day trip for you if you’re more interested in Eastern Greek orthodoxy and visiting Monasteries.

Following a pattern, both sites are also located in striking natural beauty, but with a few differences. Delphi is located in an incredibly peaceful landscape but is in quite a small area compared to the size of Meteora. Meteora on the other hand, is the largest archaeological site in Greece in terms of land mass.

If you prefer visiting somewhere that’s tranquil and peaceful but with not too much walking, Delphi is ideal. Otherwise, Meteora is an amazing spot for anyone searching to get outdoors and enjoy one of the many hiking trails in the area.

Regardless of which day trip you choose, you’re in for an unforgettable experience in one of Greece’s most important, historic, and awe-inspiring sites. A trip to Meteora and Delphi is one of the best things you could add to your Greek itinerary!

Are you planning to visit Meteora or Delphi? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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