Take a week to traverse the northern Greek mainland on this efficient itinerary. With seven days, family with school-age children who want to see some lesser-known spots will start their drive from Athens. Head to Corinth and its famed ancient canal, stop in the seaside town of Nafpaktos, and wrap up your trip with the hillside temples of Delphi.

Highlights

  • Wander the ancient monuments of Athens
  • Cruise across the ancient Corinthian Canal
  • Take in the natural attractions of Aigialeia
  • Seek the oracle at the temples of Delphi

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Athens & Explore Ancient Monuments Athens
Day 2 Botanical Garden Mythology Tour for Kids & Corinth Canal Crossing Corinth
Day 3 Boat Trip in the Corinthian Gulf Corinth
Day 4 Explore the Natural Beauty of Aigialeia & Drive to Nafpaktos Nafpaktos
Day 5 Nafpaktos to Delphi via Galaxidi Delphi
Day 6 Delphi Tour & Activities for Kids Delphi
Day 7 Return to Athens & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Athens & Explore Ancient Monuments

Monastiraki Square and Sunset over Plaka
Monastiraki Square and sunset over Plaka

Welcome to Greece!

Once you've settled in at your lodgings, head out to experience Athens' unique blend of the ancient and the modern and admire major historical monuments on a relaxed walk. Follow Athens' famous walking route that connects its archaeological sections and marvel along the way at some of the city's most important and interesting sites. It's up to you whether you simply stroll around or purchase tickets for a deeper look at the sites.

Start outside the perimeter of the Temple of Olympian Zeus to admire the views and walk to the nearby Arch of Hadrian, which is entirely built with Pentelic marble without cement or mortar. The Parthenon and many other notable structures in Athens contain this same material. The arch is completely symmetrical, sitting at nearly 60 feet tall (18 m), 44 feet wide (13.5 m), and 7.5 feet deep (2.3 m). 

Following the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrianized street, you'll admire the Ancient Theater of Dionysus, the birthplace of Greek tragedy and the oldest theater in the world. Then you will cross the Herodes Atticus Roman amphitheater, known locally as the Herodion.

Your next stop is the Parthenon, built in the 5th century BCE atop the Acropolis (pro tip: the Parthenon is the building, the Acropolis is the hill). Atop the Acropolis, you can also visit the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaia, and the Erechtheion. This monument is the most accurate representation of Athens' splendor, power, and wealth during the Golden Age of Perikles.

Located to the northwest of the Acropolis, you can visit the Ancient Agora, the heart of ancient Athens. This was once the focus of political, commercial, administrative, and social activity, the religious and cultural center, and the seat of justice. Nearby you'll find the Roman Agora, the famed market of Caesar and Augustus built between 19-11 BCE. Inside the Roman Agora, you can visit the Tower of the Winds. The famous astronomer Andronikos of Kyrrhos designed this tall, octagonal building. It features an elaborate water clock on the inside, a sundial on the outside, and a weather vane on the top. You'll find the personifications of eight winds carved on the sides of the building, hence its nickname.

Lastly, visit the ruins of Kerameikos, ancient Athens' largest cemetery with many tombs. The area gets its name from the Greek word keramos, which means pottery. Before it was a cemetery, there were numerous pottery workshops at this site.

Day 2: Botanical Garden Mythology Tour for Kids & Corinth Canal Crossing

Learning About Greek Mythology in the Gardens - Photo from MAMAKITA
Learning about Greek mythology in the gardens [Photo from MAMAKITA]

Explore the myths and fables of the natural world inside the Ioulia & Alexandros N. Diomidis Botanical Garden

At the largest botanical garden in the southeastern Mediterranean, you'll be surrounded by over 4,000 species and subspecies of plants. As you stroll through the greenery, learn about the relationship between humans, nature, and plants. According to Ancient Greek legends, gods, goddesses, and nymphs always play with our imagination and travel around us in nature. 

This kid-friendly activity features a professional biologist who shares the stories of gods and goddesses. The ancient Greeks feared and worshipped nature, including the sea, sky, rivers, lakes, trees, and fountains, all designated as gods or mortals who changed shape to become a rock, a tree, or an animal. Listen to their various stories and learn the answers to questions within these stories, such as what connects the pine trees with Pitys and the relationship between the first feminist, Rodanthe of Corinth, and the roses.

At the end of the tour, you can stay and enjoy the gardens. The grounds are the perfect place for a family picnic and feature a well-protected playground.

Afterward, hop in the car and drive for roughly an hour along the Saronic Gulf to Corinth. You'll pause to cross the Corinth Canal by boat and travel back in time to the 7th century BCE. The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea, and is considered the second-most important place to visit in Greece, after the Parthenon.
You'll cross the canal in a traditional ship, cruising underneath the submersible bridges of Posidonia and Isthmia. As you squeeze through the narrow waterway flanked by cliffs, discover the history and construction of this unique site, including the Peloponnese's transformation to an island. Enjoy an up-close experience of this engineering marvel conceived over 2,000 years ago and learn why in his book "Corinthian," Pausanias famously wrote that, “whoever attempted to make the Peloponnese an island failed even before starting to dig the isthmus."

Day 3: Boat Trip in the Corinthian Gulf

Enjoy Free Time to Swim and Play on the Beach - Photo from MAMAKITA
Beach frolics [Photo from MAMAKITA]

Enjoy a family-friendly boating adventure in the Corinthian Gulf, a scenic waterway connecting the Aegean and Ionian Seas. You'll cruise out to sea on a high-speed rigid inflatable boat, passing through the crystal-clear waters and along the shores of Northern Peloponnese. This area is a favorite place amongst the local dolphins, and you may see them playing in the water!

Along the way, you'll pass the tiny islands of Diporta and Alkyonides and gaze at idyllic beaches and small fishing villages. Stop to admire coastal archaeological sites, such as Heraion, a sanctuary dedicated to Goddess Hera. You'll also see the 19th-century Melagkavi Lighthouse and the narrow canal connecting to Lake Vouliagmeni.

Your guide will make a stop at a white-sand beach with clear, turquoise water. Here, enjoy some free time to swim, play on the beach, or snorkel. Before heading back, you can snorkel and swim in the miniature cave called the Maltese Azure Window.

Day 4: Explore the Natural Beauty of Aigialeia & Drive to Nafpaktos

Vouraikos Gorge
Vouraikos Gorge

Explore the beauty of the Aigialeia region, situated by the northern tip of the scenic Peloponnese. You can start with the Odontotos Railway, a steep mountain railway that takes you to the alpine town of Kalavryta through the impressive Vouraikos Gorge. Many visitors opt to hike part of the distance (usually from Zachlorou to Kalavryta, or vice versa) to fully enjoy the area's natural beauty. Still, the railway alone will give you incredible panoramic views of the gorge and Aigialeia's scenic landscapes. 

An alternative to the railway is driving to Mt. Helmos, allowing you to lose yourself amongst endless alpine forests and creeks. This drive is ideal for hot summer days but can be done any time of year with the right equipment. Stop to enjoy an easy trek to the waterfalls near Mesorougi village, whose waters flow down from Ydata Stygos, the spring where Achilles became immortal. 

Whether you chose a railway adventure or a hiking excursion, you can end the day with a visit to a highly awarded olive farm in the village of Akrata. Relax in the shade of olive trees and absorb the amazing views of the Gulf of Corinth. You can even adopt an olive tree and receive its olive oil at home.

Continue your drive along the roughly 1.5-hour route between Corinth and Nafpaktos. Along the way, you can also stop at the village of Psathopyrgos, where you can enjoy fresh fish and take a refreshing swimming break. Or, if you're a history aficionado, visit the Ancient Theater of Aigeira just off the highway. This hidden gem dates back to the 3rd century BCE and features a chiseled orchestra area and stone-cut seating.

Spend the evening exploring Nafpaktos at your leisure.

Day 5: Nafpaktos to Delphi via Galaxidi

The old port and Nafpaktos

Take some time to explore the lovely seaside town of Nafpaktos. The historic town wraps around the scenic fortified old port, where you’d never guess the naval battle of Lepanto took place in the 16th century. The waterfront promenade, central square with views of the old port, and the statue of Miguel de Cervantes (to honor his participation in the Battle of Lepanto) have made Nafpaktos a favorite spot for locals and visitors.

Visit the hilltop Venetian castle or stroll around the historic port for a scenic view of the now-calm harbor and the Rio bridge that connects central Greece and the Peloponnesian peninsula. The Fethiye Mosque is the largest Ottoman-era mosque in the city, complemented by the old mansions along the streets. 

Then hit the road to head to Delphi, a drive of roughly 1.5 hours.

On the way, you can stop in Galaxidi. Famous for the wonderfully restored old shipowners' mansions, the coastal town of Galaxidi makes you feel like you are on an island rather than on mainland Greece. Take a stroll down the seafront promenade and enjoy the sea breeze with beautiful views and a choice of cafes and restaurants. If you hike through the pine forest across from the main promenade, you'll be rewarded with clear beaches and hidden coves.

Galaxidi is all about the locals, so grab any opportunity to engage in a discussion with the fishermen, the cafe staff, or little shop owners, they always have interesting stories to tell. Keep an eye out for the locally crafted miniature ships for a unique souvenir.

Day 6: Delphi Tour & Activities for Kids

Ancient Temple in Delphi
Ancient temple in Delphi

Discover the ancient archeological site of Delphi, known as the "center of the world," where Apollo spoke through his oracle. A family-friendly guide will lead you through this UNESCO World Heritage Site, set against a scenic mountain landscape. You'll explore the most sacred place of the ancient civilization while walking amongst ruins and learning all the secrets of the old prophecies.

As you discover different treasures of Delphi, you'll hear stories and myths of ancient Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes. Follow along the paths to view the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, and the preserved Theater. Then, walk up to the stadium for stunning views of olive groves and the Corinthian Gulf. 

After the tour, you'll explore your artistic skills and enjoy a unique painting workshop with a specialized guide. Choose your favorite scene of Delphi or its natural surroundings and work to create your own masterpiece. Your guide will help you learn a few painting techniques and offer advice as you work.

Once you've finished painting, let your little ones explore the nature around Delphi with an easy walk in the National Park of Mt. Parnassos. Established in 1938, the park encompasses Mt. Olympus and stands as one of the country's oldest national parks. Enjoy walking through the forest, in fields, and amongst the wildflowers with your babies, toddlers, and young kids. 

You'll walk along a circular path smooth enough to accommodate strollers. Along the way, your kiddos can peer into the entrance of the underground Eptastomos Cave. Deep inside sits the southernmost glacier in Europe, but the Ancient Greeks considered it one of the entrances to the underworld.

Keep an eye out for little black squirrels hiding in pine trees and golden eagles soaring through the sky. The ancient Greeks believed that Mt. Parnassos was the home of beautiful dancing forest nymphs that were the daughters of Gaia, also known as "Mother Earth."

Day 7: Return to Athens & Depart

Roman Agora in Athens

Head back to Athens to catch your flight home or onto your next adventure.

Map

Map of Family Exploration of Mainland Greece: Athens, Corinth, Nafpaktos & Delphi - 7 Days
Map of Family Exploration of Mainland Greece: Athens, Corinth, Nafpaktos & Delphi - 7 Days