When traveling in Greece, most itineraries stop in Athens for flight connections. Often an afterthought or a bucket list check off, Athens gets past by as just a stop over. This city is deserving of one night and even more. Just coming back from Greece, I wish I could have spent two more nights in Athens. There is so much to see and experience in this city. It is a wonderful and historical place that holds excitement on every street corner. There are a lot of myths of Athens being a dirty city and I found that to be terribly wrong. Yes it is a city, so you will find graffiti, occasional trash, and other basic aspects of a city but in general I found it to be quite clean and pleasant. Anyhow with arriving in the morning, I had exactly 24 hours in this city.
So how to spend 24 hours in Athens?
When you get into the city you need to grab a map and get a general sense of the historical locations. Make a checklist before hand so you can determine what you want to see. Next, put on good walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and off you go.
I personally like to start with the top historical sites then meander through the streets to experience the cultural aspect of a location. Athens hold some of the most historical UNESCO sites in the world and the best part is most are in walking distance. Starting at the Temple of Olympian Zeus was the way to kick off the day. From here we walked to the Panathenaic Stadium where Greece held the first modern Olympics in 1896. After meandering through these sought out historical sites we made the climb.
As we walked up the Acropolis to the Parthenon, we enjoyed a few side streets and local vendors. There is only one way to the Parthenon; up. To explain, the acropolis is considered the highest point in a city and the Parthenon is the structure at the top of the acropolis in Athens. There is a structure to denote the Acropolis of Athens but it is side by side to the Parthenon. As you walk up the hill, there are plenty historical sites to see and many ruins. When you get to the top, the views are breathtaking. Taking in the city of Athens and all of it's emerging history is something I cannot describe. There is this feeling that you are taken back in time to a pivotal point of history.
After making the trek back down the hill we stopped by the newly designed Acropolis Museum which is stunning. Just taking a peak, not much time was spent but definitely could of spent a few hours there.
After seeing most of the main ruins in the city, we walked through the historical city of Plaka. Cute, winding streets with colorful grand doors and boutiques decorated this cherished area of Athens. There is so much to see here and you could spend a few hours just visiting this little neighborhood. Of course a street Gyro is a must while in Athens so be sure to grab one at the local cafe.
As the evening unwinded, a quick return to the hotel to freshen up, then back out we went. I would recommend a restaurant with a view of the Parthenon for dinner. At night the whole Acropolis lights up and is a site to see. One of the best views in town is from the restaurant on the top floor at the Grand Bretagne. You will find yourself looking out the whole time rather than at your food.
Athens is a destination to put on your itinerary if you find yourself grasping for a historical experience filled with the very culture that defines Greece. Walking through the streets of Plaka, seeing the old world ruins and enjoying fine cuisine is the very way to spend a fulfilled 24 hours in Athens.
Bon travels! Xx
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