Athens Bucket List: 13 sites you can’t miss in Athens and that you need to put on your Athens Itinerary

September 15, 2017

13 Sites you Can’t Miss in Athens because then you’ll Cry… A Lot

This doesn’t happen to me often but I feel like words escape me when trying to describe Athens, Greece (Shocking I know because I never shut up in real life and on this blog. I mean look at the length of my posts. Geez). But Athens is an odd duck for sure, but not in a bad way. There is just a sharp contrast between the remnants of the past and the Athens of today.

But rather than pull out a thousand flowery adjectives from the thesaurus in my head, or on my phone which is probably more accurate, to describe all the sites you can’t miss in Athens, Greece, I’m gonna give it to you straight. Like total real talk so you know what to expect when visiting Athens.

This sums up exactly how I feel about visiting Athens, Greece. Shout out to excuse me are you Greek.

So Athens is kind of like my ex. No wait, I swear this won’t turn into Opera as divulge my hidden and deep rooted fear of intimacy. Just hear me out (and I also promise that I actually liked Athens, Greece and enjoyed all the Athens sightseeing I did). No, what I mean is that when I first got to know my ex, like Athens, he was awesome, super interesting, and very handsome. So from the outside, he looked like a total catch. And the same goes for Athens. On the surface, the ancient ruins and robust archeology museums that are a part of Athens tourism make it seem like the perfect place. Almost like a virtual utopia of adult awesomeness that manifests itself through the cornucopia of ruins that are on everyone’s, “What to do in Athens, Greece” list.

However, when you wade through the herds of stray cats and dogs that litter the streets of Athens, you kind of start to wonder if everything is really as perfect as it seems. And it was the same with that idiot I dated. Sure, he seemed all great, but then I figured out that not only did he have a bizarre foot fetish, but he was living with his wife too (He claimed he forgot to tell me about her). Now thank God Athens didn’t reveal anything quite so icky to me, just some graffiti (that has morphed into a stunning street art movement), lots of stray cats and dogs, and an assortment of pickpockets that you can find in any major city. But unlike that weird ass dude that I used to date, Athens has a lot to offer anyone visiting for the first, second or third time. So much that it can be kind of hard to figure out what to see and do. Well, not to worry fearless reader, that’s where I come in and create this hopefully helpful list of what to see in Athens, Greece.

1. Acropolis (This one is a no brainer. Clearly on your Athens, Greece points of interest list).

The Acropolis should be number one on your Athens itinerary.
Oh look, a strategically placed picture of the Berlin Wall. Kidding! Obviously this is the Acropolis.

Okay, so I don’t know if you are aware, but the Acropolis is kind of a big deal. Lol. Of course you’re aware of this because even if you know nothing else about Greece, you know about the Acropolis. It’s one of those architectural icons that everyone wants to see before they die (okay maybe not everyone but you know what I mean). Think the Great Wall of China, only not a wall and not in China. Second thought, that was a bad example. Let’s just say it’s really famous. But why should we care about sone ancient rocks that are just eroding away at the top of a hill? And why should the Acropolis be at the tippy top of your Athens itinerary?

So glad you asked you intrepid reader you. Because the reality is that in spite of the hordes of tourists who are pushing, snapping selfies, and shouting in an assortment of languages that would rival even the halls of the UN itself, the Acropolis still kicks ass and takes names, in a historic and rather intellectual way. Word. (Even the fact that there is no shade and that the entire Parthenon is basically a giant construction site, can’t stifle my affinity with these jaw dropping ruins. Just make sure you know how to rock the Acropolis before you go).
Somehow amidst all the tourists and distractions that try to ensnare your attention, the wonder and awe of the Acropolis shines right through and ushers you into an exotic and fascinating world of ancient architecture; for the bargain basement price of €20, (This is the price of an adult ticket. Children’s tickets are €10. See how I snuck the boring stuff you need to know in there? LoL). Just open your eyes up to the endless possibilities around you, and travel back in time, to a world of gladiators and warring city states that is almost as mysterious to us as the world of the paranormal.

Now why is the Acropolis so dope that it can do all of that? Well, probably because it’s arguably one of the most important ancient sites in the entire Western world. Crowned by the Parthenon, its marble monuments and sanctuaries exude a white glow that transforms into a caramel hue as the sun sinks beneath the horizon.

Put the Acropolis on your Athens sightseeing tour.
You can see why the Acropolis is a big deal.

Yet, there is one modern addition to this marvelous edifice of ages long gone, and that is (minus the assortment of scaffolding and cranes that are currently there) the large Greek flag at the far east end (Seriously, you can’t miss it. Its like the size of a blimp). This flag commemorates two boys who, in 1941 during Nazi occupation, actually climbed up to the Acropolis and removed the Nazi flag and replaced it with a Greek one (Not gonna lie, I legit got a little teary there. Where’s my hanky?). To commemorate their heroic deed this flag, and a brass plaque, have been created to eternally represent their bravery and courage in the face of adversity.

However, the damage done throughout years of foreign occupation has taken its toll on the majesty of this archaeological treasure. That coupled with pillaging, inept renovations, visitors’ footsteps, earthquakes, acid rain, aliens in flying saucers (kidding), and the 1687 explosion of the Parthenon by the Venetians has all irreversibly damaged this testament to human ingenuity and creativity. Yet, in spite of all this adversity, this architectural masterpiece still has the power to inspire awe and transcend the soul of anyone who sets foot upon this hill. So the short answer is, you better get your butt up here and see some of this epicness for yourself.

Getting There: Take the metro to the Acropoli station.

Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm (April – October) and open daily from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (November – March). The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.

Admission: Adult tickets are €20, Concession tickets are €10, and children are free

***If you are a history whore, I mean enthusiast like me then you may want to purchase a combined ticket that admits you into the Acropolis, as well as six other ancient sites within five days (mostly ruins).

***On the first Sunday of the month, from November to March, admission is free.

2. Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is one of the Athens sights you need to see.
Some of the artistic masterpieces that can be found in the Acropolis Museum. Kidding. Obviously this is a picture of me eating in the museum restaurant.

See, I told you the Acropolis was a BIG deal. I mean if it wasn’t then it wouldn’t have its very own museum (No need to thank me. I just try to be the best pseudo tour guide ever). Now when you first frolic into this place (I mean walk casually because frolicking would be so uncool. I mean, not like I did that or anything), you are struck by the modernity of a museum that displays so many relics from the ancient past.

I mean, just look down through the plexiglass floor and you can actually see the ruins of a once vibrant Athenian community (Epic shout out to whoever thought to include this in the building’s design). But it is this distinctive architectural style that separates this museum from the Acropolis itself, even though this building publicly displays all of the surviving treasures from the Acropolis that are still in Greek possession.

Now, while this museum doe shows some artifacts from the Archaic and Roman periods (now we’re sounding fancy. Just think one word, OLD), the primary focus of this museum is on the Acropolis (DUH. Hence the name. It’d be weird if the Acropolis museum showcased a bunch of dead turkeys) of the 5th century BC, which is considered by many to be the very pinnacle of Greek artistic achievement (Just think of this  museum as the runner up for homecoming queen because obviously the Acropolis got the crown. But definitely put both on your Athens sightseeing tour).

Before you scamper off into the plethora of displays in this museum, be sure to take a moment to admire the artifacts in the foyer gallery, with also has a kickass ascending glass floor that is meant to emulate the climb up the sacred hill of the Acropolis (As long as this doesn’t mean I’m a human sacrifice, I’m good). Here you’ll find an assortment of painted vases, votive offerings from the sanctuaries of the Gods, and even some recent finds like the two clay statues of Nike at the entrance.

Once you’ve had enough of the hordes of tourists bumping into you and clamoring to tic things off their “What to see in Athens Greece” list, mosey on up to the 1st-floor Archaic Gallery, a virtual labyrinth of ancient statues that were created as ceremonial offerings to the God Athena (If you get lost, just play Marco Polo until you find each other).

Okay so all jokes aside, this is the type of art that you will find in this museum. Pretty cool huh? Especially for people who had no 3-D printers.

Now I am not gonna lie I withdrew from the one art history class that I ever took so I don’t know much about art. However, you don’t need to be an art history major to know that these statues are pretty epic, with some pieces dating all the way back to the 6th-century (How does that even happen? No way will my gravestone be around. Actually, they probably won’t even have gravestones that far in the future. They’ll probably have an app where you plant virtual flowers on a virtual grave. I’ll be like a Tamagachi). Many of the statues are exquisite models of young women that are draped in an assortment of robes, with elaborate braids (that I could never do even with the help of a handy Youtube video) and carrying either a pomegranate, wreath or bird.

And while that is all fine and dandy, you’re really here for the Parthenon Gallery on the top floor, so if you’re short on time just head straight there.  Within this room lies a glass atrium that houses a 160m-long frieze (It’s so big, I probably couldn’t even run the entire length of it. Oh wait, I’m like Garfield when it comes to fitness. More lasagna please). The art here has been masterfully restored to its former glory and follows the layout of the museum building so you kind of feel like you are at eye level with the very top of the Parthenon. A totally surreal but super cool experience.  Sadly though, some of the frieze has been destroyed, so many portions are overtly white plaster replicas of the missing sections (Its pretty obvious which portions are recreations since nothing would be that white after like 8,000 years. Oh wait, except me because I never tan).

Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42, Greece

Getting There: Take the metro to the Acropoli station.

Hours: From April 1 – October 31, the museum is open Monday from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, and Fridays from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm. From November 1 – March 31, the museum is open Monday 0 Thursday from 9:00 am – 5:00pm, Friday from 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, and Saturday/Sunday from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm (Last admissions are 30 minutes before the museum closes).

Admission: General admission is  €5 but free or reduced price tickets are available if you qualify.

***Be sure to stop by the museum restaurant for great views and food that is actually a pretty decent value, at least as far as museum restaurants go anyway.

3. Ancient Agora

The Agora should be on your sightseeing in Athens, Greece list.
See, they’re still ballers even though the guy on the left has no head or appendages.

***Public Service Announcement: No joke, watch out for some crazy ass lady who runs around the Agora and starts spitting at people for no apparent reason (or maybe I was just lucky). She actually follows you down the streets and starts yelling that you are, “A bastard sun of a bitch.” But everyone else in Athen was lovely. Okay, now back to the show, I mean blog.

Okay, so I don’t speak ancient Greek, or modern Greek for that matter. So when I saw the word “Agora” I was like huh? Is that some sort of new age pick up line? Nope, apparently, the Agora was the commercial center of ancient Athens (Now I can finally win at Jeopardy). Here administrative, commercial, political and social buildings were all concentrated into a small but vibrant area, at the very heart of the community. I mean, such badass philosophers as Socrates came here to discuss their thoughts on life and educate the ignorant masses (I would so be a Socrates groupie. I’d swoon and be like, “Oh Socrates, educate me you knowledgable man you.”)

Today, the site is a haven of greenery and ancient ruins amidst the trash, graffiti, decaying buildings, and stray dogs and cats that roam this urban jungle. Take you time and stroll through the expansive grounds because there is a lot to take in. Marvel at an assortment of beautiful monuments, as well as the Temple of Hephaistos, a museum chock full of ancient art and the late-10th-century Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles (a total must see with its Byzantine style frescos and Islamic style decorations)Ugh, that description kind of makes it sound like a snooze, but I swear it was really fun just walking around and enjoying the wealth of history that this place has to offer.

Address: Adrianou, Athina 105 55, Greece

Getting There: Take the green line (line 1) to the Thissio Station.

Hours: In the winter, the museum is open daily from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm. In the summer, the museum is open daily from 8:00 am – 7:30 pm.

Admission: Full price tickets are €12 and reduced price tickets are €6.

4. The National Archaeological Museum

I don’t know much about this piece but I know how haunting it is and I love it.

While sightseeing in Athens, Greece, you kind of sort of have to visit this museum since well, it’s only one of the world’s most important museums. Why you may wonder (or at least I did since I had never heard of it before I visited Athens)? Well, this center of archaeology just happens to house one of the world’s finest collection of classical Greek antiquities. Now, that may not mean much on paper, but when you enter the museum and see the enormity of the building, the true weight of this statement will hit you.

But they need to have a stadium sized museum since this building houses over 11,000 items (I don’t think I’v ever had 11,000 of anything. Except maybe calories on Thanksgiving) that stretch from the Neolithic era (think caveman) all the way to the classical periods of Greek history. An exquisite display that reminds you just how ancient, and long lasting this civilization was, and still is.

Just don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll whirl through this museum in about an hour, because there is no way that will happen. I would devote at least a half a day to this museum since Greek treasures are just the start of this collection. On display here are also a series of items that are from Egypt too (from the Ptolemaic era but I have no idea what that means). So get your art swerve on and check out sculptures, pottery, jewelry, frescoes and artifacts galore (It feels like a mecca of ancient art).

What’s with the random meme? Well, first of all there is a bunch of boring but necessary info here, so why not meme it up? Secondly, I felt like creeper mode was activated because as soon as I walked into this museum, this guy started creeping’ on me hardcore. I guess because coffins that are filled with a bunch of old dead guys is super sexy. Duh!

***If you only have a few hours, I wouldn’t try to see the whole museum because you’ll go crazy rushing around. Instead I would focus on the highlights which include Antikythera mechanism, Nestor’s Cup, Mask of Agamemnon, Dipylon inscription, Poseidon of Cape Artemision, Antikythera Ephebe, Diadumenos, Marathon Boy, Lemnos stela, collection of Kouros and Kore (sculpture), Aphrodite of Cnidus, Pitsa panels, Daidala, Ninnion Tablet, Theseus Ring, Wall frescoes from Tiryns and Santorini, Capitoline Venus, Poseidon of Milos, Rhyton in the shape of a bull head, Jockey of Artemision, and Mycenean warrior vase. 

***To appreciate all that this museum has to offer would take several visits so be prepared for the enormity of this place. 

***You can purchase a joint ticket with the Byzantine & Christian Museum (and two others) for €15.

Address: 28is Oktovriou 44, Athina 106 82, Greece

Getting There: You can either get off at Viktoria metro station and walk ten minutes or you can catch trolleybus 2, 4, 5, 9 or 11 from outside St Denis Cathedral on Panepistimiou and get off at the Polytechnio stop.

Hours: Open daily on Mondays from 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm and Tuesday – Sunday from 8:00 am – 8:00  pm (April 1 – October 31). 

Admission: Full price tickets are €15 and reduced priced tickets are €5.

5. Odeon of Herodes Atticus

No big deal guys. My boo just built me a virtual stadium for me and 5,000 of my closest friends.

So this site is actually part of the Acropolis complex itself. To get here just take the path that leads west from the Stoa of Eumenes, or you can ask someone if you get perpetually lost like me. But this amphitheater is seriously huge so there is no way that you’ll miss it. Also make sure to peer down into the Odeon from above because not only is it a great Instagram shot (I’m all about the likes), but the vast open space of the amphitheater gives you an oddly intimate feeling, even though it seats like eh, 5,000 of your closest friends (Almost as big as my house. Kidding. I’m not a blog baller yet).

So why was this snazzy place built? Well, I’m elated to inform you that this complex was built in 161 AD by a wealthy man named Herodes Atticus. Apparently this amphitheater was created in memory of his late wife Regilla (OMG, so sweet right? I can barely get a guy to text me back let alone build me an amphitheater. Geez. Chivalry really is dead). Since then the site was fully restored in 1961 and even hosts a series of drama, music, or dance performances here, at the Athens and Epidaurus festival. This is only for summer visitors though since the amphitheater is outside and shocker, it gets hella cold in Athens in the winter.

Getting There: Take the metro to the Acropoli station.

Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm (April – October) and open daily from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (November – March). The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.

Admission: Adult tickets are €20, Concession tickets are €10, and children are free

 

6. Monastiraki Flea Market

I love art but no way would any of these make it home with me in one piece.

Another one of the many Athens, Greece attractions I recommend you make time for because well, its just a lot of fun. I mean, some of these people sell the craziest things. Sure, you have some of the more touristy stalls that sell generic souvenirs with such poetic phrases as, “Made in Greece”. But you also have an assortment of more authentic, old school stalls that sell things like birds and antique chairs. And while this area definitely has a distinctly touristic feel, this market is still worth exploring to hear the street performers singing, smell lamb being roasted on a spit, and to hear the vivacious citizens of Athens chatting away over a glass of wine and a kebab.

There are also a bunch of ruins scattered throughout the adjacent area, so you can check those out while perusing the stalls of endless “authentic” Greek souvenirs (Wow.I had no idea that Toms and YOLO t-shirts were authentically Greek. Who knew? LoL.)

Be aware that this area is known for pickpockets so keep an eye out for any creepers. I had one guy follow me and I finally lost him when I ducked into a jewelry stall that he would have looked super awkward in. I think he knew the jig was up and high tailed in out of there. So while strolling though the markets, just be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings.

Address: Ifestou, Athina 105 55, Greece

Getting There: Get off the metro at the Monastiraki station (blue line).

Hours: Open 24 hours a day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Also open Sundays from 8 am – 6 pm. Closed Saturdays and Thursdays.

 

7. Strofi

Athens has amazing restaurants.
Not Strofi but ambiance + delicious food = foodie heaven.

I love Greek food with my whole heart, and stomach. I mean what is not to love? Its fresh, tastes, delicious, and as a bonus, its pretty healthy, so you don’t feel like a total lard ass when you’re wearing your bathing suit. But where should you partake in authentic and amazing, Greek deliciousness? Well, for your stomach’s sake, I suggest heading on over to Strofi.

Be warned that this place is super popular (like celebrity popular) so book ahead for a rooftop, Parthenon view that is the stuff dreams are made of. Also be sure to admire this exquisitely refurbished, mid-war building, that has been serving patrons traditional Greek flavors since 1975.

Much of the food here consists of simple (but apparently delicious) grilled meats and fish. However, I don’t eat meat or fish, so I stuck with the bread, spicy cream cheese, grilled haloumi cheese with fresh tomato in an olive oil lemon sauce, and fried Feta cheese in phyllo dough with honey and sesame. Talk about making my tastebuds sing and my tummy do flips of delight. Just think Oliver Twist as I almost licked my plate and yearned to beg, “Please sir, I want some more.” Some epic flavors that perfectly match the elegant, white linen covered tables and high caliber service that makes you wonder why the rest of life can’t be this amazing.

***They do not have any vegetarian main dishes but they do have an assortment of hot and cold appetizers, breads, and salads that are all vegetarian friendly. So I swear, you will leave here feeling anything but hungry. Prices are generally between $42 and $48 so definitely a bit of a splurge.

***Another restaurant you should check out is The Art Foundation (TAF). This alternative bar and cafe is combined with an art gallery that hosts innovative, underground art exhibitions every month (sculpture, photography, painting, short plays and live concerts).The design of the restaurant is also interesting since the bar is outside in the courtyard of a rundown building, while the various exhibitions take place in the wooden rooms around the courtyard.

***I don’t drink but have heard that Galaxy Bar (10 Stadiou Street (in the arcade)) is a timeless establishment that offers a very atypical nightlife experience.  Tobacco-tinted walls, padded arm rails and amazing bartending all combine to create a night out that is anything but ordinary.

Address: Rovertou Galli,Athens,11742 25, Athina 117 42, Greece

Getting There: Get off the metro at the Acropoli station.

Hours: Open Thursday -Sunday from 12 pm – 1 am. Also open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12 pm – 12 am. Closed on Mondays.

8. Panathenaic Stadium (This is Sparta! Oh no wait, wrong movie and place. My bad)

You know what they say? Let the games begin.

Is this site one of the greatest Athens, Greece tourist attractions of all time? No. Is it a tid bit cheesy? You betcha (I mean they have an Olympic winner’s podium. Clearly here for shameless selfies)! But when you’re visiting the home of the 4th century BC, Panathenaic athletic contests, who cares? This is a part of history. So I suggest grabbing a free audio guide and walking in the immortal steps of some of the great athletes from the past. They are so great, that I know none of their names. LoL  (Plus, at the end of your tour, hike to the top of the stadium and you’ll get a wicked shot of the Acropolis). There are also some intricate, architectural details here, like the marble thrones in the bleachers that were designed to seat the members of the royal family (I might of sat here and felt like a total boss).

But in case you weren’t overly impressed that this place was basically the birthplace of the Olympics, this stadium also hosted badass Hadrian’s inauguration in AD 120 (Not sure who he is? Check out more about his kick ass arch below) where this baller had over a thousand wild animals sacrificed in the arena. Not my thing but you go Hadrian, and thank God I wasn’t there.

Eventually though, the stadium fell into disuse, like most buildings eventually do, and was later restored to its former glory by Georgios Averof, so that this facility could host the first modern Olympic Games. Thankfully, this replica is pretty faithful to the layout and design of the original. Its also pretty big too since this building can seat something like 70,000 spectators, in a U shape around the running track and field (Fun little factoid for you. The current stadium does not meet modern track and field distance requirements so this stadium could only be used for the archery events and the marathon finish in the 2004 games. Yup, I know. You mind was just blown).

***I suggest visiting in either the early morning or early evening since the stadium has little shade and get quite hot during the middle of the day.

Address: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35, Greece

Getting There: You can get off the metro at the ΣΤ.ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΜΟΥ Station.

Hours: Open March from 8:00  am – 7:00 pm from October through March and open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm from November through February (Closing hour is when the last ticket is sold).

Admission: General admission is €5 while the reduced admission ticket for students and visitors over 65 is €2.50. Admission is free for visitors with disabilities and children under 6.

9. Temple Olympian of Zeus

The Temple Olympian of Zeus + the Acropolis = Insta Awesome!

Another mildly interesting thing to do in Athens is explore the ruins of the Temple Olympian of Zeus. Not gonna though, there are not many placards here. And come to think of it, there really isn’t that much to do besides marvel at the enormity and overwhelming beauty of this temple. But thats kind of enough when you see 15 enormous Corinthian columns up close and personal (Originally there were 104 but only 15 remain, with one being blown down by some serious wind in 1852. You know what they say, only the strong survive). Plus, believe it or not, this is actually the largest temple in Greece. So obviously you have to visit since us Americans think bigger is always better (LoL). Also, it’s really easy to get here since not only can you see the temple from the Acropolis but it is literally, smack dab in the center of Athens (I actually found it while getting lost, trying to figure out where to stay in Athens, Greece.

 The temple was originally begun in the 6th century BC but was eventually abandoned due to none other than, you guessed it, lack of funds (See, even people back then had money problems so it’s not just me). And while many others tried to complete this project of awesomeness, the task was eventually left to none other than our good buddy, Hadrian, who finally finished the job in AD 131. Oh and did I mention that Hadrian was such a modest fellow that he actually built not only an enormous statue of Zeus but a gigantic one of himself as well. Oh Hadrian, you rascal you.

***INSTA ALERT! When you visit this temple, make sure you get an awesome shot of the Acropolis, with the ruins from the temple in the foreground. A Instagramable moment if I ever met one.

Address: Athens 105 57, Greece

Getting There: You can take the 057, 103, 108, 111, 155, 200, 208, 209, 227, 237, 856, A3, A4, B3, or B4 bus. Just tell the bus driver where you are going and they’ll be able to tell you when  to get off the bus.

Hours: Open in the winter from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm and open in the summer from 8:00 am – 5:30 pm.

Admission: General admission is €2 and free for children under 18.

The national gardens should be on your Athens bucket list.
The stunning natural beauty of the National Gardens.

10. National Gardens

While you’re here, and by that I mean in Athens and not on this blog, why not take a stroll through the National Gardens. No, they’re not the gardens at Versailles, but it’s a pleasant enough walk. There is also a coffee shop and a small animal exhibit that make this park a great place to escape the sun and marvel at some of the greenery that is lacking in the rest of ultra urbanized Athens.
This is also a great place to meet some local Greeks. I had a guy talking to me for fifteen minutes about the glory leaves that they had growing in the park. Apparently they were used to create the crowns of the victors in athletic competitions (Come to think of it, this guy was kind of weird. Maybe this isn’t a selling point…).

Address: Amalias 1, Αμαλίας 1, Athina 105 57, Greece

Getting There: You can get off the metro at the ΣΤ.ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΜΟΥ Station.

Hours: Open daily from 6 am – 7:30 pm.

11. Parliament and the Changing of the Guard

Like with most good things, this one was a total accident. I just happened across the Changing of the Guard as I was walking past the parliament building. I saw a huge crowd gathered (I knew they were tourists from the backpacks, sneakers, and ultra zoom camera lenses at the ready) and being human and susceptible to the mob mentality, I decided that I just HAD to see what all the fuss was about.

Well, when I saw the guards, standing there at the ready, I put two and two together and actually wanted to leave. I mean, I have seen a bunch of Changing of the Guard ceremonies and they are all pretty much the same. You basically just stand there, with your feet getting stepped on, and watch as guards march up and replace the old ones, albeit in a fancy way but that’s the basic gist of it. Oh and they usually wear traditional garb of some sort to make it a little extra special.

Changing of the guard in Athens, Greece.
Probably one of the coolest changing of the guards ceremonies that I have ever seen.

But OMG, there was nothing standard about this ceremony and I am so glad that I decided to stay anyway. Not only were their outfits AMAZING (The pom pom shoes were my favorite part. Do you think anyone would say anything if I wore them on the reg? Kidding), but they didn’t just stand there and march. Instead, they did this elaborate dance like sequence that put the River Dancers to shame (Okay. That was an exaggeration but it wasn’t standard. That’s what I wanted to say). There was a lot of leg lifting and foot swiping along the ground. I swear, it was much cooler than it sounds and is one of the many totally fun things to do in Athens, Greece.

Getting There: Get off the metro at the Syntagma station.

Hours: The changing of the guards happens every hour on the hour. However, if you want to see the official ceremony with the official costumes then arrive on Sunday morning at 11 am.

12. Hadrian’s (Hey Adrian’s) Arch

So I saw this and kind of recognized the name but had no idea what this site was actually about. Well, once I saw this impressive arch and actually read the plaque, I learned that the Roman emperor Hadrian had an affinity with both Athens and classical architecture. That’s why he fritted his money away by embellishing the city with a series of monuments in the style of classical architecture.
But thank God he did that because now we get to marvel at some of these monuments today, like Hadrian’s Arch (So what if the ancients starved. Clearly my happiness is way more important than their lives. JK). This specific gate was created to delineate where the ancient city ended and the modern, Roman City began (the more you know). If you want to check out what good old Hadrian was up to, rock out at this wicked awesome (totally kidding with the wordage but it is cool) arch that is located directly across from the Temple of Zeus. Seriously, its pretty hard to miss.

Address: Leoforos Vasilisis Amalias, Athina 105 57, Greece

Getting There: You can get off the metro at the ΣΤ.ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΜΟΥ Station.

13. Head to Plaka for some wicked street art (Seriously one of the best places in Athens)

The world could always use more love.

Not gonna lie, some parts of Athens are pretty gross. There are stray dogs and cats everywhere, trash a plenty, graffiti covering basically everything, and, oh yeah, it smells like pee. But Plaka is a picturesque neighborhood that conjures up the fairy tale notions of Greece that I had from movies like Mamma Mia (Yup, I went there) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Actually, that movie made me sort of glad I didn’t have a Greek family, but never mind that.

This neighborhood is well kept, with quant alley ways, nestled upon a hill, that weave in and out of a multitude of ruins. Along these alleys, flowers are strewn across a series of bold, blue doors that break up an otherwise, never ending series of romantic, white washed buildings. Meandering through these corridors transports you into a fantastical world where the problems of today become nothing but a distant memory, A feeling that is enhanced by the amazing coffee shops and restaurants that are perched along the slopes of the Acropolis. Be sure to stop for some Baklava and chase it with a cappuccino ( I mean, you’ll be hungry and thirsty after all that walking. You need to fuel up! Click here to find some of the bets places to eat in Plaka!).

Also keep an eye out for the handy work of some over zealous, local graffiti artists, who thought that the buildings of Plaka were a tad plain and decided to jazz things up a bit with some vibrant street art that is a blast to explore (Especially eyes. Everywhere I looked there were eyes. Maybe the evil eye. Muhaha).

***This neighborhood is adjacent to the Acropolis and leads right into Monastiraki flea market. So if you are coming from the Acropoli metro station, walk straight towards the Acropolis and stay to the right of the hill. If you hit Monastiraki station then you know you have gone too far.

***For a more authentic Greek experience, check out Plaka’s underground music restaurant, Apanemia. A place that started the Greek alternative music scene in the 70s and that has retained much of the same style and atmosphere.

Visit Athens Like a Local (If you want to get away from the tourist places in Athens, check these sites out)

Outdoor Cinemas – A tradition that dates back many years since sharing is a very Greek tradition. Outdoor cinemas generally open in either April or May and close by September or October, depending on the weather. Typically films shown are either older releases or classics.

Vicious Cycles Athens – In this city that is not super bike friendly, riders are now reclaiming the roads with the help of stores like this small bike shop where you can grab a rental and add a little adrenaline to your stay in Athens.

Kasseta Record Shop (5 Sofokleous Street) – Hidden from the hustle and bustle of Athens, this enchanting record store has a ton of music that is easy to find. There is a cute design aesthetic that makes this store a fun and quirky place to hang out.

So this is that awkward moment (told ya I was socially awkward) in the blog post where the post has concluded, but I still don’t want it to end yet because it feels like everything has finished way too abruptly. So while I have nothing more to say (first time ever), I keep typing because it has been engrained in me that every piece of writing needs some sort of conclusion to neatly and tidily wrap everything up. So here is my conclusion, you need to visit Athens and Greece in general. Boom. I bet your mind was just blown.

***Ready to book your trip to Athens, Greece? Then click below to book some of the best hotels in town.

 

#Athens #Greece is a vibrant, historic #city that has a ton of things to see and do while #traveling on #vacation. Check out this pin to help you plan your Athens Greece #itinerary and #map out what you will put on your Athens bucket list.
#Athens #Greece is a vibrant, historic #city that has a ton of things to see and do while #traveling on #vacation. Check out this pin to help you plan your Athens Greece #itinerary and #map out what you will put on your Athens bucket list.

 

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girlwiththepassport

Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.

https://www.instagram.com/girlwitthepassport/
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9 Comments

  • Maxine 2 months ago

    Lol loved this read! I’m a history whore and I loved Athens so much! I just cannot find words for all the history and beautiful ruins. Great post 🙂

  • Pete 2 months ago

    I was in Athens for a day or so last month, and I did some of this stuff. And a lot of the rest I’d done on previous visits. Yes, Athens can be a bit seedy and smelly and so on, but I love being there. The Greeks are friendly and they do great food.

    Seeing the municipal prison in the Agora where Socrates (probably) died was a special moment for me. I’m a total Plato nut, and he described Socrates’ death very movingly in one of his dialogues. But it was good to get out of the sun into the recreated Stoa with all the statue fragments and the tiny gift shop.

    So much to see in the Acropolis Museum. Best way is to go straight to the top floor and work your way down. The museum is brilliant, set to the exact proportions and orientation as the Parthenon. But there’s so much to take in that if you start at the bottom, you’ll be tuckered out before reaching the good stuff on the top!

    Athens is a place I’ll go back to again and again. Thanks for the entertaining (as ever) guide.

  • Ketki 2 months ago

    I love this comprehensive list. Definitely saving it for whenever i visit. Also, the memes – super cute to add them in the post and give a different lookout.

  • Joanna 2 months ago

    I love how you compared Athens with your ex, haha! Also ,you did write a really long post but your sense of humor kept me reading till the end. 🙂 I would love to visit Greece one day because when I was a kid I was fascinated by the Legends of Olympus and I can still imagine that Zeus is hiding somewhere there, among the ruins, chasing another girl while his wife Hera is fuming. 😀

  • Nifty 2 months ago

    Eugh! This would be a dream come true for me. I learned all about classical civilisation when my school kicked me out of Latin class – the buildings/structures are just spectacular, and their rules seemed simple enough. So cool!! Thanks for sharing!

  • This Big Wild World 2 months ago

    Aw, you’re right, I’m ready to book a trip back to Athens! My mum is there now – will share this with her so she can hit them all before she leaves!

  • Susanna 2 months ago

    Hahah funny, we feel almost completely opposite about Athens. I actually found some of the touristy stuff on to be a bit meh… “Like Oh another statue that missing every single body part, except for its nose. Oh a nose? Cool.” “Oh a flat field where a building used to be, cool.” Hahah don’t get me wrong, I LOVE history, and while it’s pretty cool to see Athens a place I’ve read so much about, I actually like the charm of the actual city better than I did wandering the ruins. So, for me, it was like the ex that I wasn’t so sure about at first, realized that deep inside what made him, him, he was really beautiful, so I took off running. 🙂 Amazing list of all the things to see in Athens accompanied by your never waning humor. Thanks!

  • Amy Poulton - Page Traveller 2 months ago

    Oh wow, I’m so desperate to visit Athens! These places are all on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing and giving me an overdose of wanderlust!

  • C-Ludik 2 months ago

    I didn’t really know what to expect of Athens before reading your post. As I am a history geek, I would probably devour the many temples, historic stadium, and cultural relics… All places where ancient civilizations thrived are on my travel list 🙂 Athens seems saturated with so much cultural richness and charm that the city itself feels like a living museum !

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