After roaming the islands of Greece (Mykonos, Santorini, Ios, Paros) over 3-4 weeks, it was time to hit up the mainland, Athens! We spent 3 sweltering hot days exploring in 40C/104F heat and also hit the nearby beach clubs/hotel pools.
Athens is quite large and we were looking to stay somewhere budget before we began our 4-day journey to Croatia. We stayed at Hotel Cosmos in the area of Metaxourgeio.
This area is getting a reputation as an artistic and fashionable neighbourhood due to the opening of many art galleries, museums, and trendy restaurants and cafes. It was easily accessible by Metro from the port of Piraeus which is one of the 2 ports in Athens.
We were able to walk to most attractions and the Metro station was right nearby. It didn’t feel like a touristy neighbourhood and English wasn’t spoken that frequently but as mentioned in prior posts we enjoy to stay in more “local” areas.
What to do in Athens
The main reason people visit Athens is to see the stunning historic area of Acropolis, and then use the port to skip off to the islands. Instead of taking an organized tour to visit the Acropolis we downloaded the Rick Steves walking tour podcast. He gives you a detailed description of exactly what you are looking at with directions on where to walk, facts & stories. With only one set of headphones, we were attached at the hip, literally, whilst we walked around exploring. This saved us close to 40-50 Euro by not going in a tour group.
Seeing the historical Parthenon was definitely a highlight (shown below). It is currently under construction and they believe it will be completed by 2020 which we highly doubt.
Make sure you make a visit to the Acropolis Museum after exploring the Acropolis. A small fee of 5 euro will grant you entry inside. Jacobs highlight? A small lego construction built of the Acropolis which was donated by Sydney, Australia.
During twilight take a walk, or the funicular (tram) to the top of Mt Lycabettus.
Every city always has a mountain or tower to view the city from above, but this is one of the best… you get a full 360 view of a densely populated, very flat, ancient city, that is Athens. The walk from the bottom of the hill will take around 30 minutes and it isn’t too challenging. You also have the option to take the funicular up or down if needed but it’s quite overpriced.
Once you are up the top there are a handful of restaurants from fine dining to casual, making for the perfect place to watch the sunset over Athens. It’s recommended to make a reservation if you wish to head to the fancier restaurants.
Visit the beaches
Although Athens is mostly famous for its sightseeing and not for the beaches, there are still many beaches in Athens, generally about 30mins out of town. The beaches are spread all along the southern and the northeastern side of the peninsula. We felt like we accomplished enough on the first day of exploring Athens, that we decided to hit the beaches. The beaches are easily accessible via Metro and then Bus. The metro will cost 1.60 Euro and the bus is a free transfer. Just hope you don’t get a popped bus tyre halfway through the trip as we did. You will have to find your own way to the beach!
Once we figured out where we take another bus we headed to the town of Vouliagmeni and attempted to visit Astir Beach which was highly recommended on TripAdvisor but unfortunately they wanted 50 Euro for the both of us to even ENTER the beach even when there were no sunbeds available… No thanks! Just across from Astir Beach was another beach, free so we were able to enjoy the sun here.
This is one of the main streets in Athens and is known for its array of shopping options. You can find almost anything along here from big brand names to electrical stores and a couple of restaurants.
To find a more extensive list of places to eat, hotels and more activities in Athens visit here.
Married days survived: 140