Being one of the great icons of Western civilisation, mighty Athens has put its stamp on the European past. The capital of Greece was able to preserve its historical buildings, which makes history magically come alive when you wander through the ancient streets. Athens is the perfect destination for a city trip or to serve as starting point of an island hopping trip. The city ceased to surprise me in every way possible and I would go back in a heartbeat! Read along to see what Athens has to offer and start planning your trip to this Aegean pearl.
Morning hike to the Acropolis// Standing mighty above Athens, the Parthenon is a true highlight. Ancient history has never felt so real then when you walk along the enormous pillars of the Parthenon. Fun fact: before we visited Athens, I had no idea that “Acropolis” wasn’t the name of the building (which is Parthenon as you might know by now), but it’s actually the name of the mountain on which the Parthenon is build! Oh traveling teaches you so many new things. Go as early as possible to avoid the crowds, even in low season. Some three million visitors come here yearly, but it’s a must.
See history at first hand// With the culture pass you can see Athens 7 major historical sites including the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Roman Agora. Our favourite site – besides the Parthenon – was the Ancient Agora. The big part of the Ancient Agora was reconstructed which gives you a pretty good insight of what the Agora must have looked like in its glory period. If you want to immerse yourself in Greek history this is the ticket you’ll need. The special ticket package costs €30 and is valid for 5 days so you have plenty of time to visit them all.
Rooftop cocktail delight// A for Athens or nearby 360° offer creative cocktails with the best views in town. You will be mesmerised by the Acropolis bathing in the moonlight (and a few spots 😉 ) while sipping on a fancy drink. Sometimes, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Climb Mount Lycabettus// The more adventurous should head here to enjoy a stunning sunset. The church that greets you on top of the summit, 277 meter above sea level, provides a perfect spot from where to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view over the bustling city below and the Aegean Sea. You’ll need 20 minutes to reach the summit, which will open your eye on how big – really big – Athens actually is. Wave to the Acropolis on the other side of town.
Eat your way through Athens//Athens has evolved tremendously in the last years. You can find everything from high class to street food just mere steps away from each other. We organised an impromptu food tour when we noticed how many cute, little eateries where scattered along the Plaka area. We ordered one plate and drinks at each place, which enabled us to try a lot of new places in a short time and within our budget. BONUS! Below, you can find the restaurants we tested and approved during our stay.
Chill out at the National Gardens// Get away from Athens’s fumes and enjoy a coffee in the National Gardens. This shaded oasis comes completely with peacocks, deer, lots of turtles (sitting on op of each other!!) and chilled Athenians. The park used to be a private garden of the Greek kings and their colourful history still provides a great atmosphere.
Shop at the Monastiraki Flea Market// A flea market where you will be able to find bargains, overprices items and pure junk, the market also contains a number of stationary antique shops. Get here early on a Sunday, the best market day, to bypass the worst crowd. Old Greek men sell fresh strawberries and donuts for €1, which are the perfect snack while strolling through the market.
Buy local at So OLIVE!//This well curated shop in the Plaka district sells everything here is made of – you guessed it – olives. We bought some very good smelling moisturizer here. The shop lady is very kind and eager to help without it ever getting uncomfortable. Good place to buy original souvenirs or to treat yourself.
Sushi at Koi// Good sushi that’s quite cheap at the same time? It’s possible and you can find it at Koi Sushi Bar. This low budget sushi bar was the first of its kind in Athens and is located in the popular Plaka area. We went for dinner around 10 pm and almost all the tables were still occupied. It’s save to say locals and tourist alike flock to this place to enjoy some delicious sushi without breaking the bank. You can also order takeaway at the opposite side of the street.
Burrito’s at Etnico// Basic Mexican burrito’s with tender minced meat that vanishes on your tongue. This is exactly what you can expect at Etnico. Prices are between €3 and €5 so you can order a second on if you like it 🙂
Jacket Potato at Kafti Patata// The biggest food surprise of our visit to Athens! Potatoes might not be the sexiest food but the jacket potatoes at Kafti Patata will make you change your mind. The stuffing choices might appear to be quite exotic but these people now what they’re doing. It’s a true revelation for your taste buts and comes at the very reasonable price of around €5. It’s said you must try something new each day, so why not make it a jacket potato for today?
Pizza for two at School Pizza Bar// Our last food stop in Athens was School Pizza Bar. This restaurant has a school theme décor and some might fine pizzas. We were already quite full by this stage, so luckily we checked out the pizza sizes at the table next to us. The pizzas were enormous! Even if you didn’t eat much before, one pizza is easily enough for two. On the menu you can find classic pizzas or pizzas with more advanced taste options like fresh fruit or white sauce. The outdoor terrace is perfect for a date night for two or a group dinner.