Few cities can claim what Athens can: it is the birthplace of an entire civilization. History, politics, philosophy, sports, science and art owe a lot to this capital of Greece and many famous people that generations of children would eventually come to know in school once trod upon Athenian soil. Centuries later, with all the classical grandeur replaced with modernity, the city remains an attractive and amazing tourist destination for people who want to relive history or simply have a good time.
Wanna visit Athens? Apply some sunblock lotion, get those shades ready and greet this astonishing city with a big “Yasu!”
All the clichés of Athens are clichés because they’re worth seeing. Have you heard the saying that the best way to know any city is by walking? That is so true in Athens because the sights and sounds are indeed captivating.
Devote at least half a day to the Acropolis (one whole day if climbing up a hill is not your cup of tea) since there are a lot of monuments to see. On the way up you should be able to see two theatres, the Theatre of Dionysius Eleuthereus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
It’s easy to lose your way in Athens. For one, street signs are mostly written in the Greek alphabet. Athenians can manage a little English but it seems that they have a habit of dismissing questions and answering with a rapid “I don’t know.” If you have everything plotted out in Roman letters or you are unsure what to do and where to do it, you may want to go first to the tourism office or ask the place where you’re staying for directions. It may be a bit frustrating (they tend to be a bit disorganized), but it’s better than being lost. And, oh, male tourists, beware. If you happen to be walking alone along Ermou street or the Plaka area, a friendly local might approach you and invite you for a drink. Don’t go and don’t be fooled. You might end up paying triple the price for the both of you. The same warning goes to anyone with purses and wallets, since Athens has quite a bit of, uhm, reputation.
Afterwards, you could get down the Acropolis hill and walk a longish street toward the Psiri district. If you’re up for some adventure, enter the Kerameikon, an archaeological site. If not, take a seat in any of the bars within the area and reward yourself with a hearty Greek meal and ice-cold frappe, the national obsession.
If you’re still not tired of archaeology and history, the Roman agora (look for the Tower of the Winds), the nearby Hadrian’s Library or the faraway hill of Lykavittos with its stunning view of the city could be your next stop.
For those in search of things to buy, the Monastiraki area should be a very interesting place to cap your day off, although I strongly recommend comparing prices in different shops before buying anything.