How to do Athens, Greece Right!
When looking at advertisements enticing you to travel to Athens, Greece, you see two things: sunlit ruins and glistening beaches. You think to yourself, surely this level of paradise can’t be reached in one trip?
That’s where you’re wrong. It absolutely can! Greece is a haven for relaxation, a dream for learning, and a royal feast for cuisine. Within a few hours via boat, you can make your way from mainland Athens to island paradises like Santorini, Crete, Rhodes, and Mykonos.
As someone who has lived, worked, and studied all over Greece, I suggest starting your excursion in Athens. The nation’s capital city is not only base to the airport, making travel to the country easy and direct, but is also a hub of Greek history, both modern and ancient, and culture.
Immersing in Ruins & Historical Sites
Plan to spend a full morning and probably part of your afternoon on the Acropolis and area surrounding it. The iconic site may have a line for entry, so be sure to get there early in the morning and fill up your water bottles (the Greek sun is scorching and unrelenting, so stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!). The climb up to the Acropolis is a little steep, but there is no shortage of things to see along the way. Carved stone, cut blocks, inscriptions, and views of Athens are sure to keep your mind and eyes occupied. Once at the top, you will enter the site through the Propylaia, the ancient entry gate. From there you can see the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, and the Erechtheion. It is truly breathtaking to see the survival of these monuments, and even more so to consider the occupations of the site throughout history since their erection around the 5th century BCE.
After your visit to the Acropolis, take the time to circle around the Acropolis mountain itself. The trails lead you by the theatre of Dionysus, caves of mythology, and more. Adjacent to the Acropolis neighborhood are an array of restaurants, eateries, and bars that deserve your attention! Trust me, after exploring one of the ancient world’s marvels, you will need a refreshment.
Another site that you shouldn’t miss in Athens is the Athenian Agora. The center of ancient Athenian life in antiquity, the Agora has been under excavation for decades. The reconstructed Stoa of Attalos and the miraculously still standing Temple of Hephaestus will make you oggle and wish you paid more attention in high school history. Thankfully, the site is very accessible and provides information along the way of what you’re encountering.
Eating out in Athens
Your evening in Athens should take advantage of traditional Greek food, such as souvlakia and moussaka, while sipping on ouzo or wine. Walk around and see where there’s a group of people, usually a good indication of the rating of the restaurant. Settle in for an hour or two and don’t try and rush yourself or your waiter- dinner is an experience, especially in Greek culture, take advantage of it!
After a few days in Athens and soaking up all the history and food you can of the capital, you can hop on a ferry in the Piraeus (a cab ride from Athens city center), and head to one of the many islands Greece has to offer. Favorites of course include picturesque Santorini and Mykonos, but truly you can’t go wrong. Get ready to unwind for a few days and enjoy the crystal beaches and views straight out of a movie set.
Regardless of where you go in Greece, I can promise you that you won’t regret it. The effortless combination of leisure and excitement make it a destination you’ll want to return to for years to come.
If you would like some personal tips for Athens, drop me a line!