Cloudy day at the Acropolis
Athens, you marvel! This ancient capital has plentiful opportunities for gaining a glimpse into the rich history and more.
I've compiled my suggestions of things to do that are perfect if you are only here for a long weekend. In terms of being in Europe, Athens is relatively cheap and some of these suggestions don't cost a penny. Getting around Athens is straightforward, with a metro system and tram line connecting the city. The food here is also something to rave about, and most of all if you're a student, this city is great for you! - Student discounts galore!
1. Acropolis - The Parthenon
This important relic is stood high above Athens and proudly watches over the city. The Acropolis is the prerequisite for anyone visiting. This universal symbol of Athens is worth visiting even if you aren't an avid historian. On the way up, you'll come across the Theater of Herod Atticus, and have great views over the city. Once you have climbed up the steps, the Parthenon will grace you. You could spend up to an hour or more exploring the relics, and if you're a student don't forget your student card as you can get in for a great discount - or even for free (As I did!)
Theater of Herod Atticus , on route up to the Acropolis
2. Acropolis Museum
One suggestion would be that after you have visited the Acropolis is to visit the Museum, which is located just 300 metres south east of the Acropolis. Upon arriving at the museum you can see below your feet, where the glass floors showcase the archaeological excavations uncovered and this is carried on throughout the ground floor. The permanent exhibitions include sculptures, treasures and bronze figurines from the 5th BC onward. The museum is modern and fresh and they have even incorporated a Lego copy of the Acropolis into the collection.
Admission to the museum is 6 Euros.
3. Lycabettus Hill
This peak sits high above Athens and allows for a clear view across the city, and further out to the Aegean Sea. You can reach the top by foot, or you have the option to take the funicular up or down. We decided to walk up and take the funicular down. The walk up is isn't too strenuous and the paths are clearly marked and zig-zag up near the top. Once you reach the top, you can treat yourself to a cool cocktail at the restaurant at the top of the hill. After your refreshments, you can see the St. George Chapel, with the typical Greek whitewash on the walls. The front of the chapel has the best views of the Acropolis, and the Temple of Zeus.
The funicular on downwards takes around 5 minutes and costs 7 Euros.
Lycabettus Hill from the Acropolis.
The view once you reach the top. (Acropolis and Aegean in the distance)
4. Changing of the Guards
Every hour outside the Greek Parliament, there is a changing of the guards. You can watch from Syntagma Square, and each soldier guards the Monument of the Unknown soldier. This ceremonial practice shows the perfectly still Greek solider, up until the changing where their movements are carried out in slow motion. Their expressionless faces and impressive uniforms are worthy of a picture or two. Keep an eye out for their famous pompom boots. If you're in Athens over a weekend, try and come down on Sunday's at 11am for the official changing of the guards. Watching this ceremony is free.
The carefully meticulous movements of the soldiers.
The two soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
5. Monastriaki Flea Market
Every Sunday morning, there is an extensive flea market at Avissynias Square. The Bazaar like streets hold collectables, unusual find and antiques. There is also a collection of small shops selling the typical souvenirs. You are guaranteed to pick up something weird and wonderful here, from old postcards, vinyl records, or gaudy Greek golden statues. This place is perfect for a Sunday morning stroll and surrounding this neighbourhood there plenty places to eat brunch at.
6. Glyfada neighbourhood
On the south east coast of Athens, the neighbourhood of Glyfada hosts a variety of shops and cafes along with the beach and coastal area. Most of the beaches in this area are public, albeit not pristine beaches but after a hot day in the city it's a perfect place to cool off. Access to this area is easy as the tram from the city centre stops right at the beach front. Perhaps Glyfada is a place to come at the end of the day, the vast choice of restaurants here will please someone and then a walk down to the marina to watch the sunset is a perfect end to the day.
The sun setting over Glyfada marina