What to visit in Athens?
Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Heart of ancient Greece and the current capital of the country, Athens is a true jewel. From the Acropolis to the Panathenaeum Stadium, from the Agora to the temple of Hephaestheion, Athens's history and beauty are everywhere. The city continues to fascinate and remains an eldorado for history and archaeology enthusiasts. Cradle of great artists and philosophers of Antiquity, Athens played an essential role in the development of democracy. Come learn about this fascinating city with us. You will want to book a flight to Greece at the end of your reading!
Discover with us:
What not to miss?
The best sanctuary of ancient Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena, dominates the center of the modern city from the rocky crag known as the Acropolis. This unique masterpiece of ancient architecture combines different styles of classical art and influenced art and culture for centuries. It has become the universal symbol of the classical spirit and civilization. You can’t miss it! The tickets are 20€ during the high season and 10€ during winter. However, it’s free if you’re less than 25 years old and you live in a UE country.
The most emblematic building of all Greece, the Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos. This temple was made mid-5th-century but it is incredibly well preserved.
Did you know that its name means in Greek "apartment of the girls"?
Over the years, it has withstood wars, fires, earthquakes, explosions, and much more. However, it continues to be a symbol of the power and culture of the city of Athens.
The story behind Syntagma Square is that it’s also known as Constitution Square, because it’s where the Athenians rose against King Otto of Greece on 3 September 1843 to demand a constitution. It is in the heart of the city: point of passage for the tourists, center of the political and social life, meeting place of the Athenians, and seat of the popular demonstrations. Good to know: there is free wi-fi in this square.
What else to visit?
This stadium is the place where the first Olympic Games of our era took place in 1896. The first stadium that was built in this place was made of wood, in the year 330 B.C., to host sports competitions that took place during the Panathenaeums. Today it is possible to walk along the marble bleachers where the spectators used to stand centuries ago, to enter the athletics track to feel like an athlete of the past, and even to stand on
the podium to take a souvenir photo with the rings of the Olympic Games symbol. Count 3€ per person to go there. You don’t have to worry about their schedule: they are open every day!
The Roman Agora
The Roman Agora is one of the main gathering places of the city, where the central market was located. It’s situated in the charming district of Plaka. During its golden age, the Agora was a rectangular space of 100 square meters with various shops, a market, and public latrines. At present, only small parts of the columns of the patio and a small area that once corresponded to the public latrines are still preserved. Count 30€ for one adult and 15€ if you’re a student.
Tower of Winds
Did you know this marble clock tower is known as the first weather station in the world?
The tower looked like a modern laboratory, with an elaborate water clock inside and sundials on the outside walls. Don’t miss the eight-panel frieze with the representations of the eight wind gods oriented to the direction in which each of them was blowing.
Anecdote: Under Ottoman rule, Sufis used the Tower of the Winds as a place of worship; a use that would have dissuaded Lord Elgin from taking it from England.
With its complex architecture, elegant decorations, and privileged location on the acropolis of Athens, the Erechtheion is one of the most visited monuments in the capital.
The location of the Erechtheion is not random. It marks the place of the dispute between Poseidon and Athena to know who would be the protector of the city. During the dispute, Poseidon struck the ground with his trident. This mark is according to the legend still visible in the temple, in one of the annexes. According to mythology, Athena won the dispute and was appointed protector of the city. She also gave it its name. Count 13€ per person to visit this place full of history.
How to get there?
If you decide that your next travel destination is Athens, the fastest and easiest way is to arrive by plane. Take into account that the city has only one airport International Airport of Athens, about 33 kilometers away from the central district of Plaka.
The city center can be reached via metro line 2 red, which connects the station with Omonia Square, or via metro line 3 blue to reach Syntagma Square and Monastiraki. Both Plaka and Monastiraki are two lively centers, so no matter where you will stop, you can appreciate the charm of these two neighborhoods. Metro trains run every 30 minutes and are priced at EUR 10 each way. In addition to the metro, the bus also connects the airport with various destinations: the X95 bus is the most used to reach the city center. The bus ticket price is 6€ and runs 24/7.
Alternatively, you could choose to reach the city by ship, where the port of arrival is normally Patras, a city located 200 kilometers west of Athens. You could consider leaving from Italy, Croatia, and Albania by crossing the Ionian Sea and then continuing by train or from Turkey via the Aegean Sea. Another port is Pireaus located 10 km from the city and the X96 bus connects it with the airport.
Speaking of the train, the only areas from which you can travel to the capital is from Turkey, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Albania. The railway network connecting Greece is OSE. You can consider travel from other capitals, such as Sofia, but the duration of the trip is too long and the ticket is more expensive. This is the same concerning traveling by car, you can reach Athens from any of its land neighbors but it will take more.
When to get there?
Athens is a city with a very temperate and pleasant climate, so you will have no difficulty choosing the perfect time of year. Ideally, you should travel in the spring period, which only includes April and May, as March is usually characterized by lower temperatures. If you love warm weather and the sea at its best, you should choose to go in July and August, which are also the times when there are the most events in the capital.
Athens in some things is very expensive in others not so much. We would say that the city is somewhere in the middle depending on your preferences and your budget.
Considering the accommodation, spending the night in a hostel can cost 10-15 euros per night, a 3 stars hotel 61 euros per night that can rise nearby the center and a room in a luxurious hotel cost 150 euros per night and raising.
As for transportation, tickets are not so expensive. A single metro ticket costs € 0.80 and lasts 90 minutes, the one for the tram is 0.60 € while for the bus 0.45 €. there are also single tickets that can be used for whatever transport you take and cost 1 euro each and last 120 minutes.
Concerning the food, a meal in a simple restaurant not so expensive costs approximately 12 euros. While in a Mid-range Restaurant it costs 20-25 euros per person. In Upscale restaurants, a meal costs from 50-70 euros per person.
What to be aware of?
Even though Athens is a safe city, there are a few things to be aware of to have a pleasant trip. For example, we recommend you avoid going to areas like Omonoia, Metaxurgio, and Vathis square, after midnight.
Also, taxi drivers take sometimes advantage of tourists who don’t speak greek or don't know the city to charge them more.
On the busiest street in Athens, Ermou, be aware of your personal belongings because, like in every tourist city, there are pickpockets.
We advise you always bring cash with you since you can’t pay by card in some restaurants.
Finally, if you cross the road, even from a crosswalk, and you assume that they will stop for you to pass, they usually won’t. Be very careful when you cross the street!
Where to eat?
Apart from its impressive archaeological wealth, the Greek capital has much more to offer its visitors, starting with rich and varied Mediterranean cuisine. Its juicy vegetables, delicious meats, and tasty cheeses are just the beginning of a long list of succulent and varied dishes prepared in Greek style.
Our recommendation is Tzitzikas kai Mermigas for its vintage decoration, and the diversity and quality of the dishes offered. Their traditional creations are made of pure raw materials from the Greek countryside. A wide range of dishes will delight lovers of meat, seafood, and Mediterranean flavors. An excellent way to familiarize yourself with Greek flavors.
Our tip: Fava (split peas) with Cretan apaki and white truffle is a traditional mix that you should try!
Feedel is considered a gourmet "tavern" with bistro dishes and signature cocktails, all served in a modern and atmospheric space. It’s relaxed and you can enjoy nice background music. If you pass by, you have to order their excellent pancetta plate.
If you want to know more about the Greek gastronomic culture, don't miss our blog article on typical Greek foods and follow @thewalkingparrot to be always updated.
Athens and Epidaurus International Festival (May-October)
This event takes place in the Theatre of Herodes Atticus in 1955. Also called the Hellenic festival, it features classical music, modern and ancient theatre by staging ancient Greek dramas, jazz music, shows, dances, and visual arts.
Rockwave Festival (May-June)
This festival which has been held since 1996 hosts many international guests such as Metallica, Massive Attack, blur, and many others. Under the banner of rock and metal music, it is an event for those who like to spend their summer days with a musical background.
Other festivals: international jazz and blues festival (June), Festival di Vyronas (June), European Music Day (August), and Thessaloniki Film Festival (November).
We hope you enjoyed the article, please feel free to like and share it! Check out our latest article about Portugal on what to visit in Lisbon and Aveiro. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot for more adventures!