You simply can’t avoid bumping into 2000-year-old ruins in central Athens, making sure the visitors from newer cultures feel humbled as they stroll along the streets. On the other hand, Athens is also regarded as the new Berlin due to beautifully crafted graffiti art on the city walls, often taking a stance on the economical downfall of Greece that started in 2008.
The Greek kitchen is another reason to visit Athens. The city is full of cafés serving delicious cakes and pastries, such as the traditional feta and spinach filo pie, Spanakopita. The aroma of grilled meat, fish and vegetables lingers in the air of Athens, constantly inviting you to spoil your taste buds.
Where to stay in Athens
Athens is a Metropolis, a Mother city, with 660 000 inhabitants living in the city area. The distance from the city center to the port side of Piraeus is 8 kilometers. However, most of the key historical attractions of Athens are located right in the city center, which makes it the most convenient place for your accommodation. The city center is mainly limited in the areas of Monastiraki, Plaka and Psiri.
Monastiraki is one of the most central neighborhoods of Athens. It's known for the historical landmarks, such as the Roman Agora and the Hadrian's Library. There's always buzz and bustle going on in Monastiraki as the metro station is a hub for various metro lines, connecting the city center with the airport and the Piraeus Port.
Right by the metro station you find the Monastiraki Flea Market, which is like a big bazaar rather than a traditional flea market. Monastiraki is a wonderful area for finding your accommodation in - you have a nice selection of hotels, local taverns, cafés and bars.
The neighborhood of Plaka is located by the feet of Acropolis Hill. Plaka is like a small village inside a big city - it's a network of narrow residential alleys that often lead to square where the locals meet up to exchange the latest news. You'll also find many ceramic shops, antique stores and local taverns from those narrow streets.
Peaceful living is appreciated in Plaka, so that's a place to consider of if you like to stay far from the busy nightlife, yet stay in the city center. The streets of Plaka are often hilly, which is good to bear in mind if you have a wish to avoid physical strain.
Psiri has the best selection of restaurants, bars and hotels to offer in the city center. Psiri is the center of Athens nightlife where the night doesn't end before the sun has come out again. Especially the Kolokotroni street with its side streets has some of the most popular bars in town. The area is very atmospheric when the darkness falls and the street lamps illuminate the narrow streets and squares.
The proximity to Monastiraki makes it a nice option as the neighborhood is very central and has great connections with Monastiraki metro station.
Things to do
Parthenon (on the left hand side) on the Acropolis Hill is one of the most famous attractions of Athens
The acropolis hill is the city’s most famous attraction and the symbol of the birth of European culture. The hill contains the remains of several ancient buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon.
The Parthenon is beautifully lit up at night offering a magnificent view from the surrounding city area. The ancient citadel has suffered a lot of damage in earthquakes and attacks throughout the centuries, and it is constantly under restauration.
Yet, the view from the hill is amazing. Despite the great number of visitors especially in the summer, it’s a must-visit attraction if you visit Athens.
Be sure you plunge deep into the Greek kitchen and try as many local dishes as possible. Grilled meat, fish and vegetables come in countless ways. Stuffed tomatoes and peppers, kebabs made of pork, chicken or veal, Moussaka, Tzatziki... the list is endless.
The neighborhood of Plaka is located just beneath the Acropolis hill. The cobblestone streets are filled with artisan shops, cozy restaurants and picturesque small squares giving you the village feel inside a big city. Many of the archaeological sites are located in Plaka, such as the Roman Agora.
Walk around National Garden
The National Garden in the city center offers a fresh escape from the busy street life of Athens. There are plenty of things to see both inside and around the garden. You can start the visit by the Greek Parliament where the guards, known as the Evzones, change guarding position every hour 24 hours a day. Every Sunday they wear their ceremonial uniforms on the changing of guards taking place at 11.00.
Continue behind the Parliament building down the Irodou Attikou street and walk past the Presidential Palace. Go inside the gardens and you’ll be surrounded with pine and palm trees. In the center of the garden, there is a home farm animal zoo. On the southeast corner you’ll find the ancient Panathenaic Stadium that’s been excavated and refurbished to host the first modern Olympic games in 1896.
Change of guards in front of the grave of the Unknown Soldies at Syntagma Square, Athens
On the south side you’ll find Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. To visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus you have to pay admission, but you get a nice glimpse on the ruins when standing next to Hadrian’s Arch.
The tall limestone hill is located basically in the center of Athens. The 277-meter-tall hill is of course a bit of a climb, but the view from the top is worth it. You’ll see Acropolis hill below and the ships at Piraeus in the horizon. The sunset at Mount Lycabettus is guaranteed to give you great memories and photos.
Port of Pireaus
Europe’s biggest passenger harbor gives a nice contrast to the temples and excavation sites. In the center you often forget that Athens is located right by the sea, just a 15-minute metro ride away from central Athens. The harbor front is full of restaurants and cafés where to enjoy a lunch at a terrace and gaze on the countless ferries and hydrofoils sailing away from the harbor.
Prices in Athens
Prices of restaurant and hotel services in Greece are below the average of European Union prices.
Below, there are some examples of restaurant and hotel prices in Athens. Costs of hotel rooms are median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
Steak in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (April)
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
Find the right hotel for you from the Booking.com Hotel Map.
How to get to Athens city centre from the airport
Athens International Airport - Eleftherios Venizelos is located some 30 kilometers away from the center of Athens. Besides taxi, you can take a metro or a bus into the city centre, which both are very easy to do in Athens.
The line number 3, direction Aghia Marina, is the fastest way into the city center. The journey takes approx. 40 minutes and costs 10 EUR per person. There are clear indications in the arrival hall (”bus”, “trains”) to the bridge that connects the airport building and the metro/train station. You can buy tickets from a vending machine or ticket counter, where you can pay by credit/debit card. The metro runs every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from 6.30a.m. to 11.30p.m. Website: OASA.gr
Use the bus x95 to travel between the Airport and Syntagma Square. The journey takes from 45 minutes to 1 hour and costs 6 EUR per person. The buses operate 7 days a week and 24 hours. The bus leaves right at the terminal building, opposite of the Novotel Hotel. The bus from the city center to the Athens Airport leaves from Othonos-street at southern side of the Syntagma Square. Next to the bus stop, there is a ticket booth to buy tickets by cash or credit/debit card. Website: OASA.gr
The Airport Bus X95 leaves from the Syntagma Square
Weather in Athens
Winter: The winter months from December to February are often rainy, the average temperatures ranging between 5-15°C. Spring: From March to May, the raining stops, and the sun is out often. The average temperature in March climbs up to 15-20°C, but in May, the average is already at 20 °C. Summer: From June to August, the sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. The temperature climbs constantly up to 30°C and over. Autumn: September is still a warm month and the temperature stays clearly above 20 °C. In mid-October, the weather cools down to 20°C and it starts to rain more often. In November, the temperature is already around 15°C.