Athens, one of the largest cities in Greece and the capital of the country, as well as one of the oldest cities in the world is where my visit to Greece began. My passion for Greece though started many, many years ago. It’s been on my bucket list for so long and this desire to visit Greece and the Greek Islands grew once I was in university as I would sit in my art history and history lectures learning all about the architecture; the art; the culture and the part they played in the creation of democracy.
Most of the time, people will travel to Greece just to go visit the Cyclades, I personally think it’s really important to spend a day in Athens to soak up all the cultural history. Not a history fan? Not a problem, it’s still amazing just to walk around the city.
Let’s start off with accommodation first for this post. We worked out that it would be best to split our trip into three nights per place but with Athens, it worked out better to stay for two nights and then spend our last night in Greece in Athens so that it would be easier to head to the airport (we flew via Dubai with Emirates).
All our accommodation was booked through booking.com and for the first two nights, we stayed at The Nine Luxury Apartments which is an absolutely stunning self-catering apartment. We stayed in the two suites on the top floor which had an interconnecting door so we opened it up to make it a big apartment. The decor was simply gorgeous and so luxurious and it had a view of the Acropolis. What a win! It was in the city but it’s quite a walk to get to the Acropolis and the Plaka but it’s great to explore the city a bit.
We arrived in Athens late in the afternoon and had been travelling so many hours, so by the time we arrived at the apartment and had unpacked a bit, we were so tired that we decided just to head to bed early and get ready for a busy day ahead. We knew we’d be exploring so much the next day so we just took in the fact that we were in Greece and prepped ourselves for a day of sightseeing.
Our day started off with finding somewhere that would be open for a coffee and breakfast. Most Greek restaurants only open at about 10:00 and then they have dinner at about 22:00 – very different for us and something we had to get used to. We managed to find a little coffee shop that was open and grabbed a coffee and a croissant and headed off for the day. While walking to the Acropolis (it’s a minimum 20-minute walk) we noticed how much of the city is covered in graffiti, it’s actually heartbreaking. Every single wall in the city is covered in graffiti, even some of the beautiful older buildings that house so much history. It just adds such a dampening effect to the city’s look. The juxtaposition of the graffiti though is the beautiful citrus trees that line the streets. Loved walking past all of them.
As with my trip to Spain, I really recommend taking the Hop On Hop Off Bus tours. It’s just such a great way to get around the city, see the sights, learn some new facts and also it really helps when you’re so tired of walking in the heat (it was a lot hotter than we had expected).
So what do I recommend to do while you’re in Athens?
First off, you obviously have to go to the Acropolis. It’s not even a question. It is so utterly majestic – I get goosebumps just thinking about it again. It is so intensely rich with history that you’ll just be amazed at how incredible every square inch is. The word acropolis is from the Greek words ἄκρον (akron, “highest point, extremity”) and πόλις (polis, “city”). It’s most famous for the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. It’s quite a walk up there, so I recommend going either early in the morning or late afternoon – it will be cooler and hopefully not too busy. Also, I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes as it’s all marble, so it’s really slippery!
Next up, I recommend visiting the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It’s one of the largest of the Greek temples and took nearly 1000 years to complete. There used to be 104 Corinthian columns but only 15 remain standing. You can only imagine how gigantic this temple must’ve been when you cran your neck up to take a closer look at the columns.
A few metres away, you’ll find the Arch of Hadrian which served as a gateway between Athens and the Roman city of Athens as it was built in honor of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D.
All that walking around, taking in the majestic views and sights will definitely leave you hungry. Stroll through to the Plaka and pick one of the fabulous sidewalk restaurants for some pita bread and tzatziki, plus an Aperol spritz always goes down well.
We didn’t get to go inside the Acropolis Museum as the queue was too long and we knew we wanted to walk around lots but even from the outside, the building is beautiful and its modern design is such a contrast to the history around it. One of my favourite things about the museum is that they have a live excavation going on (you can see some footage in my vlog)
The next day we headed to the Port to catch a ferry to Mykonos (that will all be in Part 2 and Part 3)
From Athens to Mykonos to Santorini and then back to Athens, our second accommodation in Athens was the amazing Coco Mat Hotel.
I was so impressed with this hotel! Firstly, they are very eco-conscious which makes my heart oh so happy. Secondly, their service was so impressive! You can even order what type of pillow you think will be best for you to sleep on – most of you will know that I battle with sleep but I slept so well that my arm was even lame when I woke up (I sleep on my side). The understated luxury of the hotel was just another perk. Plus its location was perfect for us as it’s closer to the shopping area and that’s how we spent our last day in Greece. You can even use their bicycles to get around the city if you need.
Highly recommend this hotel if you are heading to Athens, I will definitely stay there again. Plus everything was marble – you know how much I love marble!
For a trip to Greece, I recommend a full day in Athens to soak up the culture and the history. I have heard that there are some beautiful beaches but I think you should save that for the Greek Islands.
Below are a few more photos from the trip.
ps: don’t forget to watch my vlog which is posted below as well.