Athens is an incredibly vibrant city with so much to see, do and experience. You could easily spend a week here and not exhaust your options. However if you’re only in this iconic city for a short time, then here are the things not to be missed…
Iced Greek Coffee (Frappé) – Athens Style
Seriously! Do. Not. Miss. This. Everyone in Greece starts their day with coffee and you should too. Find a small πλατεία (plateía) and settle down with the locals for some amazing coffee. Pair that liquid deliciousness with some fresh bread, olives, tomato and feta…and your day is off to the perfect Greek start!
The Big Red Bus – Hop On Hop Off Tour
At Expert Traveller we are big fans of these city taste tester, hop on hop off, bus tours. They really are an awesome way to see a new place when you have limited time; especially if that time is in bursts, such as when you are working in a new city or at a conference.
We love the City Sightseeing Bus company, but there are lots of reputable operators in most of the world’s major cities. Jump online and it’s easy to find a vast array to choose from. We did three of the four lines on offer by City Sightseeing and absolutely loved them all.
We started with the Athens Line which took us to Syntagma Square and then to the famous Placa. This is a beautiful, historic part of Athens and if you love markets or architecture this stop is worth your time. Jump off the bus here and spend some time wandering the cobbled streets, looking at the shops and stalls.
At the back of the Placa you will see the row of cafes in the picture below. We enjoyed a truly delicious lunch and some welcome cold beverages here. A nice way to end the Placa tour and ready yourselves to jump back on the bus.
The bus runs every 15 minutes in peak season and every 30 minutes in the off season. The stops on the timetable read like the who’s who of global monuments and iconic locations; ones you will be keen to tick off your bucket list. If you can’t see them all, we highly recommend hopping off the bus at –
- The Acropolis and Parthenon
- The Temple of Zeus
- Parliament and National Gardens
- New Acropolis Museum
- The Placa
The Piraeus line takes a little more time to do but if you love the water, then it’s well worth it. This line departs every 30 minutes in summer and every 80 minutes in winter. Our recommendation is that you don’t hop off the bus at any of these stops but simply position yourself on the top level, soak up the sunshine and marvel at the natural beauty of the waterfront and port areas.
If you are taking a cruise from Athens then Piraeus will also be your port of embarkation. If you are travelling with children or teenagers you may like to stop at the planetarium on the way down on back from this trip.
The final line is the Beach-Riviera line. This journey also takes a little more time but it is a gorgeous trip. There is plenty to see along the way but again we recommend staying on the bus until you reach one of the three beaches.
Once you arrive at the beach you are interested in spending some time at, then jump off and spend as much or as little time as you wish to in the waters of the Med. Hats and sunscreen are a must on this tour, as are water bottles (we recommend these for all three tours actually).
Eating out in Athens is an absolute must! It’s also very easy but we seriously recommend staying away from the tourist areas. We found the food in tourist areas was less authentic and very over priced.
You will be far better served by going out a little further and trying somewhere that you see lots of locals sitting at. That’s where the best food and drink can be found! Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path a little in Athens, you will be well rewarded for it.
We found a central square near where we were staying and ate at all three of the family run places the square had to offer. Not to be missed whilst in Athens is eating at a Souvlaki place. Whether you prefer to eat Souvlaki on a plate or wrapped in a Gyros, your mouth and your stomach will thank you! Seriously delicious, fresh delights….and nothing like what you’ve tasted in your home country (unless you live in Greece).
Have you been to Athens? What are your must sees or places to avoid? Let us know in the comments…
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