After relaxing for 11 days in the Greek Islands (tough life, I know), we headed up to Athens to re-acclimate ourselves with “normal” city life and do a little sightseeing.
Obviously, Athens has an abundance of ancient history, so much so that four days there really didn’t do it justice. It can be overwhelming to try to plan your time in the city, so I’ve compiled some tips to help you get ready for your visit!
Be sure to comment and leave anything that I may have missed!
1.Get the “visit-all-site-whatever-it’s-called” pass
Obviously not what it’s called, but just go with it. If you’re planning a trip to the capital city, it’s most likely because you want to see the sights, right? I personally am fascinated with ancient Greek culture so visiting the Acropolis and surrounding agoras was at the top of the priority list for my visit.
In order to get access to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, you will need to purchase a ticket. Tickets are sold at box offices located at both the front and rear entrances to the Acropolis. If you plan to buy your ticket at either of these locations, GO EARLY. The Acropolis is understandably the most famous and popular tourist destination in Athens and so you can imagine how crowded it is.
***My suggestion would be to completely avoid the lines at the Acropolis and first visit one of the other surrounding sights. There is an “all access” ticket that you can purchase at box offices located at the Roman Agora, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, and the Olympian. The ticket includes all of those places as well as the Acropolis and North/South Slopes.
This pass costs 30Euro/each (less if you are a student or under 18/over 65). it was well worth the money. Even for us budget travelers, the ticket paid for itself when we were able to skip the long lines at the Acropolis.
And even though we were most looking forward to the Acropolis, we really enjoyed our visits to the other places included on the ticket. Obviously if you only have a day or two you probably won’t make it to all of them, but if you can squeeze in the Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s Library, do it!
2. Sleep near the sights
Kind of an obvious one, but something worth noting. Athens is HUGE. When researching Airbnb’s to stay in, there were options all over the metro area and honestly it was a little confusing what neighborhood was good/bad.
Chances are, you are going to Athens with the intentions to spend your time visiting the places I listed above. If that is the case, stay within walking distance of them. Athens does have a decent public transportation system but most of the ancient sights are within walking distance of each other. So, you might as well stay near them and save yourself the time and $$ necessary for trains/cabs/etc.
We stayed in a great apartment located in the Mets neighborhood. (Link to Airbnb) IT was far enough away to get more for our money and still be able to walk everywhere we needed to go. If you can afford it, I would also recommend staying in the Plaka neighborhood, which has a lot of awesome shops and restaurants and is right next to the Acropolis.
3. Download the Rick Steve’s Audio Guides
Rick Steves has an awesome European Audio Guide app that is filled with hundreds of free audio tours for almost every city in Europe. Athens was the perfect place for using it and I would highly, highly recommend it. He has a walking guide for the city itself and then separate audio tours for both the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. And honestly, without an audio guide for the ancient sights, you will be just staring at really old rubble and reading a million signs.
And did I mention that they are completely 100% free?! Can’t beat that! Just don’t forget your headphones!
4. Prepare to walk and bring water
You might have caught on to this by now, but you will walk A LOT in Athens. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and be sure to plan your day accordingly.
You also want to make sure you stay hydrated and I would even recommend wearing a hat. Even in mid-September, the temperatures in Athens were still in the mid-80’s. Be sure to stay hydrated!
5. And as always, take lots of pictures! 🙂
Athens is such a cool city and we learned so much about Greek culture while we were there. While many people use Athens as means to get to/from the islands, make sure to spend a few days appreciating everything that the Ancient Greeks did for modern society.