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
The major attractions are located within walking distance in the city center. Neighborhoods of Monastiraki, Plaka, Psiri and Dexameni are all centrally located and as such well suited for convenient accommodation.
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.
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)
Compare room prices at different months and different travel agents at HotelsCombined.
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
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.
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