The short answer is everything! The only thing I didn’t like was that we were there for a day trip instead of staying a couple of days.
Getting to Delphi from Athens:
Day trip tours from Athens can be rather pricey. When we were looking, prices started at €60 per person. If you would prefer to book a tour, there are many options available through tour operators. We elected to take the local bus, as it was considerably cheaper at €32 for a return ticket. The main issue with taking the local bus is finding the bus station in Athens. We took the metro to Agios Nikolaos (green line/line 1) and walked about 15 minutes to get to the bus station.
You can also take a bus to 260 Liosion St, and walk to Agiou Dimitriou Oplon where bus terminal B is located.
We arrived at 7 am to buy tickets and were fortunate enough that we could depart on the first bus at 7.30, with a return ticket for 16.00.
Departing Athens: 07:30, 10:30, 13:00, 15:30, 17:30, 20:00
Departing Delphi: 05:30, 09:00 (not Sundays), 11:00, 13:30, 16:00, 18:00
Delphi is a beautiful little town, located approximately 183 km by road north-west of Athens. The town itself sits just west of the archaeological site and is within walking distance of both the site and the archaeological museum. Delphi sits right on a cliffside and provides amazing views of the valley of Phocis and the southern coastal plain.
There are lots of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops dotted around the main streets, and of course many picturesque photo opportunities.
I loved the views, the architecture, the wonderfully hot weather and the relaxed feel of the town. Delphi looks like what you’d expect from tourist brochures – clean, with narrow streets, lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from and it’s just a fun little town to explore.
We stopped for breakfast at a cafe: iced coffee, ice cream and baklava! A perfect breakfast for hot weather.
The sanctuary at Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its importance and influence in the ancient Greek world. Here Pythia, the oracle of Apollo, spoke prophecies that were sought after by regular people, heads of state and dignitaries both local and foreign. The Oracle’s words were interpreted by priests and passed on to the visitors.
The Pythian Games were held here in Delphi every four years starting in 586 BC, and every two years after the Olympic Games. The difference with the games at Delphi was that they also included competitions in art and dance, which originally pre-dated the athletic components. This was representative of the qualities that were embodied by the god Apollo; music, poetry, light, the sun, healing, truth and prophecy, to name a few. One ancient Greek myth talks about how Apollo started the Pythian Games as penance for slaying the serpent Python, who resided in Delphi after he fled Apollo’s wrath.
I would recommend visiting the museum after exploring the site because the museum is air-conditioned and it’s heavenly after being out in the heat for a few hours. There are seats around the museum as well, so you can take your time and relax.
The Delphi museum contains an extensive collection of artefacts uncovered from excavations in the area, many of them in really good condition.
The Charioteer (below) is one of the most well-known bronze statues to survive from ancient Greece.
Imagine being able to explore the sanctuary at the height of its glory. Incredible!
Despite the heat and the large groups of tourists, I really enjoyed exploring the remains of the sanctuary and climbing all the way to the top of the hill to see the stadium. It was a reasonable workout, but luckily there are plenty of free drinking water stops and some shady spots to sit and rest.
Next time I’m in Greece, and there will definitely be a next time, I plan to stay in Delphi for at least one night. I do want to go back to the archaeological site and museum, which I loved, but I want to take the time to enjoy the town as well. I would be quite happy to sit at a cafe, drink coffee and read a book.
Thanks for reading!
All images and opinions are my own.
All prices were accurate as of September 2015.