Guide: Athens, Greece

by Carrinicole

EUROPE'S CLASSICAL CULTURAL EPICENTER

Today’s Athens harkens back to its classical glory. 2500 years old, the city of Athens has had moments of power and of struggle. Greeks are not unfamiliar with hard times, and use those times to strengthen its culture and community, and most importantly to be creative. Now past its EU financial crisis, Athens has bloomed into a modern dining city. That combined with unrivaled ruins freckled throughout the city, makes Athens something truly special.

Even though my time in Athens is ritualized, I look forward to every trip: a meal or two with family, trying out new cafes, bars, and restaurants, and looking for a new cultural experience. Do not race through this part of your Greece trip. Take a lesson from the Greeks to slow down and connect in this bustling city.

  • Currency: Euro
  • Getting here: Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH)
  • Getting Around: Metro & Taxi
  • Where to Stay: ERGON House
  • Itinerary:
    • Key Sights: Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Plaka, Monastriaki, Syntagma Square
    • If you have more time: Lykavitos Hill, Mars Hill, Hadrian’s Arch/ Temple of Zeus, Archeological Museum.
    • Shopping: The Poet Sandalmaker
    • Restaurants:
      • The Clumsies
      • Six d.o.g.s
      • Quartier d’Athenes
      • Third Place Coffee

GETTING THERE

There are numerous connecting flights internationally into Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (ATH). Once you land at the airport, you have a couple options on getting into the city:

GETTING AROUND

 Metro: I prefer taking the Metro, because its easy and economical. Renovated for the 2004 Olympics, the Metro is clean and the easiest way to get around the city. A few steps outside the airport is the entrance to the metro where you can buy a ticket into the city center. If you’re staying at ERGON House, the Metro drops you a couple blocks away at Syntagma Square.

Taxi: Also an option for curbside drop-off. The drive is around an hour, and will be more pricey.

Bus: Slowest but most economical option. Busses run 24 hrs a day, and can drop you at multiple points throughout the city.

Athens is a walking city, so you will primarily spend your days on foot. For farther distances, I’m a huge fan of using the Metro to get around! It is so easy and convenient.

WHERE TO STAY

ERGON House

Location: Downtown Athens, near the Acropolis

Modern. Artisan Market. Restaurant. Bar. 

When you stay at ERGON House, you have a quality market, restaurant, and rooftop bar all at your disposal. The experience encompasses the Greek term “parea” — closeness of people, spending quality time with friends and family — allowing you, as a visitor, to be Greek for your stay. 

ITINERARY

Athens has evolved into a European epicenter, with the perfect balance of culture, history, food, & drink. Each time I go to Greece, I stop for at least two nights, always trying something new.

PRO TIPS: If Athens a beginning or ending stop on your Greece trip…

  • Two nights is the perfect amount of time to stay.
  • I find it to be more pleasant to sightsee when I’m not jet-lagged, so I also recommend seeing the city on the tail-end of your trip, before returning home.
  • Most of you will be going to Greece in the summer – and it gets HOT. Be sensitive to the heat and take necessary breaks since many Athens sights are outdoors.
    • I recommend going to museums earlier in the day to beat the heat, and seeing sights like the Parthenon in the evening. Not only is the sun less intense, you’ll have less crowds right before closing. And you’ll get epic sunset views / pictures!

DAY 1 – Travel Day

Afternoon activity: Changing of the guards at Syntagma Square. Elite soldiers guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Hellenic Parliament. The soldiers change every hour on the hour, with a special ceremony Sundays at 11am.

Sunset at ERGON House – Rooftop Bar ERGON House has partnered with the Clumsies (see below) to mix craft cocktails.

Dinner: Walk through Plaka to the Acropolis. There is a marble walkway that circles the Acropolis. Stop at one of the restaurants in the surrounding neighborhoods.

DAY 2 – Athens

ERGON House Breakfast

Coffee at Third Place

Athens has a booming artisan food and drink scene, and I like checking out what’s new. Third Place Coffee is down the street from ERGON House, and a great way to spend the morning relaxing and staying out of the heat.

Website | Trip Advisor

Acropolis Museum

  • Take a 10-minute stroll through Plaka to get to the museum from ERGON House.

  • You can also pop by Hadrian’s Arch / the Temple of Zeus on your way.

  • The architecture, surrounding views, along with the curation of the artifacts makes this one of the most visually stunning museums I’ve been to. Take your time here!

  • I prefer and recommend going to the museum prior to the Acropolis because you get a solid foundation of the history of Ancient Athens, and you can envision what the Parthenon looked like more fully when you visit it.

  • Museum website / Open everyday M-S with varying hours.

Lunch: O Thanasis

Stroll around the Acropolis on the marble pathway for lunch. O Thanasis is 15 minutes away. 

One of my favorite souvlaki places in Athens! My family has been going here for years – ever since I can remember, we stop here to eat souvlaki. Our order: Greek Salad, souvlaki with yogurt, regular kebab.

 Website | Trip Advisor

Walk around / Shop in Monastriaki

Monastriaki is a great place to pick up souvenirs.

The Poet Sandal Shop

A couple yards away is “The Poet” Sandalmaker. Custom leather sandal maker to the stars, you can buy quality Greek sandals with the straps custom fit to your foot. 

Website

Afternoon drinks: six d.o.g.s  

This bar is so fun to hang out at during the day. Now that you’ve been outside for a few hours, take a break to sit in the shade and enjoy a drink.

Website | Trip Advisor

Siesta back at hotel 

Greece relies on a daily afternoon siesta to relax and recharge before the evening. I recommend going back to the hotel to relax, take a nap, have a rooftop cocktail before your evening.

Sunset: Acropolis

In the summer the Acropolis closes at 7:30pm. I recommend going late in the day – at around 6pm. There are less crowds Pro-tip: Wear sneakers! It’s a steep walk up the Acropolis on marble that is worn down and slippery. If you like theater, you can purchase tickets to see a play in the Theater of Dionysus. It’s a great evening activity.

Dinner: Quartier d’Athenes  

By the time I reach Athens on my Greece trip, I’ve eaten Greek food almost exclusively for two weeks. I like to try other cuisines while I’m in the city, and this restaurant had great Italian, and amazing craft cocktails.

Website | Trip Advisor

Nightcap: The Clumsies  

One of the top bars in the city, The Clumsies is a must if you like craft cocktails.

DAY 3 – Travel Day

For ease at the start of your travel day, I recommend taking a taxi or private car to the airport from the city. The concierge can arrange the car for you.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME...

Optional Extra Day Sights

  1. Archeological Museum
  2. Lykavitos Hill
  3. Mars Hill
  4. Hadrian’s Arch / Temple of Zeus

MORE PHOTOS

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