GreeceAthens Adventure Guide: Epic Things You Need to Do
Athens Greece

Athens Adventure Guide: Epic Things You Need to Do

Athens is not just a city; it’s the heartbeat of a rich civilization that unfaltering time can’t silence. It pulsates with a mix of history and modernity that’s both stark and seamless. The Greek capital invites you not just to witness its past in the ruins of Acropolis but to intertwine with it as you walk its streets, taste its cuisine, and celebrate its culture.
From the dusty footprints of philosophers to the energetic buzz of life today, here are the 8 things you must do in Athens to savor every facet of this fascinating city:

Athens Adventure Guide: Epic Things You Need to Do in Athens

  • Plaka District: Explore the quaint and colorful streets of Plaka, a village-like neighborhood rich with Greek history and culture, sitting under the shadow of the Acropolis.
  • Athens Tavernas: Enjoy a taste of Greece at local tavernas, where you can experience traditional dining and an array of authentic Greek flavors, including seafood and grilled delicacies.
  • Anafiotika: Wander through Anafiotika, an island-like area in the city known for its white-washed walls and Cycladic architecture, offering a serene and picturesque escape.
  • Sunset Views: Take in breathtaking sunset views from Athens’ hills, like Areopagus or Lykabettus, which provide panoramas of the cityscape against the backdrop of the Aegean.
  • Athens Agora: Immerse yourself in the historical richness of the ancient Agora, once the bustling center of Athenian life, philosophy, and democracy.
  • Roman Agora: A historic site that showcases Athens’ shift from Greek to Roman dominance, with key attractions like the water-saving Tower of the Winds.
  • Day Trips to Nearby Islands: Embark on a day trip to nearby islands such as Aegina and Hydra, accessible via ferry from Athens, to enjoy unique local experiences and tranquil beauty.
  • Athenian Scooter Culture: Immerse in local life and enjoy the city’s vibe on a scooter, breezing through the streets.
  • Athenian Riviera: A serene seaside retreat from city life with thermal springs in Vouliagmeni and beautiful beaches for peaceful beach time.
  • Lake Vouliagmeni: A natural spa with mineral-rich waters offering health benefits, maintaining a balmy temperature year-round.
  • Evzone Guard Ceremony: Iconic changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reflecting Greek history and national pride.
  • Syntagma Square and Parliament: The central pulse of Athens, perfect for witnessing daily life, with historical significance and metro connectivity.
  • Monastiraki Flea Market: A vibrant marketplace with bargaining, antiques, and local flavors, all under the shadow of the Acropolis.
  • Museum Day: A visit to the National Archaeological Museum presents Athens as a custodian of ancient legacy, offering a rich peek into history

Best things to do in Athens

Acropolis and Parthenon – Where History Breathes

Standing victorious over the hubbub of modern Athens, the Acropolis is an ancient sentinel that beckons travelers to a higher perspective. Ascend the sacred hill to the Parthenon, a testament to the Golden Age of Athens. The marble ruins may be a shadow of their former glory, but their presence is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Wander the pathways of the Propylaea and feel the spirit of Socrates whispering in the wind.

Hadrian’s Strollway — A Marble Marvel

Amidst Athens’ architectural splendors, the Arch of Hadrian stands — a frozen-in-time triumph of the Roman era. This monumental marble mirage is more than a gateway; it’s a waypoint that winks with whispers of wisdom. Traverse its shadow for a literal flashback into the city’s yesteryears, join the debate on its inscriptions, or simply appreciate it as an aesthetic anomaly in a city where history isn’t resigned to books; it spills into the streets.

Roman Agora – A Tale of Two Empires

With the Parthenon visible in the distance, the Roman Agora tells a tale of the city’s transition from Greek to Roman rule. Visit the Tower of the Winds, a marvel of early meteorology, and wander the ruins of the marketplace. Here, you can touch the layered history of Athens, where ancient powers crossed paths and left their imprints.

A Glimpse into Imperial Athens: The Roman Agora may have been influenced by the emperors of ancient Rome, but it also bears the Athenian stamp. Explore the Tower of the Winds, a marvel of ancient technology that stands as a syncretic masterpiece showcasing both cultures’ ingenuity.

Plaka – A Village in the City

Lose yourself in Plaka, a charming neighborhood nestled at the foot of the Acropolis. Its labyrinthine streets shelter neoclassical buildings, local boutiques, and quaint tavernas. With snippets of Greek history, vibrant bougainvillea-draped corners, and the scent of grilled souvlaki in the air, Plaka feels like a city within a city that time forgot.

Feasting at Tavernas

The Greek love of life is culinarily contagious, and nowhere is this better experienced than the local tavernas. These homes of hearty feasts, often boasting the day’s catch or the farmer’s finest, are the heart of Athenian social gastronomy. Iron out your napkin and indulge in a ballet of flavors that pirouette from feta to filo, invoking the spirit of an ancient symposium. 

Sea’riously Delicious Suggestions

Try the grilled octopus, salads with the sea’s bounty, and petrosolines – scooping up the essence of the seas, neatly presented by Athenian culinary finesse.

Anafiotika – The Greek Island in the City

It’s like taking a time-stopping capsule and being transported to a Greek island – but you’re not. You’re in Athens, nestled north of the Acropolis, amidst the dazzling white of Anafiotika’s walls. It’s a neighborhood that defies the Athenian norm, and you’d want to be eternally lost in its labyrinth of tranquility.

The Tale of Anafiotika and Testament to Tradition

Explore the village that sprung from the hands of the islanders, their pastel doors and azure shutters clad like the Cyclades, a testament to their heritage in the heart of the capital.

Sunset Splendors: The Hills Have Eyes…on Athens

Every great city has its vantage points; for Athens, the magic hour summons a drama of city lights that only the gods and a handful of travelers captivate. The hills around Athens are more than mere topographic features. They are amphitheaters to the Aegean, where the setting sun paints the sky in celestial hues and the lights below mimic constellations. Climb the hills, breathe in history, exhale the day, and watch the world twist time.

The Athenian Arbor of Areopagus

Acropolis affords a view of Athens; Areopagus, a perspective. Here, where democracy was born, look out to where the Parthenon stands—a city ruled by both history and the present. Is the hike up too steep? Try teasing out the myths on foot, the traditional way, or catch a chariot – erm, a funicular – for a speedier ascent.

Lykabettus Hill: Ere the Gods Forgive You

Stand witness to the city and its deities as the Parthenon waves you a silent goodnight. Lykabettus is no average rise; it’s a myth-shrouded climb with a cable car for modern convenience. Will you take the express route, or climb footloose, script your own odyssey, and claim the vista as your personal pantheon?

Philopappos Hill – A Muse To The Views

For a hill that bears a tale beyond its height, Philopappos is a sanctuary of thoughts and sunset hues. A more solitary experience, its peak is privileged to offer the traveler a moment not just with the city of Athena, but with the statues that bore witness to countless destinies.

Athens Agora – The Living Room of Ancient Athens

In the shadow of the Acropolis lies the Agora, the vibrant heart of classical Athens. Here, the symphony of democracy and philosophy filled the air as Greeks deliberated under the stoa. Marvel at the Temple of Hephaestus, wander the paths where Plato might have walked, and feel the ideological debates echo through the agora’s open space.

Voyage from the Mainland: Day Trips to the Islands

Experience Athens holistically by venturing beyond its mainland. The islands of Aegina, known for its pistachios, and Hydra, with its car-free streets, are but a ferry ride away. Each offers a distinct escape—a chance to bask in the sunlight of the Saronic Gulf, explore historical treasures, and savor the laid-back island lifestyle.

  • Ferry Fandango: Head down to the ports of Piraeus or Perama for a vessel voyage like no other. The ferries to these islands are reliable and frequent. For a less tourist-packed experience, consider an early departure.
  • Cultural Day on Aegina: Don’t miss out on Aegina’s Temple of Aphaia, a resplendent remnant of antiquity. Then, when on the island of the divine Aphrodite herself, perhaps her best-known creation is in order – a dip in the lovely waters off Aegina Beach.
  • Idyllic Hydra: With a no-vehicles policy, Hydra offers tranquility and timeless charm. Wander the winding streets, admire the mansions of Greek shipping magnates, and end with some seaside dining, where the catch of the day is always a good call.

 Scoot on and Sail by the Streets

Join the Athenians cruising by on their scooters and claim a slice of the Athens lifestyle. It’s not just about cutting through the traffic; it’s about the wind in your hair and the city buzzing past you. An Athens moment you’ll not experience from a hop-on-hop-off bus.

The Athenian Riviera – A Serene Escape

If you’re yearning for a tranquil escape from Athens’ urban pulse, the Athenian Riviera promises picturesque vistas and a calm seaside ambience. Discover the coastal gems like Vouliagmeni, with its thermal springs, or venture to beautiful beaches for a rejuvenating dip. The Riviera offers a chance to unwind, enjoy Greek island life without leaving the mainland, and adds a contrasting dimension to your Athenian experience.

Mineral-soaked Tranquility at Lake Vouliagmeni

The Greeks, masters of quiet, know a thing or two about where to recharge. Head south of Mount Imitos, and in the heart of Vouliagmeni, you’ll find the blueprint for tranquility set in mineral-laden waters. Why Vouliagmeni?

A mineral bath in the lake is more than a soak – it’s a ritual. The deep-seated health benefits that locals swear by transcend mere relaxation. The thermal waters, a steady 22 to 29°C around the year, offer solace to those with ailments of the skin, joints, and even certain gynecological issues. But there’s a rhythm to this dance with nature. 20 minutes is your limit; respect its balance.

Evzone Guard – The Dance of the Defenders

Pause at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Parliament building and witness the Evzones, Greece’s elite soldiers. Their unique uniform and ritualistic guard change, almost ceremonial in execution, is a spectacle blending precision with an aftertaste of national pride. Each crease on their skirt a reminder of the Ottoman era, they display respect, resilience, and an odd sense of tradition that’s a must for any curious traveler.

Cultural Coordination: The Evzones’ uniformity is more than a sartorial choice; it’s an ode to the freedom fighters who liberated Greece from Ottoman rule. With its 400 pleats representing the centuries of occupation and a pompom that celebrates the heart of the Hellenic spirit, each element tells a story that adds color to Athens’ modern-day landscape.

Syntagma and Parliament – The Heartbeat of Athens

Syntagma Square, the pulsating heart of modern Athens, serves as an entry point for many first-time visitors. It’s a picturesque place to observe day-to-day Athenian life and start your exploration. The historic Greek Parliament building, the bustling square, and its connectivity to the city’s lifeline — the metro — make every corner of Syntagma a picture waiting to be captured.

Watchful Vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: A visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a poignant pause that reflects the Athenians’ respect for sacrifice and service. Guarded by the Evzones, this monument is a perpetual reminder of the nation’s resilience and the unbreakable spirit that beckons Athens onward.

Sundays in Monastiraki – Where Every Bargain Bares a Story

With the Acropolis casting its graceful shadow, the Monastiraki flea market is a rendezvous with chaos clad in the colors of mirth. Here, bargaining is an art, and the loot — a tale to be spun back home. Rustic antiques rub shoulders with kitsch, while the aroma of gastronomic delights flits through the air. It’s the sweet cacophony of commerce that is uniquely Athenian, and quitting this market unperturbed by its charm is as difficult as resisting a Siren’s call.

Museum Day

Museum Marvels and More

While the Acropolis stands as the guardian of ancient splendor, Athens’ museums unfurl tales that date back millennia. Why a Museum Day?

The National Archaeological Museum on Patision Street isn’t just a building; it is a time capsule of ancient grandeur. Over 20,000 exhibits promise to paint you a vivid picture of bygone eras, placing you not just on the sidelines of history, but within its very heart.

  • Also worth exploring in Athens:
  • Museum of Cycladic Art
  • Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments
  • Numismatics Museum with ancient coins
  • Byzantine Museum for ancient Christian icons
  • Tower of the Winds, an ancient meteorological wonder 
  • Benaki Museum with Greek and Asian art
  • Historic museum ships “Olympia” and “Georgios Averof”

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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