Athens in a Day – A complete city guide!

Welcome back lovely people! 😀

We are continuing our virtual journey through Europe yet again. This time we are in the capital city of Greece – Athens! 🙂

Greece has always been a country that was perched very high on my bucket list. I have been dreaming about seeing this country for a very, very long time! 🙂 The main reason I wanted to visit was obviously because of Santorini, but since it’s not every day you get an opportunity to see a country like Greece, we decided to make the best of our time there and include Athens and Mykonos as a part of our itinerary as well.

I mean, you can’t go to Greece and not see its capital city, right?! 😀

According to our tour guide, most people just pass through Athens on their way to the greek islands and end up staying in the capital city for not more than a day. We too belonged to the same bandwagon! 😛

We saw the whole city in 24 hours (well, most of the city 😛 ) and I’ll help you plan your stay in this ancient city for your next vacation there as well. 🙂

Flying to Athens

While it’s sometimes necessary (budget wise) to travel via Europe’s budget airlines, they are not the best in terms of customer service or comfort. Plus you end up paying extra for almost EVERYTHING! 😠

We flew in quite a few of those budget airlines to the greek islands this time, but nothing was as great as Greece’s national carrier – Aegean Airlines.

Price wise, Aegean is a little more expensive than other budget airlines, but it’s the best! You pay for comfort and an overall (much) better service. Stick to Aegean and you’ll be happy. Plus Aegean also gives you sweets and cookies on board, so it makes it hard not to like them! 😛

Getting around Athens

Athens has three metro lines connecting you to the far reaches of the city, including the airport at one end and the coastal areas and port of Piraeus (for island ferry connections) at the other. Tickets cost less than $1. You can take Metro line 3, and that’ll take you directly to the city center.

There are quite a few cab options right outside the airport as soon as you land in Athens airport as well. We however opted for an Uber to the hotel since that is the easiest and the most hassle free option available!

Where to Stay in Athens?

Athens has a plethora of hotels and airbnb’s to choose from. We chose to stay at the Intercontinental Athenaeum Athens, which was really nice. Quite swanky and luxurious to be honest. It was probably the best hotel we stayed at in our entire trip. It is not too far from the Acropolis either (probably a less than 10 min cab ride).

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View of the Acropolis from our hotel

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Another suggestion would be to choose a hotel within walking distance from Plaka – which is a very popular neighborhood in Athens and is close to all the major attractions.

Where to eat in Athens?

I’m no expert foodie, but travelling has really opened my eyes to many cuisines, flavours and traditional styles of cooking that I’ve really come to enjoy and appreciate! 🙂

In the other 3 european countries we visited, I mostly stuck to Italian – since it’s the safest vegetarian option and I love Italian food anyway. But in Greece, I really got out of my comfort zone and experimented with food.

Food in Greece is about fresh and simple ingredients that make the most delicious of dishes. I never even realised how good a salad could taste until I tried some here. Yes, salads. Who knew? 😀 Plus they are heaped with the juiciest locally grown olives and the most delicious feta cheese.. I’m surely not complaining! 😛

Then there are delicious sweet treats like Bougatsa, Diples and the epitome of Greek desserts – Baklava! 😀 All I can say is I’ve never been this excited about eating before! 😂

Athens in 24 Hours

Athens is a huge city. Trying to acquaint oneself fully with a city within 24 hours might not be feasible. To make the best of the time you have there, you can prioritise the list of places you want to see and book tickets for major attractions and monuments well in advance to save time. Another helpful alternative would be to go on a guided day tour of Athens – which is what we did.

Our journey started quite early in the morning and our first stop was… 

Panathenaic Stadium

The Panathenaic Stadium was built almost 2400 Years ago in the ancient citadel of Athens. This is where the first modern day Olympic games took place in 1896. It can fit up to 60000 people and the stadium even to this day hosts a lot of events around the year. The marathon ends here every year.

The stadium is open for the public and the ticket is €3. It was incredible to be in a place that is such a big part of history! 

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Panathenaic Stadium

Temple of Zeus, Olympia

The next place we headed to was the ancient greek temple of Zeus.

The Temple of Zeus at Olympia was housed in the sanctuary of Zeus, the king of all the Olympian gods. This temple was built in the 5th century BC. The tour guide showed us the picture of how it looked before and how it currently looks and the difference is so drastic. 

This is what the temple looked like when it was built…

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Artist’s impression of the Olympian Temple of Zeus (Source: Wikipedia)

This is what is left of the Temple of Zeus right now…

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Ruins of Temple of Zeus

It was absolutely fascinating to see a temple that was built almost 2500 years ago! We were in fact so fascinated by greek and roman history during our Europe trip this time that we bought books about them after we got back! 😛

Acropolis of Athens

After seeing the temple of Zeus, we headed straight towards the most popular attraction and the main reason we even included Athens in our itinerary – The Acropolis! 😀

The Acropolis of Athens is quite possibly the pearl of the city. It was built on the highest hill of the city so they could to have better visibility of the invaders. In the acropolis we can still see remains of the Parthenon, a magnificent temple built in 432 BC, which was dedicated to goddess Athena.

The Parthenon is the building, and the Acropolis is the hill that it’s on. It is all built in marble. Hence make sure you have some sturdy sneakers on. A million people will be climbing the hill along with you, so be extra careful since the ground can get incredibly slippery because of the marble!

The ultimate itinerary for one day in Athens, Greece!
The Parthenon

Admission costs €20 and the doors close at 6pm. Take advantage of the sunset at Areopagus Hill, just in front of the acropolis, where many people gather to look at the fantastic view below.

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View of Athens from the Acropolis
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Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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Caryatid Statues

Acropolis Museum

After seeing the Acropolis, we headed straight towards the Acropolis Museum which is a short drive from the site. 

Founded in 2003, this museum currently has more than 4000 exhibited pieces of art. Looking at the sculptures is like going on an incredible journey through Greek history. The original Caryatid statues are housed in this museum along with various other incredible sculptures.

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The original Caryatid statues

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Model of the original Parthenon

After exploring the museum for a while and learning so much about greek history, we headed out to explore Plaka and have some fun! 🙂

Plaka

Plaka is a historic neighborhood in Athens. It is a fun place to explore with dozens of cafes lined up on its famous steps. A must see!

It is the city’s most picturesque neighborhood with surprises at every corner. It’s cobble-stoned alley ways are filled with musicians, florists, souvenir shops and quirky cafes. 

The street life of Athens is fascinating, especially after sunset, that’s where this whole metropolis begins to vibrate with energy. Explore, get lost and stay in Plaka the whole day, you’ll love it! 🙂

We just ate to our heart’s content and enjoyed the rest of our stay in Athens by exploring and chilling in Plaka. Absolutely loved every bit of this city! 🙂

Athens, I’m in love. 

Will surely come back to visit you again someday.. or at least stop by on our way to Santorini once again! 😛

Have you been to Athens? What are your favorite spots? I would love to know. 🙂