We absolutely loved our visit to Greece for our honeymoon and I cannot wait to go back and see more of the country including the Greek Islands. All of the locals who we interacted with in Greece were so friendly and happy. I actually was surprised knowing that Greece has recently had some financial and economic issues, but everyone just seemed so cheerful and upbeat. Everyone including our tour guides, taxi drivers, and restaurant staff were all great and chatty which made us feel very welcome as tourists.
Unique to Athens, Greece:
- Acropolis (Parthenon, Theatre of Dionysus, Erechtheion)
- Other Archaeological Sites (Kerameikos, Agora of Athens, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Zeus,
- Plaka Neighborhood
- Centrally Located for Day Trips (Temple of Poseidon, Delphi, Meteora, Islands)
Visit the Acropolis – The Acropolis should be your highest priority when visiting Athens. There’s no need for a tour to visit the Acropolis in Athens, unless you just want to listen to someone talk. First, the Acropolis is easy to find. It’s basically the tallest thing around and can be seen from anywhere in central Athens. To enter the site, simply walk all the way around to the west side of the Acropolis, follow the sidewalk up the hill, and buy a ticket from the ticket stand. While at the Acropolis, there are three main structures to visit and take pictures of: the Parthenon which is a Temple to Athena, the Erechtheion, and the Theatre of Dionysus. If you are traveling with an individual who has difficulty walking or is in a wheelchair, the sites are mostly accessible, but it’s not going to be easy. There are a number of steps around and the overall walking surface is quite uneven. At a minimum, take a strong individual or two to help maneuver over uneven surfaces. Even healthy individuals should expect to get their exercise while walking around the sites.
Visit other Archaeological Sites: No one will ever be able to explain these sites like real archaeologists, but I found this website really helpful when planning our trip: Archaelogy-Travel.com.
- Aeropagus Hill – When you leave the Acropolis through the main entrance, there’s a hill on the right hand side. It doesn’t cost anything to climb to the top and you have a great view of the City of Athens and the Agora including the Temple of Hephaestus.
- Kerameikos – Ruins of a cemetery and a town. This site is like a big open space you can wander through. It was particularly nice when we visited in April because the fields were covered with red poppies. Also includes a really nice museum with ancient Greek sculptures and a public restroom.
- Ancient Agora of Athens – Includes the Temple of Hephaestus, and the Agora which means public meeting space of market. The Agora is a huge two-story building full of sculptures and models of the Archaeological sites in Greece depicting the changes over time as the civilization grew.
- Hadrian’s Library – Site of a huge former library that is pretty much in ruins now except for one side. This building can largely be seen from the street.
- Roman Agora – A small hexagonal shaped building surrounded by ruins of columns. This building can largely be seen from the street.
- Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Zeus – This building can largely be seen from the street. (Not Pictured in this Blog).
- Aristotle’s Lyceum – Remains of Aristotle’s former school, mostly ruins. We didn’t visit this site.
Visit the Acropolis Museum – We had some time on our last day in Athens and visited the Museum. If you have time, I highly recommend it although they don’t let you take any pictures. It’s full of sculptures from the ancient temples and has a couple different versions of the frieze from the top parts of the Acropolis which we learned actually was changed over time.
Stroll through Plaka – Plaka is a neighborhood in Athens to the north/northeast of the Acropolis. It’s full of restaurants along the stairs and has another streek lined with souvenir shops.
Take a Day Trip:
- 3 Island Tour – If you have the time, please do yourself a favor and schedule an extra day in Athens to take a day trip to the Islands! It was just a taste of the Greek Islands, but we loved this cruise. The cruise picks you up from your hotel, visits three islands: Hydra, Poros, and Egina, and serves lunch. It’s a great day! Click here for a full post just about this day trip!
- Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion – This tour only takes a half day from Athens. The temple which is on a cape surrounded by water on three sides is really lovely.
- Other Day Trips – Athens is a great central location to go on our day-trips around Greece. We used it as a base to go on a 2-day trip to Delphi and Meteora. Delphi which is situated up on the hillsides is really pretty, especially in the spring with the poppies in bloom. Meteora is also a really interesting site with the monasteries perched on top of the rocks. It’s actually a UN World Heritage site which is why we visited it. But I want to warn travelers, that it’s a long bus ride to get there. Tour companies sell these trips in 2, 3, or even 4 day combinations with other stops if you have the time or are interested.
You can book these exact daytrips by clicking on the logo below:
Note: We are an affiliate of this vendor, but only recommend tours that we love!
Next time I visit Athens, Greece:
- Visit the National Archaeological Museum
- Go to lunch at Gyristroula again, we loved that place!
- Take a side-trip to the Greek Islands
Take a taxi from the Airport (from the airport to downtown it was roughly $35 Euros). To find the taxi stand, it is to the left when you exit the airport. You will see taxis lined up along the curb to the right but they are not picking people up. You should stay on the curb closest to the airport and walk to the left until you find the taxi queue.
Once to you get to central Athens, walking is the quickest and easiest way to get around. The streets are very narrow and so having a car is more of a hassle than it’s worth.
Central Athens also has a small tourist train and a Subway system but we never actually looked into using either. Everything was within a short walking distance for us.
Electra Palace Athens – We stayed at the Electra Palace Athens to start off our trip. It’s a 5-star hotel with a great location right in the middle of Plaka, an easy walk to the Plaka Stairs where you can find dinner and also to the main shopping street where you can find souvenirs for your family and friends. Our reservation at the Electra Palace came with a breakfast buffet which was really nice. My only complaint about the Electra Palace would be the price tag. It’s pretty expensive.
Hera Hotel – The Hera Hotel is another hotel with a great location. It’s just to the southeast of the Acropolis and really close to the Acropolis Museum and to our surprise it also had a great view of the Acropolis but from another angle. We stayed there at the end of our trip to try another hotel and save some money and it was a great decision. The Hera Hotel is a 4-star hotel and it’s really a deal. We thought it was very comparable to the Electra Palace, although it’s got a pretty small room. But price-wise, it was less than half the cost, so it was worth it! I will say that their breakfast buffet was not worth the extra cost. Save your Euros and hit up the bakery that’s two blocks down and grab a pastry to eat while you walk around the city.
Restaurants/ Meals & Drinks:
Balcony Restaurant – The Hera Hotel staff recommended this restaurant which was across the street and we were not disappointed. Brian loved their steak skewers and the dining area on the rooftop looking at the Acropolis was pretty nice too.
Electra Roof Garden – The fanciest dinner that we had in Athens. Depending on how busy they are, you might need reservations, we had them before we left on our trip. This restaurant serves a pretty fancy meal and the view of the Acropolis is amazing. Restaurant Review.
Gyristroula – Gyristroula was our favorite meal when we were in Athens. It was also the most inexpensive which was awesome! I love when that happens. We went on Easter Sunday and had a lunch of Greek Salad, Pitas, Gyros, and French Fries with Baklava for dessert. Restaurant Review.
Peacock Roof Garden at the Hera Hotel – Okay, we didn’t actually eat at this restaurant, but on our last night in Athens, we went there and just ordered dessert. The Greek donuts which were covered in honey and powdered sugar were awesome! And their view is pretty sweet too.
Tips/ Things to Know:
- I think every person we met in Greece spoke English and all of the road signs were also in both English and Greek so all of my concerns regarding not being able to understand the Greek Language and alphabet were not needed. It’s very easy to find your way around and very easy to know what you are ordering at restaurants.
- Wear your walking shoes and also be aware that sidewalks and areas around the Acropolis can be uneven.
My Time Spent in Athens:
- 5 nights in April 2017, at the Electra Palace Hotel and the Hera Hotel