Last updated on April 9th, 2024 at 08:55 am

Visiting Cape Sounion from Athens is one of the best day trips you can enjoy from the Greek capital. The reason is that a day trip from Athens to Cape Sounion combines all those elements that are quintessentially Greek. The sea, the sun and glorious ancient ruins.

Cape Sounion is famous for the imposing Temple of Poseidon that adorns it. Yet, there’s more to see and enjoy there. In this guide, we’re showing you all the alternative ways to visit Cape Sounion from Athens, what to see there and other things to do in Cape Sounion if you have a little bit of extra time to spare.

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This image shows two stone benches in the arhaeological site.
Cape Sounio views

Where Is Cape Sounion

Cape Sounion (also spelt Sounio) is a promontory at the southernmost tip of the Attica region. The distance from Athens to Sounion is about 70 kilometres.

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Best Time To Visit Cape Sounion

We wouldn’t recommend visiting Cape Sounion in the summer and here’s why. First of all, the archaeological site of Cape Sounion can get very crowded in the summer. Secondly, the traffic to get there will likely be unbearable, as beaches around Sounion are among the most pristine beaches in Attica, hence very popular. Last but not least, you don’t want to climb to the Temple of Poseidon under the scorching summer sun.

On the other hand, winter isn’t a good time to visit Cape Sounion from Athens either. Due to its location, Cape Sounion is quite exposed to the elements. That means that if it gets windy, rainy or cold during your visit, your otherwise amazing day trip from Athens can be ruined.

The best seasons to visit Cape Sounion are spring and autumn when there are fewer crowds and the weather is mild.

This image shows the cafe in the archaeological site and the temple of Poseidon in the background.
Pick a sunny day to enjoy the outdoor café at the archaeological site

As far as timings go, the best time to visit Cape Sounion is sunset. The scenery in Cape Sounion fills with magic during the golden hour when the temple of Poseidon takes on a golden hue as the sky gradually turns from all shades of blue to black. Still, expect some crowds, but you can always find a quiet spot to enjoy the sunset.

Alternatively, sunrise in Cape Sounion is as magical as sunset. But you have to wake up very early to catch it. The best way to enjoy the sunrise is to spoil yourself and spend the night at one of the area’s luxury hotels.

How To Get To Cape Sounion From Athens

By Public Transport

You can get to Cape Sounion from Athens by KTEL Bus. KTEL is the company that runs suburban buses in Greece. KTEL Buses to Cape Sounion from Athens depart from Pedion Areos, a large park in the city centre.

The journey to Sounion by KTEL bus takes about two hours. We have to be honest here. It’s a bit risky to take the public bus if you want to catch the sunset, as the Athens to Sounion buses aren’t that frequent.

You can buy tickets from the driver once you board the bus. Only cash is accepted. You can see the timetables here.

This image shows a panoramic view of Athens city centre.
Getting to Cape Sounion from Athens by public transport can be tricky

By Car

If you want to explore the area at your own pace, the best option is to rent a car. Following the Athenian Riviera route, it will take you about one hour and 20 minutes to get to Cape Sounion from Athens by car. This is the best way to enjoy the scenic seaside route to Cape Sounion. Not only that, but you will also have the opportunity to make stops at pristine beaches and other gorgeous locations along the way.

You can find the best car rental deals here.

This image shows a winding road in the Athenian Riviera.
Who doesn’t like a scenic drive?

Joining a Tour

For a hassle-free experience, the easiest way to get to Cape Sounion from Athens is by joining a guided tour. Almost every available tour runs in the afternoon. This way, visitors can be in Cape Sounion in time for the sunset. We have handpicked the best Cape Sounion tours for you:

Booking a Private Sightseeing Tour

To get the most out of your day trip from Athens to Cape Sounion, the most stress-free option is to book a private sightseeing tour with Welcome Pickups. An English-speaking driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Athens Riviera and the Temple of Poseidon. The best part of this tour is that it’s fully customisable meaning that you can arrange the stops and the time you want to spend at every place.

Cape Sounion in Greek Mythology

But why visit Cape Sounion? What’s so fascinating about it? Well, the story behind Cape Sounion is one of the most fascinating in Ancient Greek mythology. The king of Ancient Athens, Aegeus, threw himself into the sea from Cape Sounion when he mistakenly thought that his son Theseus was dead. As a consequence, the Aegean Sea was named after him. But how did Aegeus end up drowning himself?

Minos was the king of Crete. During the Panathenaic Games, his son won the games against King Aegeus. However, King Minos’ son was killed by the Marathonian Bull. That was why King Minos declared war against Athens.

Crete won the war. As a result, the Athenians were forced to send seven men and seven women to Crete for the Minotaur to feast on every seven years. Or every nine years. Or every single year. There are just too many versions of the same myth in Greek mythology! Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the Minotaur.

The Minotaur was a vicious creature, half-man half-bull. Theseus, Aegeus’ son, decided to go to Crete and kill the Minotaur, thus stopping the killings of innocent Athenians by that terrible monster. And so he went.

This image shows the ruins of the houses in the settlement.
Theseus must have set sail from near this Sounion beach

Aegeus had asked one thing of Theseus. Upon his return from Crete, he should use a white sail on the ship if he had managed to kill the Minotaur. If the Minotaur killed Theseus, his men should put on the black sails for the return trip to Athens.

Theseus did kill the Minotaur in the Labyrinth with the help of Minos’ daughter, Ariadni. However, overcome by joy – and maybe a tad hangover after the winning celebrations – he and his men forgot about the one job they had and used the black sails instead of the white ones.

King Aegeus was standing on the edge of Cape Sounion waiting for his son to return. Seeing the black sails on the ship from afar, Aegeus thought his son was killed by the Minotaur. Devastated, he jumped into the sea from Cape Sounion.

This image shows a panoramic view of the temple of Poseidon on the top of the hill from a distance.
King Aegeus must have been standing somewhere around there

If you’re interested in Ancient Greek history and mythology,
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Things To Do in Cape Sounion

The Temple of Poseidon

The Temple of Poseidon is the most significant building of the sanctuary that stands at the top of the Cape Sounion archaeological site. It was built around 440 BC, on top of an older archaic temple that was destroyed by the Persians. The Temple of Poseidon was probably built by the same architect who built the Temple of Hephaistus in Thisseio.

Sculpted on the frieze of the temple, the Centaurs’ Battle and the Deeds of Theseus symbolise the importance of the victory of the Greeks against the Persians. History aside, the Temple of Poseidon also offers spectacular unobstructed views of the Saronic Gulf and the Aegean Sea beyond.

This image shows the temple of Poseidon, the most important thing to see on a day trip to Cape Sounion from Athens.
The impressive Temple of Poseidon

The Ancient Settlement

While the Temple of Poseidon is the highlight of your visit to Cape Sounion, the remains of the ancient settlement on the slope of the hill are equally impressive. Excavations have revealed the main street of the settlement. On both sides of the main street, you can see the layout of the houses and the way residential blocks were formed, with smaller streets crossing the main one.

This image shows the main street of the settlement.
The main street of the ancient town

The Temple of Poseidon and the Ancient Settlement are the main things to see at the archaeological site of Cape Sounion. However, there are other interesting remains to check out if your time allows it. These include the Ancient Port with its Ship Sheds and the nearby Temple of Athena.

For more information and admission fees click here.

Other Things To See Near Cape Sounion

If you decide to rent a car and want to further explore the Attica region, here are a few more suggestions for your day trip to Cape Sounion from Athens.

Incuse Chaos

Located in the National Park of Sounio, the heart-shaped Incuse Chaos is an impressive crater that was probably formed after the collapse of a cave’s roof. It is 55 metres deep and has a diameter of 120 metres. If you have time, it’s worth wandering around this area and taking in the otherworldly landscape.

Lavrio

Lavrio is a small town north of Cape Sounion. In ancient times, it was popular for its mining activity. The silver mines in Lavrio had a significant role in the Athenian economy during the 5th century BC.

The mines were used again in the late 19th century by French and Greek companies. During that period, many strikes took place, among which the 1896 one was the most violent. The mines were permanently closed in 1989.

The third largest port in Attica with ferries departing for several Greek Islands, Lavrio is home to many traditional Greek taverns where you can enjoy a delicious lunch.

Lake Vouliagmeni

Lake Vouliagmeni is a landscape of unfathomable natural beauty. We recommend a visit at the start of your day trip on your way to Cape Sounion. The lake is surrounded by looming rocks that create a dramatic scenery alongside the lake’s deep green waters. Lake Vouliagmeni is not just a lake, though. It used to be a cave. Yet when the roof’s cave collapsed, the lake as we know it today was created.

Lake Vouliagmeni is the ideal place to relax and swim in thermal waters before visiting Cape Sounion for sunset. You can find more information about opening hours and admission fees here.

This image shows a panoramic view of Vouliagmeni Lake. The lake is surrounded by rocks.
Lake Vouliagmeni

Not Just a Day Trip? Where To Stay in Cape Sounion

What’s better than a day trip to Cape Sounion from Athens? A weekend escape of course! If you want to explore the wonders of Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon without rushing, there are some high-end hotels there where you can splurge and be pampered for one night. Among them, Aegeon Beach Hotel would be our choice. This 4-star hotel grants you access to one of the area’s best beaches.

Planning a day trip to Cape Sounion from Athens is one of the best ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the Greek capital for a while, take in the charm of Attica’s glistening coast and marvel at one of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Greece.

This image shows Maria walking along the path of the archaeological site.
Maria enjoying the sun at Cape Sounio

WORDS & IMAGES: Katerina
EDITING: Maria

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