The temple of Poseidon at sunset is one of the most typical postcards from Greece and also one of the top-selling tours for tourists visiting Athens. The sunset is undeniably spectacular and it would be a shame to leave Attica and miss it even if, from a photographer’s point of view, the temple is just as interesting in the morning. Luckily near the temple there are several places to spend the night, to suit all tastes.
The cape Sounion located on the southernmost tip of Attica used to be sacred since the archaic era. The first who mentioned it was Homerus in Odyssey. According to Herodotus the Athenians organised there every 4 years a glorious festival. Three of the most impressive Kouroi now exhibited in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens were found here. The temple that we see now ruined was built in 444 – 440 B.C. probably by the same architect who built the temple of Hephaestus (Theseion) in Athens and the temple of Nemesis at Rhamnus.
The archaeological site is open from 8.00 (9.30 during winter) till sunset and the entry ticket costs 4€. Apart from the temple we can see the ruins of the fortress and the settlement, the port and the ship sheds, and the small sanctuary of Athena. Unfortunately it is no longer permitted to enter the temple, so we can not see the famous inscription carved by Lord Byron on the marble.
As we live in Athens, we were lucky enough to enjoy the sunset in Sounion several times; this time, for a change, we got there in the morning, relatively early, around ten. The site was semi desert and so was the parking lot which is located just below the entrance [37.65191,24.02650]. Despite the slope a camper had apparently stayed overnight! The bad news is that it is prohibited to stay there overnight as the parking area belongs to the archaeological site.
The site was so peaceful and we realy enjoyed the solitude and calm. The first group arrived shortly after us .. but it was just children on a school trip The hard-core crowd (from cruise ships) were to arrive later…
For those who want to enter the archaeological site I suggest to visit the site in the morning: less people and better light. If you come in the afternoon for the sunset, the best view is from the hill left of the bar–restaurant. You will see the spectacle and you don’t have to pay the entrance. Here are two short time-lapse that we had done a few years ago from this spot.
As for the night stop, there are several possibilities. We spent the night in Lavrion which is the best option if you want to stay in the wild but we don’t like to feel isolated. Close to the archaeological site there is also a camping, Bacchus [37.676342,24.048810]. Although the posts for campers/motrohomes are limited and the campsite is more ‘ Greek-caravan-oriented’, the owner is very likable and the camping is at a short walk from the sea.
The indicative cost for two people and a camper in July and August is € 23, plus 4 € electricity. It is year-round open with 20% off out of season. Too bad that it does not offer camper service…
If you are coming from Athens, you will have quite a few other options for overnight stay. We noticed among others the beaches of Palea Fokaia [37.72586, 23.93453] and of Legrena [37.66164,24.00015] only 4 kilometers from the temple.