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I noticed there is no mention of Thermopylae in Rick Steves Greece tour guide, nor is there any viewing of the site scheduled in the tour itinerary. As we will be arriving in Athens a couple of days early, is there a recommended way to view the site of the battle? The only thing I can think to do is rent a car and drive to the site.
Thank you,

Posted by
2812 posts

It seems that the natural landscape has changed drastically over the past 2500 years, and further, the modern development has encroached, so that one is not able to envision the site as it was for the famous encounter (a narrow pass, with heroic small number defending against massive invading army). Apparently one would miss it entirely except for the fact that there is a small monument by the side of the road. THAT is why the Steves guide doesn't feature it ... any other major guide book explains why, to save you a special trip and perhaps disappointment. Instead, keep it in your imagination from the history books (or perhaps from memory of movies with their digitally created images).

Posted by
186 posts

If you time your road trip from Athens to Meteora right, you can catch spectacular views of the location during late afternoon/early evening. A must for photographers as you will be rising high up on a plain, the sun will be to your left illuminating the coast down below to the right. Nothing official, but you'll know it when you see it.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi John,

If there is one site in Greece that I did not want to miss it was Thermopylae! I took a bus tour in 2016 and we stopped at the Thermopylae site just for a few minutes.... so disappointed we did not stay longer. There is a statue and monument to Leonidas and a couple large signs which show the locations of each of the Hot Gates (the sign & statue is located at the 2nd Gate and the Phokian wall). It also depicts where the water line is now and where it was in 480 BC. The map on the sign also shows the Aponaia path which the Persians used to surround the Spartans. As I stood there and scanned the mountains I could envision what happen there. After I visited the site I found out there is a small Historical Center right down the road and I also missed the burial mound which was across the road from the Statue. Also the National Archeology Museum in Athens has a display of arrowheads excavated from the battlefield. You could easily drive there and do it by yourself (I wish I had & I will next time). You will not regret it.

Posted by
33 posts

Yes, we rented a car in Athens and drove there, lots of switch backs up the hills and beautiful scenery, just imaging the Spartans marching all the way there from Sparta! The small museum was worth seeing, we hiked across the street on the trail, saw the water fall, burial mound and marker. You do need to use your imagination, because the sea side today is quite a distance away from this area.