Mount Athos Travel Guide

Discover the history, culture, and outdoor activities that Mount Athos has to offer with our comprehensive tour guide. Learn about the best places to visit, stay, and eat, and get practical tips and advice for your next trip.

Introduction to Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a unique destination that combines natural beauty with religious significance. Located in Chalkidiki, in Macedonia, in Northern Greece, in Europe, Mount Athos is a monastic community that has been inhabited by Orthodox monks since the 9th century. Known as the “Holy Mountain,” it is one of the most important spiritual centers of the Orthodox world. The mountain is home to stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a wealth of cultural and historical attractions that make it a must-visit destination for people of all faiths and backgrounds.

List of Places to Visit in Mount Athos

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Visit the Byzantine Monasteries of Mount Athos, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each monastery is unique in its architecture and art, and you can take a guided tour to learn about their history and significance. Some of the most important monasteries to visit are:

  • Great Lavra Monastery
  • Vatopedi Monastery
  • St. Paul Monastery
  • Iviron Monastery
  • Dionysiou Monastery

Additionally, there is a historical archive and library in each monastery that has a vast collection of rare and ancient manuscripts and documents. The libraries are not open to the public, but you can request a guided tour to see some of the collections.

Natural Attractions of Mount Athos: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Mount Athos, from hiking and cycling to horse riding and water sports. Take a tour of the mountain’s lush forests and mountain peaks, its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. You can also make an excursion to the nearby islands, such as Ammouliani, and enjoy a day trip. Be sure to explore the Athos peninsula with its beauty and explore the many secluded beaches, bays, and coves.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Mount Athos

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, explore the many hiking and biking trails in Mount Athos. Some of the most popular routes include:

  • The Mount Athos Circle Trail: a 130-kilometer hiking trail that takes you around the entire peninsula with stunning sea views.
  • The Path of the Monks: a 10-kilometer walk that connects the monasteries of Great Lavra and Vatopedi.
  • The Holy Cross Hiking Trail: a 15-kilometer trail that connects the monasteries of Iviron and Karakallou with panoramic views of the sea.

Best Things to Do in Mount Athos: Activities and Tours

There’s plenty to do in Mount Athos, from cultural and historical tours to outdoor adventures and spiritual experiences. Some of the best things to do include:

  • Visit the Byzantine Monasteries of Mount Athos: explore the history and architecture of these ancient monasteries with a guided tour.
  • Take a boat tour around the peninsula: see the stunning coastline from a different perspective.
  • Attend a religious service at one of the monasteries: experience the spiritual and cultural significance of Mount Athos.
  • Go hiking or cycling: explore the mountain’s beautiful landscapes and breathtaking views.

Week-Long Itinerary for Mount Athos

If you’re planning a week-long trip to Mount Athos, here’s a suggested itinerary to help you get the most out of your stay:

  • Day 1: Arrival day and check into your hotel. Take a walking tour around the nearby village of Ouranoupoli.
  • Day 2: Visit the Great Lavra Monastery and explore its history and art.
  • Day 3: Take a boat tour around the Athos peninsula and visit a few of the monasteries.
  • Day 4: Go hiking or cycling on one of the mountain’s trails, then spend the afternoon at one of the nearby beaches.
  • Day 5: Attend a religious service at one of the monasteries, then visit the monasteries of Iviron and Karakallou.
  • Day 6: Take an excursion to the nearby island of Ammouliani and enjoy a day trip.
  • Day 7: Departure day and travel back home.

Food and Drink Scene of Mount Athos

Must-Try Dishes

Mount Athos is known for its delicious traditional dishes that are based on fresh ingredients and local produce. Some of the must-try dishes include:

  • Byzantine fish soup: a warming soup made with fish, onions, tomato, and garlic.
  • Moussaka: a classic Greek dish made with layers of eggplant, potatoes, and minced meat topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.
  • Kalitsounia: small pies filled with spinach and feta cheese or other filling.
  • Honey: The honey produced in the mountain is of the highest quality and purity.

Local Beverages

Try some of the local drinks and brews while you’re in Mount Athos. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Tsipouro: a strong alcoholic drink made from grape must or pomace. Taste some of the different flavor variations.
  • Raki: another strong drink that is often served as an aperitif. Made from fermented grapes or other fruits and flavored with anise.
  • Local Wines: Although it is not widely known, the region produces some good quality wines, so have a sip and enjoy the flavors.

Where to Stay in Mount Athos: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

There are many options for accommodation in Mount Athos, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses.

  • Avaton Luxury Hotel and Villas is a five-star resort that offers luxurious amenities and sea views.
  • The Eagles Palace Hotel and Spa is a four-star hotel that offers a range of wellness and spa services.
  • The Guesthouse of Xenofontos Monastery accommodation is affordable and has Orthodox themes.
  • For Hostel lovers, Ammouliani Island Hotel…

What to Buy in Mount Athos: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

If you’re looking for authentic souvenirs and local products, Mount Athos has plenty to offer. Some of the most popular items include:

  • Icons and religious artifacts: Mount Athos is known for its beautiful handmade icons and other religious artifacts.
  • Local honey and herbal teas: produced in the monasteries and sold in small shops around the region.
  • Olive oil and olives: Mount Athos has a long tradition of olive cultivation, and the region produces some of the best olive oil and cured olives in Greece.
  • Amazing wines and tsipouro: buy some locally produced wine or spirit and give your friends and family a taste of Greece.
  • Handicrafts and jewelry: Many local artists make beautiful handicrafts and jewelry. Support the locals and buy something memorable coming from a place with such spirituality and tradition.

Local Culture and Customs of Mount Athos

Mount Athos has a rich cultural and religious heritage that is deeply rooted in Orthodox Christianity. It is a place of pilgrimage and spiritual retreat, where people come to experience a sense of peace and detachment from the outside world. Visitors to Mount Athos are required to follow certain customs and rules, including:

  • Dress modestly: both men and women must wear long pants or skirts and have their shoulders covered. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed.
  • Seek permission: visitors are only allowed to enter the monasteries and other holy sites with permission.
  • Respect the rules: visitors must follow the rules of each monastery, including restrictions on photography, noise, and other activities.
  • No women are allowed on the Mount. Men need to get a visum in advance.

Best Time to Visit Mount Athos

The best time to visit Mount Athos is from April to October, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the vegetation is in full bloom. The peninsula can get crowded during the peak tourist season, so plan your visit accordingly. If you want a more peaceful and quiet stay, choose the shoulder seasons of May, June, September, or October to visit. No visits allowed in winter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Mount Athos


  • Be respectful of the Orthodox customs and traditions, and follow the rules of each monastery.
  • Dress modestly and cover your heads (women need to cover their heads)
  • Seek permission to enter the monasteries and holy sites. Cameras are generally not allowed.
  • Use your manners when asking anything from the workers of the Mountain.


  • Don’t take photographs of the monks, religious artifacts, manuscripts, or other objects without permission.
  • Don’t use your phone during religious services.
  • Don’t bring pets or any animal or fishery on the Mount.
  • Don’t approach the animals you see on the area.

Safety and Health

Safety in Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a safe destination for travelers. Crime rates are low, but it is important to be alert and aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, and keep your valuables safe.

Health in Mount Athos

There are medical facilities available in Mount Athos, but they are limited, make sure to pack first aid kit and carrying any of your medication prescriptions.

Getting to Mount Athos: Transportation Options and Logistics

Mount Athos is not easily accessible by car or public transportation since women are not allowed to enter the area. You can only get there by traveling on boat service from Ouranoupoli, which is the only access point on the Athos peninsula.

Airports Near Mount Athos

The closest airport to Mount Athos is Thessaloniki International Airport, which is about 150 km away.

Bus Stations Near Mount Athos

There are no bus services that go directly to Mount Athos. You can take the bus to Ouranoupoli from Thessaloniki or other cities in the region and then take the boat from there.

Other Options

Taxis or private transfers are a convenient way to get to Ouranoupoli from other cities or airports. The journey takes about 2-3 hours, depending on the route and traffic.

How to Get Around in Mount Athos

Boats and water taxis are the main transportation options in Mount Athos., and they offer an efficient and convenient way to get around the peninsula and visit the monasteries. Be aware that no vehicles are allowed.

Where to Go Next from Mount Athos: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

There are some great nearby destinations to visit after exploring Mount Athos, such as:

  • Thessaloniki: Greece’s second-largest city has a rich history and culture, stunning architecture, and vibrant nightlife.
  • Kavala: a picturesque coastal town with a lively port and a historic old town.
  • Meteora: a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site that features monasteries perched high on rocky cliffs.


Whether you’re looking for a spiritual retreat or an outdoor adventure, Mount Athos has plenty to offer. Our tour guide has given you an in-depth look at the different attractions, activities, and logistics of this sacred destination. Happy travels!