Where to sleep in Athens
I found myself very well atAirhotel Alexandros . It is located near the Lycabettus hill and is in a great location. In 5 minutes on foot you can reach the M3 - Megaro Moussikis metro stop which in 3 stops takes you to Monastiraki. Moreover, it is the same metro that connects the city to the airport, so it is also an excellent solution from a logistical point of view.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to watch them calmly -> discover HERE all the hotels in the city center
Guided tours and Athens Card
To visit a city, a capital like Athens, you need to waste as little time as possible, having the unlimited admissions and transport included. Is critical.
Spending every time at each point of interest is inconvenient and not economically convenient.
So I absolutely recommend you to PURCHASE the ATHENS CARD to save money. It has no time limits, you can use it for the whole stay. It also includes the transfer from the airport to the center and many other benefits.
If you want to add a day trip to Delphi to your visit to the city, then I recommend you purchase the ATHENS iVENTURE CARD , a much more complete card, but also slightly more expensive (it works based on how many days you buy it)
Here's what the Athens Card includes:
10 things to do and visit in Athens
I had the pleasure of see Athens decorated for the marathon, I arrived on a Friday evening and left on Sunday morning. Just a day and a few hours to see this capital. I would have liked to spend more time there because it really deserves a lot, nevertheless, after the kilometers and kilometers covered on foot on Saturday, I can tell you what are the things to do and see in Athens. I advise you to dedicate at least two / three days to the Greek capital, calculate another to add if you want to make the excursion to Cape Sounion. On a full day, and by full I mean from 8 in the morning to midnight, you will be able to see a good part of Athens and also to experience its main neighborhoods.
1 - Visit the Acropolis, the museum and the archaeological sites
I think I shouldn't even stress it, but this is a “must do it”. L'Acropolis, with the buildings from which it is composed, including the Parthenon, is the undisputed symbol of Athens. Impossible not
notice it. From above it dominates the whole city and in the evening it takes on a disarming charm.
The Acropolis, as you can well imagine, is particularly popular with tourism. Hordes of people flock daily to the most famous archaeological site in Greece which, although almost completely artifact, allows you to discover how this place of great interest in the city must have been.
Walking in the Acropolis one is entranced by the majestic Parthenon in a perennial state of renovation. All around, stones, stones and more stones that once were part of the whole Acropolis complex. In addition to the charm dictated by its history, the beauty of the Acropolis is also the result of 360 degree view of the entire city. From above you can appreciate the vastness of Athens and its surroundings; an agglomeration of houses of the same height that reaches up to Piraeus.
The complex is not only formed by the Parthenon, there are many other buildings that compose it. Imposing are the Propylaea, the columns that constitute the monumental entrance to the Acropolis.
Next to the Parthenon, the largest Doric temple in Greece, stands theErechtheum with the Caryatids (see cover photo). This was the true place of worship of the entire Acropolis.
Little tip: untangling yourself among the people who will crowd the archaeological site, you reach the opposite extreme with respect to the Propylaea. From this point you will be able to see what is important Temple Of Zeus and the historic stadium Panathinaiko.
Leaving the Propylaea, turn immediately left and you will be at Temple of Athena Nike. Continuing along the road you will reach the secondary entrance near the Acropolis Museum. On this mini-route, on your right, theOdeon of Herodes Atticus.
A little further on you will find the Theater of Dionysus.
Consideration: right near the theater I wondered why there is no maniacal care towards archaeological finds. The steps of the theater were full of uncultivated grass which does not give credit to the beauty of the place. Maybe I am missing something, but I believe that more attention should be paid to their conservation.
Once you arrive at the secondary entrance, it will not take long to reach the Museum and see the relics of the history of the Acropolis of Athens with your own eyes.
Another important site to see in Athens is theAgora, the hub of Athenian commercial activities of the time.
Costs of the Acropolis
The entrance alone costs 10 €.
There is another type of ticket from cost of € 30 which allows access to the Acropolis and other archaeological sites. I list them: Agora e Agora Museum, the Roman Agora, Temple of Zeus, Keramikos Adrian's library, and the Lykeion archaeological site. The ticket is NOT nominal and is valid for 5 days for a maximum of one admission per day per archaeological site. Personally I think it is a great choice if yours is a long stay.
Visiting hours of the Acropolis
In the winter period, theopening hours is from 9 to 17 (on Friday until 22 in the evening and Saturday and Sunday until 20). In summer, if I am not mistaken, it should be from 8 to 20 (on Fridays until 22 and on Mondays until 16). Please note that the last entrance is half an hour before closing time
To access the Acropolis there are two inputs. One is that of the Museum and the other near the Propylaea.
Alternatives for visiting the Acropolis -> discover this city tour with guided visit to the Acropolis (click to enter)
Alternative 2 for the whole city of Athens -> discover all tours (click to enter) that will allow you to discover the city without stress and without queues.
2 - Explore Plaka, Monastiraki and Psirri
When I visit a city I like it explore it on foot. Athens is perfect for this kind of "travel hobby". Neighborhoods like Plaka, Monastiraki and Psirri are beautiful and should be experienced slowly.
Narrow and very populated alleys that intertwine with as many narrow and populated alleys, small and lively squares alternate with avenues with shops on the right and left. If I got to see a colorful and welcoming Athens, great credit goes to these neighborhoods. Tavernas everywhere, tourist shops and a continuous stream of people that continues into the evening in front of the beautiful Acropolis.
In Monastiraki there is the homonymous metro stop whose exit gives on the main square always very lived. Perhaps compared to Plaka it is a slightly more decadent neighborhood, but as I wrote to you at the beginning of this post, the decadence of some parts of Athens I find fascinating.
If you will visit the capital of Greece during the weekend, remember that on Sunday morning in the Monastiraki area there is the Flea Market where you can find many antiques.
Psirri, north of Monastiraki, during the day it is a district of artisans and shops, in the evening it comes alive with bars and taverns.
Plate, instead it is more elegant. It is the area to the east of the Acropolis and if you walk from Monastiraki to the Acropolis Museum you will practically walk all of it. Here too there are numerous taverns and narrow alleys with flowers.
To see Athens you have to savor its characteristic neighborhoods step by step, you will be pleasantly surprised.
3 - Walk from Monastiraki to Gazi with Acropolis view
By now you will have understood that to visit Athens you have to walk. This is a beautiful evening walk that I recommend you do because it will make you fall in love with this city even more. Along this stretch I wondered if there are more people or clubs / taverns in Athens. I am convinced that if I lived there I would be spoiled for choice. Between Monastiraki, Plaka, Psirri, Gazi you will realize what I am saying.
A stretch of road between Monastiraki and Gazi has been almost completely pedestrianized, and in front of the Acropolis and the Agora leads to the new district of Athenian nightlife.
Leaving the Monastiraki metro station, go right and after 50 meters right again onto Adrianou. This street starts in the heart of Plaka, theatmosphere is persuasive. On the right there are taverns and clubs, on the left the illuminated archaeological sites. When you arrive near the Thissio metro station, keep left and a slight slope will begin that will take you to Apostolou Pavlou, which is also packed with bars. From here you can take the road that takes you straight to Gazi; it is a stretch, however, without rooms and it is a normal road, not pedestrianized.
This piece of Athens amazed me and therefore I was eager to recommend it, it is particularly impressive.
4 - Have a drink in the evening in Gazi
Staying in theme with the previous point, this district has become the center of the post-evening Athenian nightlife. Why do I say post-evening and not evening? Simple, in this area there are fewer taverns but more trendy places where you can simply have a drink in a lively and youthful context.
Gazi it is a neighborhood that long ago was monopolized by a gas factory whose structure is still present today. Following a redevelopment, it is now the beating heart of the city's nightlife and Athenian gay community. To get there you can do it on foot or take the metro and get off at Keramikos stop.
5 - Discover the history of the Panathenaic Stadium
There would be many words to say about this stadium. I enjoyed his story using the audio guides included in the entry price of 5 euros. The importance it had in the past is enormous and now translates into an undisputed symbol of sport.
Here the most important sporting achievements are celebrated, here ends the Aten Marathonand, here it is written a piece of Olympic history and here they also come back the Olympic torches at the end of the event. This is the only stadium built entirely of Pentelic marble and is a sight to behold. You have to sit in the stands and stop and think about what it meant, at the time, to compete in this stadium… I think it was a unique emotion.
From the Panathenaic Stadium you will also be able to see the Acropolis and the Lycabettus hill.
6 - Go up to the Lycabettus hill
It is slightly far from the center but it deserves a ride. Unfortunately, I was unable to go there due to the tight weather but as soon as I return to see Athens again, I will absolutely not be able to miss the view at sunset on the Lycabettus hill.
Located in the north-eastern part of the city, with its 277 meters high it represents the highest point in Athens. It houses the orthodox church of Agios Georgios and some clubs.
There are no metro stops near the climb and therefore you can reach the “summit” with the expensive funicular or on foot via the steps that start at the intersection between Aristippou and Loukianou.
7 - Syntagma Square and the changing of the guard.
It is the square of the Greek Parliament, a place he lived strong moments of tension and protest. In the presence of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there are two guards belonging to the Euzoni, or elite mountain infantry soldiers.
Hourly the changing of the guard takes place which at 11.00 on Sunday morning takes place in its entirety with the official costumes. This square, in itself, does not have a tourist value, it is certainly an important point to see in Athens as it is the hub of Athenian political and social life.
8 - Eat in a Greek tavern overlooking archaeological sites
I haven't told you about food in any post about Greece yet. Still, I love Greek food. From Gyros pita to the Moussaka, passing through the inevitable Greek salad, too good. The Greek salad is a must. It will also be a simple dish and without who knows what kind of preparation, yet so good they are only eaten in Greek territory.
And in Athens, where I recommend you eat if not with a view of illuminated archaeological sites. On the Adrianou you will find plenty of them, without considering the immense choice that you can find between Plaka and Monastiraki. All typical taverns, obviously touristy but very interesting and with authentic flavors.
9 - Visit the Athens Archaeological Museum and the National Gardens
It is the largest and most important museum in all of Greece, as well as one of the most important in the world. Here you can find some of the most significant Greek archaeological finds such as the mask of Agamemnon and the head of Zeus.
It is the green heart of the city, why not relax a few hours inside this park? Among other things, it is also easy to reach it because it is located between the Panathenaic stadium and Syntagma Square, so it could also be a possible stop on a walking itinerary during your visit to Athens. Inside the park there is also the Zappeion.
10 - Eat Kouloùria until exhaustion
I state that I was able to find the name of this bread-like right now. I looked for it on purpose to be able to recommend it because obviously the writings in Greek were incomprehensible to me.
It is a biscuit bread which represents one of the street-food foods of Athens. You will happen to find these stalls with things (I don't know if they are bread, breadsticks, biscuits ...) covered with sesame. They are exceptionally good, I would have eaten by the kilos, even if I still can't tell you if it is salty or sweet.