Outdoor Activities in and Around Athens
Information on the facilities in Athens, the provinces of Attica and the Athenian countryside for outdoor activities: walks, hikes and cycling activities in the area...
The varied landscape in Greece means that there is a wide variety of outdoor activities available, including hiking and walking, cycling and mountain biking, climbing and water sports. There are also sites of ornithological importance, including Mount Ymittos.
Most tourist offices have information brochures in English and many of them have websites, with details on activities in each area.
There are companies that hire out specialised equipment for excursions.
Before heading out, it is suggested to check the weather.
Mount Parnitha: Situated north of Athens, much of this mountain range is a national park. The highest point is at 1,413m, which is the highest point in Attica. There are several trails for hiking and mountain biking, a number of caves to explore and also two mountain shelters.
Mount Ymittos: Situated in the eastern part of Athens, this mountain stands at 1,026m and is visible from most places in Athens. The Kaissariani monastery, built in the 11th century, is located on the slopes of the mountain: many walking trails start from there and run into the forest. A walk up this mountain provides panoramic views of the city.
Walking and Hiking Near Athens
There are many possibilities for hiking in Greece: near Athens, there are tracks on Mounts Parnitha and Ymittos, and at Marathon. There are approximately 3,500 Km of marked paths in Greece, which include the trans-European hiking routes, although there are a number of smaller paths that have been developed. The trans-European hiking routes E4 and E6 traverse Greece: the E4 starts in the Pyrenees and stretches into the central and northern part of the country; E6 passes between Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Florina and Alexandroupolis.
- For information on hiking in Greece from the Greek National Tourism Organisation: Click here
- Scale maps (1:50000 and 1:25000) of Greece can be purchased online from the Hellenic Military Geographical Service
Within Athens itself, there are a number of opportunities to discover the city on foot, either with guided walking tours or by following some of the itineraries suggested on Athens Info Guide.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Mountain biking is possible on Mount Parnitha and Mount Ymittos, where there are several tracks. Cycling events are sometimes organised by independent groups in the city centre. Many Athenians take their bikes for rides outside the city, either along the southern or eastern coast of Attica or even to the marinas and parks.
- Hellenic Cycling Federation (in Greek)
Tel: 210 685 9788
- Athens Bicycle Club: Bike club in Athens, organising excursions in and out of the Athens area and time trials for keen cyclists
Climbing is popular in Greece, and there are several climbing clubs in the Athens area. The mountains and crags offer a wide variety of challenges for climbers. Around Athens there are routes on the Ymittos and Parnitha mountains, with several climbing routes approximately 45m in length. Many routes in Greece are not suitable for climbing in summer due to the strong sun.
- Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing
Tel: 210 364 5904 / 210 363 6617
- Athens Mountaineering and Hiking Club (in Greek)
Tel: 210 821 8401
Routes.gr is a website with comprehensive information on climbing routes near Athens and in the Hellenic mountains, along with route descriptions and directions for getting there.
There are many opportunities for swimming in and near Athens. The most popular beaches are located in the southern suburbs, from Alimos to Voula, and also on the eastern coast near Marathonas and Schinias. Other popular swimming locations around Athens include Porto Heli and Porto Rafti, as well as some lakes, for example Vouliagmeni.
Snorkeling and scuba diving is possible off the Greek islands. With its climate and rocky underwater environment, Attica also offers plenty of diving opportunities on its coast throughout the year. Many diving centres are located in the Athens area and they offer diving courses and trips. Certified divers must have a valid diving certificate.
Windsurfing, kite surfing and waterskiing are other sports activities that can be enjoyed in the Athens area. The beaches of Rafina, Schinias, Lavrio, Varkiza and Loutsa are ideal places to practice windsurfing. Waterskiing is mainly organised off the beaches of Vouliagmeni and Varkiza.
Mount Ymittos is popular for bird-watching, with woodland and scrub birds, and some raptors, storks, and cranes. These can be found in spring and autumn.