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Driving from Athens to Delphi

Has anyone driven from Athens to Delphi? We have explored options of tour bus, private driver, and would also consider renting a car and driving ourselves. Any adice on driving? Thanks! Julie

Posted by
129 posts

We did this drive from the athens airport back in 2011 so its been many years. I don’t recall it being a painful drive as we avoided Athens. We drove from there to Olympia and then back to Athens (dropped the car at the airport). This was before a cruise.

Posted by
81 posts

I typically will drive anywhere in Europe but I won't anymore in Greece as they are just insane and dangerous drivers. (Love the people hate how they drive).

My recommendation is to book one of the local bus day trips. I did this a few years ago and it worked out very well and it was low stress. Most of the tours pick up about 8 am and then drop you off about 7 or 8 pm. I don't remember the company, but I booked mine through my hotel concierge and was very pleased.
I also did another day bus tour which went out through the Peloponnese and went to several locations. . It was a long day, but again low stress and very enjoyable.

I would highly recommend a local tour over driving yourself... However if you do rent a car, recommend you rent out at the airport which is easier than trying to deal with Athens traffic. From central Athens you can just take the metro up and back to the airport. I'm a big fan of the Athens metro as it is cheap, clean and easy.

Good luck

Posted by
2562 posts

We drove and found it fine. There is a tollway out of the airport that is super easy to drive and then you get on two lane mountain roads. We didn’t find them to be a problem but some might.

Greeks use the shoulder to move into when someone wants to pass. Once you realize that, it all makes sense. You might get pressured to move off to the side for someone to pass. We started moving over when someone was tailing us.

We come from an urban area with lots of aggressive drivers so we’re not phased.

Good for one person to be navigator while other to drive.

Posted by
128 posts

Are you staying in Athens first? It's a nightmare to drive in Athens itself. If you're driving from the airport, it's an easy drive to Delphi. But if you're in central Athens, I'd rent a car from Swift or another car agency that will drive you to the outskirts of Athens so that you won't have to drive yourself. Also, read the websites that describe driving in Greece before you go. It's challenging, but doable.

Posted by
18 posts

Hello. Thank you everyone for your input and advice! We are staying near the Acropolis. I have driven in Mexico, Scotland, Guatemala, so I do have that experience. Cheers!

Posted by
7500 posts

We used a commercial day-out bus tour from Athens, because we didn't want to drive, To our surprise, the guide cheerfully agreed to our request LEAVE US at the Delphi site while everyone else went to "the restaurant" for the NOT INCLUDED lunch. How many Northern Europe guides would be so flexible, and risk our not being at the appointed place at the appointed time for the bus to pick us up? Anyway, I think we had hot dogs from a stand for lunch, but got an extra hour at the site.

Posted by
3335 posts

Thanks to Tim for suggesting that "work-around" during a bus day-tour to Delplhi. One of my biggest beefs against the day tour is the short time allowed actually AT Delphi, compared with the before-after. Those bus tours spend at least 45 mins IN Athens stopping at hotels to pick up rregistrants... and almost 3 1/2 hours en route (including a rest-stop midway). This means that a BUNCH of busses all arrive at once, about 10:30 or so, and up to 150 people start climbing the paths upward through the ruins. Then, while you are still examining the site, you are all herded down to the Museum, which is jammed wall-to-wall. THEN, before you've really had a chance to take it all in, once again your leader rounds you up saying time for lunch! (Which of course you didn't ask for, but must pay for, eating mediocre food with 30 busmates). THEN, the bus takes you off for another unwanted stop -- at a souvenir store (does anyone smell "kickback" here?). Then it's the 3.5 hour drive back, to hit Athens in the rush hour.

At least Tim's party strategized to experience an extra hour on their own... and I encourage every tourtaker to do likewise. You can plan ahead and bring along a lunch (at breakfast, many bakeries and coffees shops in Athens offer tasty sandwiches & tiropitas). In that time on your own, you can wander downhill from the entrance to the famous "Athenian Tholos" (which is shown on all the materials, but which bus-tours don't visit) and the Castelian Springs, still flowing thousands of years later.

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Janet! Thank you for that insight! I did some bus tours in Turkey, and you reminded me of many things. I do value my 'own time and pace' indeed. It is annoying that the bus tour takes up precious time to stop at tourist shops that you didn't intend to visit.
I really appreciate all of the advise given! Julie