Athens, Greece : A city of modern day Greeks that walk the streets embedded with history. Athens has so much beautiful, historical architecture and sites to see hidden within the busy city. This stop to the mainland is a must on your trip to Greece, even if it’s just for a day or two. Continue reading to learn more about the best places to see on your quick stop to Athens, Greece.
Where To Stay:
Pick a spot that’s in view of the Acropolis and/or walking distance to it. We chose an Airbnb located above a bakery that was close enough to get to the Acropolis by foot. The bakery was also perfect to have below us for a quick breakfast to grab and go on our way.
Make sure to grab a map of the city, which are normally provided in the room you choose to stay at. We made sure to mark down the spots we wanted to visit and then planned transportation accordingly from there.
Athens in the summer is HOT. There’s so much walking you’ll be doing that making sure to wear loose and comfortable clothing is key. For the two days we had in Athens I tried to stick to comfort first, for my style choices. This consisted of the most supportive sandals I had, (or slide ons are a good pick) and I chose a loose skirt and crop tank to to see the Acropolis, which ended up being perfect in the heat. The next day, a loose romper for shopping in Monastiraki and seeing the Parliament House was also a great choice that still took style into consideration.
Crime To Be Aware Of :
Crime in Athens is high due to the economic crisis – so enjoy yourself, but always be aware of your surroundings. Pickpocketing is a huge problem. Especially when walking to the Acropolis or through Monastiraki, there’s a fairly large amount of homeless people who will ask to sell you flowers or scarves, etc. They’ve been known to pickpocket when trying to sell these, so just be mindful. Also, if you have a backpack, make sure to strap it in front of your chest ALWAYS, never ever wear it behind – it’s a much easier target for thieves. Obviously it’s not the best look for your stylish outfit we discussed earlier, but we have to put priorities first here! Overall, just be constantly aware of your surroundings with your items secured on you, and you’ll enjoy your time in Athens.
Places to see:
The most important place to stop at in Greece is the Acropolis. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. From the walk up, to the multiple spots on the landscape with incredible views of Athens city surrounding you, followed by the massive ruins, it’s just absolutely breathtaking. One of my favorite parts was seeing the Greek flag blowing high up in the wind on the farthest corner of the landscape – your perfect welcome to Greece.
One of the gorgeous buildings you’ll be able to view on your walk up.
The one and only, The Parthenon.
An absolutely beautiful view of Athens city surrounds you.
The Acropolis Museum:
After seeing the Acropolis, take a quick stop over to the Acropolis Museum – just a short walk away from the ruins. I have a small love for museums and seeing history in its fullest, so the museum was exciting and definitely worth it. The white statues on the main floor were my favorite part, looking clean and crisp, all lined up near one another. The various ancient art forms throughout were stunning and a perfect breath of Greece’s history outside of the gorgeous islands I’d visited before. I’m a firm believer that when traveling anywhere, to try and get in touch with the history of your destination. Not just all beaches, tanning, swimming and late night drinks – but history. Seeing real, raw history and experiencing the culture – that, I feel is the true reason to travel.
The Monastiraki Flea Market is by far my favorite place to visit in Athens. The square is surrounded by long streets of shops, all corner to corner, squished up against each other. Down the busy streets you’ll find the handmade leather purse or shoe shops, handmade jewelry from all different styles and prices, clothing from sundresses to Greece’s sports fan shops. Of course you’ll find a few gyro and ice cream places to keep you fueled throughout your shopping as well!
The handmade leather shoes were my obsession on our trip as well as past trips to Greece.
Of course there’s a wide variety of restaurants to choose from right outside the square if you want sit down food versus a fast, grab and go gyro.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for friends back home while on your trip to Greece, I suggest holding off until you get to Monastiraki. I bought almost nothing on all of my trips to the islands since the shops were a bit more expensive, but once you’re in Athens, it gets much more affordable in Monastiraki. There, I was able to find gifts for each of my friends, my favorite being the little hand made bowls. The bowls can come in large platters to little ones that fit in the palm of of your hand. I grabbed four of the small ones for all my friends, each in their favorite colors. The bowls are all hand made with not a single one being similar to the other, each design and color is unique. Its a personal and affordable gift for friends and family back home.
The little handmade bowls came in so many colors to choose from. Such a perfect, unique gift for friends back home.
Ermou Street (Hermes Street):
If you’re looking for more high fashion and name brand items, stop at the Ermou Street, the strip that connects to Monastiraki. There you’ll find more expensive items that you may be in search for. It’s like the touch of modern before the start of the historic paths. You move down the strip with hanging chandelier lights guiding you through, and then soon into the small side by side shops of Monastiraki.
Morning Bakery stop:
A great stop to make is at a bakery for breakfast or a quick snack. I’ve noticed in Greece, the locals don’t always have the heavier breakfasts we’re so used to in the US. They normally start their morning off with a frappe and a bakery item. Having a fast bakery near by you in the morning is crucial to have on your trip to Athens. Since Athens is one that can be seen in a day or two, you’ll be packing a lot into those days, so grab and go snacks when you need them is so important!
The Parliament House:
If you’re a history buff, The Parliament House is a must see. If you’re lucky you will be able to see the “changing of the guards” which happens every hour. Watching how precise the soldiers are in their movements and march when this happens is amazing. It’s incredible how the soldiers’ (called, Evzones) standing post don’t move a muscle, not for photo ops, funny faces tourists may make – nothing. Afterwards, you’ll be able to walk to the Plaka (which is a must to see while in Athens) where there’s delicious restaurants for a great bite to eat on your last day. It’s a perfect spot for last minute shopping and people watching, along with multiple vendors that set up shop along the streets. And most importantly, there’s a nearby crepe shop in the main square as well – which you all know was a definite stop for me on our last day!
The Parliament House.
One of the Evzones standing guard.
A delicious salad we ordered for the table at a restaurant just near the Parliament House.
These few, important spots to hit in Athens are what make it the perfect quick stop on your trip to Greece. Athens is a spot you really don’t need to stay over two days in, because you can normally pack the most important spots in just those couple. Save the rest of your trip for the gorgeous islands. For a quick two day schedule that my family and I did was starting with a bakery in the morning and hitting the Acropolis early, then the museum afterwards and finishing with Monastiraki in the late afternoon/night. The following day you can head back to Monastiraki for last minute shopping, seeing the Parliament House and then your final meal in Athens. These few days will leave you beyond satisfied with the beauty and history Athens has to offer.
Leave your comments below if your heading anywhere international this year! I’d love to hear your destination spots.