Athens is the epicenter of Ancient Greece with 5th Century BC buildings and landmarks surrounding the capital. Approximately 4 million people flock to Athens each year to explore what the city has to offer. If you are staying close to the city center, most of the monuments and ancient ruins are within walking distance and can be easily explored by foot. Traffic can be crazy in Athens, so I wouldn’t recommend driving and please, always look both ways before crossing intersections as cars don’t always obey traffic lights and stop. This is how I crammed Athens into two jam packed days of exploring:
Upon arriving in Athens after 24 hours of flying, I checked into my hotel, took a shower and put on my walking shoes, ready to go exploring. During my time in Athens, I stayed at the Grand Polis Hotel. This was a great spot, within walking distance to many tourist hot spots and the hotel offered nice rooftop views of Acropolis from their rooftop restaurant and bar. The amenities were also nice and the bed very comfortable. However as a solo female traveler, I did feel on my guard at all times and found it easy to get lost finding my way back to the hotel after a long day walking. From walking alone, without a GPS or map, I managed to tick off the following destinations:
1. National Library of Greece.
2. University of Athens.
3. Academy of Athens.
4. Hellenic Parliament. You can watch the changing of the guard here in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier. They rotate guards every hour. If visiting on a Sunday, get down there at 11am and you can see the full ceremony take place.
5. Syntagma Square. Also known as the main hub of Athens.
6. National Gardens. Interesting to explore. Random tortoises everywhere, which was mildly surprising. Safe to walk around alone as it is reasonably busy. Great way to escape the hustle and bustle.
7. Temple of Olympian Zeus. €2 to enter or look through the fence for free. You can guess which option I chose.
8. Arch of Hadrian.
9. Acropolis Museum. I walked past and did not go in. How I regret that decision! I will definitely visit on my next trip.
10. Acropolis of Athens. The big one. Within this area you can pay €12 to visit Parthenon, Herodes Theatre, Erechtheion and Dionysus Theatre. Worth every cent. You can walk around and explore at your own leisure, but expect the crowds.
11. Filopappou hill. This whole area is worth exploring. Located just next to Acropolis, you can explore the maze of pathways that leads away from Acropolis and into a park like area. There were quite a few people around so I never felt unsafe but I wouldn’t walk around this area alone at night. It offers awesome viewing areas of Acropolis and has some hidden ruins within.
12. Plaka. The go to hub for great food, interesting market like shops and all your Athens souvenirs. Worth a walk through the marble streets for a bite to eat and some shopping.
It is worth noting that I did A LOT of walking on this day and was wrecked by the evening. But you see soo much more on foot and by not having a map, I liked not knowing what was coming up next.
Pack a day bag with your swimwear, a towel, sunscreen and plenty of water.
1. Get on a Hop on Hop off Tour Bus. After my massive day of walking, I took the lazy option and hopped on ‘Athens Open Tour’ tour bus. They are a great option to see what Athens and surrounding areas have to offer. I paid €23 and got access to all four available tour lines with the option of 48 hour hop on hop off access. I spent most of the morning/ afternoon switching buses and visiting different areas. You can change buses at Acropolis and go down different lines to visit Pireus, Glyfadar and Vouliagmeni. Well worth a visit for beautiful beaches. You can hop off at Vouliagmeni and pay €7 to access the beautiful beach. Make sure you pack your swimwear as the water is irresistible. The Acropolis line takes you to all the hot spots, a great alternative if you are not a keen walker. I also got to see the Panathenaic Stadium, built in 330BC, where the the opening and closing ceremonies for the first modern Olympics in 1896 were held. The stadium is entirely made of marble and worth a visit.
2. Explore Parko Thiseio. Here you can pay a small fee of about €8 and wander through the park to find the Ancient Agora of Athens, Temple of Hephaestus and the Temple of Apollo Patroos.
Athens is an amazing place full of culture and history. Yes, you can fit all the major attractions into 1-2 days but to truly get a feel for place and if you’re an ancient history enthusiast like me, I would recommend spending some extra time here to truly appreciate what this ancient city has to offer.
I would love to hear your suggestions and Athens travel tips! Please comment below to share your thoughts! 🙂 x