3 days in Athens

Updated: May 2, 2019


A few years ago, for my birthday, I chose to visit one of the oldest cities in the world right in the HEART of ancient Europe! If you haven't already guessed from the picture/title, yes it was to Athens, Greece!! I have wanted to visit this place for quite awhile now so when thinking of a destination to go to for my twenty-GREAT birthday, Greece was definetly the answer! I planned to visit 2 other greek isles as well and in 8 days giving me roughly 48 hours in each destination. I started in Athens (3 days), flew to Santorini (2 days), sailed to Mykonos (2 days) and flew back to Athens on the last day to catch the plane back home. I planned this entire trip from start to finish which was more difficult than I expected but all the more rewarding in the end! Coordinating all check in and check out times with flights and sail departures was a bit overwhelming but VERY necessary to have a carefree trip while abroad! If you are interested in how I did so, keep reading!


Flight details:

Let's start with the basics.. getting there! Our flight was $640.00 round trip with two stops along the way. One in Toronto and the other in Montreal via Air Canada. Yes you heard me, $640.00 RT! Talk about A STEAL?! Tickets were purchased one month in advance, why? Because I can be last minute which was definetly the case when I booked this trip. I purchased my flight ticket around September via TravelMerry.com whom I randomly found through Hopper, both travel discount websites. I was skeptical at first because I never had used them before but the flight was too cheap to turn down. At the end of the day, I had no issues!


PRO TIP #1: The most affordable time period traveling to Greece is usually during the off season of September-November UNLESS you catch a flight deal randomly. Purchase flight fares at LEAST 3 months in advance, not at the last minute like I did lol.






Day 1: Arrival, Transport,

Airbnb & Walking tours

Athens Metro System train routes

Arrival/Transport:

So after a full day of flying, we arrived at Athens International Airport at approximately 10:30AM and from there it was time to see what our 3 days in Athens had to offer! So after contemplating catching a cab v.s. using the Athens Metro system we decided, out of convenience and unfamiliarity, to take an Uber from Athens International Airport to our Airbnb. It costs €40.00 from the airport to Uber. We later found out we could have just taken the Metro for a mere 8€ for 1 one-way ticket from the airport seeing how our airbnb ended up being walking distance from the nearest train station. Needless to say, upon leaving Athens we took the metro instead of using Uber.



PRO TIP #2: Use the public transit system when abroad when you can. It's usually easy to navigate despite your natural instincts to take a private vehicle AND you get to embrace a piece of the city as the locals do.

@nurse_alee & @stampeddiary

Airbnb:

My Airbnb was $40/night located in Dimitrakopoulou, Athina, a small quiet neighborhood that was about a 10min walk to the Acropolis museum entrance. It was also 5min from the nearest metro station, Syntagma Square. It had a small elevator, or "lift" as our Airbnb host called it, which was very convenient considering we were located on the 2nd floor and had 2 very large suitcases with us. It was much smaller than any elevator I'd been on (see for yourself! Pictured to the left). Our Airbnb was equipped with free wifi and our host was very polite giving us details on all of Athens‘ hidden gems.


PRO TIP #3: In Athens neighborhoods, or at least the one we stayed in, the temperature of the water is controlled by a switch when bathing/showering. There isn't an abundance of "hot" water available so be mindful of this detail if you are sharing a space like we were.




Walking Tours:

Yes on Day 1, after a quick outfit change, we were out of the airbnb and headed to the city! We started with the historical ancient greek sites we were dying to see! There were a total of 7 sites on the self-guided walking tour we chose to follow. There were two options as far as the ticket purchase went, options listed below:


MAP KEY (Bold font=places we visited):

1. Acropolis

2. Ancient Agora

3. Roman Agora

4. Hadrian's Library

5. Olympieion (Temple of Zeus)

6. Kerameikos

7. Aristotle's Lykeion

Ancient Greece walking tour map

OPTION 1: Individual ticket option valid for one day, originally 6€ but discounted at 3€ every year if you're visiting between Nov.1st-Mar.31st (If you're staying less than 3 days choose this option).


OPTION 2: Package option valid for 5 days (which I didn't have lol), 30€ with access to all 7 sites listed on map above (if you're staying more than 3 days choose this option).


Olympieon, AKA "Temple of Zeus"

Address: Athens 105 57, Greece

Located smack dab in the middle of Athens you'll find this large, half-ruined, ancient structure commonly known as the Temple of Zeus or the Olympieon. Did you know this structure started construction as early as 6th century BC but was stopped around 510 BC due to political differences? As you can see, you are not even able to walk through or touch this structure due to its fragile remains but even being a few yards away, I could appreciate its beauty.

Tempe of Zeus (Temple of Olympian)

PRO TIP #4: If you have more time and plan on visiting ALL 7 sites, purchase the package option #2, package ticket. If you're like me, with little time and only want to see 1 or 2 of the sites listed on this map? Purchase option #1, the individual ticket!


Panathenaic stadium

Address: Leof. Vasileos Konstantinou, Athina 116 35, Greece

Ever seen a coliseum made entirely of marble?? Before my visit to Panathenaic stadium I hadn't either! But I soon learned that this monumental tourist attraction was much more than a huge, marble stadium. The Panathenaic Stadium was constructed in the 4th century B.C. home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and was used for many centuries host games. To this day, it remains the only stadium in the world built entirely out of marble.


Panathenaic stadium


VISITING TIPS & ADMISSION PRICES:

Tickets:

General=€5,00

Students/Retired (>65 years old)= 2,50€

Kids 6>years old=FREE

Visitors with disabilities=FREE





PRO TIP #5: No food or drinks allowed inside or outside the stadium. There was a food truck located right outside the entrance in case you need a quick snack before entering.



If you look closely, you'll notice I'm holding what appears to be a phone when in actuality it's my handheld tour guide! This audio device is included with your ticket to enhance the walking tour. They gave a more in depth narration about the history of the stadium and the events that took place hundreds of years ago making you feel as though you were apart of it. Don't forget to sign the guestbook on your way out!!








Day 2: Acropolis Hill,

The Parthenon & Souvenir

shopping

Day 2 was solely for climbing Acropolis and doing some souvenirs shopping afterwards! We figured between the hike and the sun there wouldn't be much energy left after our hike so we headed out early afternoon around 12pm. A lot of people don't realize that you have to hike Acropolis Hill to reach the Parthenon. It wasn't a terrible hike though. It's more of a gradual-zig-zagging-incline that goes upwards so even though we were going straight up, it didn‘t really feel like it.


PRO TIP #6: Get to Acropolis as early as possible to avoid the huge crowds that form anytime after 12pm.


The Parthenon

I learned so much visiting this doric-columned statue! I'm sure you're wondering what "doric" means like I did when I first heard the term used. Doric is simply describing the type of column used to build the Parthenon. There were several column types that were used in Ancient Greece for building. To make this easier to understand, I've placed a diagram from Google below. The construction of the Parthenon started around early 400BCE, during what was considered to be the high classical period, and was completed close to 430 BCE. It was created as a dedication to the Goddess Athena Parthenos. Upon visiting you'll notice it's two-toned color now because it is undergoing restoration with a pentelic marble which is the brighter marble you see pictured.


Google image from ancient.eu

Day 3: Syntagma Square

changing of the guards:

Parliament area in Syntagma Square

Changing of the guards in Syntagma Square? A MUST! Every Sunday morning at 11 am, people gather in Syntagma Square to watch the official changing of the guards, the military unit whose members stand proudly in perfect stillness in front of the Hellenic Parliament. There are of course changings every hour in the day, but on Sundays it is the official ceremony with the official uniforms. I had no idea these uniforms of the Presidential Guard have a historical meaning. It refers to the uniform of the Kleftes and Armatoloi, two groups of Greek warriors during the War of Independence I (1821) against the Ottomans. In fact, the white skirt of the uniform has 400 folds to represent the 400 years of Ottoman occupation over the Greeks.


The uniform consists of: a Evzone's hat (red baize with a black tuft), the phermeli (white shirt with loose leaves which isn't pictured above since it was a little cooler in the evening when we went), the waistcoat and the Greek kilt aka foustanella, the traditional shoes of Evzones which are made of leather, with a small fluff ball on the shoe tip.




Ermou Street for shopping & Authentic gyro eating!:

Shopping on Ermou Street (@stampeddiary, @nurse_alee)



Greek ham & cheese crepe:

After watching the guards perform their hourly step kicks, you should head across the street down the steps past a fountain to Ermou street for a little taste of the city's shops, bakeries and gyro restaurants! It's not car friendly so if you plan to take a stroll down this street be prepared to go by foot. You'll see many big brand names like H&M, Forever 21, MAC cosmetics etc. If you continue down Ermou, you'll stumble across the Monsatiraki flea market with a collection of shops—souvenir capitol! If you travel to the other side of Ermou, you'll come across the city of Psiri which opened in the late eighties and early nineties.



Sunset at Lycabettus Hill:

Sunset at Lycabettus hill was truly a site to see!! I recommend coming a little before sunset to avoid the huge crowd that you can't see next to me in this picture. There's also a ton of small cafe's, crepe shops and gelato nearby!







Monastiraki Square:

A for Athens, in Monastiraki Square

The boutique hotel A is for Athens with their trendy rooftop cafe-bar, is right on the square. It is a popular place to stay but with a bar that is open to the general public and an elevator that only holds three people, guests may find themselves waiting in line or taking the stairs to get back to their rooms. You'd never guess that we got scammed shortly before taking this picture.








Yup, during a taxi ride at that! We asked to be dropped off at A is for Athens and were instead taken 5 blocks up the road in a completely different location smh moral of the story be aware of where you are and at least have some idea of where you are going because that situation could have been a lot worse. We deserved our greek sips of Greek moscato over Monastiraki after that!!





















Next stop...Oia!

That's pronounced "e-ah" not "oya", it's ok I made that mistake before arriving as well! Which leads me to our next stop in this Greek adventure--Santorini! Stay tuned!





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