Most people love to go on city trips, but most of the time they end up in the same standard cities we all know. Of course, there are so many beautiful cities all over the world, but it’s a pity that you almost never hear that they visit Athens. This is a shame, because everybody recognizes Athens and besides that, the city has more than enough to offer. Greece is extremely popular, but mostly during summer and because of the islands. I urge you to visit the main land, especially if you love Greece’s history.
My stay in Athens was unfortunately only three days. Nevertheless, I still was able to see a lot. I even had the chance to visit the island of Aegina. The good thing about Athens is that everything is close and mostly within walking distance. I hope this inspires you all to go on a next city trip, hopefully to Athens.
Monastiraki is a very lively neighborhood in the middle of Athens. Here you will also find the well known Monastiraki flea market where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs, clothing, but also fruits and vegetables. If you really want to spend some money on shopping, then you have to go to Ermou street.
The nightlife in Monastiraki is also pretty good, you’ll find multiple roof tops such as Athens 360 and A for Athens. While you’re sipping on your cocktail, you will be served with an absolute stunning view on the Acropolis.
Theater of Dionysus (Θέατρο του Διονύσου)
It’s almost impossible to write about everything I’ve seen during my stay. Like Rome, Athens is just one big open air museum, although the Romans copied their architecture from Greece. Everywhere you walk you’ll see something very pretty with loads of history. For this reason, I will not describe everything, you’ll just have to go there and see it for yourself!
The Dionysus Theater is the oldest theater of Europe, built in the sixth century B.C. During that time, the Greek held theatrical performances to honor the god Dionysus. This theater is at the foot of the Acropolis. When you enter the Acropolis from the south side you have the best view on the Dionysus Theater. If you’d like to you can also visit the theater.
Only if you never paid attention during your history classes, you would know that for most people the Acropolis isn’t a stranger. The translation of the word Acropolis means “the highest point of the city.” Here you’ll find the most well known structures of Athens.
It was really magical to be there. I was so amazed by the Parthenon, that when I looked at it I was thinking about how beautiful it had to look back in ancient times. I’m always wondering, how could they build such a huge temple thousands of years ago? These days they demolish buildings after a few decades and this one still stands.
On the Acropolis you’ll find more temples, like the Nike temple. This one is dedicated to the goddess Nike who is the goddess of strength, speed and victory. The temple can be found at the right side of the main entrance.
The Erechtheion on the north side of the Acropolis can be recognized by the six columns in the shape of women (Caryatids). These are replicas as you will find the originals in the Acropolis museum. Unfortunately, there were only five of the six in the museum as the sixth one can be found in the British Museum. Greece has been trying desperately to bring this sixth Caryatid back home. The Acropolis museum has even left a spot open next to the other Caryatids awaiting her return.
When you want to visit more sights, the best thing to do is to buy a combined ticket for 30 Euros as this will definitely save you time and money. During the summer it can get really hot as there’s no shadow what so ever at the Acropolis. Here’s a little tip, keep in mind to bring some water and dress appropriately. Also, try to skip the hottest hours of the day.
Acropolis museum (Μουσείο Ακρόπολης)
This museum is also known as the new Acropolis museum. They opened their doors in 2009 after they closed down the former museum in 2007. There are about 4,000 art objects displayed at the museum, mainly sculptures. This is a very modern museum with glass floors that you can walk on and see the floor beneath you. Personally I am not a fan of this. not that the glass will break, but still it’s a bit scary. Another tip: don’t wear a skirt or a dress. Because of this glass floor, you can see everything when someone from beneath looks up.
The museum is located at the foot of the Acropolis and the entrance price is just 5 Euros.
Syntagma Square (Πλατεία Συντάγματος)
The Syntagma Square is the biggest square of Athens. It’s located near the former Royal Palace of Greece, now housing the Greek Parliament. In front of the Parliament you’ll find the tomb of the unknown soldier which is dedicated to the unknown Greek soldiers who sacrificed their lives during various wars in which the country was involved.
Next to the tomb you’ll see the Evzones, soldiers in traditional Greek uniforms. They stand guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. The change of the guards happens every hour and it’s definitely a must see! Their uniform is so beautiful with all its details and craftsmanship. The skirt has 400 pleats, which symbolize the 400 years of slavery to the Ottoman Turks. It’s a real big honor as a soldier to become an Evzone. They hold guard for 48 hours straight. During their training they have to stay awake for a week! I would be so cranky.
Every Sunday at 11 AM there is a ceremonial parade with music and loads of soldiers. If you get the chance you really must see this parade. You would be amazed on how well trained those Evzones are.
Lycabettus Hill (Λυκαβηττός)
With over 900 feet Lycabettus the highest hill of Athens. Up here you will surely have the best view over the whole city. Normally, I would go up walking but with a bruised knee it’s not the best idea. So I thought I should be smart and take the cable car to go up. Little did I know, I had to face a lot of stairs and steep streets to get to the cable car. On my way up I had to stop a few times to catch my breath. With or without a bruised knee, it’s a complete workout to get there. I normally work out 3 to 4 times a week and I was exhausted. So maybe it’s better to go there by taxi. The cable car tickets are 7 Euros.
When you’re finally up at the top, you have the most amazing view. The best time to go is around sunset, which makes the view even better. On top of the hill you have a little church, the Agios Georgios church. Unfortunately the church was closed so I couldn’t see the interior. You will also find a restaurant on the hill called Orizontes. While you’re having dinner there, you can enjoy the breathtaking view.
There’s another hill you can climb in Athens called the Filopappou hill. My plan was to also climb it, but on that day it was pouring rain so that’s on the list for a future visit.
Temple of Zeus (Ναός του Ολυμπίου Διός)
The temple of Zeus used to be the biggest temple of Greece. Unfortunately, there’s not much left. Once there were 106 columns and now there are just 15. The temple is dedicated to the leader of the Greek gods called Zeus. It’s nice to walk around for a bit although there isn’t much to see. The fun part was talking to a gentleman who works at the entrance. A fact about the Greek people, they are super friendly and helpful. Also their English is really good, so don’t worry, you don’t have to learn any Greek.
Olympic Stadium of Athens (Ολυμπιακό Στάδιο Αθηνών)
The first stadium of the modern Olympic Games in 1896 stands in Athens. The stadium is completely constructed of marble. The foundation of the stadium was already there before at 330 years BC. The entrance price is 5 Euros.
You can also visit the new Olympic Stadium used for the Olympic Games in 2004.
National Garden of Athens (Εθνικός Κήπος)
What used to be the Royal Garden is these days the Athens National Garden and is open to the public. With the size of 38 acres, it’s really nice to go for a walk and escape the busy streets of Athens for a while.
Metropolitan Cathedral (Καθεδρικός Ναος Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου)
The Metropolitan Cathedral is the biggest church of Athens. To build the Cathedral they used the marble of 70 demolished churches. The paintings inside the church are absolutely gorgeous. The colors are just amazing. When I was inside I had a sort of goosebumps. They say the church is really holy. A few Saints are displayed in very beautiful decorated tombs.
When I passed the Cathedral for the first time it was super crowded. I was in a hurry to catch the metro and thought what’s all the fuss about? I saw an older man in a suit and a lot of policemen. Later I found out that it was the president of Greece.
Try to squeeze in a visit to a Greek island, if your planning allows it. From Piraeus you can take the ferry to all kinds of islands. I went for Aegina, a small non touristic island. Aegina is very popular with the Greeks, they own summer houses on the island or go there to escape the big city for the weekends.
When I arrived at the ferry terminal it was very questionable if the ferry would depart as it was very windy that day. But 20 minutes before departure it worked out. It was a very bumpy ride and not for people who get seasick easily. I went to Aegina with the Flying Dolphins, the high speed ferry who takes you to Aegina in 40 minutes and I returned with Anes Ferries which is much bigger and also fits cars. The ferry brings you back to Piraeus in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The island is pretty small but still there are enough sights to see such as the temple of Apollo or the temple of Aphaia on the other side of the island. When you walk around the port of Aegina it feels immediately like you’re on a summer vacation. It’s very nice to sit at a restaurant and have something to eat or drink and enjoy the view. The island is also known for their pistachios, you can buy them everywhere.
It wasn’t the best weather when I was there, at least no beach weather. Too bad because the island has multiple beaches.
Thissio View restaurant
When you want to have dinner with an amazing view, you definitely must go to Thissio View. This restaurant is on the 3rd floor of the Hotel Thissio so you have a very good look at the Acropolis. It is especially amazing at night because then the Acropolis is lighted. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t very special, not bad but also not very good. This maybe though because the night before I had the most delicious meal at another restaurant. I don’t know the name anymore but it was really good Greek food.
Going out for diner in Athens is also really cheap. For my Greek dish I only paid 15 euro and that with 2 drinks included. I first thought they had made a mistake.
This cafe can’t be more girly. Everything but everything is pink and with lots of flowers. It’s a very nice decor to take the perfect Instagram photos. I went for the chocolate pancakes and herbal tea. I wanted to go for their red velvet cake, but 10:30 AM is maybe a bit to early for cake. The pancakes were served with a lot of chocolate. I have a very big sweet tooth but even for me it was hard to eat it all.
When you love sweets and lots of hysteria you definitely must go to Little Kook. It’s like you wander around a fairy tale. They really go big with their decorations. With Christmas it was like, Christmas on steroids, nothing is too crazy. I just walked by, and didn’t have enough time to eat at this place. You can go for something sweet like cake or crepes, but also just for a cup of coffee.
I hope I did my job in convincing you to visit Athens. It’s a very versatile city, with so much to offer for everybody. If you just want to go for shopping and have a fun weekend away or learn about the history of Greece. You can’t, not love this city.
The people are super friendly and don’t mind to speak English, unlike other (European) countries, which is very rare.
It’s also very easy to move around in the city. From the airport you can take the metro. There are only 3 metro lines, so nothing is confusing.
This article first appeared on InsideFlyer.nl.