If you’ve ever planned to head to Athens, you must have heard of Delphi. It’s essentially the “must do” day trip out of Athens. Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, is arguably the most famous site out of Athens, home of the Oracle of Apollo and was revered as the center of the universe(where Heaven and Earth met) during ancient Greek times.
The trip to Delphi can be done by yourself (via public bus/rental car) or via a tour. We decided to take a tour since we didn’t want to rent a car just for a day and face the Athens traffic (which is no joke by the way). Also, we needed a guide, and I was admittedly a little lazy to go searching for one since we decided on Delphi pretty last minute. If we went without a guide, we’d have no idea what was going on, and basically it was just be driving 3 hours to see ruins without any context. I could read up on it first, but like I said, lazy. And it’s just different!
So we decided to go with Changi Recommends Day Tour to Delphi. I’ve used them previously and loved them, and so I’m back with them again. I just love how easy and convenient everything is. Just head to their website, select a tour, and you’ll get confirmation and tickets instantly via email. They arrange the pick-ups etc as well! Plus, since it’s based in Singapore and part of Changi Airport Group, service is top notch. They handle any questions and you can get in touch with them whenever you’d like. They outsource their tours to agencies in each particular country you’re going to , so you’re still getting a local experience at your holiday destination. To put it simply, Changi Recommends is like the responsible middlemen, here to ensure the tour agencies are legitimate and your experience fuss-free!
Now on to the tour ↓
We were picked up at 8, and the tour officially started around 8.30am, after everyone had been picked up. There were about 20-25 people in the group that day, and we were in a large, comfortable tour bus. The bus had wifi in it, but I didn’t really need it, since I had my Changi Wifi Router, which has become one of my travel essentials now!
The ride to Delphi takes around 3 hours non-stop. We had 2 stops during the journey; first at a cafe, and second at a village rug/souvenir store.
Almost throughout the bus ride, the guide was sharing interesting stories and anecdotes about Athens, Delphi and anything in between. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the High Priestess of Delphi would sit in front of a hole (A.K.A the Oracle of Apollo) and was believed to channel the spirit and energy of Apollo through the Oracle. People from all over the continent would come to her to seek advice on matters (in exchange for a ritual sacrifice) from the “mouth of God”. Modern day scientists have since speculated that the fumes from “oracle” was in actual fact, toxic gases, which when inhaled, caused hallucinations and the like.
But back to the story! She would have a group of councilmen who would translate her “prophecies”. However, whenever they translated it, they made sure it was vague and could be interpreted in many ways.
For example, there was a King who wanted to invade a neighbouring Empire and went to the High Priestes to seek counsel. The gist of her “prophecy” was that, if he invaded, a great Empire would fall. Happily, he went home, planned for the attack, and did it. When he lost, he “realised” he had misread the prophecy. Both himself and his enemy had great Empires, and the prophecy hadn’t stated which, so it wasn’t that the prophecy wasn’t true, it was his fault for misinterpreting it.
Kinda reminds you of fortune tellers these days, don’t you think?
We finally arrived in Delphi an it was a little bittersweet looking at the ruins and imagining a thriving city was here in the past. Being in Greece and learning all about the history here kind of makes me wish I had been able to experience an era when gods and goddesses were worshipped, and people wore draped clothing and greek sandals(I’m not sure if the last part is true, but I THINK it is, right?!).
Fun fact: When the ruins were discovered, the people living around the area were relocated to a *New* Delphi town so archaeologists could get on with excavations etc. This was a big deal!
After spending around 15 minutes with us on-site, explaining the general history/layout of Delphi, the guide gave us free reign for the next hour and we explored it ourselves.
Interesting facts about the columns; you’d find there are two types of columns during ancient times. The romans built single, smooth columns while the greeks favoured blocks of “ridged” columns stacked on top of each other as they found there were much stronger and resistant to the elements this way as any impact is distributed and not concentrated in the entire pillar. Simply put, it’s an engineering feat. In certain places like the angoras in Athens, you’ll find a mix of Greek and Roman columns as the people lived by side each other and Athens had been conquered previously by the Romans. However, you’ll notice most of the remains left standing are the Greek columns!
After the hour, we headed back down to meet up with everyone for the museum. The museums features actual artifacts excavated from the ruins. It’s a cool stop to have a closer look at the drawings/carvings of the columns, bronze sculptures etc.
For those of you taking this day trip via Changi Recommends, it doesn’t come with lunch, but you could choose to head to the same restaurant as the others who have bought lunch packages. My tip: DON’T. Full disclaimer: I had actually done research beforehand to check out where to eat for lunch. The guide had assumed we were following them to the restaurant, and my first instinct was to ask for its name and google it. Reviews were below average. It seems to be a tourist-catered restaurant and there were complaints of it being overpriced and food way below expectations.
Instead, request to be dropped off at New Delphi during lunch (they’ll gladly do so and come pick you up in 1 1/4 hour’s time) and head to Taverna Dion for lunch. They’ve got a lovely outdoor patio, great food and best of all, affordable prices! Their 3-course set lunches start from 7.50euros. I absolutely fell in love with their Greek stuffed tomatoes with rice. Greece has the best tomatoes anywhere I’ve tasted! Plus, service is pretty quick so when you’re done, you’ll have around 15 minutes to walk around the cute little village. That’s where we bought a couple of souvenirs too.
Once lunch was over, it was time to head back to Athens. Another plus of a tour? Not having to drive a 7 hours to and fro! We pretty much napped the whole way back. Would I recommend it? Yes. Not having to deal with the traffic and more importantly, having a guide was invaluable. I actually knew what was going on without relying too much on my phone this time around! If you’re interested, check out the tour here on Changi Recommends (they’ve got loads more around the world too!)
And that’s the end of the tour! I’m so glad we got to experience Delphi and learn about the top religious site in Ancient Greece. After a day of history, it was time to soak up the atmosphere of the present, in the central markets – a must-do for any visitor to Athens!
Till next time, xoxo
PS. All photos featured are taken with the Nikon D7500!