Athens, Greece is one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world. Tourists and adventurers flock in from all different directions to visit one of the most historic cities that still exhibits architecture and culture from 1500 B.C. – over 3500 years ago!
Below is a three minute video I put together of me and Erika’s awesome vacation in Athens, Greece.
Acropolis: Athens’ Most Iconic Attraction
Acropolis is the most famous “landmark” in Athens, Greece (maybe all of Greece too!). An acropolis is an elevated city, which is exactly what the Acropolis of Athens is, a city in the sky. It is the crown over the entire city and from all directions you can look up and see the Acropolis.
The Parthenon has been ransacked so many times by new powers that there is just the columns left. When it was first made there was a beautiful interior statue of Athena, God of Wisdom.
Over the many years and changes of power in Athens, Greece, it was converted to a Christian church and eventually Muslim mosque. Unfortunately, most did not play nicely and we are left with just the exterior columns to imagine the original building.
After walking through Acropolis we went down the hill and visited the Museum of Acropolis. This is another iconic destination in Athens, Greece that has a staggering amount of statues and historical artifacts from all ages of Athens history. I strongly recommend you spend two-three hours of your vacation to go through and visit the museum.
Lycabettus Hill is another staple of Athens, Greece tourism. It is the highest point in Athens and gives an unprecedented view over the entire city all the way to the Port (Mediterranean Sea).
The TripAdvisor said there was a trolley but we found ourselves walking up the hill. It’s about fifteen-twenty minutes of uphill so it may be best to take a taxi to the top (I know Erika wished we had taken a taxi!).
Athens War Museum
The Athens War Museum was a short part of our trip and we really enjoyed seeing all the history and weapons on display… which was surprising to both of us!
The National Gardens is the city park that has beautiful pathways, a small zoo, and some other public facilities. If you feel burnt out from the constant danger of being hit by taxis and scooters, this is a great place to relax and enjoy a couple hours of bliss.
Syntagma Square is another iconic section of Athens. It is also host to one of the most popular metro stations so it is very easy to access by metro-rail. Soldiers (or police?) patrol the area with assault rifles so it is one of the safest locations in the city.
I believe the photo above is the best picture I could have possibly taken. Without over-analyzing. It represents so many different features and facets of the city.
In the foreground, you have groups of young students and tourists in the city. Behind that, you have a graffiti-fence around a historic building. Behind that you have a statue and a view of Lycabettus Hill.
Other Awesome Parts of the City
Of over 100 photos I tried to pick the best 25 to put in this post. Here are some extra ones from around the city with captions of what and where 🙂
Piraeus is the port city of Athens where seemingly millions of ships come and go every day. It is a cornerstone of the Athens economy.
Here’s a great little story of how travel and adventure can go wrong…
7:00am rolls around and we are both sound asleep. Meanwhile, the ferry to Santorini that we already paid for has left the port.
After awaking and panicking, I realize my iPhone had gone to the “apple” screen and the alarm did not go off… That was a lesson learned! Never use an alarm clock that is not on airplane mode.
We rush down to the port and arrive by 8:30pm with the hope that someone will take us to Santorini on anything: ferry, catamaran, jet-ski! Luckily we stumble into a travel agent’s office and she can squeeze us onto the 2:00pm ferry. Of course, we had to pay for another ticket (different cruiseline and about the same price).
So, feeling particularly defeated, we headed into the city with our rolling luggage in search of something to kill time for five hours. We decide we need Wi-Fi so I look up a place that should have lots of Wi-Fi (at least in my American mind), the public library!
When we walk the 0.5km to the public library we are promptly turned away by the main reception. Apparently the Wi-Fi was not working… which I definitely do not buy after noticing nearby people on their laptops. They just didn’t like that we came in with our luggage and we were asked to leave (hopefully that doesn’t happen to anyone who visits a library, ever, anywhere!).
After admitting defeat and just about to write off the day, we took a taxi to the Starbucks (locals said they have the most reliable Wi-Fi). We hang out for a while and make sure we are extra early to the port.
Moments like this make travel seem like a grind. Usually I post the highlights of travel on the blog but I wanted to share this story to prove that not everything goes perfect, especially internationally.
Visiting as an American (Tourist)
This is turning into an essay so I’ll try to keep this short. Visiting Athens, Greece as a tourist/foreigner is fantastic.
Pretty much everyone under 65 speaks very fluent English and are happy to see you visit. We stuck out like sore thumbs at a couple local restaurants (recommended by AirBnB hosts) that didn’t usually have tourist traffic. Besides being the center of attention for a little while, we blended in with the crowd well.
The metro system (train) is extremely easy to use after your first trip. Also, we didn’t witness any crime but we did meet some Canadians that had a phone pick-pocketed on their metro trip. So, as always, mind your pockets and use intuition to tell you where is safe and where is not.
There is a section of Athens that is particularly rough north of Omonia Square. We did our best to minimize this part of the trip and successfully avoided any crime or bad behavior.
As far as credit cards: 75% of places can take cards with no problem. Usually the smaller restaurants or street vendors can only do Euros. Never hurts to have 40-50 Euros in your wallet in case a restaurant or small business cannot take your credit card.
Review & Recommendations
There are a million things to Athens, Greece… and we did about 50 of them. So, to act like an authority on Athens would not be fair.
The city is amazing, you really cannot go wrong by visiting the top ten attractions and walking the streets. The food is simply incredible, and we were always saying, “Now this is the best meal of the trip!”
Keep yourself open to discovering some new things and wander down a couple backstreets. The architecture and history of the city exists at every corner. And odds are, if you strike up a conversation with any Athenian, they will be happy to tell you their story, where they like to eat, and what they recommend!
Thanks for taking the time to read this long trip write-up! Hopefully it has inspired some ideas for your Athens, Greece trip and you will be ready to visit as soon as possible.
Please stay tuned for the Santorini post, the second part of our Greece trip!