The ancient city of Athens is a marvel of human ingenuity that has withstood the test of time.
Athens is a premier destination for anyone looking to experience the wonders of the old world. But even though it’s a city eternally tied to the history of the region, Athens is much more than just a collection of astounding pillars and temples.
Thanks to a vibrant and eclectic modern city that has risen around the imprints of the ancients, Athens is a flourishing urban centre filled with terrific cuisine, lively neighbourhoods and exciting activities that continue to inspire visitors nearly as much as the ruins the city is famous for.
What you don’t want to miss:
Sitting atop the Acropolis high above the city, the Parthenon is simply one of the most famous structures in world history. It is a stunning combination of white marble and limestone that stands as a testament to the height of Athenian prestige. Standing nearly 14 metres tall at its apex, the Parthenon remains the quintessential must-see of Athens. It is also the perfect launching point to check out the extent of the Acropolis and Ancient Agora. A former marketplace and cultural hub for the Athenians, the Agora is widely considered to be the literal birthplace of western democracy and is punctuated by the Temple of Hephaistos, a 5th century B.C. masterpiece that is also in the style of the Parthenon. For those who simply can’t get enough of the archaeological wonders, a trip to both the Erechtheum (Erechtheion) and Temple of Olympian Zeus will provide even more to gawk at while time-traveling back to the time of the ancient Greeks.
While the ancient world’s presence is nearly inescapable, tucked just underneath the Acropolis is the Plaka District. Here, visitors can walk beneath green leaf canopies to visit the authentic restaurants, cafes and boutique shops that the area is known for. In addition to the ancient temples, Athens also has several spectacular medieval churches, including the Church of the Holy Apostles at the edge of the Agora and the Byzantine era Panaghia Kapnikarea. For the best views of the city, an afternoon hike to the top of Mount Lycabettus will give you a panoramic overview of Athens. A scenic funicular ride (cable car) is also available for less adventurous visitors.
Other attractions worth looking into: Panathenaic Stadium, Athens Central Market, New Acropolis Museum, Syntagma Square, National Archeological Museum, Anafiotika District, Byzantine Museum, Roman Agora.
Accommodation and getting around:
Similar to Rome, staying near the essential attractions of Athens can free up a lot of time and let you get around mostly by foot. This is why finding accommodation in either the Plaka or Anafiotika districts can be the way to go. Both areas will give you direct access to nearly all the Athenian icons and offer a wide variety of different options, including luxury hotels, family-run boutiques, and several budget hotels with a price tag to satisfy value conscious travellers.
For those looking to jump into Athens’ nightlife, the Gazi neighbourhood can help you find the pulse of the city as well as some of the hottest local bars and restaurants. Other areas worth considering, particularly during the busiest times of the year, include Psiri and Monostraki, where you will enjoy short trips to the Acropolis and most major attractions. Although there are plenty of hotel options in Omonia, it has a reputation for being a bit of a rough neighbourhood and many advise to use caution thanks to the pickpockets and scams that you’re likely to encounter. While taxis can be an efficient way to get around, walking typically is the recommended way for tourists to get around Athens instead of the subway, which also can bring an increased likelihood of pickpockets looking for tourists.
When to go:
One of the best times to get the most out of a trip to Athens is between April and June, as the cooler temperatures and diminished crowds can create the perfect formula for sightseeing.
Anyone hoping to really avoid crowds can also check out Athens during the Greek Orthodox Easter week, as the streets tend to be considerably quieter than other times of the year. Meanwhile, autumn can also be a terrific time to see Athens, as most outdoor cafes and restaurants are still open and you won’t have the same crowds as you will have during the busiest times of the year. The only season to really try to avoid, if possible, is the summer, as temperatures around 37 (°C) or 38 (°C) can make for exhausting afternoons trying to fight the crowds and heat of peak tourist season. With limited snowfall, winter can also be a decent option, particularly for bargain hunters who enjoy some crisper weather and extra breathing room.
Athens is a great destination with so much to see, do and experience. Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip to Athens, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.
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