I recently took a family trip to Athens, Greece where we spent five days and four nights in the city. We had an abundance of time to get to know the surrounding area and soon enough, I was able to orient us without looking at a map. After all, there are landmarks on almost every corner!
I came to know and love the city that is Athens– it is an incredible place, especially for someone who enjoys history and Greek mythology as much as I do. The people are so kind, and there’s always something to see or do! Here are just a few ‘do’ and ‘do not’ tips for visiting the wonderful capital of Greece.
DO: Buy a unified ticket.
A unified ticket grants access to multiple monuments over the span of five (5) days! It costs €30 (or €15 for students, seniors, and other select groups), which is definitely affordable if you plan on taking your time in Athens and enjoying all of the following sites:
- Acropolis (and slopes)
- Ancient Agora (and the Museum of the Stoa of Attalos)
- Roman Agora
- The Library of Hadrian
- Kerameikos (and the museum in the site)
- Lykeion of Aristotle
Unified tickets are available for purchase at any of the above listed monuments.
DON’T: Try to cram all of the historical sites in to one day.
There is so much history and backstory to every monument, temple, and agora in Athens, that you would be doing yourself a disservice by trying to fit all of them in to one day! Take your time and split the city up by areas so that you can fully enjoy all of the historical significance, markets, food, and other such experiences that Athens has to offer.
Maps can often times be deceiving. The monuments are right next to each other on a map of Athens, but the walking routes to all of the monuments make them seem much more spread out. Many of the monuments are in the same area, so you can (and should!) cluster them accordingly.
For example, the Acropolis, its slopes and its museum will take up a huge chunk of your time, but after you’re done you can walk to Hadrian’s Arch and the Olympieion, which are located right next to each other. Also, the Ancient Agora is right behind the Roman Agora, which is adjacent to Hadrian’s Library. Do you see what I’m getting at? Plan smartly, and you’ll have a much easier time experiencing all that is Athens!
DO: Take a day trip from Athens!
The Ancient Greek empire was expansive, which means there are some incredible sights outside of the city bounds! If you have the time to, I highly recommend taking a day trip to see a nearby site such as the Temple of Apollo in Delphi or the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounio (pictured.) Some are more affordable than others, but they all offer you a more unique experience than the typical traveller’s Athens trip.
DON’T: Call a cab from your hostel/hotel.
This tip is critical, especially if you’re traveling on a budget! Each hotel will offer you a fixed rate for transportation to any area of Athens, but the actual fare would probably be several euros cheaper. The hotels receive commission on every ride they secure for taxi drivers, so you’re better off getting your own ride!
Save your money by picking a cab up from any square in Athens. While most of the sights can be seen just by walking the city, the airport is a good distance away! If you’re not keen on taking public transport, a taxi from a square is the way to go.
Also, it’s always a good habit to double-check that your meter is at €0 before you get in!
DO: Indulge your inner foodie.
The street food is renowned and there are restaurants lining every corner of every square. What better place to indulge in authentic Greek food such as souvlaki and falafel than in Greece, itself?
By the end of our two week trip, we felt as though we had exhausted our options, so we branched out into other types of culinary experiences.
Our personal favorites included a Thai food restaurant called Budoo, which is near Ermou, a major shopping street. They had great food as well as a full bar! They were also very attentive and recommended dishes for us to try.
I also enjoyed the food at Indian Chef, which is right down the road from Hadrian’s Arch. The staff there are super friendly and accommodating, and everything we ordered was tasty and full of flavor.
What was your favorite thing about Athens?