72hrs in Athens
Athens is the city that gave birth to democracy and shaped modern society as we know it (and enjoy it) today. It counts more than 3,400 years in recorded history and has been a centre of the arts, philosophy, athleticism, knowledge and science since forever. The Classical Athens of centuries ago was a powerful city-state and the cradle of Western civilisation where culture prospered and flourished. The heritage of this classical era is apparent all around in the Athens of today, waiting for the visitor to discover the ancient treasures in the plentiful monuments that adorn its streets. Apart from the sensation of raw awe inspired by the sheer volume of antiquity, Athens is also a contemporary city, indulging in wonderful weather mostly all year round that makes it an ideal destination, offering a plethora of experiences. Let’s have a look at what you should experience if you have 72 hours in the city Athens.
24 HOURS - THE TOURIST SIDE
During the first moments of your visit there is a lot to take in. The city centre of Athens has the added advantage of everything being closely situated, so a stroll around the main areas will uncover a handful of landmarks, effortlessly. Choose to stay in a central location in the historic part of the city at AthensWas, so that all the ancient wonders are (literally) at your feet. The imposing Acropolis rock with its impressive Parthenon dominates most of the areas, while the new Acropolis Museum is definitely your second, if not first, point of call. Allow for 2-3 hours to fully browse through all the intriguing artefacts. Located on the pedestrian Dionysiou Aeropagitou, Athens’ most upscale street which is the perimeter of the Acropolis rock, walking along it you will reach the quaint area of Thiseio and the picturesque Monastiraki, filled with cafes, tavernas and souvenir shops. Plaka and Anafiotika areas are directly under the massive rock, and hide all sorts of interesting buildings, alleys and narrow passageways. The Ancient Agora is very preserved, and as you walk around you’ll be surprised at all the excavation sites that are on full display. If you can’t get enough of historical Athens, then you may also visit the National Archeological Museum of Athens, or if it’s art you are a fan of, then Benaki Museum is the next stop for you. You can easily explore Athens on your own, however, in case you want to combine a bit of a history lesson with these visuals, and get to grips with the absolute essentials, then you can choose an Athens guided tour with the experts, Key Tours, who even offer a number of different types of tours.
48 HOURS - THE LOCAL SIDE
On your second day, after having had your main cultural fix, indulge in a lazy morning and enjoy a delicious, moreish breakfast before you set out to explore the local side of Athens. Try the traditional hot Greek coffee, which is a nice thick, aromatic blend, or alternatively, the cold alternative which is a freddo espresso (without milk) or freddo cappuccino (with milk froth). And once you’re ready for round two of exploring, the largest shopping high street is located straight ahead from Syntagma Square, where the Greek Parliament is situated with the honorary Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and is called Ermou. It is brimming with quality clothes stores’ primarily and is busy usually most of the time the shops are open. Leading all the way down to Monastiraki and Thiseio, you’ll begin to notice that antique shops and stalls begin to appear, selling interesting and raw finds half the time! Shops operate from the morning until about 5pm, except for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays when shops close at 9pm, and Saturday until 3pm. Since shopping can be a way of losing track of time and a real appetite stimulant, you can take a break and get back to base in order to tuck into an unsurpassed Athenian rooftop gastronomic experience, with a view to die for: the top of the Acropolis! And speaking of views, a favourite local spot is Mount Lycabettus (meaning the mount of wolves, as it has been said that it was once the refuge of the wild wolves of Athens). If offers fantastic panoramic views of the Panathinaiko Stadium or Kallimarmaro, the temple of Olympian Zeus, the Parliament and Acropolis. It also is the host of a very popular open air concert venue at the top. If you are lucky enough to experience a concert there, you shouldn’t miss the chance due to its phenomenal acoustics.
72 HOURS - THE ATHENIAN SUBURBIA
After having sampled the main points of interest within the Athens city centre, on your third day you may want to venture out to the outskirts. The Northern parts of Athens are known as the more luxury neighbourhoods such as Maroussi, Kefalari and Kifissia and as they are the posher areas, they have their own hub of leisurely attractions with a slightly different ambiance. The major shopping malls of Athens are located on the main road artery leading up to Kifissia, and once you arrive there (by train from the centre or by taxi around 25 minutes) you’ll find some designer stores for exclusive luxury shopping! Another difference you’ll notice is that these neighbourhoods are surrounded by green surroundings, something that is lacking in the centre. Perfect for enjoying a coffee and stroll. Alternatively, if you can make your way towards the Southern regions of Faliro and Glyfada that offer a lovely coastline and generous views of the calming Mediterranean sea. This coastline is also known as the Athenian riviera and goes all the way to Sounion, which boasts the stunning Temple of Poseidon built on the top of a cliff. Visit Sounion around sunset so that you can experience breathtaking vistas from the cape.
72 HOURS AND BEYOND
Following this guide, in 3 days you will have had a very good grasp of all the important sites. Now, what’s next you may wonder... Athens is the best starting point for a Greek island adventure, so if you are planning a trip to Greece, it is best that you also experience what Greece is renowned for, all on one go.