When moving from London to Athens my big worry was that I would not be able to find places to do my long runs. I was spoiled living 30 seconds away from the beautiful Battersea park in London where I could just get out of my door and run for miles on end at the park and along the Thames path in safety, day or night. Athens on the other hand is not renowned for its parks, pavements or the sanity of its drivers. However, when there is a will there is a way and I am lucky to live in an area where I can now do any distance long runs quite happily. I live in the south coast of Athens about 25km from the centre of the city and therefore have the opportunity to run near the beautiful sea front for the most part.
I start my runs from Vouliagmeni, having as my starting point the kiosk at the corner of Leoforos Kavouriou and Lambraki street, with direction towards the Divani hotel that is a bit further down. For the first 500m there is a lovely pavement but I then have to run in the street.
The road is not particularly busy but there are lots of sea-front restaurants in the area and lots of parked cars, so watch out for those reversing (I normally turn off my music here). At the end of this road (a bit more than a mile away) when you reach Posidonos avenue, turn left and continue past the bus terminal and through the car park. Continue on the pavement past a couple of parking rest areas till you reach the bar that used to be called Bo (it goes with a different name every year). You can keep running on its very narrow pavement but I prefer to turn left going into the car park towards the sea front, going around the front of the bar/café and coming back up on the pavement continuing the same direction as before. You then come across another little path going sideways to the left that will get you past a playground (on your right hand side), while on your left are the outside tables of the bar/café Notos. The nice waiters will not mind you using their outdoor water tap. Keep going straight, out of this path and back on the main pavement, now approaching a big church on your right on the other side of the big road. This is the 4km mark, you have reached the city of Voula. You will now see a big car park on your left and the beginning of the tram line. I get on the pavement in between the tram and the road and crack on. At the end of this little patch you have to cross the tram lines if you want to keep going. Don’t worry. Just stop and look both sides. You then go past the little round about and get again on the pavement, heading towards Glyfada. Take care as Balux café is there and there are lots of entrances into the car park. Continue on the pavement till you reach the traffic light, you are now in the city of Glyfada. Turn left into the car park and then right running parallel to the sea. Soon you are running on a nice pavement with only pedestrians and the occasional bikes keeping you company, while the sea is on your left. You can run next to the sea till about 8km. After that point the road continues but is not right at the seafront any more. You can continue running parallel to the tram lines (for the most part on the inside) and at some point you have to run on the pavement in between the tram and the road. At 10km you have reached the old Athens airport, which is on your right hand side and the sports facilities of Agios Kosmas on your left. At Agios Kosmas there is a dirt road running around the complex that you can take and there is also a track if you would like to have a go at. There is a water fountain you can use to quench your thirst and refill your water bottles. You can basically keep going towards Pireas always running by the side of the tram until you reach the stadium of Peace and Friendship (Stadio Eirinis kai Filias), this is about 18km from our start. However, I normally go for runs between 10 miles and half marathon distances and turn back either at Voula or Glyfada. Once back to the starting point (the kiosk) I run the other way towards the area of Laimos (the neck) called this way because there is sea on both sides of a thin stretch of land. This part of the run gets you to take in some majestic sea views and incorporates lots of hill work into your session. When reaching the kiosk, continue past a small park on your left and up the hill on Litous street. Once the uphill is finished then the downhill bit starts. Go past the Margi hotel (on your right) and at the end of the road turn right (on Apollonos street) at the same time crossing to the other side of the road. Run past the beach and then prepare yourself for a steep uphill bit.
At the top of this hill your are rewarded by beautiful view number one, absolutely worth the climb, though I am sometimes too tired to fully appreciate it.
The road continues and is flat for a while, past the Astir Palace hotel on your right hand side and past the slide road on the left that takes you to the Marina.
You want to keep going straight coming up to the second uphill section. Once this is finished the downhill part takes you to the edge of the cape with beautiful sea views all around you. Take a minute there, allow yourself to stop for a picture!
At that point we are a bit less than 3 km from our starting point, the kiosk. We retrace our steps back to the beach where we cross the road and turn left on Litous street for the last killer uphill bit. The last down hill takes us back to the start.
At the end of a very long run during the summer months when my friends and I are all training for the Athens marathon, we like to go for a quick dip in any of the beautiful beaches around. Enjoy!
Do not attempt this run on a lovely spring/fall Sunday afternoon or summer early evening. The crowds and cars are too many and the run becomes stressfull. In the spring/fall do try to be back before lunch time or go at around sunset.
If you are running in the summer, you have to be done with your running before 8.30am anyway due to the heat, so you have the place to yourself. You will see lots of other local runners out there most of who are training for the Athens marathon that takes place in November.
Here is the Garmin link to one of my runs to help out with the route:
Tracks in the south coast of Athens
If you wish to add some interval running to your training and you live in the South coast of Athens there are few options for you.
The municipality track in Vari is fantastic. Officially it opens between 4 and 10pm on weekdays for runners but unfortunately it is closed during the morning and is used only for football during the weekends. It is where I do my interval training and I love it. The downside is that there are essentially no regulations for runners, so when the weather is nice you get ladies and gentlemen in flip-flops walking in the first and second lanes in files. Also, private clubs train young kids there and believe in using up all 8 lanes, so it is impossible and unsafe to run when they are there. In the winter you can enjoy your training between 4-5.15pm as well as between 7-10pm on weekdays. Come and meets us there, we’re always glad to see new faces!
Vouliagmeni also has a lovely track. However there is no tartan there, it is a dirt track. It is quite pretty though.
Another proper track (with tartan) is in Argyroupoli. You now need to obtain a user’s card to enter, so unless you are prepared to obtain one you won’t be able to use the facility.
Agios Kosmas is another nice track but there seemed to be no lights in the summer (this is the only time I have gone) and you are kicked out fairly early (not enough time to train between the sun setting in the summer and closing time).