- Turn back time on the Acropolis.
The iconic columns of the Parthenon or the Erechtheion and Temple of Athena on top of the ancient hill are Athens’ symbol as much as the Eiffel Tower for Paris or the Colosseum for Rome. The Acropolis, which means the highest point of a Greek city, is the background of breathtaking views throughout Athenian districts, yet it’s visiting the site up close that makes the spirit of the ancient culture become almost tangible. That is, if the huge crowds of tourists don’t block your vision. For the most laid back experience visit Athens and the Acropolis landmarks in early Spring or late Autumn, when the weather in Greece is still pleasant for sightseeing and the amount of co-visitors is manageable.
2. Lose your way in old Plaka.
The narrow streets and lanes of Plaka create a mazy grid – the perfect playground for those who like to get lost in a city, whilst having the assurance that eventually the next turn will bring them back to the center of things. It may not be the best area to dine or shop, since the popularity amongst visitors comes with higher prices, but it’s certainly the most charming district of Athens. As the city’s oldest quarter Plaka, spreading beneath the Acropolis hill, is also considered the old town of Athens.
A stroll through the mostly pedestrianized alleys, the main ones being Kydhathineon and Adhrianou, is very enjoyable. If you want to stay close, your best choice is to check in to the lovely Alice Inn.
3. Spot some fantastic street art.
When an ancient culture overdose is experienced, Athens’s omnipresent modern street art comes to the rescue. Whether you’re walking through Plaka, hip Thyssio, Psyrri, bustling Monastiraki or chic Kolonaki – a treat may await you behind every corner.
4. Eat a pita gyros on the square with locals.
Arguably the most popular street food you can have in Greece. This Greek version of a sandwich is pork, chicken or lamb meat with french fries, vegetables and tzatziki sauce wrapped in a delicious warm pita bread. The latter is so tasty, that even the vegetarian version I had makes your taste buds dance.
5. Watch the guards change at Platia Syndagmatos.
Every hour this spectacle can be witnessed in front of the Parliament building at Syndagma square. The guards in their quite extraordinary uniforms change at a slow pace, lifting their feet up high with every step. Those ceremonial steps have a slow motion effect to them. After that you can enjoy a stroll through the National Gardens, an agreeable green park area right behind the Parliament.
6. Admire the whole city from Lykavitos Hill.
You can climb it or take the funicular. Either way, one of every Athens visitor’s priorities should be to reach the top of the Lykavitos Hill. This should preferably be done shortly before the sunset, so that you can admire the amazing views over the whole city both during the day and night.
7. Check into a hotel with an Acropolis view.
This is easy when money is no issue, you’d think. Many of the upmarket hotels offer views of the Acropolis. But what if you’re on a budget? Hotel Attalos and Hotel Carolina are both examples of good value mid-range and budget properties, where you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the spectacular view of the floodlit Parthenon from their rooftop terraces.
8. Dine in a traditional tavern outside the touristic areas.
In the mood for a traditional Moussaka Gratin or the deliciously unhealthy Fried Cheese Saganaki? How about a proper Greek salad? The abundance of places in Athens where you can try all the Greek specialties is overwhelming. At the same time, most of them offer great food, but – for lower prices and an inimitable atmosphere – it’s worth leaving the main touristic areas in search of a simple tavern where locals dine. You don’t need to go far off the main track to find a place like this. Even centrally located Monastiraki boasts many of such inconspicuous taverns. The team at Alice Inn can give you some great tips!
9. Enjoy every bit of your stay!
Soak up the atmosphere and go where your instincts lead you. You don’t need to follow a strict sightseeing itinerary to actually make the most of your stay in Athens. If you don’t have enough time, pick just a few things that interest you the most. If you’re not a fan of museums, don’t force yourself into one. If you want to make it a culinary experience, eat your days away. In any case, the Greek capital won’t disappoint you.
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This post was originally published on RoomAuction.com.