When someone asks “what do you know about Greece?” the usual answer will be about the great philosophers as Aristotle and Plato, the beautiful islands, the weather, and democracy. Greece is all that and more. Its people, the aromas on the streets from the Greek souvlakis and the traditional taverns, the Parthenon or as you will hear from the Greeks calling it the Acropolis, the deep blue sea.
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Athens is the capital of Greece, the city of the archeological treasures, the buzzing nightlife in Gazi, the beautiful sidewalks of Thiseio and Psiri, the flea market in Monastiraki and the shopping district of Ermou street.
Best Time to Visit Athens
Every season is the best time to visit Athens as the weather in Greece is good all year long. If you would like to experience summer in Greece, sunbathing all day long, drinking your frappe or your cocktail in one of the beautiful islands or Vouliagmeni Lake then that’s the best time.
If on the other hand you don’t like heat that much (average highs are around 42°C especially in July and August) then winter is also a good time to visit as Athens is surrounded by four mountains. Parnitha, Penteli, Ymittos and Aigaleo. Parnitha is the only National Park in Europe so close to a capital (40km). There are paths for mountain bike, hiking, and climbing.
Top Things to Do in Athens
One of the first things to do when you visit Athens is, of course, to go to Acropolis and the new Acropolis museum.
When you go up there, you will feel that you are walking among history. You will travel through time when Acropolis is being built and you will enjoy the most amazing view from one of the most visited attractions.
As an Athenian what I enjoy the most is to walk to what I call “the city triangle”. That would be Monastiraki, Plaka, and Thiseio. All three areas are close together and basically are the heart of Athens. Especially in Monastiraki (blue line of Metro) you will find a lot of places to that serve Greek, Indian, or fast food. The area is located close to everything and is always crowded with young people, tourists, and locals.
Every Sunday Monastiraki hosts a big flea market where you can find pretty much everything that you can imagine. From old books, to antiques, bicycles or even dolls.
What you can also do is to hop on on a sightseeing bus that costs around 15€ or take the small train that takes you through Athens city center for 7€ more or less.
Want more things to do in Athens? Check out this article by USA Today on Best Things To Do in Athens
Where to Stay in Athens
The best thing in Athens is that most metro stations are close to the city centre and close to a lot of hotels depending on where you want to stay and how much you want to spend.
In Sydagma Square that is the main square of Athens, home to the Greek Parliament, you will find hotels such as Grande Bretagne, King George Athens, and NJV Athens Plaza.
Find and book these hotels on our favourite accommodation search website: Booking.com
There are also many hotels in Plaka and Thiseio. If you want a lower budget alternative, Metaxourgeio has a lot of hotels such as Crystal City or Stanley Hotel that are both next to the metro station of Metaxourgeio, but the area is not one of the best.
If you are traveling with friends around Europe and you wish to stay in a hostel Athens Safestay hostel was listed in Europe Famous Hostels as one of the best in Athens.
For more advice on best hotels in Athens, check out The Telegraph’s Best hotels in Athens, which includes luxury hotels, boutique hotels, budget hotels and Athens hotel deals.
Alternatively, Airbnb can offer you over 300 accommodations in the city center or the suburbs.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a discount to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Where to Eat & Drink in Athens
Greece is well known for its food. You’ll always find a place to grab a bite to eat in Athens, no matter what time of day it is. When it comes to food Athens never sleeps. From the traditional taverns, to the souvlakis, to hamburger places or food stands on the streets you will find yourself debating on what thing to eat first.
One of my favorite places to eat when I am in the city center is to visit Savvas in Monastiraki. Savvas is a well-known souvlaki store where you can sit inside and enjoy the little waterfall or sit outside and enjoy the people walking by. You can order traditional kebab, gyros chicken or pork, in a pita bread with tzatziki, onions, fries, tomatoes and have what we call it in Greece “a souvlaki apola” (apola means everything in greek).
Also in the area of Thiseio, in Adrianou street, you can eat at one of the traditional taverns next to the ancient agora with the view of Acropolis and temple of Hephaestus such as Dioskouri.
Changing to something sweeter, if you want to try a dessert, Krinos is your next stop. Krinos, in Aiolou street, has been open since 1922 and offers you traditional loukoumades with a secret recipe that no one besides the owners know. You can order it with honey syrup, or with chocolate and ice cream. It costs 3€ more or less and for one person is 5 servings.
Looking for more restaurants to try while in Athens? This New York Times guide “How to Eat Well in Athens” will give you plenty of ideas.
After a long day, nothing is better than a drink on one of the best terraces of Athens. 360 and A for Athens have amazing views of Acropolis and the cocktails are amazing. Most expensive one that you will find won’t cost more than 13€. In winter time, you can also sit inside and enjoy a nice dinner along with your drink.
How Much Time Do You Need in Athens
There are so many things to do in Athens and any visit of less than four days may not be sufficient.
My suggestion is that in order to learn about Greece one should plan to stay here for at least a week. Athens is a beautiful city and as a born and raised Athenian I can truthfully say that there are amazing places to visit outside Athens such as Meteora in Kalampaka, located 4hours away by bus or train from Athens. In addition, there is Thessaloniki, Vergina, the waterfalls of Edessa, and many more places.
One thing for sure is that when you come to Greece you won’t be disappointed. From the historic sightseeing, to the buzzing nightlife of Athens, to the well known musaka, and the amazing greek blue sea, Athens and the rest of Greece is a hot spot destination loved by many.
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Have you ever been to Athens? What tips and advice would you give to first-time visitors to the capital of Greece?
About the Author: My name is Marilia and I am from Athens, Greece. My first trip was when I was 40 days old and my parents took me with them to our first family vacations in Alonnisos. My second one was when I was 6months old to Austria and the story goes on and on and on. No, of course I don’t remember these trips but I guess it did something to me because since then I never stopped traveling. Till now I visited USA two times and a couple of European countries. Don’t worry, I will write all about them to my next articles. I already plan to visit Ireland and Scotland. Hopefully soon. So I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I will enjoy writing about what I love. Traveling.