Visiting the Mystical Delphi Ruins (the Magical Sanctuary of the Oracle)

Planning a great Greece itinerary for your next trip? Don’t miss a visit to Delphi and learn all about the Oracle. This world heritage site is a must-do!


In This Article

We want to share all the fun we had in Delphi, a small central Greek town. It houses the world heritage site of an ancient city that was very important around the 6th century BC. We will tell you about:

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Delphi
  • The town of Delphi and where to eat and stay
Visit Delphi for a spectacular view like this.
Visit Delphi for a spectacular view like this.

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Just about every Greek myth mentions the oracles and everyone goes to Delphi to hear their fortune be told. We would be no different. What would the oracle proclaim for us?

Delphi long revered by the ancient Greeks as the center of the world, is home to yet another amazing UNESCO world heritage site in Greece. As the “navel” of the universe, the most important person to dwell there was the Oracle.

Jim and I have long been fascinated by Oracle stories and fables, so we were anxious to put this as a stop on our Greek road trip.

The valley which the Oracle of Delphi called "the navel."
The valley which the Oracle of Delphi called “the navel.” Delphi was built at looking up at Mt. Parnassus.

The Temple of Apollo on Mt. Parnassus was revered in ancient times as the place to go before attempting any ambitious endeavor. You would make a significant sacrifice, confer with the oracle, and reap your rewards. Many influential citizens of the time did just that, and the Delphi Oracle is mentioned over and over in history.

We went not really knowing what to expect, but looking for a few things: one – the oracle or some tales of the oracles and what they did and predicted; and two – King Midas’ throne.

Supposedly he had made his way to Delphi and gave a very handsome and expensive throne as an offering to Apollo. In the end we learned more about the oracle because the museum only briefly mentions Midas, and we were highly disappointed about that.

One end of the gymnasium of Delphi.
One end of the gymnasium of Delphi.

The Archaeological Site and Museum at Delphi

Visiting the Archaeological Site in Delphi is one of the highest rated activities for a trip to Greece, and with good reason. The collection of artifacts in the museum and the individual excavations on site really bring the story of the oracle to life. These are ruins, however, so some imagination is needed to get the idea of how large the Delphi complex was in it’s prime. Still, the gymnasium and amphitheater are some of the best preserved structures of their kind.

Treasury of Athenians, show off the riches of Delphi.
Treasury of Athenians, show off the riches of Delphi.

Climbing through the wooded hillside offers a shady green pine-scented trip through time. You can, and should, hike as far up as the gymnasium, or stadium. It is the largest and best preserved in Greece and well worth the hike.

A water trough at Delphi world heritage site in Greece.
A water trough.

My recommendation? Bring a small picnic lunch of olives, bread, tzatziki, and figs along and enjoy some wine and a snacks while sitting on the stone seats, taking in the expansive view looking out over the valley and imagine the cheers of the crowd as their favorite athletes came sprinting around the track.

I recommend visiting the museum before hiking around the site. Inside, you’ll find collections of artifacts that were donated as sacrifices to Apollo, his priests and priestess, and the oracles. The curators have gone to great lengths to identify the items and show exactly which area on the site they came from. So you can see if an item was offered at the temple of Apollo, or “tossed” into the votive pit along the Sacred Way. Fascinating!

The Amphitheater of Delphi towers over the site.
Amphitheater of Delphi

Museum Information

Cost: Entrance to the museum and site are under a combined ticket at the current cost of 12 euro for adults, children under 18 are free. However, the site has several free days, check out their website for more details.

For more information about the site and the museum, or to check for closures or free days, visit the website below.

Delphi Archaeological Museum
Delphi 330 54, Greece
odysseus.culture.gr
+30 2265 082312

Mosaics in the ruins of Delphi.
Some mosaics have been moved to museums, but some are still right on site.

The Town of Delphi and Dinner

We didn’t get to spend much time in the town itself, but it is small and filled with places to eat and stay. We spent the better part of the afternoon, about four hours, between the museum and the site, there was that much to see and do.

Afterwards we drove up to our hotel, checked in and went out in search of a Taverna. Luckily enough, we found a crowded wine bar and restaurant just up the hill from our inn that had one last table for four, named Vakhos Taverna.

The place was crowded with Greek families enjoying a night out, drinking the tavern’s homemade wine, and feasting on mezes (appetizers), mains, and desserts. We, of course, had a liter or two of the red (delicious), tried a few of the mezes that were recommended to us by the neighboring tables.

We stayed long into the night attempting to sing along as the crowd got livelier and livelier. I’m not sure what the ancient oracle of Delphi would have proclaimed for our Greek “invasion,” but I would call it a complete success!

Taverna Vakchos
Apollonos 31, Delfi 330 54, Greece
vakhos.com
+30 2265 083186

Part of the world heritage site, these ruins of Delphi show part of the Temple of Apollo.
Walking along the trail through many of the ruins.

Where to Stay

Delphi is a small town but there are several options for accommodations and food in a range of quality levels, but the Fedriades Delphi Hotel is our pick, due to its location. Clean, comfortable, and friendly, it’s one of the best places in town.

Temple of Apollo, home to the Oracle of Delphi.
Temple of Apollo, home to the Oracle of Delphi.

Getting to Delphi from Athens

By Car: Delphi is about 3 hours driving time out of Athens along, mostly, national highways in good condition

By Bus: Regular bus service is available between Athens and Delphi aboard Ktel-N.Fokidas buses; approximate travel time is also 3 hours

Visit the Delphi Ruins and walk the Sacred Way for views like this.
One of the main roads through Ancient Delphi, “The Sacred Way.”

Conclusion

No matter how you get there, go to Delphi! It was one of our favorite parts of our road trip through Greece. It’s scenic, the site itself is expansive and impressive. We loved the museum, and the town was full of friendly folk ready to show us a good time.

Pin Delphi for later!

Searching for the Oracle of Delphi.

6 thoughts on “Visiting the Mystical Delphi Ruins (the Magical Sanctuary of the Oracle)”

  1. gwen kesselman

    How far is the town of Delphi from the actual site??? No one mentions that. We will be in Athens and want to take a bus. Can Delphi be seen in one day??? Where does the bus drop you off/ pick up. I appreciate any info you may have. Thanks, Gwen

    1. Gwen, The site is about two kilometers from town. You can take a quick taxi if you don’t want to walk it. Yes, it can easily be done in one day. I’m not sure about the bus from Athens, though. It probably drops you off right in the middle of the town, which is very small. Have fun on your Greece trip!

  2. Delphi is one of the few places on my oldest son’s wish list of places to see. I guess it’s no longer in the active oracle/prediction business, though. Too bad as I’d be interested in what the priestess would have to say about me.

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