The city named for the god Athena. Athens has a large place in the history of our human civilization. As you look through time and see the influence that the Greeks have had on society, you’ll be surprised at how much we owe to them. Take a tour through the city and visit so many historic sites. Ancient Agora, the Acropolis, Theatre of Dyonysus or the sight of the first modern Olympics. Or just simply enjoy the cuisine. There is a lot to offer in this historic Greek city.
Top 5 Things To Do
- Acropolis: The main attraction in Athens is on everyone’s list of sites to visit. It sits atop the city with many iconic buildings including the Temple of Athena, the Parthenon and the theatre of Dionysus. Go early before the crowds do. Or better yet, I went on a rainy day and people really decided against it.
- Ancient Agora: The market place of Ancient times. This site still has a lot to see. It sits right below the Acropolis so you can easily walk right down to Ancient Agora after that visit. The Temple of Ares and many more sites are found here. So much happened in this area and it’s a must.
- Acropolis Museum: Sadly Athens has been looted many times over the years. There is lot a that they got back in this museum. Look at the findings they’ve had from Athens and what the Acropolis used to be like during its time. Easily a half day tour to take it all in. It’s good to go to this before visiting the Acropolis to give you the significants of the buildings you will see.
- Delphi Trip: A trip to Athens will not be the same if you don’t see the navel of the world. The site of Oracles from ancient times, they whisk often speak in riddles to anyone coming for advice. It’s a great full day trip to take and well worth it. I know it’s not Athens, but if you are in Athens, it’s pretty unlikely that you would come back just to visit Delphi.
- Temple of Poseidon: Cape Sounion is where you will find the temple of Poseidon. There will be be a better location for you to watch a sunset over the ocean while you’re in the area. You’ll have a full trip, but take the afternoon trip and watch the sun go down on this site and various other locations around the area. Poseidon would be proud!
Flight: We took flight today and headed to Athens, Greece. Flying out of Rome on Aegean airlines. As we left Rome, we were given an outstanding view of the Amalfi coast. Being that we were on a Greek airline, what do they serve for a meal? Greek of course! It actually was a pretty delicious meal. Usually in the US, you don’t receive a meal unless you pay for it or are flying international. We were on a two hour flight and had one. As we entered into Athens, the rain was starting to come down pretty hard. The landing was a bit bumpy with the weather as it was, but we found it pretty easy to make our way through the airport.
Our Airbnb was the next stop on the list. It was a very nice place near the Panathenaic stadium. It was a great place and the view of the Acropolis from the roof was fantastic! We placed our things down and started walking to The district of Plaka. We passed several bakeries and shops along the way. A lot of fresh food to be had in Greece.
*Plaka: At first you will have to say that the area of Plaka is very touristy. Heavy on the same goods in every store and store owners on the outside haggling and pushing you to buy. This is outside of the restaurant area, which in itself has people haggling to get you in to try their food. We did find walking through the area to be intriguing. Sometimes just watching how people live and interact with each other can be wonderful in itself. We got a bite to eat at a local restaurant and moved on to our Airbnb to rest for a long day tomorrow.
- Temple of Zeus
- Acropolis Museum
- National Garden
- Syntagama Square
- Elvis Restaurant
- Panathenaic Stadium
Temple of Zeus: Our high hopes quickly turned when we woke in the morning to see rain again. Today we were lucky enough that it was Greek Heritage day and all museums and sites were free. We stopped in first to see the temple of Zeus and with the conditions, we did not have to fight crowds to get in. To see how these statues were is remarkable. This was actually created later into the Roman period of history. I would loved to have seen this temple with the huge Zeus bronze statue in the middle but sadly the statue is not there anymore. You will find this theme throughout Athens as many important artifacts have been looted over the years.
Acropolis Museum: We worked our way over to the Acropolis museum before the herds of crowds got there. We got in and there was barely anyone there around 9am. I would recommend around this time, as we were leaving around 11-12, there was a long line to get in and people were packing into the museum. The museum was very well laid out and had three floors with various artifacts. My favorite piece of the museum was on the third floor with the remains of the statues that were taken from the top of the Parthenon. It’s amazing the size of these, they would truly make those Greek gods proud! I would not recommend the restaurant though, we simple ordered coffees and the waiter never came back to us and there were several frustrated people next to us saying the same.
National Garden: we traveled on to the National Garden. We stopped first for some lunch at the restaurant right outside the garden. It was a nice tapa style meal again and we ordered various traditional Greek dishes. The garden was very well laid out and you had large maps at every entrance to the garden. There are various areas to the garden including an area for ducks, turtles and various other birds. Many different forms of foliage and areas with different architectural designs to be seen. The rain made everything look extremely green, but it did leave us wondering on what it would have been like on a sunny day.
Syntagama Square: Syntagama square is right outside the National Garden so we stopped by to see the changing of the guard. It was a bit disappointing after seeing places like Arlington or Buckingham Palace, where there is more of a ceremony. It was simply placing another guard behind the current one and the current one leaving. It left us feeling a little disappointed and it wouldn’t be a top thing to do in Athens. If were there, you would have assumed it was though! There were people everywhere, even in the pouring rain.
Elvis Restaurant: We grabbed some kabobs at a local place right around the corner from our Airbnb called Elvis. They were some decent kabobs, nothing special to write on. We went back to our place and waited until 6:30 where we headed off to the stadium for a hopeful night view.
Panathenaic Stadium: The home to the very first modern day olympics, the Panathenaic stadium is etched in Greek history. It’s also been part of the 2004 Olympics and houses every Olympic torch through the years. As the rain came down on us we walked up the large steps to the very top rows of the stadium. I wanted to do a rocky themed run around the track but the rain stopped that from coming to fruition! The stairs between the lower and upper deck our very steep but well worth an amazing view from the top. We got down to the track and noticed a dark opening for a cavelike structure. We entered and followed the lights up to an open area that housed the torches from all of the Olympic Games. It was so cool to see how the torch has changed through history and just thinking of how much that torch means during Olympic times. It also tells of the battle of Marathon and its role in the stadium. The actual Marathon race was named as a tribute to this. At the end of the battle, there was a person that ran all the way from Marathon to the Athens to let people know about the battle. As he made his way back he said something and then fell dead. Each year they still run the race from Marathon to the stadium to honor this. The stadium was well worth the stop for some great Olympic history.
- Temple of Athena
- Theatre of Dionysus
- Ancient Agora
- Cape Sounion Sunset Trip with Getaways Greece
- Cape Sounion
- Temple of Poseidon
- Lake Vouliagmeni
Acropolis: Yes it was raining again! But again we can’t let it stop us as I got up “bright” and early to ascend the steps of the Acropolis. An unbelievable feeling hits you as you enter through the gates and start to see the temple of Athena and the Parthenon. The time that it took to create these marvels is crazy to consider. Getting to the top early also meant I got to watch the Greek Army raise the flag and hear their national anthem as they hoisted it.
The other thing that I was reminded of was the looting of the British. It felt like every sign throughout the day says that there are replicas currently in place because the real artifacts are in the British museum. I know it might never happen but it would be great for England to give back a lot of these precious artifacts from other countries that are rightfully theirs. Remembering our trip to the British Museum, it felt like they almost had more pieces to the Parthenon than Athens did!
I walked back along the opposite side of the Acropolis and made my way to the trek Along the theatre of Dionysus, which was the beginning of the arts for modern day stage. It’s neat to look at what remains but somewhat sad that this is another place affected by conquering. This time with the romans destroying a lot of the theatre and creating their own place.
Ancient Agora: I moved on over to the ancient agora and it was fascinating on a couple of levels. First off, the ruins tell of an ancient culture that was busy with everyday business like going to the market, government decisions and places of worship. It also houses one of the most complete temples of Haidon that you can view in the city. You can make your way around the area and view this in less than two hours.
Cape Sounion: At the end of the day we made our way to a tour that took us to Cape Sounion and a sunset over the Temple of Poseidon. We had a truly wonderful guide on the way and was just an overall nice person. He talked about his life in Greece and gave great facts about living in the area. I loved his story about the issue they have with stray animals in Greece. He talked about feeding one cat, and then slowly saw more and more come to his house after. He was soon overrun with cats wanting food! He was very knowledgeable about the area and took us to some wonderful spots along the way.
Lake Vouliagmeni: He showed us a lake on the way that some locals don’t even know about! It goes from extremes on both sides of the spectrum. It goes from a couple feet deep at places to 300 feet deep and varies drastically with water temperatures. These situations make it perfect for cliff diving and also cave diving. We got to see both sides of the lake. On the way to the Cape, we got to see it in full activity with everyone out swimming and enjoying the beautiful day. On our way back that evening, he took us back to see the lake lit up in all it’s glory. I got some beautiful shots of the lighting around the area.
Temple of Poseidon: As we moved down to the cape we finally got to the temple. Remember that no glass is allowed at the landmark so we actually had to leave our wine at the gate! It was such a neat ruin and the watching the sun set here was very beautiful. This is truly a wonderful site to see when you visit Athens and is one of the top rated things I would say to do if you have a couple of days in Athens. The Temple of Poseidon has been kept up remarkably and the sun set perfectly with sun rays intertwining in the temple as it went down.
- Chat Tours Day trip to Delphi
- Temple of Athena
- Omfalos Restaurant
Delphi: The day had come for us to see the oracles and ask them all of the questions that I had been pondering over the years…or see the remains of where they was anyways! Today we went to see Delphi, the navel of the world. The place where Zeus let two eagles fly away to the East and the West, traveled around the world and both met here. The place were the oracle told Croesus that if he attacks Persia, a great empire will fall…little did he know the oracle meant his own not Persia! We started the day meeting at the tour location as our Airbnb was too far out of the way for them to travel to. Our tour bus was huge and could have fit around triple the people we had on it. It was a smooth ride out to Delphi with our guide giving brief stories of Greek culture. It did become a bit difficult to hear at times with people talking along with the fact that she rehearsed from a script. The tour got us into the museum and the site, but you had to pay extra to eat lunch at the restaurant we stopped at.
First off the museum is something you have to see before going to the site. There are a lot of artifacts that have been dug up around the area. It gives you a better understanding of what you are looking at and the scale of things when you get to the actual site. It’s always so unreal to me on how these ancient civilizations created so much with so little. The early statues they created for the gods were quite similar to the Egyptian pieces we have seen before, but then what they did to make it special is remarkable. There are pieces here from the many temples across the site. One in particular is two statues of boys from very early times and a wonderful story of how they came to be.
The site is very neat to just sit and relive history. To think the amount of people that had come to the Oracle in ancient times to help them make decisions. The wars that were fought simply because of the sometimes misleading advice. You sit and wonder and think on how Greek mythology does have similarities to our current religions. There are only a few remains left from the site today so you do have to imagine, but for those who don’t have that imagination…the view is also incredible!
Temple of Athena: As we got back on the tour bus, there were a couple of other photo ops to stop for, one being the temple of Athena which is right underneath Delphi and the temple of Apollo. Very neat with a bit more left than Delphi. This was a great stop if you have another 10-20 minutes in your day, which you should…cause honestly, how often do you get here?! The Greeks very often times would have an Athena temple even on a site for a different god. Athena meant that much to the ancient Greek civilization….when you go to Athens, Greeks don’t call it Athens, it’s Athena.
Omfalos restaurant: We moved along down the road to a restaurant right outside Dephi. The food was a bit better than average but nothing too special. The view is what draws people to this place! If you step outside the restaurant and look over the cliff, you have a phenomenal view of the valley, olive trees as far as the eye can see and a bay in the horizon.
We got back into town very late into the night as there was traffic all around the city…still big city living right? We decided to keep it simple and grab something small to eat before heading off to bed.
- Mount Lycabettus
Airbnb: It’s always interesting to learn about where you will be staying in an Airbnb. This one has been a highlight for sure. The only problem was that our taxi drivers could not find it anywhere! We circled and circled around the address and she couldn’t find it until we went through our google maps and figured it out. With the long start to the day and the challenges we had already, we were unsure on how this day would end up! As we got the keys and entered the place, we were pleasantly surprised! It had been completely redone to have a half pipe for skate boarding in it and a fantastic balcony with a hammock and everything else you could ask for. We found out later, that Tony Hawk had actually skated in this very house when he visited Athens on vacation.
Mount Lycabettus: We visited Mount Lycabettus for our one last view of the city. The taxi driver brought us to the gondola that took us up to the top. It was a wonderful view of the entire area of Athens. We stopped and grabbed a plate at the top, but honestly I can’t really say it was anything memorable. I would say it’s one of those places that you pay more for the view than you do the food. There is a cathedral at the top of the Mountain that is kind of neat to see. It was well worth coming up and getting a great view of the entire city of Athens.
We walked down the Mountain this time. We decided to get some groceries as it was our final night in Athens and we wanted to relax a bit before a long trip back to California. We got home and it was honestly a blur of really doing nothing. We watched some television and slept after eating a small meal. The next morning we were lucky enough to have the taxi driver from the first day send someone that she knew so we wouldn’t have confusion again. I would say this was probably the nicest taxi driver I’ve ever had! Sadly the fun was ending and we made our final trek to the airport.
Flight: We would not have expected to have any issues on the way back, but for those that have not traveled through the airport in Istanbul, I’m sorry to say that we were poorly mistaken. After a confusing exit off of our plane into the airport for our connecting flight, we then had to go through more security than you would if you were entering Fort Knox. We went through security to get up to the next concourse, then we had to go through literally 5 stops after this, all within 5-10 feet of each other. I’m unsure of if they felt everyone was a magician and we could magically create a weapon in between stops or they really just were bored…we will never know! I will say, I do question flying into turkey though! Luckily what we will say is that the people on Turkish airlines were fantastic and they treat everyone amazing on the flight. I would highly recommend going through Turkish airlines for a flight…just not the Istanbul airport!
The trip was a great experience and we met some amazing people along with experiencing some wonderful places that have really shaped our human culture as we know it.
*Top people watching spot