Welcome to Athens the capital of Greece! This is a city that has been inhabitable for hundreds of years. Athens is the metropolis of democracy, theater, the Olympic Games, philosophy and so much more. The city has been magnet for people all over the world who choose to visit Athens for the uncountable experiences that are offered once you step foot in the city. Humble enough to say that we had a hard time to narrow down the list for the reasons to visit Athens. But we did it for you and we are sure that this small brief will be enough to lure you to plan your next visit there and see for yourself everything analyzed here.
Visit Acropolis and the Parthenon
Alright, you definitely saw that coming. Who doesn’t know at least a little information about that wonder of the ancient world? It’s the symbol of Athens. It seems pretty legit the reason why. The Acropolis of Athens is a citadel that is located on a rocky outcrop above city and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance. The most famous is the Parthenon which is a Temple dedicated to goddess Athena who was the patron of the Athenians. The construction of the Temple started in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at its peak of its power. Since then the Parthenon has been the symbol of Classical Greece as the architecture, decoration and aesthetics of the building is incomparable. The huge marble columns and the statues that decorate the gambles are still admirable of every tourist. The whole structure is the epitome of perfection and its imposing vibe magnetizes anyone.
From the hill of Acropolis you have the chance to admire a panoramic view of Athens. It feels like you are on the top of the world. Take a deep breath and think how amazing is that the same streets that you walked to get there have been walked million times for hundreds years consecutively. The hill of Acropolis and the Parthenon are also mesmerizing during sunset and sunrise. It is better to have the whole day just to wonder around the area and discover every corner of Acropolis and the many beautiful buildings beside Parthenon, like Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Visit museums and sightseeing sites
We could easily say that once you visit Athens you will feel like you are in a breathing museum. In the city centre in the areas of Plaka, Thiseio and Monastiraki there are open air archaeological sites. The ancient Agora of Athens which is considered to be the cradle of Democracy and Rhetoric is a must-visit. Another place that you could visit is the Panathenaic Stadium or Kallimarmaro which is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble. The stadium was built by the Athenian statesman Lycurgus on 330 BC primarily for the Panathenaic Games. After that it was rebuilt in marble by Herodes Atticus in 144 AD and had a capacity of 50,000 seats. It has also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first Modern Olympics in 1896 and it is the finishing point for the annual Athens Classic Marathon.
Moreover the Acropolis museum is a building that is notable for its design. The building is modern, thus is comes is contradiction with the rest of the environment. The neighborhood has neoclassical mansions and the view of Parthenon is amazing. It is astonishing how the industrial style of the museum’s building managed to fit harmonically in such a historic region. In 2017 The Acropolis museum has ranked 8th in the TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice Awards of the 25 Best Museums in the World. Speaking of museums the list can be so long. Note the National Archaeological Museum of Athens that is contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. We should not avoid mentioning the National Gallery, the Benaki museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art. Do you want a bonus tip? Do not forget to visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre which includes facilities for the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and a five-acre park, all of which the foundation donated to the Greek state.
Admire the Evzones
Evzones is the name of several historical elite infantry and mountain units of the Greek Army. Nowadays it refers to the members of the Presidential Guard, a ceremonial unit that guards the Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the Presidential Mansion in Athens. They are also called as Tsolias. They are known for their distinctive uniform that routes back to the Ottoman occupation of Greece. The highlight of the uniform is the fustanella, a kilt like garment. The fustanella has pleats. The tradition says that the pleats of the authentic fustanella are 400, as the number of years that the Greeks were under the Ottoman rule.
The men who are in this special unit are hard trained and are known for their incredible discipline. They have to stand still without even blinking in front of the Tomb. They guard the memorial in every weather condition 24/7. The Tomb is in front of the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square. Evzones are a popular image among foreigners. The best time to see them is when they change the guard. They do that in a particular kind of pacing and the procedure lasts about 15 minutes. It is definitely worth witnessing it. Make sure that when you visit Athens you will go to Syntagma Square and see the Evzones who are a symbol for the Greeks.
Walk around Anafiotika
Right in the heart of Athens and on the foothills of Acropolis there is Anafiotika, a neighborhood in Plaka. The narrow alleys in Anafiotika remind you nothing of the typical buzzing city centre. It is like you have suddenly transferred in an island and back in time. Everything here is quiet. The houses are colorful. Cafes, restaurants and shops are spreads around. Here are the residences of the oldest families in Athens. As you walk around you will notice that the Parthenon is always “looking” above your head.
Experience the vivid nightlife
Welcome to the city that never sleeps! If you are a night owl this is your Mecca! You have so many choices. Nightclubs, bars and traditional taverns with live music are composing the map of the Athenian nightlife. Greeks sure know how to party and here you will experience this too! The clubs are hosting well known music producers. The bars are having parties that no one could deny going. The highlight of summer though is the rooftop bars. In the city centre in Monastiraki square choose one of the many rooftop bars to drink your cocktail with the beautiful background of the illuminated Acropolis Hill.
Taste the best food
You will never get hungry here! The Mediterranean cuisine is at its finest in the Athenian restaurants and taverns. Try any kind of seafood or fresh fish. What about typical Greek salad with feta cheese? No one can say no to a freshly made salad in a hot day. Athens is also the best place for street food! Around the streets of Plaka, Anafiotika and Monastiraki you will find treasures. Taste there the best souvlaki or ice cream and eat it while you continue your walk in the centre.
Capture the Athenian Street Art
Athens is considered to be the contemporary Mecca of street art in Europe. In a beautifully chaotic city creative street artists have taken their art and spirit to the streets of Athens. Their visions and colors have covered the blank concrete buildings. Their pieces of art usually have multiple metaphorical meaning. They sure are giving food for thought to the passers-by. Grab your camera and capture as many as you can see as you walk around. You will be thrilled with the vivid colors and of the size of most of the artworks. If you are a fan of that kind of expression then you should go on a Street Art Walking Tour that is organized. Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to be amazed by the hundreds secret spots that have come alive thanks to these artists.
Visit the islands around Athens
Athens is a four season destination. However, it is likely that you will choose to visit Athens during summer time or in spring. Then you should plan to visit some Greek islands that are within 2 hours by ferry from Athens. Hydra and Spetses are two small islands that have big history. There you will relax and avoid crowds. They are peaceful and quiet since the municipality is forbidding the use of cars. Enjoy the sun in the secluded beaches and experience the Greek hospitality in the local taverns. Aegina is also an island worth visiting and where you can feel the original pulse of Greek mentality. Reaching the port with boat, the elegant neoclassical buildings will catch the eye of the visitor. The light blue waters of the Saronic Gulf hosts hundreds of fish boats and yachts which they use the marine as a safe anchorage. The main town is cosmopolitan full with narrow streets waiting for you to discover each unique corner. In the centre you can find all kind of shops, restaurants and cafes. Last but not least there are Poros and Angistri.