The stunning natural beauty of bright blue seas, ancient archaeological sites, charming island villages, and a hot, mainly dry climate, make Greece a fantastic holiday destination.
If you’re going to enjoy yourself in Athens, you better get in shape and bring comfortable walking shoes and plenty of water. Most of the famous sites in the city require either walking uphill, or walking along a stony path.
In my view the best way to get around Athens is by bus or trolley. The tickets are not expensive and available at kiosks along any street. Just make sure you cancel the ticket in a ticket machine immediately after you enter the bus or a trolley.
Here are the most stuning places to see in Athens, to get the most out of your journey:
1. The Akropolis Museum
The new Acropolis Museum was designed with two objectives: the first to offer the best conditions for the exhibition of its exhibits and secondly to be a Museum that welcomes and befriends its visitors.
2. The Parthenon
Being a fan of archeology and Greek classical studies, I was absolutely enthralled by the place. The total size of the Parthenon is extraordinary, when you comprehend it was built 2,500 years ago. The museum houses artifacts found in the temples on the Acropolis, which were put there to avoid weather damage.
The iconic Parthenon sits atop the Acropolis, overlooking the city. The remains of the sacred temple to the Greek godess Athena, the Parthenon, with its simple Doric style, has been copied in public architecture worldwide. Accessed by the Athens Metro, it is always crowded, so try for a visit early mornings or late afternoons.
3. Mount Lycabettus
A walk to the top of Mount Lycabettus in the center of Athens is one of the best ways to spend a morning or late afternoon in Athens.
4. The National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art.
5. Agora (Arkhaia Agora)
Ancient Agora was the gathering place of the ancient Athenians. It’s hard to tell now, considering almost nothing is left from the original structures. Hephaisteion (Temple of Hephaistos) is the exception. It’s quite a monument and probably the best conserved of all Greek temples in Athens. Stoa of Attalos, which was entirely reconstructed, houses the museum of Ancient Agora and is a resting place for most of the artifacts found here.
6. The National Garden of Athens (The Royal Garden)
National Gardens, which are accessible behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, offer a nice escape from all the hustle and the bustle of the city. Looking at the crowds present, I have a feeling they are a trendy hang-out spot for the locals. This is a nice place to take a leisurely walk or eat a brown-bag lunch. In the heart of the park there is a neoclassical structure called Zappion, which I’ve been told is used for important political and cultural events (a security guard told me Greece’s entry into European Union was signed here). It’s quite an eye-catching structure worth checking out if you appreciate architecture.
7. Cape Sounion
This popular cliff-top temple, set above the Aegean Sea, has superb sunset views. Although the Archeological Museum in Athens is home to the bronze statue that was once housed here, it is easy to see why the god of the sea might have been worshipped at this stunning national monument.
Monastiraki is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens. A collection of tiny tourist shops, cafes, and a huge Sunday flea market makes Monastiraki one of the coziest areas of Athens.
Monastiraki is a tourist highlight with narrow alleyways and attractive squares, which show the city’s romantic side. In summer the streets are full of bustling activity, in the most picturesque of settings.
Plaka is the tourist’s heaven. It’s very similar to Paris’ Montmarte district. There are hundreds if not thousands of modest souvenir stores, taverns, liquor stores, small churches and open air stands where you can buy everything from produce to ceramic vases to olive oil soap. It’s a place you have to visit on your last day in Athens when you want to load up on cheap souvenirs. You’re not really going to see all that many locals here, at least proportionally to the thousands of tourists passing by every minute. And by Goddess, don’t forget to bring a map! Plaka is a labyrinth, a network of streets that all look alike.
Athenians (or perhaps Greeks) are a one of a kind type of people. Very talkative, not inhibited and most of all very curious. Now, of course these are my opinions and they are highly personal to what I have experienced, so anyone who disagrees with this view should bear this in mind.