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Marathon (Marathonas)

Last updated: 30 March, 2024

An unassuming small town in Attica, Marathon is famous as the site of a victorious battle for the Greek army, when they defeated the Persians in 490 BC. Some credit this victory as signalling the beginning of Western civilisation, which then flourished in ancient Greece.

Three ancient tumuli (large raised common graves), rising to 40ft, mark the site where the most ancient battle ever recorded was fought. It was the runner Pheidippides who ran the 42.195km to Athens, in full armour, to deliver the triumphant news, a feat that gave the name to the modern Olympic race. Having delivered the message, he promptly died.

This is a must for anyone interested in Ancient Greek History. Some credit this victory as signalling the beginning of Western civilisation, which then flourished in ancient Greece. and is especially poignant for those who have run a marathon; somehow it brings perspective to all the pain suffered in the race.

While you’re there 

Have a walk around the large Marathon reservoir that’s supplied Athens with water since 1931, via a dam constructed out of marble.

If you have arrived independently, dip into the sea at the nearby beach of Schinias, a 15-minute drive east through the eponymous village and National Park.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The site is 42km away from Athens city. There’s a public KTEL bus from Mavromateon Street (Alexandras Avenue end); the trip lasts two hours. You can also drive to the site independently in about an hour, especially if you want to combine the trip with a swim to a beach nearby.

There are no local guides at the entrance and little information. It’s therefore best to book an organised tour, in order to fully savour the experience; a guide will bring the battle to life and give insights into the local legends, as you climb up the tumuli and survey the battle site. Tours will pick you up from your hotel.

This is an open-air site so wear a hat if you are visiting in the heat of high summer. Do not come in flip-flops as you’ll be climbing the mass graves.

When to do it

The site is open all year round, Wednesday to Monday. Closed Tuesday. The site is rarely busy, so it’s good to visit at any time. The small museum there is open all year round, Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Tuesdays.

Who to go with: organised tours

1

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Marathon & Thermopylae Battlefields Private Day Tour from Athens

  • Athens

One of our favorite tours, this one is dedicated to those who fell in the name of freedom. This special tour was designed to accommodate those interested in ancient Greek battles, those who want to discover two major battlefields of the Persian wars, the plane of Marathon and Thermopylae.

Price €245

Min age 1

Rating 4.74 / 5 [51 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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