Between two hills on the arid plains of the northeastern Peloponnese, Mycenae is one of the most significant ancient sites in Greece and therefore a popular day trip from Athens. Interpreting these enigmatic ruins on your own can be a struggle, so visit with a guide to enhance your experience—audio guides are also available. There’s also an on-site museum that exhibits pottery, burial urns, clay figurines, and a replica of the death mask once thought to be Agamemnon.
Some tours combine Mycenae with the ancient site of Epidaurus, while others add on the Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth, and Nafplio. Pair culture with cuisine on a wine tasting and history tour, which typically stop at Mycenae, or take a deep dive into ancient Greece on a multi-day tour that features Mycenae, Epidaurus, Delphi, Olympia, and Meteora.
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Things to know before you go
- Covering around 80 acres (32 hectares) and home to a population of roughly 30,000 at the height of its power, the spectacular Mycenae ruins are a must for archaeology and history buffs.
- There’s a lot of ground to cover outdoors, so dress for the weather and choose comfortable shoes.
- If traveling with kids, visit with a family-friendly guide who knows how to make the site engaging for everyone. The model of the ancient city located just outside the museum is helpful for younger travelers to get their bearings.
- Some areas of the site are accessible to wheelchairs, while the museum is fully accessible.
How to get there
Mycenae is located 56 miles (90 kilometers) south of Athens, and can be reached by car or bus from the capital city in around 1.5 hours via the A8 and E94 roads. Choose a tour that includes transport to avoid the hassle of navigating or coordinating public transportation.
When to get there
The ruins of Mycenae are open every day except major holidays. Temperatures soar at midday, so time your tour for early morning or late afternoon to avoid the worst of the heat. The on-site museum offers a bit of refuge during the hottest hours of the day.
The Treasures of Mycenae
The ruins at Mycenae were excavated in 1874 by Heinrich Schliemann, who also worked at Troy. Highlights include the Lion Gate, carved with figures of mythical lions; the Treasury of Atreus, aka the Tomb of Agamemnon; the scant remains of the Royal Palace; and the Cyclopean Walls, whose massive stone blocks are all that remain of the original fortifications. The true showstoppers, however, are the grave circles, believed to be the burial sites of Mycenaean royalty thanks to the numerous precious gold, silver, bronze and ivory artifacts excavated around the tombs.
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