I think I’ve read and watched way too many movies on Greek Mythology that Athens has been on my list forever I could remember. My excitement to see the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, and have Greek food (yumm, give me all the tzatziki, feta and olives!) was unreal. The moment we started planning our Europe trip, I obviously ensured that we hit this spot, just like Greek food hits the spot.
We spent 2.5 days in Athens and that was sufficient. You can easily take Line 3 of the subway (as it’s called the “Metro” in Greece) from the airport to city. The subway runs every 30 minutes and takes about 40 minutes to Syntagma Square. You can also take a bus or a taxi (subway is cheapest).
I recommend staying at a hotel near Syntagma Square. This way you will be walking distance from majority of the attractions. Yay!! Let’s go explore one of the world’s oldest cities and the capital of Greece!!
Day 1: We landed mid-afternoon and walked around the area near our hotel.
This is the historic main square for all political protests and demonstrations. Buy yourself a Koulouri (Greek Sesame Bread Rings) and walk around the square. You can also see the Parliament Building here, as well as, changing of the guards. Changing of the guards happens every hour. On Sunday, the ceremony is quite an elaborate affair.
Day 2: Full first day in Athens, let's go back in time!!
Acropolis and Parthenon:
If you’re going in June, July or August, be prepared for extreme hot weather (best times are between March and May or September and November). This is the reason I put visiting the Acropolis and Parthenon first thing in the morning. We went during mid-afternoon, and it was BOILING HOT!! So, I switched the itinerary a little for your convenience. The earlier you go, the smaller the crowds.
As you walk up to the Acropolis, imagine yourself going back in time. Acropolis – the high city, built to honor Goddess Athena, took roughly 50 years to build. As you stand on the Acropolis, try to find the Temple of Zeus & Panathenaic stadium in the distance. You’ll spend around 2 -3 hours visiting this ancient site and then head back down.
Tip: Carry enough water for this entire visit. Once you start the climb to the Acropolis, there are no vendors to provide you with any beverages or food. Also, wear lots of sunscreen, a hat and comfortable shoes. It’s a sunny and rocky walk up.
Odeon of Herodus Atticus:
This is an open air theater that show cases live classical theater performances. You may be able to catch a performance here. This is located on the Acropolis.
Tip: There are several options for tickets of the Acropolis, check online for your perfect option. We bought our tickets at the booth. More information here.
Visit this museum to get more knowledge about the history of Athens, the Parthenon, the surrounding temples and much more.
On your way back from the Acropolis and to The Temple of Zeus, you will notice restaurants that you can stop at for lunch (try all the different varieties of olives and have lots of feta cheese!!).
The Temple of Zeus:
You can get a view of the Acropolis in the background from this temple. Also, notice the impressive size of the columns.
Go back to the hotel, freshen up, and come back out to Plaka. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods lined with beautiful houses, pedestrian streets, restaurants, cafes and stores.
Day 2: Olympic Stadium, National Garden, Highest Peak in Athens!!
The Ancient Agora:
Start your tour of by visiting the Museum of the Ancient Agora, and wander around until you reach the Temple of Hephaistos. You will notice that this temple is very well preserved compared to others.
National Garden & Zappeion:
Walk through the 15.5 acres of National Gardens of Athens to get to the Panathenaic Stadium.
The first modern Olympic Games were hosted here in 1896. You can go for a tour inside the stadium, although it doesn’t have a roof and you can see it all from outside. The thought of building these amazing monuments in 1800’s is so impressive. Imagine the hard work of the labor force to carry the stones, and working in such hot conditions. Unimaginable! During our visit, the stadium was closed for maintenance, however, I would love to go for a tour on my next visit!!
From this mountain, you will get a 360 degrees view of all of Athens. It’s spectacular!! You will notice the mountains surrounding the city of Athens for protection. Mount Lycabettus sitting 300 meters above sea level with an elevation of 277 meters. If you’re up for a hike, hike up to the top!! Otherwise, you can take the cable car (we took the cable car!). There is a cafe at the top where we enjoyed delicious milkshakes with a view. I highly recommend going to this viewing area. If you arrive just before sunset, you can see the Acropolis glowing in lights. It’s a gorgeous site!!
Tip: From Syntagma Square, you can take the St. Syntagmatos Metro line to Evangelismos station. Then walk 15-20 minutes to the Lycabettus Cable Car. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the cable car entrance from your hotel.
You can go back to the hotel to rest for a bit, or freshen up. Then come back out for dinner in Psyri Square/Monastiraki. You will find a lot of restaurants and shops in this area. If you’re tired from walking, take the Metro to Monastiraki station.
Tip: We enjoyed Gyros & Chicken Souvlaki from a number of local restaurants. They were super delicious!!
Food to try:
- Greek Salad
- Exchange money at a bank
- Metro is easily accessible & tickets can be purchased at metro stations
- Validate your tickets in/out of the Metro
- Wear lots of sunscreen
- Bring a hat, sunglasses and comfortable shoes
- Pick up a map of Athens
- Electricity adapters required – 230 V, 50 Hz. Power sockets are Type C and Type F
PS: We walked everywhere in the city and only took the Metro from and to the airport.
Now that you’ve learned all about the history of Athens, seen a 360 degrees view, the glowing Acropolis, ate delicious flavors of Greece; it’s time to go see gorgeous blue domes, white houses on cliffs, and sandy beaches!! Let’s go to Santorini!!
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment!!