Athens is the most famous spot in Greece and is known less for it’s blue waters and beach life but more for its ancient history and sprawling metropolis. Athens is a much bigger city than I ever anticipated and even on my second visit to the city I was marvelling at the size of this place. It is that big they have a rule on what license plates can drive around on what days. That means that there is so much to see and do in the city too. I’ve written before about the different ancient places to visit and alternative things to do but today I wanted to share all of that information in one handy guide to Athens.
Let’s dive straight in.
A Guide to Athens
Things to do
Visit the Acropolis
You can’t go to Athens and not visit the Acropolis, it is the biggest and most popular attraction in the city and even if you don’t visit, it’s one you cannot miss from any spot. The best time to visit here is to arrive just before opening time to grab a ticket and head in. During the summer months it opens at 8am and the winter months is opens at 8.30am. This is the best time to visit for two reason; one there won’t be too many others and you can beat the crowds, two you’ll visit before the sun gets too hot and too high.
Tickets now cost €20 (which is a huge increase from 2015 when I paid €12)
You can also buy a multi-visit ticket which allows entry to 6 different ancient sites and will work out cheaper if you visit at least 2 other sites as well as the Acropolis.
Visit the Ancient Agora
The Acropolis is amazing but I also love the Ancient Agora which is located below the hill. The views from this site are incredible the whole way round and it’s all built on different levels. I love how you wander around here and suddenly notice something. Rather than one big attraction on the site the ruins are spread out everywhere. This is a great spot to head after the Acropolis, it also offers a lot more shade than the Acropolis so there is no need to arrive early.
Like the other sites it opens at 8am in the summer and will cost €8 without the multi ticket.
Go to a rooftop cinema
I’ve been raving about rooftop cinemas in Athens since we spent an evening at one during our last visit to the city. Quite often in the UK we aren’t able to do such a thing without having to wrap up in blankets and hoodies by the end of the evening. On the continent of Europe things are a little different and the evening temperature stays much warmer.
We caught a film at the Cine Paris and the tickets were a bargain of €8 each, even better was that the cinema had a bar for beer and snacks. As with many rooftop places in Athens there were fantastic views of the Acropolis to be had from every seat.
Climb the highest point in Athens
Something I never thought to do was to climb a hill that wasn’t the Acropolis hill in Athens. That was such a silly thing because climbing Lykavittou Hill was one of the best things we did while in the city. The hill isn’t far out of the centre and once you reach it the climb is a quick 30ish minutes. The climb is however very steep so make sure you have suitable footwear and plenty of water.
The climb starts in the trees but once you get up high enough the views are incredible with every step you take. Time it right and you could treat yourself to lunch at the top as there are several awesome dining areas.
Take a walking tour
This is something I did during my first time in Athens and I learnt so much about the city as well as my way round. Taking a walking tour is always a great idea if it is your first time in the city as it gives you a chance to get your bearings and work out where you want to spend time going back and looking at. I always tend to try and pick those with local guides and local knowledge.
They are also a great idea if you are travelling solo because you tend to get talking to lots of different people during the walk. I took a walking tour with Athens Backpackers but I’m sure there are plenty to choose from.
Go to a rooftop bar
The nightlife in Athens is something you should try at least once even if that is just heading to a rooftop bar. During my first trip to Athens the hostel I was staying at had an awesome rooftop bar with Acropolis views so I decided to seek out another for this trip. We found Couleur Locale which was packed at 6pm on a Sunday evening and had an incredible atmosphere.
There are plenty of rooftop bar options in Athens and so many of them have views of the Acropolis which is great to watch as it turns from day to night and the lights get turned on. Most drinking spots in Athens are affordable making a few beers within a budget holiday.
Best Insta Spots
You cannot beat this famous spot in the city for grabbing a snap for Instagram. There are plenty of areas to grab a photo in but I’d make sure you get yourself in the frame so people can see just how grand these ruins are.
The views from here looking back up to the Acropolis are to die for. The brightly coloured buildings against the blue sky and beige rock look perfect.
The views from this spot are incredible and make for a great backdrop in any photo. That being said a snap of the ruins here is also worth it.
The tallest point in Athens obviously has to be included on this list. The views from here are incredible and make for a fantastic photo on their own but add yourself in and you’ve got and even better shot.
Where to stay
I stayed here a few years back and it was the perfect place to stay as a solo traveller. There was a friendly crowd, a rooftop bar with cheap drinks and a variety of different room types. They also run walking tours which I’d highly recommend.
We stayed at two different Airbnb homes in Athens this time and both were great. The first ‘a stylish loft‘ was in the heart of Psiri and perfectly located for getting to the Acropolis as well as for dining in the evening. It was a large studio apartment with plenty of space, a kitchen and even a bath. The second ‘a cosy apartment‘ was near the Temple of Zeus and was again well located for exploring the city both day and night. It was a smaller apartment than the first one but our host was brilliant with ideas and suggestions for our stay.
How to get around
We used the metro for getting to and from the airport as we wanted to make the most of the time we had. It is much quicker for getting to and fro but will cost you €10 each way, which adds up to a lot when there is two of you and you do the journey four times. You can save a little if you’re returning within 48 hours by buying a return for €18.
I used the airport bus on my first trip as my time was more generous and my money a little tighter. The bus takes around double the time of the metro but will only cost €6 each way.
Your method of transport will probably be entirely down to time and money but both are easily sign posted out of the airport.
Hope you enjoyed this Guide to Athens. Have you been before?
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