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If you only have a few days in Greece, it’s easy to make the most of it because there are so many amazing things to see and do in Greece! We spent 3 days in Greece exploring Athens and Delphi. Even in 3 days, we were able to see the top things to do in Athens and some of our Athens bucket list. In addition to touring Athens, we explored a nearby town and archeological site, Delphi. Delphi Greece is must less touristic than Athens and gives you an off the map Greek experience! Keep reading to see how we went 3 days in Greece with this itinerary.
2 Days in Delphi
Upon arriving in Greece from Italy, we started our 3 days in Greece by going to the town of Delphi. Delphi is located in the mountainous regions of Greece about three hours from Athens. We stayed overnight in Delphi to make the driving easier.
Ancient Greek Ruins at Delphi
If you want to do a day trip to Delphi from Athens, it’s totally worth it! Delphi is located high on Mount Parnassus, which is amazing to think about. The ancient Greeks were able to make their way into the mountains and build a beautiful sanctuary without the technology we have today!
The ancient Greeks considered Delphi as the center of the world. Human occupation at Delphi can be traced back to the Neolithic period and many of the ruins today date back to the 6th century BC. Also called the Oracle of Delphi, Temple of Apollo at Delphi was where the oracle of Apollo would speak to the Greeks. The temple and Oracle were of great political and religious influence over Greece and because of their importance, the site grew into a cultural site. Over time, cultural structures including the gymnasium and stadium were added.
After the Ottoman domination in Greece, Delphi remained uninhabited for centuries. Over time, the village of Kastri and structures were built over the site. An informal investigation of Delphi began in the 15th century and continued to the 18th century by varied writers and researchers. In the 19th century, formal excavation of Delphi began. Delphi was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Temple of Apollo
Temple of Apollo was first built around the 7th century B.C. by the two legendary architects Trophonios and Agamedes. It was rebuilt multiple times up until 330 B.C. The Temple of Apollo was used as an ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to the god Apollo. The sanctuary housed the famous oracle of Apollo which gave cryptic predictions and guidance to the Greeks.
The temple’s foundation survives today along with several Doric columns made of porous stone and limestone. These materials are fairly soft and have caused for the temple’s advanced decay. Very little is known about the Temple of Apollo’s interior.
The stadium at Delphi is located further up the hill at the archeological site. It was originally constructed in the 5th century BC. About 6500 spectators could fit at the stadium! The ancient Greeks appreciated sports and athleticism. You can also visit the gymnasium which located a half mile away from the main sanctuary.
The theatre at Delphi gives amazing views of the valley below. It was built in the 4th century BC from local Parnassus limestone and was used for poetry readings, music, and plays. The theater could hold 5000 people!
The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed between 510 to 480 BC by the Athenians to house offerings by their city and citizens to the Temple of Apollo. The entire building is made of Parian marble.
Visit the Archeological Museum at Delphi
The Archeological Museum at Delphi is located at the archeological site so you can visit it after your tours the ruins! This museum house pieces of history that were found at the Delphi archeological site including mosaics and sculptures all that tell the story of ancient Delphi.
The most impressive artifact at the Archeological Museum at Delphi is the Charioteer. The Charioteer was discovered in 1896 at the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. This life-sized bronze sculpture is considered one of the best surviving examples of ancient Greek bronze sculptures.
The inscription on the base of the statute states” Polyzalus dedicated me. … Make him prosper, honored Apollo” indicating this sculpture was a tribute to Apollo.
Hike on Some Ancient Trails
If you’re looking to experience the mountains in Greece, you can hike some of the historic trails in one of the oldest National Parks in Greece, Parnassos. This National Park is located not far from Delphi and offers beautiful hiking trails. Greek claim that the trail Archaio Monopati is the oldest trail in the world!
During our stay in Delphi, we stayed at the Pan Hotel which was an adorable boutique style hotel in the modern town of Delphi. The hotel was very cozy and accommodating!
One Day in Athens
During our one day in Athens, we made the most of it by visiting the top things to do in Athens! Athens is a highly metropolitan city today; however, it retains much of its history through historic/archeological sites and museums. If you’re looking to get the most of your time in the city, consider doing a walking tour of Athens!
If you’re looking to get a more in-depth and local experience in Athens, consider booking a local guide!
Parthenon and Acropolis
The Parthenon is an ancient temple located on the Sacred Rock in Athens. This temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena and constructed in 447 BC. To the Athenians, the Parthenon and other monuments of the Acropolis were seen as a celebration of the Hellenic victory over Persian invaders and as a tribute to the gods. The Parthenon architectural sculptures were made of Pentelic marble and decorated with metal attachments and paint.
The term Acropolis refers to the entire ancient citadel and Sacred Rock in Athens. Other structures stand at the Acropolis aside from the famous Parthenon. You can also see the Temple of Athena Nike and the Old Temple of Athena.
Over time, the parts of the Parthenon and Acropolis were damaged, looted, and sold. In 1975, Greece began formal restoration and preservation of the ancient site. In 1987 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Acropolis Museum located near the Acropolis itself houses many of the marble sculptures and structures that need addition preservation. Inside you can see the marble sculptures, frieze, metopes, and pediments. These different pieces of the Acropolis are restructured inside of the museum in the same real-life dimensions as if they were still on the monument.
The pediments are the triangular spaces formed by the peak of the roof at each end of the temple. The east pediment above the temple entrance shows the birth of the Goddess Athena from the head of her father, Zeus. The west pediment shows the battle between Athena and Poseidon for the claim of the land of Attica, a fight which ended in Athena’s victory.
The Parthenon frieze, depict the Great Panathenaia, the greatest festival of the city in honor of the Goddess Athena. Unlike the pediments and metopes, these blocks depict civilians instead of gods and goddesses.
Many of the sculptures and marble work, the Elgin Marbles, from the Parthenon are actually located at the British Museum in London because they were sold to the 7th Earl of Elgin. It’s disputed that these pieces of history should be returned to their home country. However, arguments aside the artifacts are being well taken care of in both Greece and London
The Panathenaic Stadium
This modern stadium is located on the site of the ancient Greek stadium that would host the Panathenaic games! The ancient stadium was excavated in 1869 and hosted the Zappas Olympics in 1870 and 1875. After being rebuilt fully in marble (as the only stadium in the world fully constructed in marble!), it was the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896. It is also the finishing line for the annual Athens Classic Marathon.
During our visit to Athens, we stayed at the Hotel Poseidon which was right on the coast with beautiful views! The hotel was great for our stay before heading home!