Welcome to the Athens forum! TH13 has put together, and revised, the following guide to making the most of your trip to Athens based on your personal interests. We hope you will find this helpful!
What to do in Athens if… 2011 Edition
So, you are coming to Athens! Tix are bought, hotel is booked and you are sitting down with a pen and paper trying to form an itinerary. Here you will -hopefully- find a combination of what most visitors like to do/see and also where the locals go when they aren’t working.
The suggestions below will keep you far away from tourist traps and will guide you to the places where you can get the real feeling of Athens. Although we don’t have many roses for you to stop and smell, please take the time to smell the coffee, taste the food, wine, ouzo and tsipouro, chat with the locals and –most important- look up and see the Acropolis, the sun, the stars and the buildings.
Let’s start! WHAT TO DO IN ATHENS IF…
…I LOVE ANCIENT SIGHTS?
Athens has many ancient sights. Start with the Acropolis (as early in the morning as possible) and then proceed to Herodion, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Tower of Winds, Hadrian’s Arch and Library, Temple of Olympian Zeus, Theatre of Dionysus, Filopappos Hill, Pnyx Hill and Areios Pagos, Lysicrates Monument and Kerameikos Cemetery.
The following maps are very useful in helping you understand which sights are close to each other and can be visited in one day: cretetravel.com/Athens/…Athens_map.htm, frommers.com/images/…44_athensattractions.jpg
Don’t forget your 12 euro ticket! It can get you into the Acropolis, Kerameikos and Archaeological Museum, Ancient Agora and Archaeological Museum, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Roman Agora. The ticket can be bought at any of these sights. For opening hours, please check: odysseus.culture.gr/index_en.html
Also, do check for free entrance days while you are here –there are many, especially if you are visiting outside summer- or if you are entitled to reduced entrance fee/free entrance.
…I WANT TO SEE HISTORICAL SIGHTS AND BUILDINGS?
Plenty of those too! Kallimarmaron (or Panathinaikon) Stadium, Presidential Mansion, Zappeion, Library, Panepistimion (University of Athens) and Acadimia (Academy of Athens).
…I LIKE BYZANTINE SIGHTS AND ART?
Start with Byzantine and Christian Museum www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/
You can also visit the following churches:
Agioi Apostoloi (near the Ancient Market, south of Stoa of Attalos),
Sotira Likodimou (the Russian Church of Athens, on Filellinon Street)
Panayia Gorgoepokoos (on the Square of the Mitropolis, Mitropoleos Street)
Agioi Theodoroi (behind Klathmonos Square, near Panepistinio Metro Stop)
This is a map with all the churches in downtown Athens, where you can see where the above mentioned ones are located:
There are also two Byzantine Monasteries, a little outside Athens. The one of Kaisariani: odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh352.jsp… the one of Dafni sacreddestinations.com/greece/daphni-monast… with the famous Mosaics. Please ask us for directions and opening hours prior to your visit.
…I AM A MUSEUM LOVER?
Then you certainly won’t get bored! The list is endless. With the Acropolis and NAM (National Archaeological) being at the top, followed by Benaki & Cycladic, and many, many more; some of which include the Kanellopoulos, Numismatic, Byzantine and War.
The following website has a full list: athens-museums.com/guide/athens-museums-guid…
this one offers a list of the most specialized ones: www.squidoo.com/greekmuseums#module1769370 (give it a couple of seconds and it will get you to the right place). If you have a special interest and you don’t see a museum dedicated to it, please ask!
…I LIKE MODERN ART?
Then don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art www.emst.gr/EN/Pages/default.aspx, the DESTE Foundation of Contemporary Art www.deste.gr/en/index.html and the Pireos Street Annexe of the Benaki, Museumwww.benaki.gr/index.asp…
Also, check out if there are any exhibitions/happenings at Technopolis www.cityofathens.gr/en/node/7520.
… I HAVE MY CHILDREN WITH ME?
If you wish to teach them about Greek History and not have them bored after the first 15 minutes, go to Hellenic Cosmoswww.fhw.gr/cosmos/index.php?.&lg=_en.
There are a few museums which kids love; the ones of Moving Shadows are the most popular cityofathens.gr/en/haridimos-shadow-puppet-m… www.karagiozismuseum.gr/.
There is also the Children’s Museum www.hcm.gr/#; and battleship Averof www.bsaverof.com/index.php?lang=en.
Changing of the Guards is an activity that kids love to watch, don’t miss it! www.athensinfoguide.com/wtsevzones.htm
Feeding the ducks is something that children here do quite often. This can be done inside the National Gardens (right next to the Parliament, near Syntagma Square) where you can also admire the statue of Capodistrias, (the first Governor of Greece), Eynard (one of the greatest Philhellenes), Dionysios Solomos (the author of the Greek National Hymn) and Aristotelis Valaoritis (famous Greek poet and MP). There are also a couple of activities’ points for children and a small zoo.
…I AM A FOODIE?
Athensis full of restaurants; this is a list of my favourite ones:
Tzitzikas kai Mermygkas (12-14 Mitropoleos Street, near Syntagma square): modern(but inspired by the traditional) Greek cooking.
Archaion Gefseis (22 Kodratou Street, Metaxourgio): food cooked according to ancient Greek recipes! www.archeon.gr/en/
Filistron (23 Apostolou Pavlou Street, pedestrian of Thission): Recipes from all over Greece. In the summer, the Acropolis view makes the food even better! www.filistron.com/en.html
Oineas (9 Aisopou Street, Psirri): modern and traditional Greek cooking, excellent wine list! www.psirri.gr/oineas/en/index.html
Stoa Attalou (9 Adrianou Street, Thission): traditional taverna; you can even go in the kitchen and choose what to eat.
Olive Garden restaurant (52 Panepistimiou Street, on the roof top of Titania Hotel, near metro stop Panepistimio on red line): Best Mediterranean restaurant with panoramic views of Athens. An expensive option but also a great choice for a special night.
Electra restaurant (18-20 Nikodimou Street, on top of Electra Palace hotel, near Syntagma Square): Fantastic modern Greek cooking, with Acropolis views. Another expensive option, you can go just for drinks.
Milos Restaurant (pool level, Athens Hilton Hotel, near Evangelismos metro station on blue line): fresh fish and sea food, very interesting starters and salads. Although it is considered expensive, Milos offers a 5-course set menu for both lunch and dinner at the price of 25 euros. Do try the Greek rock oysters (if they are available)! www.milos.ca/en/athens/index.html
Ouzeri Lesvos (38 Emmanouil Benaki Street, near metro stop Panepistimio on red line): Fresh fish straight from the island of Lesvos, great mezedes, rare ouzos all very cheap.
Ouzou Melathron (Corner of 10 Agiou Filippou and Astigos Streets, Monastiraki): Another stop for inspired mezedes with funny names.
Café Avissinia (Avissinias Square, Monastiraki): Recipes inspired from Northern Greece and Asia Minor which are rarely found outside the homes of mothers and grandmothers. www.avissinia.gr/
Café Kapnikarea (2 Christopoulou Street –vertical street to Ermou Street- near Kapnikarea Church, the church that is right in the middle of the street, not far from Syntagma Square) is the best stop for a meze lunch with live Greek music.
Try a traditional souvlaki at least once. The best place to do that is at Bairaktaris or Thanassis, on Mitropoleos street, near Monastiraki square. Once you do that, get a bit more adventurous and try the yiaourtlou kebab (grilled kebabs on a pitta with spicy tomato sauce and yoghurt) and pastourmali (fried cheese pie with spicy ham and tomato) at Savvas, also on Mitropoleos Street, near Monastiraki Square.
As you have probably noticed, the above list includes only downtown restaurants which serve Greek food. That’s because most visitors stay downtown and wish to try Greek cuisine while in Greece. If you are staying in a different area or want to dine at a restaurant with any foreign cuisine please ask on the forums.
Very important note on Greek food: if you are coming from North Europe or the US, you must forget the way you eat at home. Greek food is far, far away from “one starter, one salad, one main and we each eat our own food”. A Greek meal is a“mezedable” one (from the word mezes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meze). What you should do is pick 2, 3, 4, 10 plates from the menu, put them all in front of you and let the fork fight begin. This noble sport is better with Ouzo or Tsipouro but it can be done with beer or wine as well!
…I HAVE A SWEET TOOTH?
Then make sure you leave a tiny corner of your stomach empty and head to:
Chatzis (5 Mitropoleos Street, near Syntagma Square): Traditional Greek and Asian Minor desserts accompanied by traditional Greek coffee.
Serbetia tou Psirri (3 Aischylou Street, Psirri): Traditional and creative desserts, served with an iceberg of ice cream. Have a go with Rakomello (hot drink with honey and raki, also known as Dynamite)!
Cafe Chocolat (27 Apostolou Pavlou, Thission Pedestrian): Huge variety of desserts, great coffee and one of the best Acropolis Views.
Paul Boulangerie (10 Panepistimiou Street, near Syntagma Square): although a bakery, they make oh-so-heavenly sweets!
…I JUST WANT A SNACK?
Traditional Koulouri (the Greek pretzel, covered in sesame) is sold at almost every corner of Athens.
Ariston Bakery (corner of Voulis & Karageorgi Servias Streets, near Syntagma Square) is famous for baking the best cheese-pie of Greece.
Apollonion Bakeries offer an excellent variety of savoury and sweet pastries as well as made to order sandwiches.
Katselis and Artos&Ygeia are also great options for pastries and biscuits.
Paul Boulangerie (10 Panepistimiou Street, near Syntagma Square): a repeat, this time for their sandwiches.
…I WISH TO FOLLOW THE LOCALS AND HAVE A LOOOONG COFFEE BREAK
Depending on the area that you find yourself longing for caffeine, here are my suggestions:
To Kouti (Adriannou 23, Monastiraki): very good coffee, traditional hang out of students, right above the train lines, also a good option for a quick bite.
Zonar’s (9 Voukourestiou Street, corner with Panepistimiou Street, near Syntagma Square): the place where your grandmother would take you as a child if you were born in Athens. Great coffee, wonderful people and efficient service.
Café Bokolas (7 Voulis Sreet, quite near Syntagma Square) serves probably the best coffee in Athens, served with a nice biscuit and –if you wish- a sweet from next door Agapitos Pastry Shop.
Café Makriyianni 3 (across the street from the Acropolis Museum): very, very, very good coffee with view to the Acropolis Rock.
…I AM A VEGETARIAN?
Fear not! Greek food is based on vegetables. Especially in the summer, there are plenty of recipes with vegetables and olive oil, fish is fresh and tasty and feta cheese can spark up any “dull” vegetable dish. My recommendations are:
Fava beans, Imam (aubergines in tomato sauce), Gemista with rice (stuffed vegetables), Dolmadakia Gialantzi (stuffed vine leaves with rice and lemon sauce), Gigandes (big beans, like butter ones, with red sauce), Taramosalata (fish raw pate).
…I WANT TO SEE WHERE THE FOOD COMES FROM?
A walk on Athinas Street will give you all the answers. Starting from Monastiraki towards Omonia; it is full of shops with traditional food and drinks, hams and cheeses and the famous Meat, Fish and Farm’s …athensinfoguide.com/wtsmarkets.htm
…I WANT A FOOD-RELATED WALKING TOUR
Here you are: www.athenswalkingtours.gr/Athens-Food-Tour
Just keep in mind that you can plan a food walking tour of your own, adding the stops that you fancy in the areas that you wish to visit. The above is a great option for those who aren’t into research or will stay in Athens for a short while and want to taste everything!
…I AM A SHOPAHOLIC?
Ermou Streetis a shoe-lover’s paradise! holiday-in-athens.com/athens/ermou-street/
Near Syntagma, you will find Attica Department Stores. Be prepared to spend a full day and come out with an empty purse. www.atticadps.gr/home.php?lang=en
If you don’t mind a 30-40 minutes train ride, head to The Mall. www.themallathens.gr/index.php?lang=en
For top brands, Voukourestiou Pedestrian (near Syntagma) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voukourestiou_Street and Golden
Hall Shopping Centre in Maroussi www.goldenhall.gr/index.php?lang=en are the best places to go.
Plan a shopping day trip and head to the new Shopping Village! www.mcarthurglenathens.gr/en
…I WANT TO BRING SOME UNIQUE/SPECIAL SOUVENIRS BACK HOME?
Traditional food products! Go to Peri Lesvou, on 27 Athinas Street (near Monastiraki)
Mastiha products! www.mastihashop.gr
Beads! Plenty of shops on Ifestou Street (Monastiraki), one shop on Adrianou Street, almost next to Haagen Dazs (Monastiraki) and a few shops on Karageorgi Servias Street (near Syntagma Square).
Museum Shops! You will find plenty of options, from very cheap to very expensive.
Natural Toiletries and Cosmetics! Korres Boutique, in Attica Department Stores www.korres.com/
Hand-made sandals! www.athensguide.com/poet.html
Byzantine Icons and Traditional/Popular Art! There are plenty of shops around Monastiraki and in Plaka. Make sure you bargain, A LOT!
Various items and utensils made of olive wood! Xylo Elias on 8 Mnisikleous Street and Elia on 67 Adrianou Street, both in Plaka.
…I WANT TO GO CLUBBING?
In the winter, most clubs are around Psyrri/Monastiraki and Kolonaki. In the summer, clubs move down South, near the beach.
This website is in Greek, but you can see the dates and names of
Please ask us what is on when you are here.
…I WANT TO HAVE A “POSH/ELEGANT” DRINK?
Head to the roof top bar of Grande Bretagne Hotel. The view to the Acropolis is exquisite and the champagne cocktails are the talk of the town.
From Galaxy Bar (roof top of Athens Hilton Hotel) you will enjoy the lights if the city and a Cosmopolitan that Carrie would write about.
…I WANT TO SEE A CONCERT/THEATRE PLAY?
You can start by checking the following websites:
And then ask us for the local municipality festivals around Athens that take place mainly during the summer months and September.
…I WANT TO DO A DAYTRIP BUT NOT VENTURE TOO FAR?
Go to Sounion! sacred-destinations.com/greece/temple-of-pos…
You can go by public bus, either from Pedion of Areos (near Victoria Metro Station) or from Syntagma. Ticket costs 5,70 to 6,30 euros (one way).
Buses depart every 40-90 minutes depending on the time and day.
…I WANT TO USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION CHEAPLY?
A daily ticket will cost you 4 euros and it is valid for 24 hours after its first (and single) validation. You can use it on all transportation means with the exceptions of: E22 express bus, buses and trains to/from airport.
A weekly ticket will cost you 14 euros and it is valid for 7 days after its first (and single) validation. You can use it on all transportation means with the exceptions of: E22 express bus, buses and trains to/from airport.
…I WANT TO SEE THE CITY BUT I HATE TO WALK?
Take the happy train www.sunshine-express.gr and/or the HOHO bus www.city-sightseeing.com/…
…I WANT TO SEE THE CITY AND I LOVE TO WALK?
Nothing better than a walking tour!
…I WANT TO COMBINE A WALKING TOUR AND A BUS TOUR?
There are many options!
…I WANT TO GO FOR A SWIM
Tram No.5 (Destination Voula) is your best friend. Board it from its terminal (upper end of Syntagma Square) and grab a seat as it will take you around 45 minutes to get to your destination. Right in front of tram stop Kalamaki, you will find Kalamaki beach. There is no entrance fee and the loungers/umbrellas are free of charge.
If you prefer rocks, Kalamaki stop is again your destination. Walk towards the beach and turn right on the first rocks that you’ll see. If you walk a bit further, there is a set of smooth, large rocks where you can lay your towel and enjoy the sun. There are no sea urchins but be careful when you get in and out of the water since it’s a tad slippery.
If you a fancy an organized beach with bars and restaurants then head to Akti Tou Iliou (Sun’s Coast), which is right on the tram stop Zefyros. The entrance fee on weekdays is 7 euros and it includes a lounger, while on weekends you will have to pay 8 euros to enter and another 4 euros for your lounger. The beach offers toilets, showers, changing rooms and there is a bar and a restaurant.
For a quick dip without leaving downtown Athens, my recommendation is Athens Hilton Hotel’s swimming pool. Large, with nice surroundings, although with expensive entrance fee (25 euros on weekdays and 40 on weekends during peak season, including a towel and a locker; prices vary during the non-busy months).
…I’M INTO PLANTS AND TREES AND FLOWERS
Did you know that we have Botanical Gardens in Athens?
Here’s a list with all the gardens mediterraneangardensociety.org/greekinfo.htm… I highly recommend Diomedes Botanical gardens (405 Iera Odos, bus stop Diomidios, buses A16 and Γ16 from Aigaleo metro station on blue line will take you there). Please ask us for opening hours prior to your stay.
…I WANT SOME USEFUL WEBSITES?
Please be reminded that the above are only some suggestions (not just mine but of all contributors to TAAF). We are all here to help you find the best options for you so don’t hesitate to ask for more! Also, always check opening times and days, especially if you are visiting in August or during the Christmas/Easter holidays since they can be altered a lot.
Have a blast in Athens!