Visiting Cape Sounion for the sunset is an absolute must when you’re in Athens. I have already travelled to many places in the world, but this is right up there with the very best!
Cape Sounion is famous for its Temple of Poseidon, an ancient Doric marble temple dedicated to the god of the sea, which lies right at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula.
The site is about 70km from Athens and can easily be reached in 1h30 to 2 hours by bus. There are many companies that offer tours to Cape Sounion (priced from at least 40 euros), but you can save yourself a lot of frustration and money (I paid only 14 euros) by doing it yourself. Being your own tour guide means that you can experience it all at your own time and pace, even after the crowds have left.
Take a public bus
- Take the public bus to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon from the Pedion Areos Park bus terminal near the National Archaeological Museum (which lies to the north of Athens city centre).
- The closest metro station is Viktoria. Walk out of the front of the station, cross the street and keep going straight until you see the bus terminal.
- You can buy your ticket at the terminal. (I paid around 10 euros for a return ticket). Make sure you take the coastal bus to Cape Sounion for a very scenic drive (there is also a bus that travels inland).
- If you are early, take shelter from the heat at the nearby air-conditioned National Archaeological Museum (which houses a wonderful collection of Greek antiquities). The bus terminal has very little shade.
- The bus journey takes about 1h30 to 2 hours and makes numerous stops at small coastal villages along the way.
- Once you arrive at the Temple of Poseidon, check with the bus driver when the last bus leaves for Athens. (I arrived about half an hour before sunset and took the last bus back about 90 minutes later. It was more than enough time.)
- The entry fee to the site is 4 euros.
- Pack water, snacks and your camera. The site is very photogenic!
Legends and history
For more than 2 000 years, Cape Sounion has been a revered landmark for sailors as they approach and leave the safety of Attica (the region that encompasses the city of Athens). The first reference of the temple was made by the ancient Greek poet Homer in his epic poem The Odyssey.
The temple is surrounded on three sides by the Aegean Sea and the views are truly spectacular. Interestingly, the Aegean Sea is named after Aegeus, the mythical king of Athens, who killed himself by jumping off the cliff into the sea when he believed that his son, Theseus, had been killed by the Minotaur, the legendary monster that lived in the Palace of Knossos in Crete.
The current temple was built by the great Athenian leader Pericles in 440BC over the site of the original temple which was destroyed during the second Greco-Persian War in 480BC. It used to display a 5m tall statue of Poseidon and a frieze which depicted the legends of Theseus.
There are still 15 of the original columns left today. On one of them, you can see the name “Byron” engraved – graffiti by the British poet Lord Byron during a visit in 1810 (he should have known better than to damage an ancient column).
A visit to Cape Sounion’s Temple of Poseidon at sunset is an experience you will never forget. Savour every moment!
(All pics by Birgit@Groove Is In The Heart.)
Have you visited magical Cape Sounion yet? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Read more about Greece