Delphi is a town in Mount Parnassus in the south of mainland Greece and also extensive mountain-side archaeological complex dating back to the 4th century BC. This place is a lot more than just another site with ruins in the country full of them. Sitting high in the mountains and overlooking the Gulf of Corinth, it is absolutely awe-inspiring location and when you add the factor of history – it becomes the must see place.
A bit of history
Delphi in ancient times was considered the centre of the known world. The place where heaven met earth and man was the closest to God. It was very important centre of worship for the God of Apollo. It also became a Panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years athletes from all over Greek world competed in Pythian Games – one of the four Panhellenic games, precursors of the Modern Olympics.
How to get there
Located only 180 km from Athens, it is a very popular one day tour destination. The whole Sanctuary of Delphi is set within the most spectacular landscape and I highly recommend to stay there for at least one night or combine
the trip with overnight stay in Arachova or Galaxidi. There are few ways to get to Delphi depending on how long you want to stay in. You can take a public KTLE bus in the early morning with return in the evening hours or you can book an organize one day bus
trip or two days trip combined with Meteora sightseeing. If you like independency, the best way to visit is by rented car. Car also gives you opportunity to see places beyond Delphi.
We visited Delphi by car, as a part of road trip around Greece starting from Athens. After visiting Meteroa we drove straight to Delphi covering distance of about 240 km. It took us approx. 3.5 hours and you can read more about driving experience in Greece in my pervious blog (Road Trip in Greece).
Delphi Town is a perfect base for exploration of the whole area. Plenty of accommodation options are available in the town, which is located only 2 km from the archaeological sites. Many of them are traditionally built hotels
with a simple facilities and spectacular balcony views. The town sits on the mountain slope and walking around it involves climbing a lot of steps. There are also two campgrounds within a few kilometres range and upscale hotels with luxury facilities located
in the mountain town of Arachova. Most of the hotels are located along the town’s streets so you can park your car in the designated areas on the street. It might be difficult to find a parking spot in a high season.
We spent in Delphi one evening strolling around the town and booked one night in the Pan Hotel. After one day spent around ruins and lunch in Arachova town, we drove to located 20 km from Delphi, costal town of Galaxidi where we spent another night.
The Pan Hotel is located centrally in the town. It is a bit old and quite simple but its standard is very similar to many hotels in the town. Not expensive, very clean and for a few euro extra you can get a spectacular view of Gulf of Corinth.
There are plentiful restaurants in town but if you visit Delphi for one day only, walk up the steps to the exceptional family run Taverna Vakhos. Authentic, traditional, local food and wine, reasonably priced and accompanied by exceptional views. Staff is very friendly and desserts are on house – a nice bonus to the great atmosphere inside.
If you travel by car, take a detour for lunch to located about 8 km up the mountains Arachova Town. Arachova is a ski resort, very popular in the winter time but also a historical place of important battle during Greek Revolution. Panoramic views, paved streets, the stone houses and small squares make this place very lovely. We had a lunch in the Cine Cinema Cafe, which took a name from an old cinema in Arachova. The cafe is located in the middle of the town and offers nicely designed interiors but in the summer time you will enjoy sitting outside under the shade of beautiful trees. We really enjoyed tasty souvlaki in the company of absolutely lovely British couple, who we met in Delphi. Travel is all about meeting new people, isn’t it?
Archaeological Site of Delphi
The Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi is set within the most spectacular landscape. The Sacred Way is the main route through the site leading from the gate up to the hill. You gradually walk up to the most important Temple of Apollo, followed by the Theatre with spectacular view of the entire site and then - located at the very top - the Stadium. The site itself is quite extensive and exposed to the sun with very little shade. Wear a hat, comfortable shoes and drink plenty of water. Water fountain is available onsite and located near the ticket office as also a vending machines. The ticket office is located next to the main gate. Admission fee to the archaeological site and the museum is €12 per person. Museum displays collection of finds from the ancient site, including friezes, statues, ceramics and mosaics. Free parking area is located close to the museum.
The Temple of Pronoia Athena with the most recognized building The Tholos is located few hundred meters from the main archaeological site, on the other site of the road. For what purpose this round temple was used, no one really knows but don’t miss it because it is absolutely beautiful. There are also Gymnasium and the Palaiastra which where used to train athletes who competed in Pythian Games back in the days.
The site is open from 8am to 8pm and the best way to avoid crowds and heat is to get there early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Buses full of day tripping tourist come around 10-11am and the place becomes very busy until about 4pm.
You can read all about Delphi in the books and online but nothing can compete with being there in person and walking through the same pathways that people used thousand of years ago.
If you would like to combine Delphi with a trip to Galaxidi, read about this lovely, port town in my next post.