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Athens Travel Guide: Things To Do In Athens and Travel Tips
Athens is the capital of Greece and a truly charming city! The amazing collection of Greek ruins, artifacts, nightlife, day tours, restaurants, cafés and bars make Athens a primary destination for tourists across the globe. Although there are several archaeological sites, architecture, restaurants, and many more attractions to see, yet you can explore it all by opting for a long weekend getaway. A week’s trip should be planned only if you intend to take rest in the hotel for some hours or go shopping to Athens local markets every evening.
Depending on your travel style, you can select the attractions in Athens that you want to visit. The best time to visit Athens is in April to June and September to November as the weather is pleasant. The months of December to March are cold as it snows in some parts of the city. By mid June, summer season begins and it starts getting very hot. The month of July and August are not recommended for traveling as sightseeing can become very difficult due to the heat.
Most popular Athens, Greece Attractions:
Your trip to Athens would be incomplete if you do not visit its famous historical site; the Acropolis. When you reach this beautiful place, you will be able to understand the culture and history of ancient Greece in a better manner. Don’t forget to keep Athens travel guide with you, so that you can know more about the areas that you visit. On the Acropolis, you will be able to explore various monuments like the Parthenon, which were built in the 5th century BC.
You can visit Acropolis any day in between 8am to 6:30pm. However, the timing will be different due to the change in seasons, so don’t forget to recheck on their official webpage. Remember that you cannot carry backpacks on the Acropolis. Buy the entrance ticket at the counter, which would cost you about EUR 20. Keep in mind that the ticket would let you enter other areas too on the site like Roman Agora, theatre of Dionysos, and Tower of the Winds, among others.
Climbing the steps won’t be possible for wheelchair bound people, so they can make use of the elevator that is located on the northwest side of Acropolis. Summers are very hot in Athens, so ensure that you visit the Acropolis early in the morning when the heat is milder. Also, carry plenty of water, scarf, hat, and wear comfortable shoes.
National Archaeological Museum, Athens:
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is ranked as one of the top ten museums of the world and is the largest museum in Greece also it is one of the top things to do in Athens, Greece. Located in Patission Avenue that is close to Victoria Station, the museum displays some of the most impressive sculptures and antiquities. A visit to the museum will let you learn the historic, cultural, and artistic value of Greece. With more than 11,000 exhibits, it certainly is worth adding in your ‘must-visit’ list for Athens.
Although the museum is open on all days, the timings are different for various days. On Monday, the timings are 1pm to 8pm and on Tuesdays to Sundays, the timings are 8am to 8pm. The entrance ticket can be purchased right outside the museum for EUR 10. Visitors under the age of 18 and EU students can enter the museum for free of cost by showing appropriate identity cards. There are some special days like 6th March, 18th April, etc. when all visitors can enter the museum for free of cost.
Asking what to do in Athens, Greece after visiting some historical places? If you want to take some gifts back home for your loved ones then you should head straight to the Plaka market, which is located in the shadow of the Acropolis. You will certainly be fascinated by the amount of things that you can purchase from here. Walking down the Plaka lanes is picturesque as well as interesting. Some of the shops would be closed on Sundays so it is better to visit on a weekday when all the shops are open. Few of the local items that you could buy are leather products (shoes and bags), handmade jewelry, antiques, Greek sweets, wood carvings, and Greek extra virgin olive oil, among others.
As there are innumerable shops in the market, you would certainly need a couple of hours to explore the various things that are available for sale. There are some tourist shops too that sell postcards, keychains, etc. which can be a good souvenir to bring back home. If you like wearing Gold ornaments, then you can buy some from here for an affordable price as the labor is cheap in comparison to other cities. Moreover, there are several cafés and restaurants in the market where you could try some of the local delicacies.
Plaka market is within walking distance of many archaeological sites of Athens; including, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Acropolis, the Ancient and Roman Agoras, and many more. So, you can even consider booking a hotel for your stay that is in Plaka market. This would let you explore various areas of Athens points of interest without traveling much. However having best travel shoes is recommended. Some of the popular hotels in the area are Electra Palace, Athens Was Hotel, Hotel Central, Royal Olympic, and Hotel Grand Bretagne.
Aegina, Poros, And Hydra Islands:
In your itinerary to Athens, you should allot an entire day for cruise to these three fabulous Greek islands. Aegina, Poros, And Hydra Islands are worth exploring and your one day cruise would let you enjoy the beauty as well as make you have a relaxing day on the sea. Depending on the cruise that you choose, your first stoppage could be to the island of Poros, where you can shop and stroll for some time. Then, you will head to the island of Hydra where you can spend about 2 hours exploring its beautiful architecture and old traditional houses.
Your next stoppage would be Aegina island where you can visit the Temple of Aphaia (cost is usually not included in the cruise ticket) or can simply stroll in the main town. After spending an entire day, your cruise will head back to Athens. The cruise usually includes buffet lunch and Greek dance show + music. There are several travel companies that organize the one-day cruise. The approximate cost is EUR 110 per adult and EUR 65 for child between 5 – 12 years old. Children below the age of 4 years travel for free.
To have a relaxing evening, you should visit the Vouliagmeni Lake, which is a rare geological formation near the Vouliagmeni Beach. The rock walls are beautifully lit in the evenings and soft music makes the ambience romantic. It is a mineral spa, which is reported to have several healing properties for ailments like headaches, eczema, arthritis, dermatological diseases, and much more.
You can even avail the numerous facilities that are provided like changing rooms, all-day bar, showers, restaurant, and much more. There are beach chairs and umbrellas surrounding the lake where you could spend some time, or simply take a swim and be back for relishing the local cuisines. The local events that are held here are worth watching.
You can even book a hotel close to the lake so that you can spend plenty of time in this awesome area. This peaceful and serene place will surely make your day end in an amazing manner. The lake is open on all days and throughout the year. However, the timings are different for varied seasons. In summers, the timings are 6:30am to 8pm and in winters the timings are 8am to 5pm.
Things To Do In Athens, Greece:
Nightlife In Athens:
Once in Athens, you should spare your nights to enjoy the Athens nightlife, especially on a weekend. Some of the areas that you can explore midnight are St. Irene Square, which has innumerable restaurants that offer authentic Greek meals or head straight to a wine bar for chilling out with a Greek wine. The Dora Stratou Greek Theater is a perfect place to enjoy traditional Greek dance shows and music as it holds several events on Sunday nights.
There are about 90 outdoor movie venues where you can watch classic Greek movies or the latest Hollywood flick under the Mediterranean stars. The outdoor cinema venues are operative only in summers and if you are in Athens at that time then you should not miss this out!
Beaches In Athens, Greece:
Along the coast of Attica, there are several beaches and swimming spots that can cater every taste. Some of the beautiful beaches of Athens are only a short drive away, so you can explore many mini-paradises in a single day. Just grab your best travel backpack and start exploring Athens beaches. The quality of water is excellent and the sands are absolutely clean. This makes the beaches a bit crowded in weekends or holidays. So, if you are here for a week’s stay then it is better to head to the sea during the week. Traveling to various beaches in Athens Greece won’t be difficult as you can hire a taxi or use the tram and bus.
If you are ready to spend some bucks as an entrance fee for having a luxurious beach experience then you can consider visiting the Astir beach in Vouliagmeni. The entrance charges are EUR 18 on weekdays and EUR 28 on weekends per adult. You will be provided with innumerable amenities on the beach that would make it worth the price.
Edem beach in Athens is perfect for those who enjoy strolling in the sands as there is a long seafront promenade that can make you reach two smaller Athen beaches. To enjoy the fantastic view of the Temple of Poseidon while lying comfortably on the sun lounger, you should visit the Beach of Sounio. Crystal clear water, amazing views, and great seafood are some of the reasons for you to add this beach in your ‘go-to’ list.
Conveyance In Athens, Greece:
The easiest way to travel in Athens is by the Metro. You can take a Metro Line 3 ticket for EUR 10 to travel from the airport to Syntagma Station, which is the center of Athens. If you are on a week’s trip to Athens then you can purchase the return Metro ticket that would cost you EUR 18. The return ticket would be valid for seven days and you can take two trips to the airport.
Metro trains run every day from 6:30am to 11:30pm. If you are not reaching the airport in between these timings then you can take the express buses that are running 24 hours / 365 days. You will be able to catch the bus from the Arrivals hall in the airport. Tickets of the bus can either be purchased outside the arrivals hall or on the bus. The X95 bus number would cost EUR 6 to reach the center of the city.
Another option to travel in Athens from the airport is by hiring a taxi. You can get one from the taxi waiting area, which is located at Exit 3 of the Arrivals hall. If you are traveling between 5am to midnight, then the cost would be EUR 38 to reach the city center, and if you are traveling between midnight to 5am, then the cost will be EUR 54.
Once you have reached the main city, you can use tram, suburban railway, and electric trolley buses too for conveyance. If you are planning to use multiple modes of transport then it is preferable to purchase special tickets that can be used for all of them. For a 90-minute ride, you can buy the ticket that costs EUR 1.40 and a 5-day ticket costs EUR 9. Remember that this special ticket can only be used on urban section of suburban railway and does not cover all sections.
Shopping In Athens, Greece:
The markets of Athens are filled with innumerable varieties of stuff like spices, figurines, clothing, carpets, jewelry, vases, and art décors, among others. The central market of Athens Varvakios Agora is the best place to buy seafood and spices. You can even take back home some authentic Tzatziki mix or the thyme, chilly, and Greek herbs. The shopping area of central Athens is filled with several shops that sell products for every kind of budget. As the streets are narrow and thriving with tourists, the traffic has been closed completely for the entire shopping area. So, shoppers can walk in the area without worrying about vehicles and honking noises.
Ermou Street and Athinas Street are the finest areas to shop for variety of clothes and footwear. Close to Ermou Street is a popular Greek departmental store called Fokas. Even if you are not interested in buying anything from Fokas, yet you should visit it once as the store is in a beautiful ancient neo-classical building. If you want to buy some high boots then you should head straight to the Spiliopoulos shop that is located at the end of Ermou Street. Jeans, t-shirts, and other casual stuffs can be bought from the Athinas Street. While shopping for clothes and shoes in Agiou and Eolou Markou, remember to bargain a lot with the sellers.
Where To Eat In Athens?
Fried codfish (bakalairo), grilled meats, salads, and wine from the barrel are some of the popular delicacies of Saita Taverna. Located at Kydatheneon Street, Plaka Market, Athens; it is the best restaurant to visit for experiencing authentic Greek food.
Even known as Evgenia, it is a small restaurant with sitting arrangements in the front. It is the finest place to relish good home-style cooked Greek cuisines. Owned by a couple, they serve home-cooked food to their customers, which you should not miss by any chance!
Cafés Of Athens:
There are innumerable cafés in Athens that offer amazing drinks and snacks. Often the cafés in Greece are called as café bars as they are cafeteria in day and switch to bars in the evening. Some of the famous cafés are Balux in Glyfada, Due Cavalieri in Flisvos Marina, Skippers Yacht ‘n Roll Bar in Alimos Marina, Mana’s Kouzina at St. Irene Square, and Grande Bretagne Rooftop Bar in Syntagma Square. The national drink of Athens is ouzo and a glass of it can be tried out if you drink alcohol.
Close to the Central Market, Kilimataria offers authentic home-cooked delicacies. You should not miss there casseroled meat dishes as well as cheese and spinach pies. It is open every day from noon till 2am. The live music that they play makes the ambience beautiful.
Where To Stay In Athens?
Airotel Alexandros Hotel – Mostly recommended!:
It is a 4-star hotel, which is about 3km away from Syntagma Square and 5-minute walk from Athens Concert Hall. Reaching the hotel by tram would be the most appropriate option as it is a minute’s walk from the tram stop. Some of the amenities that you would get here are mini-fridge, free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee makers, professional staff, large and well-maintained rooms, complimentary breakfast, and room service among others. You can either book a regular room or suites that have whirlpool tubs and various other facilities.
Hotel Grande Bretagne:
To have a luxurious stay, you should book a room in the Grande Bretagne Hotel, located at Syntagma Square, Athens. It is a 5-star multi-awarded hotel that provides mesmerizing views of the legendary Acropolis and original Olympic Stadium among others. Everything is in close vicinity to the hotel as it is situated right in the heart of the city. Shopping complexes, museums, and tourist areas are within walking distance.
For travelers and backpackers on a budget, the Epidavros hotel would be an apt choice for them. It is located in the centre of Athens and is about 3km from Acropolis Museum and only 50m from Omonia metro station. Some of the facilities provided are free Wi-Fi, AC rooms with balcony, complimentary buffet breakfast, and 24-hour bar. Shopping complexes of Ermou are 1.5km away from the hotel, and it is close to other ancient sites of Athens. The staffs are very helpful and friendly.
Things To Keep In Mind While Traveling To Athens, Greece:
- If you have not yet booked your tickets to Athens, then I would suggest you to visit during Apokreas, which is the famous carnival of Athens. It is held in the end of winter season to highlight that spring is on its way. The locals of Greece as well as tourists are out on the roads to party, drink, eat, dance, and celebrate the festive season.
- Don’t plan your trip in the month of August as it is a summer holiday month for Greeks. Most of the shops will be closed for the entire month and you won’t be able to enjoy much.
- You can consider buying a city pass or city card so that you do not have to wait in long queues for buying entrance tickets for museums, historic sites and conveyance. Moreover, you can avail a discount too as the city pass is cheaper than buying separate tickets. The city card is apt for those travelers who have already acquired enough information by reading the Athens, Greece travel guide, and knows exactly where to go after landing at the Athens airport. There are various types of city passes available so research well on them and choose the best deal. Prices start at EUR 30 for an adult and EUR 15 for a child, depending on the areas that you are going to cover.
Precautions To Take In Athens, Greece:
Although Athens is an extremely safe place to travel for solo women backpackers as well as families, yet a few precautions could make your trip safer!
- Some of the areas are not well-lit so chances of pickpockets get easier during the night.
- Moreover, probability of pickpockets is high in the buses, metro, and subways too.
- Do not get around the city during strikes and demonstrations as it is better to stay away from all that.
- Most of the streets and steps to the Greek monuments in Athens are made up of marble, which can get slippery during the rains.
To conclude, your trip to Greece would be incomplete without visiting Athens. No matter what you are looking for, you will find it all in Athens! History, culture, food, shopping, and many more attractions would make your trip an enjoyable one. However, don’t forget to keep your travel guide to Athens handy so that you can explore all important destinations and do not miss out anything important.
If you also want to read my adventures and watch the travel video in Athens, Greece follow this article – Holidays in Athens, Greece