Just a 50-minute drive from Athens for a traffic-free hour, Sounion at the southern tip of Attica makes a perfect day trip. You can easily get there in the morning to enjoy a swim, lunch, coffee, sunset, climb to the magnificent Temple of Poseidon, then return to Athens, where you can find your vacation nest and spend a few days to a few weeks without ever getting more and more bored. Along with neighbor Lavrio (only eight kilometers from Sounion) there is plenty to see and do in this verdant region with crystal clear waters, special energy and excellent cuisine.
Certainly, the main reason to visit Cape Sounion is to explore the Temple of Poseidon in 444 BC. The temple is designed according to sacred geometry and the mystics say it is positioned exactly under four stars which are the “portals to the universe”. It’s no surprise that its vibe is spellbinding, which is why visionaries such as Lord Byron, who engraved his name on one of the temple’s doorposts, have found so much inspiration here.
I had the pleasure of hearing the scoop on Sounion alive from Kostis Kapsimalis, a good friend who has been to Sounion since he was born because his family has a home there. Just so you understand, Kostis is the sporty, active, nature lover and adventurous type which means he goes to Sounion all year round, is a winter swimmer and has explored virtually every cove, trail walks and restaurants. His deep love for the area shines through here, as it describes all the must-see spots in nearby Sounion and Lavrio.
So much for the obvious reason that crowds of visitors visit Sounion in the summer: its beautiful beaches, most of which are unremarkable but are known for their clean waters, pretty surrounding greenery, and laid-back, tranquil vibe.
If you’re the type who prefers organized beaches (with loungers and umbrellas for hire), head to the beach under the Aegeon Hotel, which is built practically below the Temple of Poseidon, offering great, uncensored views. . Another organized beach in the area, but closer to Lavrio, is Xenia Sto Melissi, which is also home to Camp Punta Zeza, a children’s summer camp. And for a beach with showers, a hotel and a tavern but no sunbeds or umbrellas to rent, go to the beach at the Hotel Assimakis.
One of the most beautiful shores in Attica is KAPE (with an emphasis on the ‘e’), named after the ancient villa which is owned by the Goulandris family and which is now a center for renewable energy sources. . Here you will find a pebble beach and a nudist beach which faces the islet of Patroklo (on which many boats have crashed over time). Further on is the huge and picturesque Legrena Beach which has soft and pleasant sand but is not the easiest to swim as there are slabs of stone which can be slippery, and Harakas Beach.
The rest of the coastal area from Sounion towards Lavrio is also picturesque but sadly, as in most of Greece’s coastal towns (as in the case of Mati, which tragically burned to a crisp last summer), the sea is not accessible due to houses being (mostly illegally) built along the shore, thus blocking access. Kostis cautions that the road here narrows considerably and is full of twists and turns, so stay alert while driving.
If you want to plan some water fun like scuba diving or sailing, head to Lavrio where you can rent boats or equipment or even take scuba lessons.
Eat and drink
Whether you are visiting the area for a few hours or a few weeks, you can be assured that there are plenty of quality dining options of all kinds – for the quiet romantic couples, a gang of rowdy friends, or a hungry family. One of the oldest and best taverns here, Kostis assures us, is the Syrtaki, which composes in finesse, fresh flavors of the sea and in service what he lacks in his eyes. If you go straight from a sunset walk to the Temple at dinner, follow the road down to the Aegeon Hotel for dinner, or go even further to the waterfront to try classic Greek dishes at Elias. Meat lovers can opt for Sounion and Lavrio between Ginis, Stamatis and Farma Bralou, while seafood lovers can enjoy the local fishing in Artemis, Psarrou or Akrogiali. In Lavrio, visit the Pezodromos (Ermou Street) for a wide variety of great food like at Steki Tou Mina, Atherinaki, Capetanios or the only remaining fish tavern in town, Sakkas.
For a more upscale experience, head to Feggon, a bakery serving modern and creative Greek cuisine from where one can also buy cold cuts to take away. If you prefer souvlaki there are plenty of options as well, while on the exit from Lavrio towards Athens stop at Faros for fish or Tarsanas where the somewhat eccentric owner will offer you a special daily menu. in a unique environment.
Beyond the legendary temple and attractive villages, take the forest road (Ethnikos Drimos) parallel to the road from Sounion to Lavrio and take various trails to see two chapels, ancient wells (be careful not to fall in!) And a massive crater called ‘Chaos’ which you can walk around from above. In the afternoon or in the evening, take a walk along the Lavrion marina, admire the sailboats and further on the psaradika fishing caiques which give a real impression of an island.
SUPERIOR COUNCIL: If you’re spending the night, don’t miss an evening watching a movie on the big screen under the stars, at the tree-filled open-air cinema oddly called “Age of Innocence.”
Getting There : By car, Sounion can be reached from Attiki Odos in 50-80 minutes depending on traffic, or for a slower journey, between 70-90 minutes, from the southern coastal road of Paraliaki. By KTEL bus from Pedio Tou Areos, the journey is longer (due to stops along the way) and between 90 and 115 minutes on the Attiki Odos or more on the Paraliaki. By motorbike, it will not take more than 45-50 minutes.
Many thanks to Kostis Kapsimalis, our “guide” for exciting excursions and experiences in his familiar steadfast terrain.
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