Only a few cities in the world can rival Athens in historical significance. It’s a land full of historical landmarks and has played a pivotal role in developing Western civilisation. Indeed, Athens is a marvellous city to explore, giving you plenty of things to enjoy. If you’re travelling to Greece soon and want to spend some time in Athens, here are some of the best things to do in this incredible ancient city.
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Explore the Acropolis
Your visit to Greece will not be complete without a visit to the Acropolis, the most significant symbol of Ancient Greece. Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities, and the Acropolis has been rising in the city for more than 2,500 years. As one of the world’s greatest architectural marvels, the Acropolis is one of those sights you should not miss in Athens.
As the symbol of democracy, the Parthenon is the most famous ancient ruin in the Acropolis. It dominates the hill of the Acropolis, dating back to the 5th Century BC. Aside from the Parthenon, you will find many other archaeological wonders in the Acropolis, such as the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theatre and the Temple of Athena Nike, built in honour of the goddess Athena and the Nike Goddess.
The other temples worth exploring in the Acropolis are the Erechtheion Temple, Propylea Temple of Nike, the sanctuary of Asclepius, and the Dionysus Theatre. Make sure you also visit the Acropolis Museum, which houses ancient relics and artefacts, including those discovered on the hill. Head to the top-floor glass atrium, where you’ll find the Parthenon frieze.
Walk through Plaka
The historic neighbourhood of Plaka lies in the centre of Athens and is full of great attractions to explore, including those with significant historical value. Strolling in its beautiful, cobbled stone streets is something you should not miss in Athens.
Also called the “Neighbourhood of the Gods,” Plaka lies at the north-eastern slope of the Acropolis and stretches towards Syntagma Square. The pedestrian-friendly street is home to a plethora of souvenir stalls, tavernas, and cafes. You will also come across many historical sites, including ancient houses and churches dating back to the 11th Century. Shopping is a fun activity in Plaka. It is the perfect place to visit if you want to buy some souvenirs. Check out the shops selling hand-painted icons, antiques, wood carvings, and other crafts made by the local artists of Athens.
Hit the Beach
If you’re visiting Athens in summer, you should visit one of its beaches, where you can enjoy sunbathing or swimming. The Greek capital is home to beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear waters, with most of them easily accessible from the city centre.
Vravrona Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Athens and is only 7 miles from the airport. With some of Athens budget friendly hotels nearby, this makes it a convenient place to stay. It’s worth visiting if you have several hours to kill before taking your next flight. The beach is also near the sanctuary of goddess Artemis, so you might as well check this archaeological site when going to this beach.
If you want to experience ultimate luxury on your beach holiday in Athens, check out Astir Beach, which lies in the suburb of Vouliagmeni. Offering a range of superb services, including free Wi-Fi and comfortable sun loungers, Astir Beach is an ideal spot for a relaxing beach holiday in Athens. However, all these luxurious amenities come with a price. You will have to pay 80 euros per pair of sun loungers, and it’s twice the price if it’s a weekend.
If you have worked out some appetite after a day of exploring Plaka, grab a seat at one of the tavernas along Kydatheneon and Adrianou streets. These are the main pedestrian roads and where you’ll find some of the best eateries in Athens, serving authentic Greek food.
Climb Mount Lycabettus
At 277 metres tall, Lycabettus Hill is Athen’s highest point and where you can enjoy the city’s most panoramic views. Getting to the top requires walking via a circular path, which is a test of endurance, but the breathtaking views will make your efforts well worth it.
If you don’t want to take the rigorous climb, you can opt for the funicular, which will take you to the top in less than five minutes and run every 30 minutes. But since the funicular operates inside a tunnel, you can’t enjoy the magnificent views as you climb to the top of the hill. The best time to climb Lycabettus Hill is during sunset when Athens looks even more magnificent as the temples in the Acropolis are illuminated.
Once you get to the top of Lycabettus Hill, you will find the beautiful white church of Agios Georgios. There’s a viewing platform in front of the church, where you can marvel at Athens’ sprawling views, stretching out into the vast Aegean Sea. You will also find an upscale restaurant called Orizontes restaurant, which has spectacular views, especially at night. Since it’s a popular restaurant, a reservation is required when dining at this restaurant.
Hit the Night Life of Psiri
If you want to experience the vibrant nightlife of Athens, head to the neighbourhood of Psiri. It’s one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods but has a less touristy feel than the more popular Plaka. But when night time comes, the neighbourhood is transformed into a bustling district with bars, clubs, and restaurants coming to life.
Designated as the nightlife district of Athens, Psiri is the go-to area for wild parties. Some bars and nightclubs have the music turned up very loud. There is a wide range of bars and restaurants in the area, from the Ouzo bars serving mezes with alcoholic drinks to the traditional tavernas.
If you find the neighbourhood very noisy, you can look for quieter spots further along the street. There are also excellent restaurants in Psiri that serve traditional Greek specialities and some international dishes. There’s also an area in the neighbourhood lined with stalls selling local arts and crafts, souvenir items, and many other things.