Delphi: considered the capital of the earth, Delphi is the jewel in the crown of the central heartlands of Greece and is easily doable as a day-trip from Athens for a breath of mountain air. It’s worth taking a guided tour and a solid option are those run by Greek Key Tours, who offer hotel pick-up if you’re staying centrally (https://www.keytours.gr/en/athens/delphi_one_day_trip_from_athens-27.html).
To give you some background to its history: the ancients decided that this spot was the centre of the world and it is heart-stoppingly beautiful. A sacred space and the site of pilgrims for centuries, there is definitely something which draws you here. The temple lies in the cradle of the mountains below Mount Parnassus, the traditional home of the muses – patron goddesses of the arts – and probably the most spectacularly beautiful ancient site in Greece. Behind it rises the twin peaks Flemboukos and Rhodini. Below it, across the road to the village of Delphi, the mountainside falls steeply away to the river Pleistos and the picturesque ski-town of Arachova.
Hydra: this small, fuss-free, car-free and utterly peaceful island exudes glamour but in an understated way (compared to other Greek islands like Milos and of course, Mykonos). A two-hour ferry ride away from Athens (via the Flying Dolphin/Flying Cat ferry), Hydra is the perfect island for a day-trip out of Athens. There is blissfully nothing to do yet simply wander around, get lost in its slender cobbled street and windey alleys, and soak up the island vibe.
Whilst you’re there, it’s worth making a stop at Dakis Joannou’s funded art-installation the Slaughterhouse on the coastal path, just a short walk away from the port.
During your wander, also stop off at the charming Raphael’s Pharmacy, which dates since the 1870s. Up a few steep stairs is an Old Mansion with breathtaking views of the island.
For a coastal lunch in a quiet part of the island, head to Techne for modern Greek food. This restaurant is simply wonderful: both the setting, with views of the Aegean, and for its inventive and very tasty food.
The spot overlooks the hidden cove of Avlaki beach. Though rocky, this quiet and secluded beach offers beautifully azure warm waters for swimming which feel like utter paradise.
Before catching the ferry out of town, it’s worth stopping for a coffee at Isalos, which is something of a coffee institution on Hydra. Whether you sip al fresco and takeaway to enjoy on the return ferry, it leaves you with a very pleasant memory of this blissful island.
Vougliameni: The Athens Riveria is gaining popularity, not least with the opening of the super-plush Four Seasons on Asir Beach. Whether you check-in to one of the many luxurious hotels (Margi is also popular) or head here for the day, it’s worth stopping off for a swim in the healing Vougliameni Lake for a dose of natural therapy in its supposedly healing (and fish-exfoliating) waters. Sitting on the south-western foot of Mount Ymittos, about 40 minutes from the city, this luxe resort town has a year-round tropical vibe and is to Athens what Cannes is to the Cote d’Azur. Vouliagmeni’s western half, from Athinas Avenue to the sea, is arguably the postcode’s prettiest face. It’s home to lavish villas, unspoilt swimming coves, the iconic Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel and scenic seaside promenades.