Athens is a stunning city, and one of those places you’ll find yourself revisiting again and again. Sure, Greece is a popular summer destination knowns for its gorgeous beaches and picturesque islands, but a stopover in the country’s capital for a few days is also a must. You might be surprised just how much there is to explore. We’re about to give you insider tips for your next trip to this incredible city!
Visit The Ancient Part of Athens
Athens is known for its historic sites, and there’s no better place to start than the Ancient Part of Athens. Here you can explore a bustling market street, walk through a huge archeological site, and even visit a museum or two! The Hill of Acropolis is great if you want to go adventuring in Athens and visit the Parthenon, but there are dozens of other sites you can explore. If you’re lucky enough to be in Athens on the first Sunday in May, make sure to check out the Athens Antiques Show.
Every New Year’s Eve, Athens is transformed into an incredible party town, and it’s quite a sight to see! The most popular area for partying is at Monastiraki Square, where people gather together with their friends and family to welcome another year of joy. The best way to get around this area is by foot – just wander around and see what catches your eye! And don’t forget about grabbing some delicious street food while you’re checking things out!
The Acropolis Museum is a great place to see some of the most important artifacts from this city’s long history. If you’re not totally into museums, there are plenty of other incredible places to check out! There’s the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Panathenaic Stadium, and even some churches full of ancient art. You can also check out Plato’s academy for a deeper look at this city’s rich philosophical roots.
Every Wednesday during the summertime, make sure to stop by Monastiraki Flea Market – it’s an open-air market with tons of stalls selling antiques, old paintings, trinkets, jewelry – you name it! It can get pretty crowded on Wednesdays, but that just makes the experience all the more interesting. Once you’ve found something that catches your eye, take a closer look and see if the price is right. If not, just keep on browsing! This market closes down around sundown, so make sure to get there early!
The National Garden
See some of the most beautiful plants in all of Athens at The National Garden. It’s easy to relax here for hours on end with your friends or family – you can walk along the paths or stop by one of the spots where people are selling fresh fruit or veggies. There are plenty of places to sit and eat as well, although there aren’t many options when it comes to food. Make sure to bring some snacks with you if you’re planning on spending an afternoon here!
Coffee is entrenched in Greek culture and sitting at a café is an unmissable part of everyday life in Greece. Walking around Athens, you will notice immediately the sheer number of coffee shops, particularly in and around Syntagma Square. This is the place to be if you want to take a break from all the sightseeing! It’s also one of the most popular spots for people-watching in Athens.
There are tons of cafés and restaurants here, so it’s easy to find somewhere that catches your eye. Head over to Cafe Avissinia or Ambelouzos if you want something with a view – it’s not hard to fall in love with this beautiful city!
The Changing Of The Guards
Every day at 11 o’clock sharp, tourists gather together on Syntagma Square to witness what has become one of Athens’ most iconic traditions: the changing of the guards. If you’ve never seen soldiers marching before, now would definitely be a good time – the sight is a truly powerful one. And just a couple of days after you’ve witnessed this, the Greek Independence Day parade will take place – it’s quite a spectacle!
Indulge In Greek Food
I am sure one of the main reasons you’re thinking about visiting Athens is because you love Greek cuisine! Who doesn’t love the rich flavours of traditional dishes like moussaka or pastitsio, the juiciness of a well cooked souvlaki or gyros, the delicious snacks that are spanakopita or tiropitakia, the freshness of tzatziki or Greek salad, all washed down at the end of the meal with a glass of ouzo (an anise-flavoured aperitif).
Everyone should taste these Greek foods at least once in their life! And of course you can’t leave Greece without eating baklava: a sweet, nutty, rich and frankly irresistible dessert that’s become one of the country’s national dishes.
Head over to one of many homey tavernas in Athens, like Klimataria which has been going strong since 1927; for a more romantic spot, book at table on the terrace overlooking the most famous ancient Greek ruins at the Acropolis Museum Café and Restaurant.
Relaxing In Athens
Athens is known for being a pretty hectic city, so if you want to do more than just visit museums and cafes, make sure to go escape from it all at some point! There are tons of great beaches in the area – Glyfada is probably the most popular, but Vouliagmeni Lake also has its share of visitors. If you don’t like making sandcastles or drying off by sitting in the sun, there are always other options as well. The pristine waters around Pireaus are perfect for swimming!
Day Trip to Aegina
The best cure when you get sick of sightseeing is spending a day at the beach! And what better way to relax than escaping to the idyllic island of Aegina? Known for its beautiful beaches, picturesque villages and rich history, Aegina can be easily reached by ferry from Athens in as little as 40 minutes. Hop off the boat, hire a scooter and ride around the island for the day, discovering ancient temples and historic churches, stopping for a refreshing dip in the sea and enjoying a delicious Greek lunch.
The island is popular for weekend getaways, so I recommend going on a week day to find less crowds and have the beach all to yourself! Aegina is also a great base for island hopping around the gulf.
Athens is a city with something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for something educational or just want to relax and have some fun, this city has plenty of options! Feel free to explore and enjoy the wonders of the Ancient world along with modern Athens.