Mount Athos Boat Trips

Macedonia

Mount Athos boat trips are very popular with visitors to Halkidiki in Greece, as they are the only way most people get to see these spectacular monasteries, with most boats leaving from Ouranopolis.

Mount Athos Boat Trips, from https://www.greece-travel-secrets.com/Mount-Athos-Boat-Trips.htmlSaint Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos

Only men can set foot on Mount Athos, and even for them it is a lengthy business to acquire a permit. Most people have to be content to enjoy a boat trip along the coast, to see the magnificent monasteries in their clifftop settings, against the backdrop of Mount Athos itself.

Some trips take visitors around the whole peninsula, to see the monasteries on the eastern side as well, but the vast majority of boats leave from Ouranópolis and limit themselves to the more spectacular western side of Athos. Ouranópolis itself is not an especially attractive place at which to be based, and most visitors are staying in Halkidikí or Thessaloníki. You may wish to spend one night in Ouranópolis in order to take one of the earlier boat trips. 

Ouranopolis, Gateway to Mount Athos in GreeceOuranopolis, Gateway to Mount Athos

Mount Athos Boat Trips

From a practical point of view, it is illegal for the boats to venture closer than 500m to the shore, so take a pair of binoculars if you have them, and a telephoto lens for your camera if you wish to get close-up photographs. Don’t leave behind your pocket camera if that is all that you have, as you may well get some wonderful photos of the dolphins which sometimes swim alongside the boats and leap spectacularly out of the water.

The boat trips take at least four hours, and though they sell some food and drink on board, the choice is limited so take your own picnic lunch as well. The boats provide a commentary in Greek, English and German, but the PA systems on some boats are rather poor, so see if you can find a map to help you identify the main monasteries.

Google map showing location of Mount Athos in Greece(c) Google Maps

The First Monasteries

The first monasteries you pass are inland: Zográfou, the most northerly, and shortly afterwards Kastamonítou. The former was founded in the 10th century but like many monasteries has been rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries, and today is home to a small number of Bulgarian monks. Kastamonítou is 11th century, and is also still inhabited.

The first monasteries of which you get good views are down on the coast. Docheiaríou comes into sight first, a cluster of attractive buildings on a hill behind a jetty. This working monastery was founded in the 10th century and in addition to some original frescoes in its churches also claims to have a piece of the True Cross. Further along the coast is Xenofóntos, founded in the 10th century by St Xenofóntos, and also very much a working monastery – it even has a sawmill! Like many monasteries, though, it has been damaged over the years by fires and is now a mixture of periods and styles.

Saint Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos in GreeceSaint Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos

Ágiou Panteleímonos

The next coastal monastery is the hugely impressive Ágiou Panteleímonos, dating back to the 12th century, with additions built by Russian monks in the 18th century, and inside you will get glimpses of the onion domes of churches standing above the red-rooved buildings. Further on is the port of Dáfni, where pilgrims come ashore and where a small population exists to service the practical needs of the monks and their visitors. Inland from here is the monastery of Xiropotámou, another one which has suffered fire damage and been rebuilt in various styles.

Monastery of Simónos Pétras on Mount Athos in GreeceSimónos Pétras

One of the most impressive sights is Simónos Pétras, on top of a rocky ridge, where it was founded in the 14th century. So too was Grigoríou, also on a clifftop if not quite as spectacular, and then Agiou Dionysiou with its pink and white balconies is perched 80m above the sea. Even higher is Ágiou Pávlou, nestling below Mount Athos itself. At this point most boats turn round and head back for Ouranópolis.

Some other Macedonia pages

  • Thessaloniki

    The capital of Macedonia and Greece’s second city, Thessaloníki has a lovely situation by the water, a wealth of history, many good museums, and good food.

  • The Churches of Thessaloniki

    The churches of Thessaloniki are remarkable and include UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, Byzantine masterpieces, and a church dating from the 5th century.

  • Museums of Thessaloniki

    The Greek city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia has an array of wonderful museums and art galleries, and here's twelve of the best.

  • The Royal Tombs and Archaeological Site of Vergina in Macedonia

    The archaeological site of Vergina in Macedonia is famous for the royal tombs which were the burial place of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

  • The Prespa Lakes in Northern Greece

    The Prespa Lakes in northwest Greece is one of the most beautiful parts of Greece with abundant wildlife and also many ancient churches.

  • Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

    Scenic Drives in Northern Greece, Ioannina, Meteora, Kastoria, Prespa Lakes

  • Philippi

    Philippi is an ancient archaeological site near Kavala in East Macedonia and Thrace and is famous for being the place where the apostle St Paul was imprisoned.

  • Kavala

    The city of Kavala in eastern Macedonia is the area's major seaport and the base for ferries to the islands of the North East Aegean, including Thasos.

  • The Site of Ancient Pella in Macedonia, Greece

    Pella in Macedonia is famous for its mosaics and was also the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • 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, 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.

  • Mount Athos

    Visiting Mount Athos in Greece requires a permit, but you can see the monasteries on a boat trip around the peninsula, known as the Monks' Republic.

  • Macedonia and Thrace

    Macedonia and Thrace are the regions in Greece where travelers will find Thessaloniki, Mount Athos monasteries, Halkidiki and sites like Dion and Pella.

  • Kastoria

    Kastoria is a lakeside town in West Macedonia which prospered with the fur trade and today has some handsome mansions, museums and many Byzantine churches.

  • Halkidikí

    Halkidiki is a three-pronged peninsula near Thessaloniki in Macedonia which comprises Mount Athos and the holiday resorts on Kassandra and Sithonia.

  • Dion

    Dion is a rather wonderful archaeological site in Macedonia, not far from Thessaloniki, with an archaeological museum nearby in the town of Dion.

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