Athens is one of those cities that can either leave you feeling incredibly underwhelmed or in my case completely in love!
After staying in Athens for the first time, I’ll be honest and say it definitely didn’t feel like love at first sight nor was it a city I wanted to return to anytime in the future.. It didn’t help my first impression of the city was driving through streets full of graffiti and rubbish, past riot buses and back through what I thought look like some really dodgy parts of the city. I should have known better then to judge a city by its overall appearance, but to make matters worse, the young girl in the taxi (who was from the area) was ensuring that I don’t leave my hotel alone at night after dark as ‘it is dangerous’ for me to do so.
That said, after my short one night stay I had in Athens, I returned again after spending 2 weeks in the Greek Islands. Luckily I did, as this second time around I had a proper chance to spend a few full days exploring the delights Athens has to offer before heading back home to Australia! And let me tell you, my second impression was definitely a better one than the first!
I saw a different side of Athens; I saw its pure beauty and witnessed its rich history, that I had so stubbornly missed the first time.
Athens was an incredible city!
Where to stay
I stayed in Old Plaka and I recommend staying in this part of town as it’s so central to everything you need; food, shopping, bus stops & taxis, nightlife etc..
Other pleasant areas that are recommended for visitors are Makrianni, Koukaki, Thission, Syntagma and Monastiraki – all which surround the acropolis…
I stayed at Plaka Hotel (which was great by the way, you can check it out here) located in Old Plaka Town and had amazing rooftop views of the acropolis!
Suggestions of things to see and do?
There is plenty to see and do in Athens! If you’re strapped for time, booking a Hop On Hop Off the bus tour is always a great way to zip around the city and see the major attractions in a short amount of time. But if you would rather do it yourself here are some major hot spots to check out 🙂
– The Acropolis, Erechtheion, Theatre of Dionysus Theatre, Greece & Odeon of Herodes Atticus (all which you will come across if you are planning a visit to the Acropolis!
– The Parthenon
– The National Archaeological Museum
– Monastiraki Flea Market
– National Garden of Athens
– Kolonaki district – (full of cute boutiques and cafes).
– The Agora-Athens Central Market (for loads of fresh produce like cheese, fish, olives, spices etc!)
– Shopping (it’s super cheap!!!)
When to go?
There is really no wrong time of year to visit Athens. Depending on what season you would like to travel in and if you like less crowds can dertermine such a decision. Generally speaking, the busiest months are from June to August (peak season) and are the hottest – weather can be sweltering. The remainder of the year are more quiet, particularly during winter. Spring and Autumn are great times as the weather is mild and pleasant.
I went in Spring (during May) and it was just beautiful. The temperature was getting hot but it was still pleasant and the trees and flowers were all in bloom!
What about crime?
– Pick Pocketing can occur in Athens, particularly in touristy areas but also when you least expect it. Just be careful of your belongings and make sure your bags are always zipped up and close by your side.
– Taxi Scams…many of the taxi drivers are honest and genuine, however there can be others than will try to scam you. These scammers often reffered to as “taxi cowboys’, and they target tourists who don’t know the area/city very well.
The following website has some great info on this!
– After dark ..once if reaches nighttime and the streets get dark, some areas are to be avoided especially if you are traveling solo or in a small group. As a rule of thumb, stay only on streets that are lit up.
Reaons to love Athens!
– I loved the food and wine culture in Athens. There is no shortage of restaurants, bars, bakeries and cafes to pick from.
– Shopping is super cheap, with loads of bargains around every corner. I loved the boutique stores around Old Plaka for the best shoes, jewellery and scarves.
– Greek history is fascinating and incredibly captivating!
– It’s such an affordable city