Athens is a vibrant city of 7 million people (one third of the Greek population live in Athens) and it is home to many famous archaeological sites.
There is so much to see and do it can be a little overwhelming.
To orientate ourselves we took a three-hour Athens Free Tour – a walking tour with the lovely Stefan as our guide.
It is a wonderful tour and takes in:
- The history of Athens including the Golden Age in the 5th century when the Acropolis was developed and some of the most famous buildings in Athens were constructed including the Parthenon.
- The site of the first Olympic village and the first Olympic stadium (Panathenaic Stadium).
- Exterior of the house of the President of Greece guarded by the Evzones (presidential guards).
- Explanation of the Changing of the Guards – outside the President’s house and in Syntagma Square. The biggest event is on Sundays in Syntagma Square at around 11am. We hear interesting facts about the Evzones – their shoes weigh 3kgs, the red on their hat signifies blood and the black signifies tears; there is 30m of fabric in their skirts with 400 pleats representing the 400 years of Ottoman occupation.
- The National Garden
- Syntagma Square
- The National Library, University and Academy
- Ermou Street – the centre of Athens, a busy shopping street
- The Plaka – historic district of Athens. Wander the colourful streets and don’t miss Adrianou St, and the Holy Church of Kapnikarea in Kapnikareas Square.
After the walking tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Trattoria Plaka on Filomousou Square – a great place to try Greek specialities such as Moussaka, Pastitsio, Gemista, and Kleftiko.
If you have just a couple of days in Athens, we suggest doing the walking tour and, to make the most of your time, these are our suggestions on what to see and do:
- See the Acropolis – either with a guide, or if you want to see it on your own there are information boards in English at each site on the Acropolis. It is advisable to visit as early as possible in the morning to avoid huge crowds. We bought our ticket at the entrance however it is advisable to buy tickets in advance. There is talk of limited time slots being introduced for visits to avoid overcrowding.
- Visit the Acropolis Museum
- Stroll along the beautiful pedestrianised Dionysiou Areopagitou Street – below the Acropolis, past the Acropolis Museum and the ancient open-air theatre of Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
- Dine at a rooftop restaurant for beautiful views of the Acropolis – we enjoyed a delicious drink and dinner at Point – an elegant rooftop bar and restaurant atop the Herodion Hotel.
- Visit the Plaka neighbourhood.
There are a number of amazing museums and archaeological sites in Athens. While we did not have enough time to see most of them, these would be our pick:
- National Archaeological Museum – discover a vast collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures and treasures, providing an in-depth look at Greece’s archaeological history.
- Benaki Museum – a comprehensive collection of Greek art and artifacts spanning from prehistoric times to the modern era.
- National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) – experience modern and contemporary Greek art at the EMST, located in the former Fix brewery.
- National Historical Museum – learn about Greece’s modern history at this museum, housed in the Old Parliament building.
- Ancient Agora – wander through the Ancient Agora, the heart of classical Athens. Highlights include the Temple of Hephaestus and Stoa of Attalos.
- If time permits, take a day trip to the Seronic Gulf islands of Hydra, Paros and Aegina on a private boat tour.
We stayed at Heart of Athens Apartment Thisio at 30 Iraklidon 1st in the charming neighbourhood of Thisio where there are good restaurants, local supermarkets, bakery, etc. At the end of our street we see the Acropolis! It is just a 20-minute walk to the Acropolis Museum along Apostolou Pavlou and then turning left onto the beautiful Dionysiou Areopagitou promenade, and a 20-walk to the Plaka neighbourhood.
After two very full days in Athens, our next destination are Skopelos and Skiathos – two of the Sporades islands.
Have a look at our Greek itinerary slideshow for more photos.
31 May – 2 June 2023
Best Month of Your Life