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Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

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Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

Hi guys, currently thinking about heading to Athens this summer for 2 weeks with my girlfriend (both Irish and both early 20s). I'm huge into Greek history and mythology so seeing the Acropolis and Museums is a huge deal for me. However my girlfriend is not so much into any of that at all really. Just wondering would there be enough to keep us both entertained over two weeks?

Also is two weeks too long? I spet a week in Rome and Berlin each and felt it wasn't enough but a week in Paris seemed to go on forever.

Any areas you could recommend we look into staying in? Any areas we should avoid? Also will we get much help from locals with the language?

Thanks for your time!

London, United...
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1. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

I'll give you my opinion as someone who loves both Athens and Berlin, and is as lukewarm about Paris as you seem to be (except for the museums). Three days is usually enough for me in Paris, but I can never get enough of Berlin or of Athens, and have spent many weeks in both on many occasions. Both cities are endlessly interesting and absorbing for me in every way: historically, culturally, in terms of contemporary life and atmosphere, and, in the case of Athens, archaeologically.

I think two weeks in Athens would be wonderful! I can't usually tear myself away to do any side trips, but there are plenty of those, so if your girlfriend gets restless in the city you can whisk her off to a nearby beach, or to Delphi, or on a tour of the Peloponnese, or to one or more of the nearby islands. The list goes on. I wouldn't hesitate: book your trip.

One proviso, though. If you can avoid the hot summer months of July and August, you might enjoy yourselves more in one of the more temperate shoulder seasons: May, or mid-September to mid-October. It can be hard to move around in heat wave, which is always a summer possibility.

Edited: 3:54 am, February 18, 2013
Athens, Greece
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2. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

I think you can meet her halfway by doing the following:

2 days away to Delphi and Meteora

1 day in Hydra

2 days to see the Corinth-Mycanae-Epidavrus-Nafplio circuit (renting a car is ideal here)

1/2 day trip to Cape Sounio

Perhaps a day trip to Marathon too?...

Athens is the perfect base to then go off and see other places nearby...

Edited: 4:01 am, February 18, 2013
Athens, Greece
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3. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

Having in mind this is summer and you may be looking for slighlty different things, i 'd probably get a nearb island in the equation.

ATHENS:

It is indeed full of history, but you don't have to spend every second of the day doing that/ It's a big metropolis with shopping, modern sites, neigborhoods, coffee culture, side trips, great hotels, great food.

Having in mind that sightseeing for ancient open air sites is suggested for early morning, you 'll probably split the days by doing open air sites in the morning, museums in midday and exploring neigborhoods, having some coffee break.

Most sites and museums are in a very defined central area, around a mile by a mile and walkable from each other.

Athens is differnet by Rome in many things, but i 'd easily underline two major differences:

a) Rome is a huge open air museum. Athens is a surreal mix of open air sites, modern neigborhoods, older neigborhoods, old architecture, new architecture. Definitely smaller scale, definitely older. Rome is fantastic but after a week i felt i was trapped in a fairy tale, if you get what i mean. It was a brilliant fairy tale, but it wore me out at the end, with enldess possibilities and an infinite list of things to do and see.

b) Rome has huge queues, Athens has practically no queues, except if you manage to go to Acropolis at the worst time of the day ( don't. Go there very early, at opening time, to skip crowds and heat ). Rome has larger distances, Athens has walking distances.

All in all, while Rome is majestic, Athens is more human, more real of a city and more of human scale. This realness comes with problems too, since Athens has an awfully lot of scribbling ( signature grafitti ) which does not seem to bother locals at all, but seems bothering to visitors.

Berlin is also a very different story, quite expanded, a huge list of things to do and see.

Depending your interests you can easily spend two weeks, but this may not be what your girlfiend dreams, so i 'd think of these options:

a) Keep a balanced itinerary, not overfilling with sightseeing. Athens offers a variety of things to do, so you don't have to spend every day visiting a dozen of sites and another dozen of museums too. Do a good mix of coffee breaks, differnet activities ( explore neigborhoods, shop, meals ) etc.

b) If you don't spend some time on an island, think of an overnight or side trips. If we are talking about other destination, i 'd easily think of one of Aegina or Hydra island, which are eaisly accessible from the city on ferry, or a trip to Delphi.

c) Different activities on the city are a lot. You can see the options in the center here, in the following attractions map: http://tinyurl.com/AthensAttractions-English . Different color is a different thing of activity.

d) Shopping: Yes. It's essential i guess :) Either this is local delicacies at Athinas str. ( Evrypidou str. is the spices street ) or shoes or books, or sandals, or cloths, or even a mall visit. Most will crucify me for suggesting a visit to a mall, but on a two weeks trip you definitely have room to do so. Two malls that are easily acessible from the center are "Athens Metro Mall" ( final stop of Red line ) and "The Mall" ( acessible by Green or a Blue + suburban combo ). Count on these Ermou street which is the main shopping street, souvie shopping in Plaka, Athinas street with spices, half a dozen of good bookstores in the very center, a street market for hand made ornaments and jewelerry near Thission subway station. . .well. . .it's a lot of shopping for two weeks, he he he :)

Where to stay:

Pick central. I 'd pick Plaka, Acropolis Museum area ( Makriyianni ) or Thission, Monastiraki. Think of all options, even picking an apartment. Definitely head for the very center, to have walking acessibility to most things. You can find accomodation in a variety of budget ranges and styles. Areas in the center here: http://g.co/maps/2vym7

ISLAND?

On a two weeks trip i 'd be very tempted to visit an island too, for some good beach time, relaxing and enjoying local sites too. Which to pick depends. I 'd probably head to one of the Cycladic islands in the middle of the Aegean Sea, on a ferry trip. Which to pick really depends :) I think that with mnore than 220 islands in Greece, you can definitely find an island to suit both and keep a balance between some intense sightseeing in Athens and some relaxing time.

Athens is a brilliant destination. It needs time, is full of history, world class museums and places to see, feel, explore. Definitely misunderstood, definitely underexplored by many visitors. Give it time, do a good research and this can be a fantastic trip. At the same time, with the time frame you have think also of an additional option, like one or two day trips outside Athens, or an overnight to one of the nearby destinations and / or a side trip for three - four nights at some island in the Aegean :) Cheers :)

Edited: 4:13 am, February 18, 2013
Athens, Greece
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4. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

Some ideas here.

Of course it depends on what time of the year you come and the specific interests

. tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189400-i194-k5999…

. tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189400-i194-k4709… .

Free bike rides calendar

. http://goo.gl/vAV1e .

Also a nearby island of Kea haw an excellent ancient theater accessible by hiking or small boat and in July they have story tellers from all over the world at a festival

Edited: 7:39 am, February 18, 2013
Berlin, Germany
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5. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

I live in Berlin and Athens and to be frank with you Athens is almost a....joke compared to Berlin...:)

It does not have the fantastic quality of life and the tremendous vibe,feel,space and culture (recent not 3000 years old :):)) of Berlin nor the nightlife and the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Berlin and of course it is an ugly duckling compared to most European capitals like even the most hardcore Athens fans will admit...so if you are looking for a city "similar" to Berlin Athens is the wrong city..:)

Still it is a very interesting and historical city with many things to do (especially if you are interested in ruins) and many hidden treasures...most of them are of course in the CENTER of the city.

Try to avoid the bland suburbs (rich & poor ones) and also try to go to the sea (Athens has a beautiful "Riviera" ).

2 weeks seem a bit to much ,but you can easily spend 7-10 days in Athens and not get bored (providing you do your homework first)

Edited: 1:01 pm, February 19, 2013
concord nh
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6. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

Nick: Nice description of the differences between Athens and Rome. I've been to both and enjoyed them both, but prefer Athens. Much more of an Old World feel to it, a more centralized area to visit and spend time, less people (especially Oct. when we go) and the biggest difference, much cheaper for accommodations, food, travel, entertainment, etc. Two weeks in Athens is, for me, too long, you can probably enjoy what Athens has to offer in less than a week, but nothing wrong with staying longer. You could use it as a base and do some exploring to the out laying areas, do day trips to Hydra or Aegina or like us just wander aimlessly around the Old Parts of Athens. Definately check our Anifiotika, the Island Village on the side of the Acropolis. It's like being on a Cyclades Island with narrow lanes, white-washed houses and great views of Athens. And the best part is you'll never believe you are in a city of millions!

Edited: 1:32 pm, February 20, 2013
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7. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

I think Athens is one of those "either you love it or you kind of hate it" places. I've been through the city about a dozen times and haven't been able to develop an appreciation for it, beyond the ancient sites and the Plaka. But that's just me. Others love it.

Have you looked at Crete? Filled with Greek mythology (cave where Zeus was born and/or raised - though there seem to be quite a few of those in Greece; Matala, where Zeus swam after abducting Europa while he was disguised as a white bull, and which was later immortalized in song by Joni Mitchell; the labyrinth at Knossos; Aptera, where the Sirens lost a singing contest with the Muses, and more). And it's much more laid back and relaxing than Athens.

But if you were to consider Crete, I think you'd need a car to get the most of it out of a short time.

8. Re: Thinking about 2 weeks in Athens...

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