A day trip to Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
Sounio is the perfect day trip from Athens as it allows you to soak up the beauty of the countryside en route to the coast as well as experiencing the magic of the Temple of Poseidon and the beach. Cape Sounio is the ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, spending a day relaxing on the coast, enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and picturesque views. Sounio can easily be visited on a day trip from Athens and below I’ve detailed all you need to know to plan the perfect day out.
How to get to Sounio from Athens
There are various options on how to get to Sounio from Athens and which you choose depends on your budget, how much time you have available, and how much flexibility you want from your trip.
If you want the cheap and cheerful option, you’re best off choosing the public KTEL bus. The bus leaves from the Attica bus station (Pedion Areos/Mavromateon – 8 Leof. Alexandras, Athens, 106 82 Greece) and you’ll want to simply ask for the bus to Cape Sounion/Temple of Poseidon.
This doesn’t always leave from the same stop so it’s best to ask around! The bus to Cape Sounion leaves every hour between 07.30 and 17.30, takes around 90 minutes to reach Sounio, and costs around 12.50 for a return trip.
Top Tip: Try to get a seat on the right-hand side so you can make the most of the sea views en route.
If you’d rather have everything organized for you then you may prefer a guided tour from Athens to Cape Sounion. Most of these guided tours leave Athens in the afternoon in order to reach the coast by sunset so you are able to admire the Temple and the beach during the golden hour. This guided tour includes transfers in an air-conditioned minivan. There is also a stop off at the beach (from April onwards) so you’ll want to pack your swimsuit and towel!
Hop-On, Hop-Off Sounio Tour
For more flexibility, you may want to opt for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour which allows you to choose the stops that you want to explore at your own pace. The ticket for both Athens and Cape Sounion costs €45 and gives you two days to enjoy hopping on and off the bus in and around Athens (and nearby beaches!), as well as a sunset trip to Cape Sounion.
There is free WiFi onboard and audioguide commentaries in 16 languages. Your Cape Sounion tour will depart Athens at around 16.00 and will return to the city center for 20.00.
For a fully flexible yet organized tour, you can book a private driver who will be able to take you on a journey around Athens and Cape Sounion at your leisure, stopping off at your choice of destinations along the way.
If you wish, your ride can include any/all of the following: Acropolis Hill & Museum, Constitution Square, Syntagma Square for the Changing of Guards, the Athens Trilogy (The University of Athens, the Academy, and the National Library), the Panathenaic Stadium, Lycabettus Hill, Cape Sounion, and Vouliagmeni Lake. This gives you the chance to enjoy the beach or a long lunch at a traditional taverna without having to worry about leaving other travelers waiting.
Drive to Cape Sounion
Lastly, if you have a car or have local friends with a car, you can drive over to Cape Sounio, stopping off at beaches and viewpoints along the way. This only really makes sense if you have a car available for free as the cost of renting a car is likely to be more than just taking a tour!
The History and the Myth of the Temple of Poseidon
The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion was built during 444–440 BC as a place of worship and reverence for the Ancient Greek god of the sea. Its layout, thought to have been created by Iktinos, was designed to withstand the harsh coastal environment, with 16 Doric columns and a large front portico.
This temple is not only renowned for its spectacular location but also because it is linked to the legend of King Aegeus and his son Theseus. Aegeus’ son Theseus was sent to Crete to battle a Minotaur, and the returning ship was supposed to signal his victory (with white sails) or his defeat (with black sails).
Theseus had in fact beaten the Minotaur but had simply forgotten to change the color of the sails! As soon as Aegeus saw the ship returning with black sails he was devastated that his son had been defeated by the Minotaur, and thus plunged to his own death. The sea below took his name and it is still called Aegean.
Things to do near the Temple of Poseidon
You couldn’t go to the coast in Greece and not enjoy some seaside dining, so make sure you allow enough time to stop off in a taverna to enjoy some traditional dishes and local fresh fish. There is a café/restaurant on site at the Temple of Poseidon or there are a number of other tavernas located on and around the beach.
There are loads of beautiful beaches en route to Cape Sounio so you can choose whichever takes your fancy. The most popular is the Cape Sounio beach (the organised beach of Aegeon hotel underneath the temple) as well as Pasas and Akti Asimaki nearby. Alternatively, Agios Petros, Legrena and Charakas beaches are located a little further away (a car or taxi ride) so are somewhat quieter in summer but not ideal if you are on an organised day trip.
If you have a little extra time to spend exploring the sights around Athens then you should definitely consider a day trip to Cape Sounion. Even if you skip the beach and just head to the Temple of Poseidon for sunset you won’t be disappointed!