If you're looking for ideas for day-trips from Athens, and you are not eager to get on a boat, this is worth you consideration. Vravrona is nowadays a small settlement of country houses, in the east coast of Attika (east of Athens), where some Athenians spend their summers, close to the city. You may also see it referred as "Brauron" by scholars of ancient Greek. The place stands out from all other settlements in east Attica due to the presence of a significant, two and a half thousand years old ancient Greek sanctuary, dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting, and a small but interesting archaeological museum with findings from this area. You may combine your visit here with swimming at the sea (or a nearby hotel's pool) and a lunch or dinner in a seaside taverna. Depending on how you get here you may need to do some walking (see detailed directions on how to go to Vravrona at the bottom of this post).
The site is nestled between a rocky hill, a small stream which in ancient times created a verdant wood –suitable for the goddess of hunting– and the seaside where the stream ends up. Archaeologists believe the cult of Artemis and this particular temple to have been really important in ancient times. A sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia (Artemis of Vravrona) had been erected on the Athens Acropolis and every 5 years a large procession from Athens to Vravrona took place in honor of the goddess The archaeological site had been closed to the public for conservation work for a number of years but it is now (12/2014) back open (Winter Hours: Tue-Sun: 08:00am-2:45pm, Tel: +30-22990-27020). In the pictures below you may catch a glimpse of the overall site and the arcade (stoa), which is the most significant remainining edifice, the way they looked from the surrounding fence when I visited in 2012. The museum does a good job presenting the site, the excavations and various findings and it'll take you 40-60 mins to tour (Tue-Sun: 09:00-16:00 from June 8 till Oct.31; call for winter hours as they may change. Ticket price: 3€, 2€ reduced for EU seniors, free for all under 18, Tel: +30-22990-27020).
Artemis herself (Diana was her Roman equivalent) was not only the goddess of hunting but also of nature, children and especially girls, and nursing and you can see signs of all this from the findings displayed in the museum. As for the stream, it is still present but the area is now a "wetland", not a "hunting ground" :) Follow the path that starts beyond the entrance of the museum to reach the site's rear side and the stream / wetland.
|Vravrona Archaeological Site - View from the fence|
|Vravrona Archaeological Museum entrance|
|Bronze cauldron - Vravrona Archaeological Museum|
|Duck-shaped vessel - Vravrona Archaeological Museum |
|Statue of Goddess Artemis - Vravrona Archaeological Museum|
|Votive relief picturing goddess Artemis - Vravrona Archeological Museum|
|Ancient Greek babies statues! (Artemis was the protectress of children) - Vravrona Archeological Museum|
|Feeding bottles for ancient Greek babies - Vravrona Archeological Museum |
|Vravrona Archaeological Site - under works...|
|The Stoa (arcade) of the temple at Vravrona Archaeological Site - View from the rear fence / access from the path behind the museum|
Now that you're done with the educational part of your day trip it's time to hit the beach! There are 2 options nearby: Either continue south (from the road that took you to the museum) to what I call "Beach No.2" in the map below (also referred to as Chamolia) or go back north, to the beach in front of the "Mare Nostrum Hotel" ("Beach No.1"). Both offer shallow and usually calm and clean waters that will allow you to relax and enjoy your time here. The above said hotel also has a pool that can be accessed by non-guests for a small fee.
|Vravrona Bay - View from the road near Mare Nostrum Hotel|
Finally, there are various options for lunch or dinner in the area but the best value seems to be offered by a small seaside restaurant called "Artemis", which you'll find if you deviate from the main road, just before you get to the Mare Nostrum Hotel, to the right (towards the sea). They have a reputation, which we were happy to confirm, for some very tender, well-fried calamari rings (probably as good as you can get in a fish-tavern). We also got an excellent, succulent boiled octopus appetizer and a, rather boring, Greek salad. Together with 2 portions of squid rings and a bottle of beer, a dinner for two here cost us 36.5€. A fresh, fried cod fish cost us 23 Euros on a separate occasion (in 2014).
Tip: Make sure you carry a mosquito repellent with you if you stay in the area for dinner
Getting to Vravrona from Athens
Vravrona is around 40kms away from Athens. There are various options for getting here and I present them all below but you should plan for more than an hour (or even two!) of travel if you don't use a car. So, the best option (45minutes travel) is to either hire a car or get a taxi if you can split the cost.
Public transit: Starting from Nomismatokopeio Metro Station (Line 3) you may catch urban Bus 304. Terminal stop is in front of Mare Nostrum Hotel. Buses leave from 5:35 and approximately every half an hour till 21:15. Return buses from Vravrona to Halandri (Nomismatokopeio Metro Station) from 05:00 till 22:15.
Bus 316 (same starting and terminal stop) has very few routes but the last one is at 23:15. You will need to walk to the archaeological site (almost 2kms if you choose this option). The urban bus is the cheapest option but you should plan for 1.5hour of travel overall.
-A slightly faster option, but considerably more expensive (around 20€) would be to get to the airport with one of the (more expensive) Express Buses (X93, X95) from Athens to the airport, or go to the airport via Metro Line 3 and catch a taxi to Vravrona from there.
-Similarly, KTEL (intercity) buses
with their starting point at Mavromataion St. & Alexandras Avenue
) in Athens (see here
) leave every 30min or so for Markopoulo (2012 ticket price: 2.70€
). From there, you can get a taxi-cab to the archaeological museum (11km / 15min. away). You will need to walk from the museum to the beach, about 2kms, if you choose this option.
By car: Follow Attiki Odos (Athens' Ring Road) all the way to Markopoulo. About 2kms after the end of Attiki Odos (see map above from this point on), you will see a sign pointing left and a traffic light where you turn left to Markopoulo. If you miss this there’s another one after 300 m (300yards) where you may also turn left. You will stay on the road that has most of the traffic, following signs to Mare Nostrum Hotel and then (left turn) on the road to Porto Rafti. 2kms on the road to Porto Rafti and after having passed some big box shops to your right (the last one being “Caldera” swimsuit factory to your right), the road has a median lane with a sign for a left turn. Stop and carefully turn left here, following the road (Leoforos Vravronos) to Vravrona. After 6kms, and having passed several road-side carts selling fruit and vegetables, the road splits. The left branch will get you in front of Mare Nostrum Hotel after 1.7km. The right one gets you to the archaeological museum and site (1km) and then to the 2nd beach of Vravrona (2kms more).
Thanks for posting this!!ReplyDelete
I'll be in Athens in 2 weeks and plan on making a day trip to Vravrona.
Is the bus 304 just outside the Nomismatokopeio station? Is it easy to find?
From what I'm seeing in Google Maps and the bus service's website it's about a block from the Metro Station on Messogeion Ave., near the corner with Solomou St. (Go to Google maps and zoom at Solomou St., Halandri or "Chalandri", Greece).
Compliments on the very useful and diverting blog on the minutiae of Athens; I think it's the only one of its kind in English.
Any tips on how to get to Vravrona from the airport? I suppose it's a matter of taxi, not bus. Any idea about how much I should reckon on paying for a ride from the airport with sufficient waiting time at the site and museum (with or without a stop at the beach) and on to Rafina?
Hi and thanks for your comment.Delete
Yes, it's definitely a matter of taxi.The taxi rates can be found here: http://www.satataxi.gr/index.php/nomothesia-taxi/timokatalogos
The meter will essentially start from 5Euros from the airport and from there it's about a 15-20min ride (depending on time /day). The waiting is approx. 10E/hour but it is negotiable for such long waiting times. From Vravrona to Rafina it's another 25min (16.5km) according to Google maps. I hope this has been of some help!
It's not going to be cheap, then...ReplyDelete
Thanks very much for your response; it's of great help to know at long last the real taxi charges in Attika (40 cents for each piece of luggage over 10 kg--why on earth do they bother?)
All the best