9 Best Things to Do in Marathon Greece

Marathon Greece is a historically significant small town located 42 km from central Athens. I have visited the village multiple times over the years for various reasons: to go out with friends to local taverns popular for their fish dishes, to visit the ancient sites and numerous times (since I was a kid with parents) to swim in the nearby Schinias sandy beach.

Marathon Greece is a renowned town because it is the:

The National Park of Schinias beach and pine forest as seen from a drone in Greece.
National Park of Schinias
  1. Hometown of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE where a small Greek force triumphed over the vast Persian army.
  2. Starting location of the Authentic Classic Athens Marathon Race
  3. Athens main water supplier with the impressive Marathon Lake and dam
  4. Moreover, Marathon offers visitors a captivating natural environment, featuring a picturesque gorge and numerous hiking trails. The National Park of Schinias is famous for its windsurfing opportunities, providing a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation by the sea.

Discover the 9 top things to do in Marathon Greece, including travel tips, accommodations in the area, and the perfect nearby beach destination!

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Things to do in Marathon Greece

Evgenia at Marathonas Lake taking a Photo of a Small Church in Marathonas Greece.
Tiny chapel above Marathon Lake

The town is mostly known as the birthplace of the original Marathon race of Feidipidis, but there is a lot to do in Marathon making it the perfect Athens day trip. These are some of the best ideas for things to do in Marathon Greece:

1. Visit the Marathon Run Museum

Marathon Greece Run Museum Entrance, Garden and Two Statues in Marathonas Greece.
Marathon Run Museum Entrance

For enthusiasts and Olympic fans alike, a visit to Marathon’s specialized museum is an absolute must. This treasure trove is brimming with running memorabilia, including medals, cups, and souvenirs from marathon races across the globe. Of particular pride is the original gold medal awarded to Greek Spiridon (Spiros) Louis, the inaugural Marathon winner in the 1st Modern Olympic Games in 1896

The Marathon Run Museum can be found in the center of Marathon town and is open Tuesday to Friday from 9h to 15h. Saturday & Sunday: 10h to 14h. Monday is closed.

2. Participate in the Classic Athens Marathon Greece Race

The Starting Line in Marathon Greece with thousands of runners.
The Starting Line in Marathon Greece

Embark on the ultimate runner’s challenge by starting your journey in Marathon Greece—the birthplace of the real Marathon! However, a word of caution: the 42,195m stretch from Marathon to Athens is renowned as one of the most demanding marathon routes worldwide. Are you up for the challenge

The Ending in Athens Panathenaic Stadium Nov. 2023

Despite its challenging reputation, thousands of runners from around the globe continue to embrace the celebration. In the Marathon 2023 event, an impressive 21,000 marathon enthusiasts took on the classic 42,195-meter route, commencing their run from Marathon and triumphantly crossing the finish line at the iconic Panathenaic Stadium—the very site where the inaugural Modern Olympic Games unfolded in 1896!

Athens Panathenaic Stadium November 2023

The Kenyan Edwin Kiprop Kiptoo was the big winner in the 40th Authentic Athens Marathon, even setting a new course record with a time of 2:10:34.

More than 70,000 runners from a total of 140 countries had registered to run either on the classic route or in various other parallel races. The next Athens Marathon will be in November 2024. Would you like to participate in it? Register on the official Marathon Run page here.

3. Visit the Site of the Ancient Battle of Marathon Greece

Battle of Marathon Between Greeks and Persians in Marathonas Greece.
Battle of Marathon between Greeks and Persians© e-today. gr

In 490 BCE, Athenian hoplites demonstrated remarkable unity as they faced and defeated the overwhelming Persian invasion force in the iconic Battle of Marathon. According to Greek historian Herodotus, the Persian army and fleet significantly outnumbered the 11,000 ancient Greek hoplites, comprised of 10,000 Athenians and 1,000 soldiers from Plataea (a town near Thebes).

The location of the Marathon battle

As soon as the Battle of Marathon concluded, an Athenian soldier named Pheidippides undertook an extraordinary run from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news of the victory. Exhausted but determined, he managed to utter the single word: ‘Νenikikamen,’ meaning ‘we won,’ before succumbing to a fatal heart attack.

Other Greek Battles against the Persians in Greek territory are:

Marathonas Battle Ancient Tomb with a small Hill and Olive Trees in Marathonas Greece.
Marathon Tumulus

The Archaeological Site of the Ancient Battle of Marathon is quite modest but powerful in its significance. One notable feature is the Athenian Tumulus, a solemn 10-meter-high burial mound. Here lie the remains of 192 Athenians who valiantly gave their lives in the historic Battle of Marathon.

Marathon Archaeological Museum Exhibits in Marathonas Greece.
Marathon Archaeological Museum

While the Marathon Archaeological Museum is not located at the site itself, it’s well worth the visit to the nearby area of Vrana. Despite its size, the museum offers a rich display of impressive statues and artifacts spanning the Neolithic, Classical, and Roman Eras.

Admission is €6, and the museum is closed on Mondays. If you plan to visit during winter, it’s advisable to contact them at Tel: +30 2294055155 to confirm operating hours. The entrance fee covers access to the Tumuli area, the museum, and the Early Helladic Cemetery in Tsepi.

Marathon Timuli Tomb of Plataea in Marathonas Greece.
Plataean Tumulus – photo 2steps.gr

Close by lies the Plataean Tumulus, serving as the resting place for the fallen Plataeans from the Battle of Marathon. Adjacent to the burial site stands a victory column, a testament to the shared valor of the Athenians and Plataeans in the historic battle.

Tour Tip: If you love ancient battlefields then this guided tour to Marathon, Salamina, Thermopylae, and Plataea is ideal for you.

4. Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods (Brexiza) at Marathon

Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods Marathon with Two Statues and Many Trees in Marathonas Greece.
Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods Marathon

When I first found out about this site – totally by accident as I was at Marathon Beach for a swim – I couldn’t believe my eyes. Egyptian statues in an ancient Greek archaeological site? How is that even possible?

The Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods' Pathway Blue Sky and Many Trees in Marathonas Greece.
The Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods’ pathway

How was the Sanctuary of Egyptian Gods Constructed in Marathon Greece?

Herodes Atticus was a wealthy Roman aristocrat and a great benefactor of Athens (Built also the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Acropolis). He lived in the area during the 2nd century CE and he set up the sanctuary at the borders of his estate.

Today, you can walk around the site, and see the replicas of Egyptian statues (the authentic ones are displayed in the Marathon Archaeological Museum), remnants of opulent Roman baths, and a sizable oval fish pond. Notably, the site boasts monumental marble oil lamps, a rarity in Greece

Entrance to the site daily from 8:30 – 15:30, closed on Tuesdays.

Nea Makri Beach with Palm Trees and  Pedestrian in Marathonas Greece.
Nea Makri Beach

The Sanctuary is situated at Marathon-Nea Makri Beach, a charming locale perfect for a stroll and food tasing of fresh seafood at one of the many seaside taverns. It’s an ideal place to unwind and savor the beauty of the surroundings after your visit.

6. Go to Marathon Lake Greece and the Marble Dam

The road on the dam

The Marathon Lake is an artificial lake with dam walls reinforced using Pentelic marble—the very same marble used in the construction of the Parthenon. It is located 9 km from Marathon Town.

This lake works as the main water reservoir that supplies Athens with drinking water, so swimming is not allowed!

Marathon Lake. Credit: Toby Tsoutseos

The lake is a stunning place for you to walk or bike around, even though some parts of it have restricted access. Over the years, it has attracted wildlife, and the surrounding area is lush green and fertile—ideal for you to enjoy a stroll or, even better, embark on a hike.

You may also enjoy: Best Day Trips from Athens

7. Hike the Marathon Gorge

Chapel on the Trail to the Marathon Dam and a lot of Trees in Marathonas Greece.
Chapel on the trail to the Marathon Dam

Right on Marathon Lake, you can hike one of the most beautiful areas in Athens, the Marathon Gorge. Some basic info on the signposted trail is:

Trail Type: Loop – Distance: ~11.4 km – Elevation Gain: 250 m
Difficulty: Easy – Dogs allowed: Yes

We started early in the morning at the top of the Marathon Lake Dam, clad in hiking gear and laden with bottles of water, everyone was quite happy and cheerful. We arrived in the area using own own vehicles. The weather was bright, sunny, and slightly fresh—perfect for a hike!

Athenian Treasury Temple in Marathon with Three People Walking and a Blue Sky in Marathonas Athens Greece.
Athenian Treasury Temple in Marathon

The trail begins just across from the abandoned and completely disrepair café, which offers a view of Marathon Lake. It winds up through a dirt road, leaving the lake behind on our right side. Hiking downhill, we reached the back of the dam, where a stunning replica of the Athenian Treasury found in the Delphi Archaeological site stands.

After taking our photos, we continued hiking to the actual gorge. Flanked by lovely plane trees and accompanied by a small stream of clear water on our right side, it was truly beautiful!

A Small Group of Hikers  and Dog in Marathon Athens Greece.
Hiking in Marathon Greece

Before long, we arrived at the medieval Oinoi Tower, constructed in 1250 AD by the Frankish lord of Athens, Guy I de la Roche.

Medieval Oinoi Tower in Marathon.
Medieval Oinoi Tower

The landscape was adorned with flowers—daisies and daffodils—and I noticed hawks or small eagles soaring high above, likely in search of prey. The valley unfolded in its beauty, and we could hear (and occasionally catch a whiff of) the sheep and goats. The barking of dogs echoed from behind the surrounding hills.

With at least one dog-hiker in our group, the shepherd dogs barked non-stop whenever we passed by them. However, this only occurred twice, and they were in the distance.

A Small Group of Hikers Crossing a  Stream.
Hiking Marathon streams

We crossed the riverbed a few times, adding to the excitement of this relatively easy hike. Once the hike was completed, we drove to Schinias Beach for a picnic.

8. Schinias Wetland and Beach

Schinias Sandy Beach with Paragliders.
Schinias Beach near Marathon

Southeast of Marathon and a short drive away, you find the Schinias Beach and Wetland, a National Park of great natural beauty. The long sandy stretch, flanked by a beautiful pine forest, is frequently struck by strong winds making Schinias an ideal beach for windsurfing sports.

Schinias Beach Forest with Pines.
Schinias Beach Forest

Nearby can be found as well the Olympic Rowing Center which was used for the 2004 Summer Olympics. Schinias is great for a family, has quite shallow waters, and is great for picnics but also surfing as it can get windy. On the main road, you can find several good taverns for your lunch.

Tour Tip! Are you an adventurous type and do you love off-road experiences? Book a Marathon lake with a 4×4 vehicle private tour!

9. Saint Ephraim Monastery

A great Greek monastery with nuns in the area is the Holy Monastery of Saint Ephraim. One of the oldest in Athens, founded in the 10th c, is a Byzantine construction. Read here more about Byzantine churches in Athens.

It is one of the biggest pilgrimage monasteries in Greece as it also contains the remains of Saint Ephraim. The Monastery is located in Nea Makri, on the hill of Amomon. They open daily between 7 am – noon and 4 pm – 6 pm.

What else is there in Marathon Greece?

Monuments in Plataies Archaelogical Site in Marathonas Athens Greece.
Plataies archaeological site

Where to Stay in Marathon Greece

Marathon Eco Stay is a bio-climatic property that offers spacious, fully equipped apartments in a beautiful large garden. Marathon is a 10-minute walking distance away with several nice restaurants, the beach of Schinias is 4 km and the Athens airport is 26 km.

Check here for more Athens hotels near the International Airport.

How to get to Marathon

Marathon Greece is about 42 km from Athens Center. You can get there by KTEL bus in about 1′.35 minutes. However, the best and easiest option is to rent a car or take a guided tour with the expertise of local guides.

When is Best to Go to Marathon?

Marathon is a year-round destination. If you would like to combine it with a dive into the nearby sea then you should visit between May and October.

Interesting Facts about Marathon Town

  • Marathon is close to the Athens villages of Grammatiko, Nea Makri, Varnavas, Kapandriti, and Stamata.
  • Marathon has two sister cities:  Hopkinton, Massachusetts in the United States, and Xiamen in China

Athens Quick Reference

  • Where to stay in Athens with stunning Acropolis view: Niche Hotel
  • Book your ferry tickets with no hidden fees at FerryScanner
  • Rent a car with Discover Cars for reliable new cars at affordable prices
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    About the author
    Evgenia Mataragka
    Hi! I am an Athens-based Greek obsessed with exploring Greece and bringing you the best travel experience ever!

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