“You should visit Greece”, “Haven’t you visited Greece, yet?! C’mon guys”. If you listen closely enough you can still hear our friends trying to convince us to take a trip to this wonderful place.
We weren’t so hard to convince, so we booked our tickets for June and we decided to spend 2 days in the capital and 5 days in Poros.
Spending only 2 days in Athens made our job harder because we had so many places to choose from. But with Bear Grylls’ tweet in mind “improvise, adapt, overcome” we came up with this itinerary.
Athens is a city which has a lot to offer: a rich history of thousands of years, large urban squares, wonderful panoramic views and narrow cozy streets. Hopefully, you will find it useful if you stay for a short time in the Greek capital. Also, click here for more tips&tricks.
The temples on the sacred rock, constructed during the late 5th century BC, are considered one of the most important monuments in Western civilization. They have influenced architecture more than anything else.
Visiting this historical site can be a great experience, but you need to take into consideration some suggestion to make it more pleasant.
- Go to Acropolis early in the morning in order to avoid all the crowds and hot temperature. At 8 AM the gates are opened, but you should be there at 7:30 to avoid the queues. We know, it doesn’t sound tempting to wake up at this hour during the holiday but trust us, it would make a big difference.
Thousands of tourists are coming here every day to visit this ancient site so you might want to avoid rush hours.
- We recommend you to buy your tickets online. Also, you can use the tickets machines. The waiting time is around 5-10 mins in the morning, while at the ticket office it can take several hours. The cheapest ticket is 20 euros, no matter where you get it from. You just need a credit/debit card and let the technology to make its magic.
- As soon as the gates will be opened, hurry up to get to the top and admire the Parthenon, which is the centerpiece of the Acropolis. Right here you can also enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city. It’s one of those places where you feel so small compared to what’s in front of your eyes. Take your time and enjoy visiting the other important pieces of history such as The Old Temple of Athena, Erechtheum, Temple of Athena Nike, Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus.
- Don’t let the hot temperature ruin your experience, so look after shade once in a while and stay hydrated.
Since we talked about wonderful views, Philopappos Hill is another contender for the top list of this category. After visiting the Acropolis you will maybe want some quiet moments away from the crowds and this beautiful hill is right there for you. And when we say “right there for you”, we also mean literally right next to the ancient site.
You just have to turn right after you go down the path and you will find some pine-shaded alleys. It is an easy climb and you will get to the Philopappos Monument (which is on top of the hill) in about 20 mins. So take your time to admire the beautiful views of the Acropolis, seen from another perspective as well as the whole city of Athens and the Aegean Sea. Also, if you are lucky, you’ll see turtles laying in the sun. We bet you will say “totally worth it” on your way down.
After we came back from Philopappos Hill, we decided to stroll around the streets from the city center, among all the cafes and restaurants. But we changed our minds as soon as we saw a little fairy tale land just across the street: National Garden and its jacaranda trees. If you visit Athens in May or June, you’ll meet the beauty of these trees in bloom, right in front of the park main entrance, where their fallen flowers form a colorful purple path.
In a city like Athens, rich in history and landmarks, a public park might not spark so much interest. But walking through an oasis of palms, wooden benches and cool shaded paths doesn’t sound so bad, right?
At the end of the day, we chose to spend some time in the heart of Athens, right next to the National Garden. Syntagma Square is a place full of life, with a lot of people discovering the square’s stands or just wandering around with friends or children. It’s a perfect place to catch the local vibes in the evening.
With the Parliament building in the background, it’s an easily recognizable sight. There you can see the changing of the guard, done every hour. Just be warned: you are not allowed to touch and speak to them and they are not allowed to react or respond.
We started our second day from Monastiraki. Like almost every important spot in Athens, this square is located right next to the Acropolis and it’s considered one of the most popular shopping areas in town. Just standing in the middle of it and looking around, you’ll see a bazaar where people sell souvenirs, clothes, accessories and even carpets and handmade pieces of jewelry. It’s such a lively place and it reminds us of Moroccan souks.
Pro tip: In a place as busy and crowded as Monastiraki or Omonia Square, incidents of pickpocketing could be a problem. So, keep your possessions safe.
After strolling around Monastiraki in the morning, we decided to go and explore one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Athens: Plaka.
With its traditional taverns, ancient ruins, lovely buildings covered in flowers and narrow streets, you could get a totally different perspective of Athens.
This is an ideal place to enjoy a nice walk or to stop by any tavern you would like and try their great traditional food. Also, most streets in Plaka are pedestrian, hence without many cars, so it is quite easy to wander around.
Pro tip: don’t miss the Plaka Stairs. It’s an iconic place with an awesome vibe. Maybe that’s because of the little cafes that line on both sides of steps with Greek music playing in the background.
At the top end of the Plaka Stairs, we found the beautiful neighborhood of Anafiotika. This place is not always included in the “Top attractions” lists you will find on the Internet and we are still not sure why.
This 19th century neighborhood is located on the northern slopes of the Acropolis hill and even if it feels like a traditional village from a Greek island, it’s right in the center of Athens. You have to squeeze through the narrow streets, where each corner holds a surprise view you’ll certainly love.
It’s a hidden gem you might not want to miss while in Athens.
Even if you type this location in Google maps, the directions are a little bit confusing but we’re glad that we didn’t give up and had a chance to wander through these beautiful streets. In order to find it more easily, just look at the directions for “Ekklisia Agios Georgios Stratonos” and you will know for sure when you’ll arrive.
Almost at the end of these two wonderful days, we looked after a place where we could capture the beauty of this city one more time. And the answer was simple: Lycabettus Hill.
From distance, it looks like a volcano right in the heart of Athens and it’s the highest point in the city, so don’t worry, you can’t miss it. As we said in this article title, Athens could offer a lot of stunning panoramic views over the city. But one of the most impressive and romantic 360° views was from this hill’s top. To get there, you have two options: by the Lycabettus Funicular or walking up the stairs through the forest and pine-scented landscape.
Pro tip: climb the hill at sunset because it has a magical vibe. There are a lot of people coming over to see this beautiful landscape, especially when the sun is making its way down. If you are a photographer, bring your best lenses in order to capture this stunning view.
To sum up, Athens is a wonderful place to visit – a city of history, panoramic views and cozy narrow streets. We came here with unclear expectations, because we heard before lots of pros and cons. But the good weather, the delicious food and the Mediterranean vibe impressed us in a good way.
Here you can find more tips&tricks that we hope to help you fall in love with this city. :)
Have you visited Athens? If so, what was your favorite place in town?