Athens is a densely populated and bustling metropolis with pieces of history nestled in between high rise buildings and cobblestone pathways. As the city centre of Ancient Greece, Athens continues to be a hub of commotion and flow.
Typically, many come to Athens to view the historic sites and visit museums. During my trip, the majority of our days were taken up by sightseeing tours. In the evenings we dined at restaurants in the plaka and would end our meal sipping on small cups of Greek coffee. The plaka is definitely the best place to grab a cup of coffee and people watch!
I have compiled a quick travel guide based on my experiences to help you plan your next visit to Athens. The city is a whirlwind of different colours and is a must-see for anyone. Happy travels!
The most iconic site in Athens is the Parthenon. This breathtaking piece of architecture stands atop the citadel overlooking the city. I highly recommend visiting the Parthenon during the early evening. It is around this time that you get to take the best pictures and avoid the large crowds. Unless you are well versed in classical history, I definitely see the benefit in partaking in a tour of the site. Yes you will be herded with a few hundred other people but it isn’t that bad. If you can spare the time, visit the Parthenon twice – early evening for great pictures and with a tour group to understand the history.
If you do not have a lot of time in Athens, tours are a great way to maximize your days. Delphi is a site of immense historical significance. It is also where the first bank of Athens was built. The drive to Delphi offers spectacular views of the Greek countryside, boasting valleys lush with green vegetation and little farms dottingthe landscape. When you reach Delphi you get a great view of these valleys from up top.
The temple of Poseidon is a magnificent site that sits atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Here you can walk around Cape Sounion and take some fantastic pictures. There is a small cafe nearby to grab a quick bite to eat or something to drink. If you haven’t noticed already, a lot of these sights require driving. That is why I recommend tours since it takes the hassle out of finding transportation there and back.
If you are looking for centrality, find a hotel in the plaka (main square / centre). From there everything such as stores, shops, restaurants and even the Parthenon is within walking distance. We stayed at Atalos Hotel. Like many of the hotels in Greece, the hotel is a family run establishment. I recommend finding a hotel that offers breakfast as this saves time in trying to find a place to eat in the morning. Alternatively you can skip breakfast and head straight to lunch. Gyros for brunch is perfectly acceptable and incredibly delicious.
That being said if you are working within a budget there are hotels that are situated on the periphery of the plaka. You can also rent an Air BnB. Keep in mind that you will have to find transportation to get to the plaka. Cabs can be pricey, but their public transit system is efficient and cheap.
Majority of the restaurants are found in the plaka, which also means that they can be pricey. Nevertheless I find that this area offers a variety of price options. For the most part food in Greece is very affordable and incredibly delicious.
At first you may be overwhelmed by all the options. In fact servers will call at you from the street, enticing you to take a peak at their menu in hopes that you will sit down and eat. Take your time in choosing where to eat. You are under no obligation to choose a place just because you feel pressured to.
However, if you are looking for really good Greek Food, I suggest the restaurant Thanasis Kebab in Monastiraki. I am not lying when I say this place has the best food in town. So good, in fact, that we ate there our last two days in Athens and before we left for Canada.
If you are in the mood for gyros (which are so cheap in Greece) there is a place near the Acropolis museum called O Gyros pou Girevis. Go ahead and have one, or two… or even three. I promise I won’t tell!
Normally it is the islands that are known for their beaches but Athens has them too. You can find beaches further along the coast of Athens as you drive towards the countryside. In fact if you decide to visit Delphi, you will see some beaches along the way.
I did not get a chance to visit a beach but it is on my bucket list for next time. If you want to swim while in Athens, here is a list of the best beaches in the area.
I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any questions let me know down below. Have you ever traveled to Athens before? If so what did you enjoy the most? Should you have any tips, feel free to share them in the comments.
Until next time!