As you pass through Athens, moving through the labyrinth of apartment buildings and ancient temples, you slowly reach the beach. The most southern outskirts of the city are cozy and family-oriented beach towns, with their own marinas and beach front cafes and restaurants. It’s easy to find your way down the western coast of Attica as there is only one major road leading south. Follow Leoforou Posidonos until it changes into Leoforou Athinon Sounio, as you pass the southern beach towns. It gets its name from the point where the road ends in the town of Sounio, the location of the stunning Temple of Poseidon. It is one of the most scenic drives in Athens and its surrounding landscapes.
As you head south towards Sounio in southern Attica, the sea is always beside you. The areas just south of the municipality of Athens seem hundreds of miles away from the city due to the calm and openness. There where the mountain range of Hymettus begins to flattens out, you will find large rolling hills with undeveloped fields of green and gold. All of this and the clear view of the sea before you, you realize the reason many people choose to live outside of the city in these smaller towns. Towns like Lagonisi and Anavyssos, are about forty minutes from the center of Athens by car, where Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon are closer to an hour.
Lagonisi. (Photo by Stamatina Mylonas)
It’s a relatively short drive to escape the hectic city life of Athens. The winding road follows the natural pattern of the mountains with few tunnels going straight through. Take your time along the sharp turns and then enjoy the view as the road eventually becomes straighter as its runs parallel to the sea.
Lagonisi is one of the first major towns you will pass on your way down the coast. It is the home away from home beach town that nearby Athenians go to for sun and swimming. It is the Greek equivalent to the Jersey shore or Long Island beach towns that nearby Northeastern city dwellers go to for a day trip. It has that vibe of a quick getaway but still worlds apart from the concrete and hustle of the city.
Lagonisi is the sight of a luxurious waterfront property called the Grand Resort Lagonisi. The resort is built on a small peninsula that jets out from the main road. While the main property fills the entire end portion of this natural peninsula, there are also two other beach properties and as you turn off the main road, that are open to the public and not just hotel guests. According to the resort’s official page, entrance fees to the Grand Beach vary and can go from twelve euro during the week to twenty-five euros on the weekend. Parking fees also apply and go up on the weekends as well.
Sounio. (Photo by Stamatina Mylonas)
Don’t worry though, there are plenty of free and spacious beaches along the road for you to choose from. As you pass by these southern towns, there are small secluded beaches for every stretch of the road. Some are rocky but low laying cliffs, the most famous being those around the Varkiza peninsula like the one named Limanakia Petalo. The rocks are jagged but smooth enough to comfortably lay with a towel. The water is crystal clear as it is forever purified while it washes over the surrounding rocks. A sign of clean sea water is the presence of marine animals like sea urchins. Be careful when swimming along these rocky beaches, as the sea urchins attach to the rocks and may send their spikes into your feet. These swimming spots are popular amongst younger groups due to the ease of having no sand, and the thrill of jumping off the rocks. After your beach day, stop by the main street Leoforou Kalyvion in Lagonisi for a bite to eat. The first establishment on your right is called Pita Lagonisi, and its where you will find the most delicious gyros and souvlakia with all the necessities included a toasted pita and French fries. Enjoy your meal on their terrace overlooking the sea and mountains.
Temple of Poseidon. (Photo by Stamatina Mylonas)
As you continue south on the main road Leoforou Athinon Sounio towards Anavyssos you have a choice of many small and more secluded beaches. Some are open and unorganized while others feature their own beach bars and cafes. Mavro Lithari beach is a popular spot and offers beach goers beach chairs and umbrellas for rent as well as a hip beach bar and feel good music. The neighboring hotel also called Mavro Lithari has a small beach of its own with a water front taverna. You do not need to be a guest at the hotel to dine here and enjoy this smaller and more family-oriented swimming spot. Palaia Fokaia is the sea front neighborhood of Anavyssos where you will find all of the charming family owned restaurants and cafes in the area.
It is a peaceful and rejuvenating drive down the coast towards the final stop in Sounio. This most southern part of Attica is not as densely populated or commercially developed. It is a getaway full of sprawling mountains, cute small villages, and beach front living. There are a few resorts and upscale hotels as you near towards the town of Sounio, due to the appeal for tourists. There high up on the tallest cliff, in incredible form, stands the Temple of Poseidon the God of the sea. Built in the 5th century BCE, the temple has endured and survived wars, illegal occupations, and destructive natural elements. Now more than two thousand years later, Greeks and visitors from around the world are able to stand next to the towering columns overlooking the Aegean Sea. It makes sense that this would be the perfect location for the temple honoring the God of the sea, as the monument is visible by boat from vast distances away.
Mavro Lithari Hotel. (Photo by Stamatina Mylonas)
It is the most magical place to experience the sunset as it slowly descends behind the ancient temple. It is a generally economical and easy day trip as tickets are under ten euros. Even if you are not able to enter the temple due to time or other factors, the surrounding area features great views and photo worthy spots. Across the sea you can faintly make out the silhouette of the neighboring islands. For about an hour drive from the center of Athens, you can find yourself in this mythological sea front paradise. It is difficult to decide what is more beautiful on this small trip, the journey or the destination.