80 kilometers/50 miles from Athens, the Corinth Canal is a formidable technical feat: one of the top tourist attractions in the Peloponnese! ⛵
💡 Insider Tips 💡
Brief history of the Corinth Canal
The origins of the Corinth Canal
A wooden road (later transformed into a paved road with guide ruts) was built as early as the 7th century B.C. to allow ships to glide across the Isthmus of Corinth and avoid a 400-kilometer detour along the coast of the Peloponnese.
In 67 AD, the Emperor Nero was the first to start building a canal between the Saronic Gulf (in the Aegean Sea) and the Gulf of Corinth (in the Ionian Sea). But his project was very expensive and was therefore abandoned when the Emperor died.
The construction of the Corinth Canal
Fast forward to the 19th century: 18 centuries after Nero’s project, the idea of digging a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth finally resurfaced. Inspired by the construction of the Suez Canal, Istvan Türr, a Hungarian-born general who became a naturalized Italian, joined forces with French banker Jacques de Reinach to found the International Corinth Canal Company, with the backing of the Greek government.
But the work turned out to be much longer and more expensive than the investors had anticipated, and the company went bankrupt. Luckily, a Greek company, constituted by the banker and philanthropist Andréas Syngrós, took over the project and brought it to completion.
The Corinth Canal was inaugurated on July 25, 1893 in the presence of King George I of Greece, over 10 years after the beginning of the works.
Short description of the Corinth Canal
Dug through the Isthmus of Corinth, the canal connects the Aegean Sea, in the east, to the Ionian Sea, in the west. Since the Canal was built, the Peloponnese is technically no longer a peninsula but an island in its own right.
The Corinth Canal is about 6.3 kilometers/3.7 miles long and 24.60 meters/79 feet wide. The canal is therefore quite narrow as well as shallow (8 meters/26 feet deep) and can only be used by small boats. The trench is 52 meters/170 feet high at its highest point.
Visiting the Corinth Canal
The view of the Corinth Canal
Perched above the canal, a bridge is accessible to pedestrians and allows visitors to admire the view. Unfortunately, the surroundings are not very well maintained and the bridge can get quite crowded: be prepared, the experience can be a little disappointing.
To avoid the crowds, you can opt for another viewpoint: go to Isthmia, a small village nestled at the eastern end of the Canal. The panorama is less spectacular but you’ll be surrounded by much less tourists and you’ll be able to discover the submersible bridge which joins the two banks of the canal!
Cruises on the Corinth Canal
As an accomplished sailor, Captain Ulysses never says no to a boat ride! ⛵
If the majority of tourists are content to visit the Corinth Canal on foot, cruises also offer the possibility to sail on the canal. It’s perfect to discover the Corinth Canal away from the crowds.
👉 Find out more:
- 60 to 90-minute cruise on the Corinth Canal
- Day trip from Athens including a cruise on the Corinth Canal
Bungee jumping at the Corinth Canal
Attention, all thrill seekers! The provider Zulu Bungy offers the possibility to bungee jump over the Corinth Canal.
Getting to the Corinth Canal
To get to the Corinth Canal, three possibilities:
- Renting a car: the best option if you wish to visit freely the Canal and its surroundings.
- Taking the bus: by far the cheapest option.
- Day trips: the option that the Captain recommends if you do not wish to drive and prefer to avoid public transportation. You will find here a selection of different day and multi-day trips from Athens.
🚘 Visiting the Peloponnese by car 🚘
If you’re planning on exploring the Peloponnese on your own, Captain Ulysses strongly recommends renting a car: it is by far the most practical way to get around the peninsula. Not to mention that car rental in Greece is on the whole very cheap!
To find THE best deal, the Captain recommends Rentalcars, which compares offers from a host of rental services.
One last piece of advice: the Peloponnese is crisscrossed with small mountainous roads, so you should definitely opt for a fuel-efficient car, even if it is a little more expensive to rent!
What to see and do around the Corinth Canal?
You”ll find plenty of iconic tourist attractions in the vicinity of the Corinth Canal. The Captain recommends exploring:
- Ancient Corinth and the Acrocorinth: about twenty minutes from the Corinth Canal, the archaeological site of Ancient Corinth invites visitors to go back in time to discover one of the great Greek cities of antiquity.
- Epidaurus: known for its wonderfully preserved ancient theater, the site of Epidaurus is also the cradle of medicine.
- Mycenae: perched on a hill, Mycenae is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece.
- Nafplio: a historical city nestled on the seashore. It’s a great spot from which to explore the Peloponnese and combine cultural visits, relaxation and sports activities.
Staying near the Corinth Canal: hotels & accommodation
If you wish to spend a night in Corinth, you will find here a selection of quality hotels and accommodation. But Captain Ulysses advises you to continue on your way and stop a little further on:
- either in Archaea Epidavros, next to the ancient site of Epidaurus : accommodations in Archaea Epidavros
- or in the beautiful port city of Nafplio: accommodations in Nafplio
Looking for tips and recommendations? Here are all of Captain Ulysses’ suggestions in the Peloponnese!
🛏️ Accommodation: to book your accommodations in the Peloponnese, Captain Ulysses highly recommends Hotels.com From youth hostel to luxury boutique hotel: there’s plenty to choose from!
🚌 Local transportation: to get around the Peloponnese, Captain Ulysses can only recommend renting a car. He also advises you to use the Rentalcars platform, which compares offers from a host of brands, including Hertz, Avis, Europcar and trusted local agencies.
If you prefer to avoid driving, the websites GetYourGuide and Civitatis offer a selection of excursions in the Peloponnese.
📍Circuits: if you prefer to entrust the organization of your trip to a travel agency, Captain Ulysses recommends you very warmly Evaneos. This French agency works in collaboration with local agencies to orchestrate customized and personalized stays.
✈️ Flights: to book your flights to Greece, Captain Ulysses warmly recommends the Skyscanner comparator. You’ll be able to compare countless offers to find the best deal. If your dates are flexible, you can also compare prices over several months to find the cheapest flights possible.