Nestled on the slopes of Mount Parnassus lies Delphi, a historic city that has captured the hearts of travelers for centuries.
Shrouded in mystery and steeped in ancient mythology, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Athens, and for good reason.
From the Temple of Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi to an archaeological museum, the Delphi Archaeological Site is a treasure trove of history and culture, offering visitors a glimpse into the past. But beyond the ruins, there's much more to explore in this idyllic region.
In this guide to Delphi, we'll give you the inside scoop on the top things to do and see in this magical destination. Read also useful visitor information like hours, tickets and the most popular day tour from Athens, as well as recommended hotels near Delphi.
Let’s get started!
Entrance, Tickets, Day Tours to Delphi
- Entrance: The archeological site of Delphi is open daily on the following hours: 08:30-15:30 (Last admission 15:10). Museum: 08:30-15:30 (Last admission 15:10) Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia 8.30-17.00. Delphi is closed on 1 January, 25 March, 1 May, Easter Sunday, 25 December, and 26 December, and has reduced hours on 6 January, Shrove Monday, Good Friday, and 15 August.
- Tickets: The ticket to the Delphi Archaeological Site is available on-site and also includes admission to the Delphi museum.
- Delphi Day Trip from Athens: To fully appreciate and understand the historical background of Delphi, it is advisable to join a guided tour. Without one, you may miss important details about the site's significance and context. The most popular guided tour from Athens is the Delphi Guided Day Trip. This full day tour includes roundtrip transportation with pickup and drop-off, a guided visit to the Delphi Archaeological site with a knowledgeable guide who brings old tales about ancient Greek mythology alive. The tour also includes a visit to the Museum of Delphi, a short photo stop at Arachova, and an optional lunch, making for a well-rounded and memorable experience. Buy the tour here!
- Travelers' Tip: Admission to the Delphi Archaeological Site & Museum is free for children under 5, EU citizens under 25, and visitors with a disability. On the first Sunday of every month (November to March 31st), admission to the Delphi site is free. In addition, also on March 6, April 18, May 18, October 28 and the last weekend of September.
Things to Do in Delphi in Greece
Delphi, with its rich history and its cultural and significance, is a must-see destination for those interested in Greek history, mythology, and culture. The world-famous archaeological site was once home to the all-seeing Oracle of Delphi and believed to be the "Navel of the Earth" by the ancient Greeks.
Now, the Delphi Archaeological Site is one of the most visited places in Greece, offering a truly unforgettable experience for visitors. Let’s take a closer look at the top things to do in Delphi:
1. Walk along the Sacred Way
What better way to begin your exploration of the wonders of Delphi than with a walk along the Sacred Way, the main path that leads from the entrance uphill to the famous Temple of Apollo? In ancient times, the 200 meter-long path was surrounded by impressive treasuries and structures built by different Greek cities, making it a significant part of the sanctuary.
Even though today only the ruins of many monuments can be seen, it is still a sight to behold, making the walk an impressive experience. As you walk, put yourself in the shoes of the pilgrims who once took this path through the sacred precinct as a ritual walk to finally reach the Temple of Apollo…
2. Admire the Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo was considered the heart of Ancient Delphi and was dedicated to the god Apollo, who had a special connection to the city. At the end of the Sacred Way, visitors can still see the foundations of this significant Greek temple.
The deepest chamber of the temple was where the high priestess Pythia would deliver the prophecies of Apollo, which is why the Temple of Apollo was also known as the Oracle of Delphi. Standing before the temple's ruins, imagine the high priestess, who served as the oracle's mouthpiece, entering a trance-like state to offer cryptic responses to questions posed by leaders and ordinary people alike.
3. Travel back in Time
Step back in time to Ancient Greece and explore the most important treasures of the archaeological site of Delphi. Highlights, you shouldn’t miss, include:
- Tholos of Athena Pronaia: One of the most iconic monuments in Delphi is undoubtedly the Tholos, located in the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. The ancient building, whose purpose is still in the dark, exudes a mystical aura. Today, it is considered a masterpiece of classical architecture and the most photographed structure in Delphi.
- Ancient Theater of Delphi: Another highlight is the ancient theater, north of the Temple of Apollo. It could hold up to 5,000 spectators and was the site where the music and drama contests of the Pythian Games were held in honor of Apollo. Enjoy a fantastic view of the entire site and the surrounding mountains.
- Treasury of the Athenians: The Treasury of the Athenians is an impressive Doric building that was built to house votive offerings and trophies of important Athenian victories. The temple-like structure is believed to represent the victory of democracy over tyranny. The frieze depicts the exploits of Hercules and Theseus and is definitely worth checking out.
- Stoa of the Athenians: The Athenians dedicated this Stoa to the sanctuary as an important votive offering. It was constructed in 478 BC as part of Perikles' building program and served as a storage for the spoils of war, mainly from naval victories against the Persians.
- Polygonal Wall: This remarkable wall in front of the Stoa of the Athenians supports the platform on which the Temple of Apollo sits. Built in the 6th century BC, it was originally two meters taller than it is today.
- Castalian Spring: A little apart, in a rocky crag east of the sacred precinct, you can discover the Castalian Spring. It played an important role in ancient Delphi, being the sacred spring of Delphi. Here both the priestess Pythia and all those who wanted to consult the oracle had to wash themselves here before heading to the Temple of Apollo.
- Ancient Stadium of Delphi: The 5th century BC stadium on the top of the hill was also built for the Pythian Games. It had a capacity for 500 spectators and was the venue for athletics competitions. The steep walk there is rewarded with a sweeping view over the site of Delphi.
4. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Delphi
Right next to the archaeological site is the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, one of the most important museums of the country. Built to house the archaeological excavations from the site of Delphi, it rounds out the visit with its fascinating collection.
The exhibition provides visitors with a deeper insight into ancient Greek culture. You can see fascinating statues, reliefs with mythological scenes and other artifacts from the Archaic through the Roman era. Exhibits you shouldn’t miss include the 6th-century BC Sphinx of Naxos, the bronze Charioteer of Delphi, the Statue of Antinoos, and the original Omphalos, the navel of the Earth.
- Note: There is no additional entrance fee for the visit to the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, as it is already included in the ticket for the Archaeological Site of Delphi.
5. Outdoor Activities in the Surroundings
Want to take a break from exploring the ancient ruins? The dramatic Delphic landscape, high above the Gulf of Corinth, is packed with well-signposted trails like the Delphi Trail / Ε4 Ancient Path, surrounded by caves and monuments, perfect for hiking or mountain-biking.
When Mount Parnassus is covered with snow, you may want to head to the mountain, which is only a 15-minute drive from Delphi. Here you will find the largest alpine ski resort in Greece with a ski area of 27 kilometers and 23 slopes, ideal for skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities.
Adrenaline seekers can opt for paragliding and enjoying unpaired views of the ancient site, the nearby cities and the sea. If you prefer to take it easy, you can find a nice spot in nature and have a picnic, or visit one of the nearby coastal towns like Itea, Kirra or Galaxidi to relax at a beach, like Agios Isidoros beach or Nafsika Beach.
6. Explore the Scenic Local Villages
If you have time after exploring the archaeological site, consider visiting the scenic villages of the region to get a taste of Greek life.
The colorful mountain village of Arachova, located on the foothills of Mt. Parnassus, is a popular destination for many guided Delphi tours from Athens. Walk through the narrow alleys, and browse through the artisanal shops, where you can find hand-woven carpets, handmade pottery and local products like olive.
Another marvelous town to explore is the modern settlement of Delphi, only 2.5 kilometers from the Delphi Archaeological site. You can go shopping, take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets and enjoy the authentic atmosphere of this picturesque village. Have a meal at one of the traditional tavernas or grab a refreshing Greek frappé at a cafe.
How to get from Athens to Delphi in Greece?
Delphi is located around 180 kilometers from Athens. From Athens, there are several good ways to reach the Delphi Archaeological Site.
- By Tour: The most convenient way to reach Delphi from Athens is with a full day tour from Athens that includes a direct transportation by bus or coach and a guided walking tour through the Delphi Archaeological Site. Book the most popular Athens to Delphi day trip here!
- By Bus: Delphi is connected to Athens by the intercity public bus service KTEL, which runs regularly between these cities. The bus departs from the Athens bus station Kifissos and the trip takes about 3 hours.
- By Car: Another good option to reach Delphi from Athens is by rental car. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and is a relatively easy drive. Once you arrive, there are a few parking spaces available on-site for your convenience.
- By Plane: There is no airport in Delphi. The nearest airport to Delphi is Athens International Airport.
Map of Delphi
5 Travel Tips to make the most of your visit to Delphi
- Plan ahead: Plan to spend at least half a day exploring the archaeological site of Delphi and its museum. Make sure to check the opening hours of the archaeological site and museum, as they may vary depending on the season.
- Hire a guide: Consider joining a walking tour to enhance your experience. The history-rich site is quite extensive, and a guide can provide valuable insights into the history and mythology of the site, ensuring you don't miss out on important information.
- Wear comfortable shoes: A visit to Delphi involves a lot of walking on a steep and rocky ground. That’s why wearing sturdy walking shoes is indispensable for the exploration. Some stones can be very slippery.
- Bring water: The site is exposed to the sun, and the average temperature in Delphi ranges from 24 to 34 degrees Celsius (75 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer season. Make sure to bring sun cream, a hat, and plenty of water.
- Best time to visit Delphi: The archaeological site of Delphi is very packed on weekends. The best time for a visit is during the week, and early in the morning or later in the afternoon. To avoid even more crowds and the heat, consider visiting Delphi during the off-season, from October to May.
FAQ - Delphi, Greece
The archeological site of Delphi is located in Central Greece, between the rocks of Mount Parnassus. It is about 180 kilometers from Athens. Here is the address: Delphi 330 54, Greece
Delphi is an ancient city in Greece that was considered the center of the world by ancient Greeks. It is known for its archaeological site, which includes the Temple of Apollo, where the world-famous Oracle of Delphi resided. Other highlights are the ancient theater, the Tholos of Athena Pronaia, and the Archaeological Museum of Delphi, which houses many ancient artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, and inscriptions.
The archaeological site of Delphi was now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is regarded one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Greece.
Delphi is definitely worth visiting if you are interested in history, archaeology, or ancient Greek culture. The ancient city of Delphi was a very important religious and cultural site and remains one of the most famous historic site in Greece.
Today, the ruins of the ancient city and the archaeological site are very impressive and well-preserved, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Ancient Greece. In addition, Delphi is located in a beautiful mountainous region of Greece, with stunning views of the surrounding landscape, fun outdoor activities and picturesque local towns nearby.
Delphi offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy, from ancient history and culture to stunning natural scenery and delicious cuisine.
Visitors can explore the ancient archaeological site of Delphi, including the Temple of Apollo, the Theater, and the Tholos of Athena Pronaia, and learn about the rich history and culture of Ancient Greece.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi showcases many ancient artifacts, while the Delphic landscape offers lots of activities, such as hiking with breathtaking views, skiing and paragliding. Don’t miss the chance to visit the picturesque nearby towns, like Arachova. Modern-day Delphi, or the seaside town of Itea.
The exact date of the founding of Delphi is not known, but the archaeological evidence suggests that the site was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period (4000-3000 BCE). The earliest structures on the site date to the Mycenaean period (1600-1100 BCE), but the site became a major religious and cultural center in the 8th century BCE, when the Temple of Apollo was built.
The word Delphi shares the same root with the Greek word for womb, δελφύς delphys.
Delphi has a somewhat ambiguous origin and has been associated with different Greek words and myths. One theory suggests that the word Delphi is believed to have been derived from the Greek word "delphis," meaning dolphin. According to Greek mythology, the god Apollo arrived in Delphi in the form of a dolphin, and the local people built his sanctuary in honor of his arrival.
Where to stay: Hotels near Delphi, Greece
Those who want to stay overnight in Delphi to have enough time to explore this treasure trove, can opt to stay in a hotel in the town of Delphi, close to the archeological site, or in the mountain town Arachova, about a 20 minute-drive away.
See here our top 3 recommendations for the best hotels close to Delphi. Feel free to use our links below to make reservations for your desired hotel and enjoy the best prices for hotels in Delphi.
1. Amalia Hotel Delphi
The Amalia Hotel is ideal for those looking to stay close to the wonders of Delphi, with its prime location only 1.5 kilometers from the site at the foot of Mount Parnassus. In the summer, guests can enjoy a dip in the large outdoor pool or relax in the lush garden, while on colder days, the cozy lobby lounge with a fireplace is a great spot to unwind. Address: Apollonos 1, Delfi 330 54, Greece
2. Nidimos Hotel
Another great hotel located close to the Delphi archaeological site is the Nidimos Hotel, just 1.3 kilometer away. The 3 star hotel is situated in the modern-day city of Delphi and features a panoramic view of the lovely Bay of Itea and Amfissa olive grove. All 34 guest rooms are spacious and come with a balcony to unwind. Free parking and a charging station for electric cars is also available. Address: Δήμου Φράγκου 10 Dimou Fragkou 10 Str, Delfi 330 54, Greece
3. Domotel Anemolia Mountain Resort
If you are looking for an idyllic escape in a mountainous countryside, this 4 star mountain resort might be right for you. Located on the outskirts of Arachova village, only a 9-minute drive from the Delphi site, it is perfect for outdoor activities such as skiing. Top amenities include a sauna, an indoor pool, free parking, and a shuttle service to Arachova village. Some accommodations also feature a fireplace. Address: 1st km Arachova Delphi Road, Arachova 320 04, Greece
History & Facts about Delphi
Delphi is a historic site in Greece that is renowned for its ancient ruins and rich cultural heritage. The history of the site goes back to prehistoric times, and it reached its Golden Age from the 6th to the 4th century BC. During this period, the site was a bustling center of culture, religion, and commerce, and it played a significant role in shaping the political landscape of Ancient Greece.
The sanctuary of Delphi was considered the center of the ancient world and was renowned for its oracle, where people would come from all over the Mediterranean seeking advice and guidance from the god Apollo. Delphi was also a popular site for the ancient Olympic Games.
Today, Delphi is an extensive archaeological site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. Since 1938, Delphi has been part of Parnassos National Park, and in 1972, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument in recognition of its cultural and historical significance.
- Address: Delphi 330 54, Greece
- Opening Hours: See the specific hours here
- Public Transport: By intercity bus KTEL; Delphi-Athens line
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