Hiking and nature in Attica - Everything you need to know
Updated: Jul 26, 2020
Sun rays hitting the blue waters of the seas, light summer breeze, car-free narrow streets, the smell of fresh pastries... you can have any kind you please.
In Greece, you travel through time, passing historical sites with heroic tales...
A summer feeling? Totally healing!
But wait! There's more....
With evergreen landscapes, a plethora of bird species, and breathtaking views, a hike can be as satisfying as a dive into the sea. So, for a solitary climb in the region of Attica, for a breath of fresh air and a place to meditate the mountains don't disappoint.
There're plenty of options for every type of hiker!
Mt. Hymettus (highest peak 1,026 meters - 3,366 ft)
If you choose Mount Hymettus, you can start at Vyronas Forest (beware small snakes do exist). There you might find yourself "lost" in its beauty and decide to stay low and have a picnic. But if you want an adventure, you can follow one of the rocky paths to the top, where you'll be guaranteed solitude and nature sounds, or you can work your way to the top by taking the established road. If you do take the road, you'll likely encounter other people and miss some of the real "nature experiences." The climb (not the easy roadway - everyone can do that) is not particularly hard; you need to have good knees (mainly to come down after you reach the top), there are a few places where you want to use your hands, so you don't slip (but there's no fear of falling off a cliff or something); what you really need is endurance. Trees provide shade for the most part, but you need water, a snack, durable shoes, and insect repellent (not necessary but there're tons of bees, wasps so watch out if you have allergies.) Once you reach the top, you'll enjoy views of Attica from the Acropolis, to the Olympic Stadium to the sea.
Mt. Penteli (1,109 meters - 3,638 ft) For Mount Penteli, the hike can be combined with a stop at the Drafi waterfalls, where you can enjoy the view of crystal clear water falling down a rocky hill, and even take a swim. There are many ways to explore Penteli; you can choose to see its caves you and take different hiking routes. You can also see the marbles of Penteli; this mountain is unique because from a distance, it looks like its "painted" white, except these are actually marble quarries, and they were used to build the Acropolis and the Parthenon.
Penteli has some hikes for experienced hikers too (I haven't done those yet.)
Mt. Parnitha (1,413 meters - 4,636 ft)
For Mt. Parnitha, you need to be a little more prepared in terms of having food, water, sunscreen, hiking shoes, and insect repellent. You can choose to start low and take one of these trails which are very easy to find, and there's plenty of space to park the car. You may also drive up higher if you want to get views of the mountain from all angles. If you decide to drive, you'll find yourself stopping at different spots to observe or even pet very friendly, wild deer, take short walks in different areas, or have a picnic. The mountain is much less organized than any of the other mountains in Attica, and it takes significantly more time to explore. Don't forget to stop at the "Mpafi" refuge.
And if you're looking to see colorful birds, look no further than Mt. Lycabettus (easy hikes for everyone - most likely place to see Eurasian Hoopoe), the National Garden (beautiful walks - most likely to see Monk Parakeet), and the Kalavrytra Park in Ilioupoli. However, in all of those places, you can find the following species: Eurasian Jay, Monk Parakeet, Magpies, Blackbirds, sparrows, the Eurasian Hoopoe, and some crazy ducks. There's also a Facebook group "birding in Athens" for anyone who wants to know more about our flying friends.
Bonus tip: when you're looking for birds, be quiet or you have no chance, hehe.