Did you know that you can explore Athens underwater where ancient relics and shipwrecks dot the abyss? Choose a diving centre, slip on your scuba gear, or opt for snorkelling around a secret Attica cove.

By Geo Delveroudis

Imagine a city break in Athens, and you probably think of the Acropolis and ancient sites, great cocktail bars and delicious food. What you might not know is that the city has a secret hidden within the sea: a stunning underwater world teeming with marine life, decorated with ancient amphora, forgotten shipwrecks and mysterious caves. 

No other European metropolis has so many beautiful, clean beaches so close to the city centre. Less than an hour’s drive from downtown Athens, you can be on an organised beach, where you can go windsurfing, stand-up paddle-boarding, or simply sunbathe and swim in crystal clear waters. If you go on a midweek morning, chances are you’ll have the beach all to yourself. But the real surprise awaits those who choose to explore Attica’s coastline underwater.  For this adventure, you’ll need the services of a well-organised diving school, which will provide a totally safe environment for scuba diving. 

Courtesy: George Delveroudis

If you’ve never tried breathing underwater before, your first diving lesson will be with an experienced instructor, who is both your guide and your guardian angel. For about 45 minutes, you’ll discover what it feels like to fly weightlessly through water. You’ll learn how an octopus builds its nest, be dazzled by parrot fish, and find out why a sole has both eyes on one side. Once you come back up to the surface, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to try scuba diving. 

Courtesy: George Delveroudis

Courtesy: George Delveroudis

Top Tips for Scuba Diving Around Athens

Which diving school should I choose?

 

How much does it cost?
An introductory diving lesson, Discover Scuba Diving, costs about €50. You will pay roughly the same amount if you’re diving from a boat. All the diving clubs in Attica offer discount packages for families and multiple diving sessions, depending on the season. To get your first scuba diving certification, you’ll need three to four days and it’ll cost you about €450.

Is it safe?
Scuba diving with the correct equipment is a very safe activity. The rules are very simple and anyone who is relatively healthy can enjoy a stress-free dive. It’s very easy to find highly qualified instructors to guide you to and through the best dive sites near Athens. Just remember: after the dive you must wait for at least 12 hours before you can travel by plane (or 18 hours if you dive more than once).

What diving equipment do I need?
Nothing. Just bring your bathing suit, flip-flops, and a towel. And sunscreen, of course. Everything else will be provided by the diving centre: a mask for gazing at the miraculous aquatic life, a wetsuit to keep you warm, flippers to power you through the water, and a buoyancy regulator vest that helps you float and fly underwater. These all come in a variety of sizes. As far as the colours and styles go, the choices are more limited, but diving isn’t about fashion.

Courtesy: George Delveroudis

Are there any age restrictions?
Kids aged eight or older can use scuba diving gear. Children over 10 years old can break the one-metre barrier and go as deep as six metres. There’s no maximum age limit, as long as you don’t have any serious health issues. The best person to consult before you set off on a diving expedition would be your doctor, of course.

What’s the best season for scuba diving in Athens?
The weather in Attica is mostly sunny all year round. The water temperature is over 20° C from late May to late November, reaching up to 25° C from July to September. Underwater visibility is always excellent. Winds mostly come from the north, but the Attica coastline harbours many sheltered dive sites, no matter which way the wind is blowing. Overall, the best diving conditions (with the least crowds) can be enjoyed in September and October. You may encounter a little rain during those months, but it will only add colour to your underwater experience. 

How about snorkelling?
If you prefer to stay closer to the surface, you can always opt for a mask and flipper combo and go snorkelling along Athenian coast. There are countless small islands near Athens, such as Fleves, Agistri and Petali, with translucent waters and serene coves, just waiting to be discovered. Local diving schools will take you straight to the most beautiful places to swim and snorkel.  They will also provide a mask, snorkel, and Lycra t-shirt for UV protection. You’ll feel a million miles from the urban jungle, even though you’re less than an hour’s boat ride away.