Delphi

Central Greece and Thessaly

From Athens there are several buses a day to the centre of the universe. That is how the ancient Greeks regarded Delphi, where the famous oracle who could predict the future and also offer advice on people's problems was to be found.

Getting to Delphi

In addition to the regular public bus service you can also easily drive the 111m/178km from Athens on good roads that skirt the edge of the Parnassus Mountains, on the slopes of which the site of ancient Delphi stands.

It's an exhilarating drive, which should take about two hours if you take the fast toll road, or perhaps half an hour longer if you want to avoid the tolls. Or you can do it the easy way and book one of the coach excursions which you can arrange in any travel agent or through most hotels.

If booking a trip, try to find one which also visits the stunning monastery at Ossios Loukas on the way to Delphi, or allows time in the nearby mountain village of Arachova, which is also recommended if you plan an overnight stay, though there are also plenty of accommodation and eating options in the modern town of Delphi too, which is much closer to the ancient site.

Athens to Delphi via Toll Road

Visiting Delphi

At Delphi you find the modern town, which is a pleasant-enough mountain village though these days mostly devoted to tourism. The ancient site of Delphi, on the edge of the town, is quite rightly a magnet for tourists and cruise-ship passengers, and on summer days both the site and the town can be crammed with visitors.

Try to avoid peak periods if you can. Staying overnight in Delphi and getting to the site late in the day, or as soon as it opens next morning, is one way to beat the crowds and is easily done from Athens. If you have a car, basing yourself at nearby Arahova is more of a Greek mountain village experience.

Ancient Delphi

The site, known overall as the Sanctuary of Apollo, is quite large and sprawling, with some tucked-away corners, and it could take two hours and more if you want to see everything.

You enter the site along the Sacred Way, which at one time led all the way from Athens to Delphi. On either side you will see the ruined remains of numerous memorials and treasury buildings, where pilgrims would leave their offerings, or which would be erected afterwards as thanks to the oracle.

The Sacred Way zig-zags its way up towards the Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle's mouthpiece, a priest, would deliver the Oracle's predictions and pronouncements. The six columns that can be seen standing today were in fact repositioned to give an impression of the Temple's look and scale, as only the foundations remained when it was first uncovered.

Beyond here are the remains of a theatre, and further on still, and easily missed, the impressive remains of an athletic stadium. The theatre dates from the 4th century BC and in its prime would have held 5000 people, while the stadium was even larger with stone seating for 7,000 spectators.

It is up here at the back of the site, where few of the organised groups have time to venture, that you might get some peace on busy days. Behind you are the Parnassos Mountains, where eagles and hawks fly, and you may have some idea of why this was regarded as the centre of the universe in ancient times. It received pilgrims from the 12th century BC right through to the 4th century AD.

Along the main road on the left, and separate from the main precinct, is the Castalian Spring, where visitors to the site had to purify themselves first. Further on still, on the other side of the road, is the Sanctuary of Athena, Athena being worshipped as the Guardian of the Temple.

Even Google Street View Has Been to Delphi!

Delphi Archaeological Museum

West of the ancient site is the excellent museum, probably the best in the country outside Athens. It isn't huge but the finds that have been made here and are on display are truly fabulous. The most famous of all is a 5th century BC bronze called The Charioteer, which is both life-size and very lifelike, its eyes of onyx giving an eerily human feel to its gaze. Nearby is a huge marble carving of three dancing women – not to be missed. 

Archaeological Museum Shop

The shop at the Archaeological Museum is very well-stocked with cards and reproductions of some of its exhibits. It's worth saving some time to spend there, if on an organised tour where your departure time is fixed.

Rick Steves at Delphi

Watch this short YouTube video of guidebook writer and presenter Rick Steves visiting Delphi.

Further Information

For more information and to check opening times see the Greek Ministry of Culture websites for the Archaeological Site of Delphi and the Delphi Archaeological Museum.

Note that the Ministry of Culture website isn't always totally up-to-date for every single site and museum, so it helps to double-check.

Where to Stay in Delphi

More Central Greece and Thessaly pages

  • The city of Volos has several museums and is a major port, and also the gateway to the charming Pelion peninsula with its traditional villages and beaches.

    Volos and Pelion

    The city of Volos has several museums and is a major port, and also the gateway to the charming Pelion peninsula with its traditional villages and beaches.

  • The Pindus Mountains range runs along the border between Epirus and Thessaly, includes two national parks and some of the highest mountain peaks in the country.

    Pindus Mountains

    The Pindus Mountains range runs along the border between Epirus and Thessaly, includes two national parks and some of the highest mountain peaks in the country.

  • The Parnassus Mountains rise behind ancient Delphi and the mountain village of Arachova, and the Parnassus National Park is one of the two oldest in Greece.

    Parnassus Mountains

    The Parnassus Mountains rise behind ancient Delphi and the mountain village of Arachova, and the Parnassus National Park is one of the two oldest in Greece.

  • Ossios Loukas is a Byzantine monastery that stands between Athens and Delphi and is the burial place of the Greek hermit, Blessed Luke.

    Ossios Loukas

    Ossios Loukas is a Byzantine monastery that stands between Athens and Delphi and is the burial place of the Greek hermit, Blessed Luke.

  • The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

    Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  •  Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

    Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece

    Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

  • Visiting the monasteries of Meteora on the Plain of Thessaly, with hotels in Kalambaka and guided tours available.

    Meteora

    Visiting the monasteries of Meteora on the Plain of Thessaly, with hotels in Kalambaka and guided tours available.

  • This beautiful drive along the northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth (Korinthiakos Kolpos), goes from Delphi to Missolonghi via Galixidi and Nafpaktos.

    Gulf of Corinth Drive

    This beautiful drive along the northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth (Korinthiakos Kolpos), goes from Delphi to Missolonghi via Galixidi and Nafpaktos.

  • Central Greece and Thessaly has many Greek visitor attractions, like ancient Delphi, Meteora, the Pelion and Ossios Loukas monastery.

    Central Greece and Thessaly

    Central Greece and Thessaly has many Greek visitor attractions, like ancient Delphi, Meteora, the Pelion and Ossios Loukas monastery.

  • Arachova is a mountain town in the Parnassus Mountains of Greece and a good base for visiting the ancient archaeological site of Delphi, a 15-minute drive away.

    Arachova

    Arachova is a mountain town in the Parnassus Mountains of Greece and a good base for visiting the ancient archaeological site of Delphi, a 15-minute drive away.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Spetses: The Ultimate Autumn Guide

    Timeless hangouts, useful addresses and cool tips for an unforgettable weekend on the Saronic island of Spetses, just two hours by ferry from Athens.

    Read More

  2. Recipe: Soumada, the Drink of Happiness

    Traditionally served at happy occasions, this sweet almond drink scented with orange flower water is easy to make, and a wonderful treat for guests.

    Read More

  3. Samothraki: Another Greece, Forgotten by Time

    With its rugged, untamed beauty and rich history, Samothraki in the northern Aegean doesn't fit into any of the familiar molds.

    Read More

  4. 8 Excellent Athens Restaurants for Sharing Food

    These restaurants in the heart of Athens celebrate the quintessentially Greek tradition of bringing people together to share plate-loads of delicious food.

    Read More

  5. The Best Hotels in Athens

    Greece Travel Secrets gives its choice of the best hotels in Athens from budget and moderate options through to 5-star luxury choices.

    Read More

  6. Athens listed as a Top 10 most beautiful city for the second time

    Greece has not stopped breaking one record after another in recent years - from tourism to important economic indicators that testify to the enormous dynamics that the country has developed in recent…

    Read More

  7. Jet2 Adds New Routes to Greece, Increases Seat Capacity to 1.3 Million

    UK airline and tour operator to Greece Jet2 on Tuesday announced that it was expanding its 2023 program for the country even further with the addition of new routes, increase of seat capacity and seas…

    Read More

  8. Ultra-runners to Set Off for the 40th Spartathlon from the Acropolis on Friday

    Nearly 400 super athletes from across the globe will set off from the foot of the Acropolis in Athens on Friday, September 30, morning to run 246km (153 miles) to the Peloponnesian town of Sparta for…

    Read More

  9. ‘Athens Full of Tourists’ as Greece Extends Tourism Season

    International travelers are still visiting Greece in the shoulder season which validates the Tourism Ministry’s efforts to extend the season and keep visitors coming into the fall and winter, said Tou…

    Read More

  10. A Walk around Kolonáki

    This walk around the Kolonaki neighbourhood of Athens starts and ends in Syntagma Square and takes you to several museums, Kolonaki Square and Mount Lykabettos.

    Read More