If the ancient makes your ears prick up or the long history takes you to another time. Athens is the place for you. As our Air bnb host so adeptly put it, “there is old stuff on every corner in Athens”. He wasn’t lying. There is so much ancient history still visible in this city. It is truly incredible. Here is my guide to the city and a few ideas for a outing further away from the capital.
Wonder around at your own pace and take it all in. This part of town in as central as it could possibly be, although it is tourists central so don’t expect too many locals to be hanging around with you. There is however a lot to get through so I would give yourself a full day in order to get through it all at a good pace. I would also say totally worth it going if you are still a student, as then all of these places are completely free!
The top hit to make sure you hit on this day I would say are as follows:
- The Acropolis. This site can be seen from almost everywhere in the city and is worth getting to see it up close too. My advice would be to go to the Acropolis either first thing in the morning (8am when it opens) or as the last thing you do that day just before closing time (6pm), or an hour prior so you have time to have a good look before it closes. This way you miss the lines of people and better pictures without a tour group getting in the way.
- Ancient Agora. In this complex there is a lot of things to have a look at and potter around in. There is also a Museum, which is the perfect way to shelter from the suns heat for a little while.
- Temple of Zeus. Surrounded by a road, there are some very impressive columns in a ranging states of disarray. This would be the Temple of Zeus, highly impressive site for its sheer size if noting else. There is also Hadrian’s arch on the same site.
- Panathenaic Stadium. This is a rather large stadium which is made from marble and nothing else. Impressed yet? How about it has a capacity of 45,000 yet the record number that have been there at one time. 80,000. Needless to say, it is a cool thing to see if nothing else.
Drinking and Eating.
Greece is known for good grub. We found it no different, although we did have a couple of not so great ones we had enough delicious ones to make up for it.
- s.i.x. dogs. This is a very cool bar that is just off one of the Monastiraki square. It is more of a cocktail bar than a restaurant although if you go during daylight hours they do a good lunch menu. Simple, but done well. Cocktails are fairly expensive but well worth it. They have not only the classics but also have a few that follow a mythical story that is written in the front of the menu. Usual and trendy, is how I would describe it.
- 360 Bar. Another watering hole that we visited, very nice rooftop bar with a spectacular view of the Acropolis when it is all lit up and looking bea-u-tiful. This one is set in Monastiraki square, you won’t be able to miss it.
- A for Athens. We were also recommended this bar, but didn’t venture in ourselves as we had already gone to 360 (they are practically next door to one another).
- Lithos. We had a fantastic meal here. Romantic, Greek and everyone was super friendly. What more could we have asked for? An added bonus perhaps, well it had a uninterrupted view of the Acropolis so we had no end of good things to say about this place. Not bad for a restaurant we stumbled across by mistake.
Outside of the city.
We had some time outside of the city too, which I would recommend. From day trips out to see some other things that are worth travelling to and experiencing for yourself.
- Vouliagmzoni lake. This is a lake which is naturally thermal and is connected to the ocean which is just the other side of the road from where you get into it. It also is home to Garra Rufa fish, also known Spa fish. It’s a very cool place to have some time outside of the city centre if you have been shopped and walked out.
- Moni Island (off of Aegina Island). This island is completely uninhabited and is the perfect location for a beach day if you are visiting Aegina. Aegina itself is one of the most Greek places that I have visited, or could imagine. Beautiful, quite, simple and rustic. With a lot of pistachio’s. What is there not to like?