I’ve been to Greece many times, and I imagine it’s somewhere I will forever return to given how much I adore it. As I’m usually visiting in the summer months I’ve always avoided Athens, being someone who doesn’t enjoy hot bustling cities in their busy summer months. However last year, I was finally able to make time for it. And funnily enough, it actually rained a little whilst we were there (late June) and the heat wasn’t a problem at all!
A lot of what we did was based on tips from our many Greek friends, a special thank you to my loveliest girlfriend Katerina who knows all the good spots and sent me off very well equipped to explore the city.
The Acropolis is of course the crowning glory of Athens, being one of the most famous ancient archaeological sites in the world. And it really is worth a visit, if for nothing else than to see the wonderful view of the city as it sits perched high on a hill in the middle of the old town. In the summer months, it really is a bit horrific to go charging up there in the middle of the day when the temperature is at its peak and everyone is melting. So hot tip, go first thing in the morning or in later in the early evening. They also do a light show in the evenings which is meant to be wonderful.
Also worth a visit, to coincide with your ascension of the Acropolis, is the Acropolis Museum. It houses a vast collection of artefacts and ancient ruins / sculptures from the Acropolis, helping visitors to visualise the ancient site all the way back to the Bronze Age.
Another nice way to enjoy the Acropolis to visit one of the many hotels and bars that offer views onto it: try The Athens Gate, A for Athens, The Hilton or the Hotel Grande Bretegne.
In terms of areas to explore and stay near, Plaka was the part of Athens I enjoyed most. Nestled under the Acropolis hill, Plaka is incredibly picturesque with lovely neoclassical buildings, traditional taverns, little cafes, overflowing bougainvillea, souvenir shops and ancient ruins. The area is somewhat commercial and touristy, but it is the perfect place to explore and spend a morning or afternoon wandering through the cobblestone alleys.
Two areas I didn’t make it to, but will definitely get to next time are Kolonaki and Keramikos. Apparently great places to find independent shops and a more bohemian Athens.
If you need to do any shopping head to ermou (high street) which will in turn turn in to monastiraki where there are lots of shops and flea markets. You can get great cheap leather sandals there – I bought 3 pairs from a shop on a corner and I can’t for the life of me find the name of it!!! Will keep hunting…
We enjoyed a delicious meal at Mani Mani on Falirou, recommended by Katerina. And similarly for food, she recommends heading to Piraeus where there are lots of seafood restaurants by the water.
To end your trip, and to work of some of that spanakopita and saganaki, head for a walk up to the Temple of Poseidon at sunset. It’s a little out of central Athens but absolutely worth it. Yasou!