Upon arriving at Athens airport in the summer of 2022, an interesting advertisement was to be seen. A poster from a promotional campaign of EOT, Greece’s National Tourism Organisation. This poster showed something unique. A clear blue sea, photographed from above. With tree bright yellow kayaks floating above something that looks like an archeological site. An impressive scene, but without any information on where to find it. Luckily, we discovered it was close to Athens and on our way. The sunken city in Greece, is in Epidaurus.
Natural / Archeological
tour: 4.5 hour
tour: €70,- p.p.
tour: >12 years
The EOT (Hellenic Organization of Tourism) is an organization that falls under the supervision of Greece’s ministry of tourism. Their main mission is the development and promotion of tourism in Greece. Which counts for over 20 percent of the country’s GDP.
The 2022 summer campaign of EOT is based on the true story of Otto, an Austrian man who visited Greece and ended up “staying forever.” This sentence is the campaign’s slogan. And since the EOT was unclear about the location of their posters, you might end up doing just that.
The sunken city of Epidaurus is located in the North of the Peloponnese peninsula. In the East of the region called Argolis. This explains the nickname of the site, Argolida’s lost Atlantis.
The Argolis region is home to Archaia (ancient) Epidaurus. The famous site which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. But there are also Nea (new), and Palaia (old) Epidaurus. The latter is where you can find the sunken city of Greece.
The historical underwater site is located in the Aegean sea. The Saronic Gulf, to be specific. In order to reach the site by car, navigate to Gliati beach in Palaia Epidaurus. There you can find a small parking area from which you can walk to the sunken city in less than five minutes.
Little is known about the sunken city. There is no information on site nor online, and even the tour guides are uncertain about what it is that is hidden underneath the water.
It could be an old Mycenean settlement dating back to the 12th century A.D. The site shows the remains of ancient walls, foundations, and paved streets. The second possible explanation of the history of the sunken city is a bit younger. A Roman villa from the 2nd century B.C.
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How to visit?
The sunken city of Epidaurus can be experienced in two ways. By a guided kayak tour or by yourself with a snorkeling mask.
The tribal kayak tour
From the village Panagia, just South of Palaia Epidaurus, starts a guided kayak tour to the sunken city. This tour will take you along multiple historical and natural sites. A guide will tell you a lot about the region’s history and help you with your kayak. After the adventure, there is even home-cooked traditional Greek food. The complete tour takes 4,5 hours and costs 70 euros per person. This price includes water, dry bags, snorkeling gear, and a GoPro for underwater pictures. An absolutely recommended experience! However, pregnant mothers-to-be and children under 12 are not allowed to attend this tour.
Visit for free
If you travel through Greece on a budget or belong to one of the groups that are not accepted on the tour, there is another option. All you need is a snorkeling mask or goggles to be able to see the marvelous underwater scenery. Because the sunken city is just a few meters offshore and in shallow water, it is easy to reach swimming. Just bring water shoes or slippers you can walk in the water with. But these should be in everyone’s suitcase when traveling to Greece.
Swimming over the sunken city of Greece is a unique and wonderful experience. Usually, archeological sites are organized, preserved, or even restored, and always packed with tourists. This one, however, is just there, taken over by nature in a unique way. And allows you to explore all by yourself.
Usually, only a drone can give you the perspective from above. At the sunken city, you are this low-flying drone. Floating over the ruins, you get a new kind of understanding of the spaces and sizes of ancient times. You can nearly touch the old walls and walk the ancient streets.
Where the Greek seas are usually very scarce when it comes to sea life, the sunken city is home to a rich underwater world. The ruins at Epidaurus are full of colorful fish and beautiful sea urchins, who now inhabit the structures once made by men. Add to that a clear blue sea like everywhere else in Greece, and you have a priceless experience. For free!
- If you plan on visiting the sunken city by kayak book your tour upfront through the website.
- Unfortunately, the site is difficult to reach with a wheelchair or with other difficulties walking. A 5-minute walk over a pebble beach is needed to get there. However, you might be able to attend the kayak tour if you contact the company in advance and discuss your medical situation.
- When you visit the site on your own with children, be careful. Make sure they wear shoes or slippers when they go in the water. For children not good at swimming yet, it is a good idea to take an air mattress or something else they can float on, so you can take them to the site inside the water.
- For adults, the site needs caution as well. Wear either water shoes or slippers, or be extremely careful where you step inside the water. When we visited in August, the beach in front of the sunken city of Greece was home to giant wasps, so do not plan on nicely-staying at the beach here.
- If you want to combine the archeological site with a lazy day at the beach, there are two options close by. Yialasi beach, just South of the site, or Kalamaki beach in the North.
- The site is perfect to combine with a visit to ancient Epidaurus, the city of Nafplio, or the dolines of Didyma. By car, the sunken city is two hours away from Athens airport.
Take your underwater camera!
Don’t forget your underwater camera when you have one! We left it at the hotel the day we visited the sunken city and now do not have any pictures of this beautiful site. Did you visit, take pictures, and want to share them on our website? Please leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org