Greece Travel: Road Trip of the Gods

The Road Trip of the Gods

When traveling abroad, the sense of freedom, exploration, and discovery is one of the most gratifying parts of international travel. Some travelers are able to find these virtues on public transport and others do it through hitchhiking, but I’d like to talk about the form of transport that is the ultimate embodiment of these values: rental cars.

Some countries have public transport that leaves something to be desired, and it’s in these places that the value of rental cars really shine. Greece is a perfect example of this, with limited bus routes that run seasonally and sparse train lines. If you want to see the country’s various historical sites, a private car will be the way to go. Here’s an example route that showcases what I mean, the ‘road trip of the gods’, if you will.

Here is what you will see on the Road Trip of the Gods


Athens
Rent a car in Greece in advance so you can start your trip as soon as you arrive in the capital of this historic nation. Start by spending some time in Athens, visiting the famous Acropolis and Parthenon, the world-class Acropolis museum and the many other sites that litter the fascinating city’s downtown area.

The tickets for the Acropolis run from €10-20 depending on the season, but I would recommend splurging for the €30 multi-ticket which includes the entrance to the smaller sites around the city as well. The Ancient Agora and Tower of the Winds alone make it worth the extra cost.

Argos
The trip from Athens to Argos is about 80 miles (or 125 km) and takes about 2 hours. Though Argos has a handful of interesting touristic destinations (Larisa, Bourtzi Castle, Ancient Theater of Argos), we’ll mainly be using it as a jumping off point for two of the most breathtaking sites in all of Greece: Epidaurus and Mycenae.

The Asclepeion of Epidaurus was essentially the medical center of the ancient world. It had an incredible reputation, and people would travel for weeks on end to this place, just to be treated by the local physicians and priests. The medical practitioners here would famously prescribe treatments based on information that the patients had given to them about their dreams, and though the method seems unorthodox, they had the highest success rate in the known ancient world with dozens of surviving accounts.

Epidaurus is also home to one of the most impressively built theaters in all of Greece. The layout was meticulously designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC, and can clearly carry the voice of the performers to over 14,000 spectators on natural acoustics alone.

Mycenae is no less impressive, however. Being one of the strongholds of the ancient world, Mycenae is responsible for the domination of the southern Greek city-states in the 16th century BC. According to legend, it was founded by the mythical hero Perseus, and was ruled by his descendants for years to come. In the 12th century BC, Mycenae collapsed and no one is sure as to why. Today, most of the site still stands, with interesting architecture and a quaint museum on site. Not only is Mycenae just a great site to see, but it represents such a dominant place in a period of history shrouded by uncertainty.

Rio-Antirrio Bridge
The Rio-Antirrio bridge links the Peloponnese to the Greek mainland, and though there is no ancient history surrounding it, it is one of the most impressive feats of modern engineering and architecture. The bridge spans for nearly 3,000, and thanks to the hills on either side, there’s a potential for a 70 mph wind tunnel. Such precise and ingenious tactics were employed that if the ancient Greeks were around to see it today, they’d have considered it to be a mythical marvel.

Delphi
Considered by the Greeks to be the center of the world, Delphi was one of the most famous religious and prophetic sites in the world. Now recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, the Oracle of Delphi influenced things as minor as a shepherd’s grazing path, to things as significant as a nation going to war. It was believed that the Priestess onsite would be possessed by Apollo himself after inhaling mysterious vapors that came from a subterranean room. It was in this trance that the oracle would deliver her prophecies.

Thermopylae
Traveling from the base of Mt. Parnassus north, we find ourselves at one of the most iconic battlegrounds in world history: Thermopylae, the ‘hot gate’, It was here that the fierce unit of 300 Spartans held off the advances of the innumerable Persian hordes. Now, there rests a monument to their posthumous triumph and informational signs that provide insight into the Persian’s Pyrrhic victory.

There is also a wonderful set of hot springs that were said to have been heated by the venom of the Hydra in the legends of old. After a long day of traveling, I can’t think of anything better.

Pelion
And, finally, we’ve reached our destination: Pelion, the Summer Home of the Gods. In the mountains above Volos, Pelion is one of the most picturesque and quintessential sights in all of the Mediterranean. With stunning views (on clear days one can see Mt. Athos across the ocean) and endearing villages, you may never want to leave. The gods could have been anywhere in the world, yet this is where they chose to spend their summers, and if that doesn’t tell you of the beauty and wonder of this place, then I don’t know what will.

There you have it! No Greece trip is complete without following the Road Trip of the Gods! Where is your favorite spot in Greece? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by Miro Siegel

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