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Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth: How and Why to Visit

Are you wondering if the ruins of Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth are worth visiting? Can you visit Ancient Corinth as a day trip? Can you combine ancient Corinth with other ancient sites on a day trip or two-day road trip? The answer to all these questions is a definite Yes!!

In this complete guide to visiting ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth, you’ll get all the practical info about getting there, as well as all the “must-see” sites within the ruined city and on top of the Acrocorinth. Figure out why St Paul is associated with the Corinthians, and why the Corinthians were such a big deal in the Ancient World.

Ancient Corinth is a historic site in Greece dating back to the Neolithic period over 5000 years on the Isthmus of Corinth.

During its ascension, Corinth was the wealthiest city-state in the ancient Greek world. It grew to become the greatest of all the Greek city-states. 

Photo of the ruins of  a major street in Ancient Corinth with the Acrocorinth above and the Temple of Apollo on a rise, Ancient Corinth, Greece
The ruins of a major street in Ancient Corinth with the Acrocorinth above and the Temple of Apollo on a rise, Ancient Corinth, Greece

A major ancient site for Greece, the Temple of Apollo is the most famous building still standing within the large archaeological zone.

Surrounded by natural springs and fertile plains it was a bustling wealthy city with traders arriving from around the known world.

One feature that made trading in ancient times much easier in Corinth was the diolkos or “haul across” a paved road that connected the Saronic Gulf to the Corinthian Gulf allowing for quick and easy trade of goods.

Tourism to Greece began in the early part of the 19th century. From that time onwards, the ruins of Archaia Korinthos with its temples, fountains, theatre, agora, shops, and paved streets have attracted many visitors.

It is one of the most significant sites of the Ancient World and is a must-see for a visit to mainland Greece.

But what is the Acrocorinth?

The remains of Ancient Corinth sit at the base of the Acrocorinthus, a massive rock formation that rises 300 feet above sea level.

Upon the Acrocorinthus was an almost impenetrable fortress that protected the land route into the Peloponnese.

Photo of the ruins of the fortress upon the Acrocorinth (Acrocorinthus) about Ancient Corinth, Greece
The ruins of the fortress upon the Acrocorinth (Acrocorinthus) about Ancient Corinth, Greece

The akropolis of Ancient Corinth – the “Acrocorinth” – is believed to be the highest and largest of the akropolis of Ancient Greece. The Acrocorinth ruins include the Temple of Aphrodite.

It has been fortified by many over the centuries but today most of what can be seen was built by the Venetians and the Franks.

A large part of Corinth’s wealth and power came from being able to control the narrow land bridge between Attica and the Peloponnese and two ports.

The Acrocorinth was a vital part of being able to defend Corinth’s lucky geographical position.

Practical Info: Getting to Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth

Corinth, which is a modern city, is about a 2-hour drive from Athens.

Photo of the view from the Acrocorinth above the ancient city of Corinth, Greece
View from the Acrocorinth above the ancient city of Corinth, Greece
  • Closer still is the town of Nafplio which is a 40-minute drive from Corinth. If you don’t have a rental car, you can book a number of tours of Ancient Corinth and the Acrocorinth from both Athens and Nafplio. If you’re driving you’ll take the National Highway from Corinth towards Patra, and then exit onot the bypass for the Ancient Corinth Archaeological Site (the interchange of Ancient Corinth).
  • From Athens, as well as many other parts of Greece, you can take a bus or a train. The Suburban Railway Network Athens, has a route from Athens International Airport to Kiato Corinth, Corinth station.

Corinth is 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) northeast of the ruins of Ancient Corinth.

  • Getting from Corinth to the archaeological zone is easy. Public buses run every 15 minutes and the journey from Corinth to Ancient Corinth takes 17 minutes.

Opening Hours and Days

Ancient Corinth and the Museum are open at 8 am every day and close between 5 pm and 7. 30 pm depending upon the month.

There are a few months in winter when it is closed on Tuesdays, as well as closures for some holidays, and a half dozen or so free days. Best to check the official website for current opening hours and days before your visit.

Tickets and Admission Fees

  • Tickets cost €8 for adults and €4 for concession categories.

Best Tours of Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth 

What these tours have in common is the reputation of the tour companies, the “no fluff” itinerary, the hundreds of five-star reviews for each tour, and the flexible cancellation policies.

MOST POPULAR TOUR

The Most Popular Tour from Athens or Corinth (with hundreds of 5-star reviews): Private Biblical Tour of Isthmus Canal and Ancient Corinth

  • Private tour with a focus on St. Paul and the Bible – see the sights as recorded in Acts of the Apostles
  • Picks up from your accommodation in either Athens or Corinth
  • Skip the line admission ticket to Ancient Corinth is not included but can be arranged upon booking
  • Around 8 hours in length
  • Free Cancellation up to 24 hours in advance

5 stars
Lisa_b, mar 2023

“This tour is excellent. I highly recommend doing this tour. It was fantastic seeing where Christianity was birthed into Greece, and to see where the Apostle Paul invested so much of his ministry.” Lisa_B, Mar 2023

    Best Half-Day Tour from Athens

    Ancient Corinth Guided Tour from Athens – This half-day tour of Corinth, the Corinth Canal, and Ancient Corinth leaves from Athens. If you just want to see Ancient Corinth as a short trip from Athens, this is the best-reviewed tour.

    • Meeting point: Hotel Amalia, Athens
    • Skip the line entrance ticket to Ancient Corinth
    • 6 hours duration
    5 stars
    Moriah – united states

    Wonderful half-day trip! Great experience to see the beautiful scenery on the way and have a wonderful tour of ancient Corinth. Our guide also told us about artifacts and information to look for in the museum which was very helpful and made it even more interesting! Definitely one of our favorite tours in Greece.” Moriah – United States

    Best Full-Day Tour from Athens

    Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth, Nafplio and Epidaurus Private Tour from Athens – If you have a whole day to spend day-tripping in the Peloponnese, then this tour is the best-reviewed day trip, and for good reason. The number of important ancient sites you will see in one day is incredible!

    • Meeting point: Can be picked up from your accommodation
    • Visit the Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth, the Acrocorinth, the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, Palamidi Castle, Nafplio, Sanctuary of Asklepios, Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, and Epidaurus Museum
    • Entrance fees and tour guides are not included
    • 10 hours duration
    5 stars
    Kwanhon_y, nov 2022

    “Excellent tour. Alex is an excellent guide and very knowledgeable. Ancient Corinth is well worth going. We had a lovely time.” KwanHon_Y, Nov 2022

    Best Full-Day Tour from Nafplion

    Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have a few days in Nafplion, then the Mycenae – Ancient Corinth & Canal – Epidavros from Nafplion will let you discover three of the most important ancient sites in Greece in one day.

    • Meeting point: Hotel pick up or meet at Land Gate Monument
    • Visit Mycenae, Ancient Corinth, Epidavros, and Asklepion (admission tickets not included)
    • 8 hours duration
    5 stars
    Anne_s, may 2022

    “Very flexible car driver for one full day to discover the incredible sites of Mycenae, old Corinth and Epidaurus. Great experience !!! It should be noted that fees to enter the historical sites are not included and there is no guided tour.” Anne_S, May 2022

    Although thousands of people take day tours from Athens and Nafplio to Ancient Corinth each year, there are also thousands of people who stay near the archaeological zone for one or more days.

    Ancient Korinthos is a very popular stop on road trips around the Peloponnese and around the Greek mainland. Ancient Corinth is only 36 kilometers from the ancient city of Mycenae, another of Greece’s most important ancient sites.

    Where to Stay in Ancient Corinth (Korinthos)

    If you’re planning on stopping in Corinth, here are 3 fantastic options for you to consider.

    BEST NEW HOTEL IN CORINTH

    ACRO Upscale Residences

    A brand new 4-star hotel at Ancient Corinth, only 400 meters from the entrance gate. With sea views, terraces, hot tubs, free parking and wi-fi, and a paid airport shuttle from Athens International Airport, these new and stylish suites are the best place to stay to see Ancient Corinth

    Serenity Villa

    A signature property with 100% 5-star reviews 1000 meters from Ancient Corinth. Guests can’t say enough about the beautiful views, stylish interiors, incredible staff, and pool area.

    There are 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms with showers, free wifi, parking, views of Ancient Corinth, sea views, and an expansive terrace and balcony.

    Maria’s Boutique Rooms

    An incredibly highly reviewed budget options, Maria’s Boutique Rooms are only 600 meters from Ancient Corinth and the terrace has a lovely view of the ancient city and the Acrocorinth.

    Some units have a balcony and also a sea view. So if you’re saving your pennies, this is a great budget option for a night or two.

    See all Ancient Corinth and the city of Corinth accommodations here

    A Quick History of Corinth

    Ancient Corinth entered the map of significant political places in Ancient Greece when the group of 200 Bacchiadae that collectively ruled Corinth was overthrown.

    Photo looking down on the Corinth Canal, Greece
    The Corinth Canal, Greece

    It was overthrown by a man who came to be known as Cypselus the Tyrant.  He built the premiere city-state in Greece and Ancient Corinth became a great cultural and trade center.

    Cypselus and his son Periander, who inherited the throne, helped to develop and stabilize Ancient Corinth’s trading systems with the creation of a system of coins.

    Periander also changed the system of rule from tyranny to monarchy and developed a very successful public works program that provided prosperity and peace for the people of the ancient city.

    Sadly this was not to last as Periander suffered great criticism due to his drastic ways of improving Corinth. The criticism was said to have driven him mad and he killed one of his mistresses and exiled his own son. 

    The leadership of Ancient Corinth then passed into a stable oligarchy with a King and his advisors.

    Leadership and control of Ancient Corinth went through many hands from the ancient Greeks, Macedonians, Alexander the Great, Goths, and Herulians.

    The destruction of Ancient Corinth came during a battle between the Romans and the Achaean League.

    It resulted in the complete devastation of the City. All the men were killed and the women and children were sold into slavery. It took over 100 years and in 44 BCE Corinth was re-founded by Gaius Julius Caesar as a Roman Colony. 

    Ancient Corinth eventually became incorporated by Byzantium.

    This was accomplished by 1202 but Byzantium’s hold on Corinth was not to last and it was the Crusaders who took over the city in 1210 at which time it became part of the Latin Empire. 

    The Mythology of Corinth

    Of course, all that exhausting ancient history of Corinth happened after the time of the gods in Ancient Greek mythology!

    Photo of a Mosaic in Ancient Corinth, Greece
    Mosaic in Ancient Corinth, Greece

    Corinth seems to have been a popular retirement spot in Ancient Greece. A bit of a Who’s Who of the Ancient World lived there, including Sisyphus, Jason, Theseus, and Ephyra.

    At Ancient Corinth, we learn about the important western concept of hubris. According to early Greek mythology, Ancient Corinth was founded by King Sisyphus.

    The King had offended both Zeus and Hades with his cunning and trickery that allowed him to escape death twice, and by giving away Zeus’s secrets.

    Zeus became so annoyed at his boasting and self-importance that he doomed him to roll a large boulder uphill in Hades (hell) for eternity. 

    King Sisyphus’s grandson eventually became the ruler of Ancient Corinth and his symbol, Pegasus the winged horse, became known as the symbol of Corinth. It can be found on ancient Corinthian coins.

    Photo of the remains of the spectacular Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth
    The remains of the spectacular Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth

    Ancient Corinth chose Poseidon, the lord of the sea, as their patron god and much of the archaeological evidence within the agora includes temples to Poseidon, Apollo, Athena, Hero, and Juno.

    There is also a massive sanctuary that was dedicated to the healing god Asklepios just north of the city.  

    Artifacts have also included a lintel that reads “Synagogue of the Hebrews” in the excavations. 

    Contrary to a great deal of archaeological literature that focuses on male deities such as Asklepios, Dionysos, Poseidon, Apollo, Zeus, and Pan, excavations show that the people equally worshipped equally female goddesses.

    The American School of Classical Studies has excavated temples on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth that are dedicated to Athena, Nike, Tyche, and Aphrodite.

    Ancient Corinth was one of the most important centers for the worship of Aphrodite, the “goddess of love”.

    Anthropologists have discovered sources that state that there were more than 1000 maidens serving in the Sanctuary of Aphrodite.  

    Saint Paul and the Corinthians

    Ancient Corinth is also associated with the Apostle Paul and the New Testaments’ First and Second Corinthians.

    With the help of Jewish Christians, Priscilla and Aquila, St. Paul worked to bring Christianity to the Romans in Corinth. He spent several periods of time at Corinth, converting residents to Christianity.

    After a while he headed off to Epidaurus but sent “Epistles” or letters back to the Corinthians and that’s why you may have heard of the Letters of Paul to the Corinthians.

    Corinth in the Wars

    It can be a bit hard to follow who was fighting who and city-states swapped sides occasionally, but here’s a very quick potted history of who they were fighting on any day!

    Photo of a marble carving of an ancient Corinthian military battle, Ancient Corinth, Greece
    Marble carving of an ancient Corinthian military battle, Ancient Corinth, Greece

    Corinth was involved in the  Persian Wars when it joined Athens in the Battle of Salamis.

    Later however war was declared by Ancient Corinth upon their ally, Athens, when the Athenians crossed Corinth’s territory without permission. It took several years for a peace treaty to be agreed upon with Athens. 

    The Corinthian military served under Agamemnon during the Trojan War.

    It fought with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and later joined Athens to defeat the Spartans in the Corinthian Wars, in which Sparta was victorious.

    Over the centuries Corinth has been involved in even more wars and conflicts and as such has been ruled by various countries until the Greek War of Independence.

    In the mid-1800‘s Corinth was going to be the capital of the free Hellenic state, but in 1858 Corinth was destroyed by a major earthquake, and modern-day Corinth was rebuilt five kilometers to the northeast.

    Everyday Life in Ancient Corinth

    Corinth gave the world Corinthian Columns

    Ancient Corinth’s architecture is also one of the most popular throughout the world. The Corinthian style is the most ornate in the classical world.

    Corinthian columns are recognized by 24 flutes on the shaft and two rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls these columns are considered the most elegant of the three kinds of Grecian columns.

    More Greek Games

    Before the Olympic Games, there was the Isthmian Games!

    Photo of a Sandal on stone sculpture in Ancient Corinth Greece, Europe
    The Isthmian Games featured poetry competitions, Ancient Corinth, Greece

    These Games took place in Ancient Corinth. Competitions included music and poetry for both men and women and for men only there was boxing, chariot racing, and of course, Greek wrestling. 

    Corinthian Pottery

    From the 8th century BCE, Corinth was known for its distinctive pottery which used light yellow clay and painted decorations in black.

    Photo of a display of Corinthian pottery (2000+ years old) in the Archaeological Museum, Ancient Corinth, Greece
    Corinthian pottery (2000+ years old) in the Archaeological Museum, Ancient Corinth, Greece

    These pots were made for both daily use and to hold the oils and perfumes that Corinth became famous for producing. 

    The pottery was traded all around the western Mediterranean and in places where the Hellenic empire was found.   

    Every citizen of Corinth would attend the marketplace or Agora to trade and buy goods.

    The Corinthians themselves were masters of pottery, vases, and the sculpting of busts and statues as you can see below in the Museum on site.

    So now you know how to get to Ancient Corinth and its Acrocorinth, where to stay, and all about the history and life of Ancient Corinthians. But what are the absolute must-see parts of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site?

    7 Top Highlights to see when Visiting Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth

    • One of the most famous sites in Ancient Corinth is the Doric Temple of Apollo. It dates back to the 4th Century BCE and is the most imposing monument in the archaeological zone.
    • Just south of this temple, you will find the remains of the  Agora.
    • To the north of the Agora, you can walk down Lechaion Street which was where the Corinthians shopped. Around Lechaion Street is where the Byzantine royals built their extravagant homes.
    • To the south, the Agora is bordered by a Stoa which is a covered walkway or portico for the use of the public, that framed the Agora.
    • Just off Lechaion Street lies the Fountain of Peirene which was famous throughout Greece for its clean clear water. The legend of Peirene is that she transformed into a spring because of the number of tears she cried. She was mourning her son Cenchrias who was accidentally killed by Artemis. 
    • The Museum of Ancient Corinth is a must-see
    • The buildings on the slopes and summit of the Acrocorinth if you have the stamina and time.

    You can see these main structures on the Map of Ancient Corinth below.

    Ancient Corinth Map 

    Map of Ancient Corinth

    Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth

    As a result of the excavations during the 1930s, the Museum of Ancient Corinth was built to house the numerous objects found at the site.

    Photo of the main hall of The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth exhibits findings dating from prehistoric to Roman times
    The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth exhibits findings dating from prehistoric to Roman times

    11 thoughts on “Ancient Corinth and Acrocorinth: How and Why to Visit”

    1. All I ever knew about Corinth was learning about Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian column pediments in art history in high school, and that there’s a chapter of the bible called Corinthians. This post certainly fills in some very wide gaps! I’ve long wanted to go to Greece. One day . . . . .
      Alison

    2. I’m forever grateful that I live in Greece and have visited many ancient sites across Greece and her islands. There is and will always be more to learn and fill my desire to experience more of this wondrous, historical and beautiful part of the world. It looks like a return visit to the Peloponnese is needed. Thank you

    3. I love ancient Greece but have never been. The fact that it was all built so long ago with what we consider to be rudimentary tools fascinates and impresses me. Your post is so informative and the fact that you included amazing places to stay is such a great help in planning. Thank you for sharing your expertise and insights.

    4. I’ve been to a number of ancient sites in Greece, but never to Corinth. Although of course, I have seen plenty of Corinthian columns around the world! You’ve just inspired me to add Corinth to my list, so thank you!

    Comments are closed.