The world’s ancient capital and centre of the ancient world, Athens is a great place to spend three days or more — it is most definitely somewhere that every traveler should visit at one time or another whether you are backpacking in Greece or going on a luxury budget. This is a city that is insanely beautiful and is also home to the largest collection of Greek ruins in the world.
A combination of equal measures of grace and grime, Athens is made up of a historical culture and heritage combined with a quirky and unique edge. The times may have changed, and the city may have been modernised, but life still plays out around the city’s ancient landmarks. One of which is the amazing Acropolis, which is visible from almost every area of the city.
Although the city has struggled during the economic crisis of recent years, it is once again on the rise and is back to being at its best. Athens is known for its lively, urban bustle and cosmopolitan way of life, combined with its many pieces of ancient history – there is always something to see and do here, so on a trip to Athens you will never be bored.
For anyone planning a trip to Athens, here’s everything that you should know:
Choose the right time to visit
Like most countries, throughout the year the temperature in Athens changes, which means that it is important to be selective about when you visit, to ensure that you get to experience the temperatures that you want to have.
From March to May, the temperature in Athens is usually warm, but there can sometimes be a cold wind that whips around the city. From June to August, the temperature rises steadily, with the city becoming too hot to enjoy by the end of July and throughout August, which is why most Greeks getaway from the city at this time. September is often warmish but can also be prone to rain, and the same goes for October. After this, the weather begins to slowly get colder.
For a cooler trip, visiting in spring or autumn is ideal, as that way you won’t end up being hit by the city’s hottest temperatures. If you do choose to visit during peak heat season, be mindful of how hot it will be and plan your days accordingly, staying out of the sun from noon until 3 pm when the sun starts to cool down.
Be mindful of your budget
Like with any destination, Athens can be expensive, which is why it is important to be mindful of your budget from the get-go. There are plenty of accommodation options here, from budget-friendly hostels and motels to more expensive guest houses, villas, and smarter hotels, so whatever your budget there is sure to be an accommodation option that is a good fit for it.
Of course, you also need to consider the cost of your flights, your transfers from Athens airport to city, and your food costs too. The fact is that a trip to Athens does not have to be expensive, but it can be if you don’t set a budget and plan in advance. If you take the time to look for a flight (or accommodation) the includes the cost of transfers to and from the airport, you can save yourself a lot of money, making your trip more affordable.
Plan your travel in advance
Talking of planning in advance, if you want to ensure that every aspect of your trip to Athens goes without a hitch, it pays to plan in advance. From booking your flight times and transfers to selecting and reserving your accommodation, the sooner you can do this, the better.
In peak season, from May to September, the city comes alive with tens of thousands of visitors, which is why booking in advance is so crucial, especially if you are on a budget. Ideally, you want to book at least four months in advance, maybe even more, to ensure that you are able to have the trip of your dreams.
Getting around in Athens
When it comes to getting around in Athens, you have a range of options to choose from. The first of which is walking, Athens is the kind of city where everything is in close range to each other, so getting from A to B on foot is much easier than you would think.
There is also a metro system in Athens that runs from 5.30am to midnight every day, and until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
There is also a fantastic bus system in place here – you can get almost anywhere via bus, as long as you understand how to read the timetable, that is.
You could also opt to hire a car, should you plan on travelling outside of the main city and exploring the surrounding area.
Create an itinerary
Like all capital cities, Athens has plenty on offer to see and do, which is why it can be wise to create an itinerary before your trip so that you can make the most of every second that you have there. Wondering what you should plan to do while you are there?
See the sights: While you are in Athens, you will find that there are plenty of things to see and do, from ancient sights like The Acropolis, The Parthenon, and The Agora, walking tours of the city, and Greek cooking classes. There are also plenty of sights and attractions on the outskirts of the city as well. So whatever you fancy doing while you are there, whether it’s wandering around museum after museum, such as Acropolis Museum or the Athens War Museum, browsing art galleries, or mooching around The National Garden, it pays to plan an itinerary for your trip. That way you can ensure that you are able to get everything done.
Hit the shops: Along with its famous sights, Athens is also well-known for its wide range of shops and boutiques. Ermou, Kolonaki, and Kolonaki Square are all popular places to shop, there’s also the Central Market to explore, which is laden with all manner of items, from fresh produce to antique jewellery.
Enjoy the nightlife: For fashionable bars, Kolonaki is the place to go. If it is born again, grime bars, Gazi is the ideal place to head to for a drink and a dance. For seafront cocktails and dancing, Glyfada and Voula are the areas to visit, but there are plenty of great bars all over Athens to choose from.
Dine in the best places: When it comes to where to eat, there is a wide array of restaurants and eateries available, serving all manner of delicious delicacies. Whether it is Mediterranean cuisine that you are after, Souvlaki, Gyros, or fresh fish, there’s sure to be the perfect eatery close by, as Athens is jam-packed full of incredible restaurants, serving some of the best food in Greece. Some of the best places to eat in this city include at Cinque Wine & Deli Bar, Aleria, Dinner in the Sky, and Feyrouz.
Athens is an amazing country, and somewhere that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. This amazing city used to be the centre of the ancient world, which means that it has plenty of cultural and historical sights on offer, along with a combination of more modern sights and attractions, and not forgetting a selection of unique restaurants and bars to enjoy. The temperatures here are usually mild, which makes this location even more ideal for anyone hoping to soak up some sun while exploring this amazing city.
Great guide! Athens has been on my bucket list for so long! This makes me want to go even more. Those photos are gorgeous! You shared good guide to travel Athens..