Greek: Ακρωτήριο Σούνιο (ak-ro-ter-ay-oh soon-yo)
If you’re a little bit short on time, another option is the half-day afternoon trip down Cape Sounion to the Temple of Poseidon. This drive follows the coastal road through the Athenian South suburbs, past the chic beaches lined with bars and mega-clubs. As the road goes curving on, the bars turn into fish tavernas and the beaches into quieter coves. When it reaches the southern end of the Attica peninsula, the scenery changes once more and breathtaking can turn to nail-biting (and back again!) as the road hugs the mountainside and cliffs drop straight down to the sea, hiding secluded beach coves.
Top: The Temple of Poseidon, striking at any time of day
Left: The Aegean Sea, seen from the Cape
All this drama is but a prelude to the Temple of Poseidon itself, which comes into full view at the southernmost tip of Attica. We find the temple named for the sea god perched high above the waves of the Aegean, a sea named for the Greek King, Aegeus, who plunged to his death upon believing his son had perished in battle against the Minotaur in Crete. A little bit of patience would have told the poor King that his son Theseus and his cohorts had, caught up in the thrill of victory, merely forgotten the agreed upon signal to change the sails from black to white when they had slain the monster. The key to the story of their victory is, of course, the help of Ariadne, who for love of Theseus had helped him navigate the Minotaur’s famous labyrinth – but you will need to visit Crete for that part of the story.
The temple is spectacular anytime of the day, but a sunset visit followed by dinner at one of the seaside tavernas beneath it might be the perfect end to a great Athenian day.