Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
After being in Athens for a few days it was time to go out and explore more of the Attic Peninsula so the destination was set to Sounion.
Sounion is located in the southernmost tip of the Greek Riviera and it's well known for having the Temple of Poseidon, the greeks really knew how to spot great locations and build majestic constructions.
It takes about an hour drive South of Athens, driving on the western side of the peninsula where you can see the Mediterranean Sea while you drive and stop by some smaller towns along the way. We rented a car for the day as that way we could do our own thing and make stops wherever we wanted to. Make sure to get full coverage insurance in Greece as your American Express Car Insurance doesn't protect you here.
Once you get to Sounion you'll understand why the Greeks decided to build a temple to Poseidon and Athena there. Perched on top a hill and overlooking the Mediterranean is a breathtaking view of the close-by islands that once protected the Greek empire from multiple invasions.
Some history extracted from wikipedia describes the Temple of Poseidon: The earliest literary reference to Sounion is in Homer's Odyssey (III. 278–285). The story recounts that as the various Greek commanders sailed back from Troy, the helmsman of the ship of King Menelaus of Sparta died at his post while rounding "Holy Sounion, Cape of Athens." Menelaus landed at Sounion to give his companion full funeral honours (i.e., cremation on a funeral pyre on the beach).
As you can tell, there is a vast history almanac related to the are and the construction of the temples of Poseidon and Athena, not to mention the beautiful architecture that still stands the test of time. Destroyed in many areas by the Persian and Ottoman invasions through the centuries, the temple still holds 15 of the original 36 doric columns.
Along the coast and surrounding towns there's many vacation developments where the local Athenians spend their summer time on the beach. You could actually find a hotel or an airbnb and experience the more secluded beaches away from the greek islands which are much busier and expensive than the Attic Peninsula.
We stopped by a small beach, Sounion Beach, at the foot of the Sounion Temples hill and jump in the sea. They had a beach club with beach chairs and towels where you could rent for 10 euros a day and then spend the day jumping in and out of the pristine aquamarine blue water.
A restaurant to check out is at Beach Club Krabo which serves authentic fresh Greek food on the beach, you can rent a couple of chairs for the day and jump in and out of the water as you wish. In the distance you'll be able to see the newly reopened Astir Palace hotel, now a Four Seasons hotel, which became famous after celebrities like Jackie O' and Aristoteles Onassis used to visit, making the Athens Riviera a hot spot back in the 60s and 70s.
This is a day trip if you're staying in Athens but the other option is to rent your car and travel around the area exploring more of the local towns and spots. Airbnb has seen a surge in properties here so there are many options and very affordable. I'd definitely like to go back and explore more of the mainland Greece. We usually get distracted by the trendy islands and it was a really unexpected nice surprise to discover more of Greece.