ATHENS (Greece)


The Greek capital will captivate you with its history and good food

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Experience Athens with Get Your Guide:

How to get to the center of Athens from Eleftheria Venizela Athens Airport

Best by subway. Watch for the Trains sign on arrival. The station is located outside the airport hall on the left, a short walk away. In the station hall, buy an Athens - Airport ticket from the machine. It is valid for 90 minutes and costs 9 Euros (you can pay by cash or card). Do not throw away the tickets until you are completely out of the subway, the ticket must be beeped when exiting, otherwise you will not pass through the turnstile! On the platform, you have a Trains sign on one track and a Metro sign on the other. Go to that Metro. There are 3 metro lines in Athens, but only one goes to the airport, the blue line (No. 3), so you can't go wrong. The metro takes about half an hour to the center.

Be careful when you go back to the airport. Not every blue metro goes all the way to the airport! Some lines end 4 stops before the airport, so you have to get off as you will be prompted to do so and wait for the subway that says Airport. Once people are sitting on the subway and not getting off, get on, that's it :) We waited maybe 15 minutes for the right one to go.

Athens in brief

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. It is also the southernmost capital of mainland Europe. It is located on the Attica peninsula by the Saronic Gulf. Over 660,000 people live here. Together with the surrounding cities (the most famous is the port of Piraeus) it forms an agglomeration with over 4 million inhabitants. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was created in the 3rd millennium BC. From the glorious times of antiquity, we can still admire the Parthenon on the Acropolis. The Acropolis together with the Dafnion Monastery is registered in UNESCO. In 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens.

My own observation - pay close attention before entering the road, and by that I mean crossing and even if you have a green light! There is a lot of traffic in Athens, and the person who was handing out driver's licenses to them should kill himself. Total disregard for any regulations, red is not red, lane is not lane, standing where prohibited, simply whoever is bigger drives and the one who sells car horns must be a millionaire, because everyone is honking their horns all the time :) I'm so glad we didn't go there by car .

What to see in Athens

If you live in the center (the funny thing is that almost all hotels state that they are in the center with a view of the Acropolis, well, it is on a hill and you can see it from almost everywhere, but you better check the location of the hotel), you can walk to most of the sights and you don't have to use public transport. If you happen to have to, a 90-minute ticket costs 1.2 Euros, an all-day ticket 4.1 Euros (the exception is the ticket to the airport, see above, which costs 9 Euros). Tickets are bought from machines at the entrance to the metro, and can also be paid by card. The metro usually runs from 5 am to midnight. Lines 2 and 3 run until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. We were staying at the 5* hotel St. George Lycabettus Lifestyle Hotel.

I recommend buying a combo ticket called - Athens: Acropolis and 6 Archaeological Sites Combo Ticket on Get Your Guide. It pays off when you visit 3 places. And the indisputable advantage is Skip the line - you don't stand in line at the checkouts. The great thing is that the ticket is valid for 5 days from the first entry, so you don't have to hit all 6 places in 1 day. The ticket is valid for: Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Temple of Zeus, School of Aristotle, Hadrian's Library and Kerameikos of the Ancient Cemetery. All are sites of excavations or ruins.

1. DAY - monuments in the center

The monuments in the order in which we visited them follow each other quite logically.

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace in Athens can only be admired from behind the fence, it is not publicly accessible and is of course well guarded. It is the official residence of the President of Greece. It used to serve as a royal palace until the monarchy was abolished after a referendum in 1974. The castle is built in a neoclassical style and was designed by Ernst Ziller. When the royal palace on Syntagma Square burned down in 1909 (today it serves as the parliament building), the royal family made their "family house" their official residence. And today it is the seat of the president. The palace is surrounded by huge gardens. Those opposite are also accessible to the public. So take a picture of the palace and we continue further down to the Olympic Stadium.

Panathinaiko Olympic Marble Stadium

The stadium was built for ancient games designed to celebrate the goddess Athena. As the name suggests, it is entirely made of marble. The Panathenaic Stadium (also known as Kallimarmaro - beautifully marble) was built around the 4th century BC. The stadium was also the venue for the modern Olympic Games in 1896. Currently, Greek athletes are welcomed here after some major success. Concerts are sometimes held here. During our visit, the stadium was open to the public. It is possible to buy a ticket for 10 Euros for adults, 5 Euros for students and seniors. Children under 6 free. The ticket can be bought directly at the stadium and can be paid by card. It was enough for us to take a picture of the stadium from the outside. We now head back across the gardens to Parliament.

National Gardens in Athens

Opposite the stadium, the large National, sometimes also Presidential, gardens begin. Here you will find all kinds of flora, and ponds with fish, turtles or ducks, children's playgrounds, fountains, marble statues and some cafes, a very nice walk, and also the only green and shady one on this route. Free entry. Go up a slight hill and head rather to the left, towards the Parliament. The gardens cover an area of 16 hectares. They were founded in 1840 by Queen Amalia. As soon as you come out of the gardens to the main road, turn left and you will see the Parliament building in front of you.

Parliament Building (Hellenic Parliament)

The Parliament is located in the center, on the busy Syntagma Square. Wait a full hour for the changing of the guards. I have never seen such a changing of the guard, the boys have great balance in their traditional clogs. They are members of the Greek army. The building was built in the classicist style in the 19th century and originally served as the royal palace of Otto of Bavaria. You can only look inside if you are a group. You must arrange a visit by email min. 15 days ahead. The group can have a maximum of 20 people and there is no entrance fee. Tours run Monday through Friday, except in August.

Syntagma Square

If you are at the parliament, you are already there. On the right are the most luxurious hotels in Athens. Cross the path and go down. From the square, the busy pedestrian Ermou Street leads through the center, on which there are many shops and restaurants. Now, in order not to get lost, I recommend using the Sygic app, which we often use on our sight-seeing trips, or some online maps. The first thing on the way is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, but you have to turn into one of the alleys on the left.

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary

It is located on Metropolitan Square. It is the most important church building in Athens, the seat of the archbishop. Construction began in 1842 with the laying of the foundation stone by King Ota and Queen Amalia. Construction took 20 years. The cathedral is a three-nave dome basilica. Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks. Weddings and funerals of important Greek personalities take place in the cathedral. There was a brutal queue, so we didn't go in.

Pandrossou Street

From the cathedral, continue towards the Agora through the busy Pandrossou street, which is full of stalls selling clothes, souvenirs and jewelry, as is the custom in seaside resorts. And you will come to the first excavations called Hadrian's Library.

Hadrian's Library

If you purchased a convenient combo ticket via Get Your Guide, see above, it applies to you here. So visit. The place is named after the Roman emperor Hadrian, who was a great admirer of Greek culture and art. He had a huge library and lecture halls built in the center of the city. In the center of the library was a courtyard with colonnades and marble columns. The building was built in 132 A.D. Unfortunately, after one hundred years of its existence, it was destroyed. Later, a Christian church stood here, then a basilica, and in the 19th century there was even a barracks here. Today you can see only ruins and a few preserved columns. And a little further behind the library, in another area, there is a large Greek Agora. There are many restaurants in the vicinity, mostly with traditional Greek cuisine, I recommend stopping for lunch. A bottle of water is included everywhere.

Athenian Agora

Agora means a gathering place in the middle of an ancient city where public life took place. Originally, markets were mainly held here, later philosophers spoke here. Important public buildings were built around. Today we would say that it is something like a square. The agora is really vast and there are many buildings or their ruins. You will walk through time here. You can see ancient monuments, through Roman monuments, but also buildings from the beginning of Christianity.

On the hill is a very well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus from the 5th century BC, you definitely can't miss it. Another prominent building is Attal's stoa (column) below - it originally served as a shelter for the marketplace. You can even enter it, there is a museum here, and you can also go to the first floor, from which you have a nice view, you can admire various installations here. And you can enter it because it is a perfect copy of the original colonnade, it is clear that entry into the original would probably be prohibited. From here you can see the Acropolis, which stands out above the Greek Agora. Right at the entrance you have a map of what you can see, I won't describe every stone so I don't bore you to death :) You just have to see it in person. You can also visit Kerameikos - the ruins of the ancient cemetery - as part of the combo ticket. We visited it the next day on the way from Piraeus, because then we would have to return to the Acropolis a lot, so I will describe it later. And the Acropolis is really up a terrible hill, so save your energy!

Roman Agora

Now go back a little along Adrianou Street, which leads past the Agora, and at the first turn right slightly up the hill (Vrysakiou Street), you must finally visit the Acropolis! But there is also the Roman Agora on the way, so if you already have a combo ticket, you will stop here, right? To your great surprise, you will see ruins here again :) This Agora is newer. It was an administrative center in the 1st century. The area was more built up with newer buildings. The most famous building is the Tower of Winds - an octagonal structure made of marble, on each side one of the eight types of winds is depicted. At the top of the 12 m building was a flag that showed what wind was blowing at the time. The tower also served as a hydraulic clock, but no one really understood how it worked :) Nevertheless, the tower is considered the oldest meteorological station in the world. The entrance gate of Athena Archegitis is also well preserved. And now boldly up the steep hill to the Acropolis, well at least you'll lose a little weight :) You will reach the wide sidewalk on Theorias Street. Just below the Acropolis on the right is a rock with a lookout point and a ruin - the Areopagus. If you have enough strength, go up the stairs. The oldest Athenian court sat here. But now really to the Acropolis, don't worry, the hills don't end :)


And here we will again use our combo ticket from Get Your Guide, we won't stand in that queue after all! And we climb to the top! Even before you reach the famous open space at the top, to the right below the Acropolis is the Roman stone amphitheater - the Odeion of Herod Attica. The building was completed in 161 AD and the reconstruction took place in 1950. It was built by Herodes Atticus in memory of his Roman wife. From the 20th century is the main venue for the Athens Festival, which takes place every year from May to October.

Above the amphitheater is the Temple of Athena Nike, built entirely of Pentelian marble between 427 and 421 BC. It stands on a 6-meter-high stone platform extending from the southwest corner of the Acropolis. The temple was the first Ionic structure to be built on the Acropolis. It is dedicated to Nike, a form of Athena who is considered the goddess of victory in Greek mythology.

Then go with the crowd to the stairs to the Propylaea Gate and you finally stop going up the hill, you're at the top, hooray. And admire all the sights of the Acropolis:

The Parthenon (Greek temple of the virgins) was the main temple of ancient Athens dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (Virgin). It was built in 447-438 BC on the Athenian Acropolis, where we can still admire its remains today. It served its purpose for almost 1000 years. In the Christian era, it was rebuilt as a temple of the Virgin Mary. In the 17th century the temple suffered the most damage from shelling from the ship. The Parthenon is listed in UNESCO and has been undergoing constant renovation since 1975. The building is made of marble. In its heyday, a 12-meter gold and ivory statue of the goddess Athena stood here.

Directly opposite, look for the remains of the Old Parthenon and just behind them is the Erechtheion - a temple built in 420-406 BC in the Ionic style. The temple stands on the site where the palace of the legendary king Erechtheius was supposed to stand. At the south-east corner is the famous vestibule, where the ceiling is supported by the heads of female statues instead of columns. You can also explore the remains of the Temple of Zeus, the sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros, the museum of the old Acropolis and others, there are really a lot of stones here, now you just have to know what is what :)

Well, you need to reward yourself for walking a million kilometers on this day, so hurry back to the city and have some great ice cream or something good for your teeth, the restaurant is in the center at every step.

2. DAY- trip to Piraeus, Kerameikos, Lycabettus

When you're in Greece, you also want to see the sea, don't you?


Hop on the blue or green metro and take a half-hour ride to the city of Piraeus. If you are interested in giant cargo and passenger ships and ferries, get off at the Piraeus stop. You can walk along the coast right around the sea, and there were a lot of boats! If you stop having fun in the sun, cut it down a street across the peninsula slightly uphill, and you will reach the bay and the port of Zeá, where smaller luxury yachts are moored. Around the port there are markets especially with local specialties and also many restaurants where you can have something good right by the sea. Do you want to swim in the sea? A short distance away is a public beach. If you want to go straight here, get off the blue line at the final stop Dimotiko Theatro and the green line at the Faliro stop.

The city of Piraeus almost merges with Athens, but it is no longer Athens. It is the 4th largest city in Greece. Over 160 thousand inhabitants live here. Piraeus is the largest passenger port in Europe and the 3rd largest in the world. It was built already in the 5th century BC. You can reach most of the Greek islands from it. The main ones include Rhodes, Crete or Samos. One-day trips to the neighboring islands can also be ordered here, I was sorry we didn't make it because they look beautiful in the photos, but the next time we're here, we'll definitely book a trip. You can explore trips in the Get Your Guide app, there are quite a few to choose from, including lunch or swimming. Take it easy on the image below:

Not much has survived from antiquity, so you don't go to Piraeus to look for monuments. But if you like to explore museums, there is the Maritime Museum and the Archaeological Museum.

When you have had enough of the sea blue, you need to return to Athens again. We took the blue metro to the Kerameikos stop, near which is the ancient cemetery of the same name, which we didn't want to go to yesterday, we don't need to see all the excavations in one day, do we? The combo ticket we bought yesterday for Acropolis and others is valid here. From the metro, it is about a kilometer on foot, in the direction of Ermou Street to Ancient Agora. The entrance to the cemetery is on the right side. After that, you will walk along the wide pedestrian street to the Agora and back to the center.


The original district of Athens dedicated to the god Keram (patron of ceramic production). A burial ground (necropolis) was part of this district. At its time, it was the largest cemetery in Athens. Even today, you can recognize Themistocles' walls, which defined the city's boundary. In the cemetery you can see steles - monuments with a sculptural representation of the dead. Rich Athenians were buried in luxurious marble sarcophagi, the poor in ceramic vases (urns). There is also a museum where you can admire large marble statues, tombs and things with which the dead were buried. Even though you are a short distance from the center, there was peace here. You can sit on the benches in the shade under the trees, where I was quite startled by a turtle, because I thought it was a stone all the time...and suddenly it calmly walked away! :)) And since you deserve it again after a whole day in the sun, walk through the center and have an ice cream or a beer and watch the local buzz.

Lycabettus Hill

But we somehow missed the hills today, so we decided to take the highest one, namely Lycabettus, which towered above our hotel. It is even higher than the Acropolis, it is actually the highest point in the center of Athens (277 m above sea level). And it is very steep indeed. The roughnecks went on foot. We found out that the cog goes up. But the person who built it was also intelligent. Not that he built it from the bottom of the center, it is halfway up the hill, even above our hotel! So unfortunately you have to blow out there first. The lower station of the cogwheel is located in a residential area, so I recommend turning on the navigation on your mobile phone and entering the address at the corner of Plutarch Street and Aristippou Street. The nearest metro station is Evangelismos. But from the centre go on foot. The cable car runs daily from 9 a.m. to 1.30 at night, every half hour. If there are a lot of people here, they drive all the time. A return ticket costs 10 Euros per person, one way 7 Euros. Don't look forward to the view from the cable car, it runs in a concrete tunnel. Most people bathe at the top of the hill at sunset. You can see beautifully on the Acropolis and the whole of Athens, all the way to the sea. There are several restaurants upstairs. The most luxurious is Orizontes restaurant, it has the best view. If you want to sit outside on the terrace here, I recommend a reservation, it was full in the early evening. I think the restaurants have a common kitchen because some dishes are the same in both menus. You can have pasta, risotto, typical Greek dishes, salads, smaller dishes, meat, etc., the selection is very decent. Then there is also a cafe and a restaurant with grilled specialties. In addition to restaurants, there is also a small church on the top - St. George Church (Agios Georgios) from 1870.

3. DAY - National Museum and strolling around the center or shops

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

Buy tickets HERE and skip the line

The entrance is on Patission Street adjacent to the historic building of the Polytechnic University of Athens.

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens houses the most important artifacts from various archaeological sites throughout Greece from prehistoric times to late antiquity. It is considered one of the largest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity. The museum building has a neoclassical design.

The collections are divided into several collections: prehistoric collection, sculpture collection, vase and small objects collection, Santorini island collection, metallurgical collection, Egyptian and Middle Eastern antiquities collection, epigraphic collections.

The museum is really extensive, you can spend several hours here. From there we then headed to the center, this time from a different direction than usual, we walked through flea markets with everything possible like in the nineties, we passed a large market with food, we sat down for a beer and enjoyed the last hours of the Athenian atmosphere.

Hopefully this guide will tell you what to visit in Athens, how you can save on tickets and avoid standing in lines. Alternatively, what trips can you take from this Greek metropolis.

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