Visiting Athens: Everything You Can Do In One Day

In Athens, Tourist Life by VirginieLeave a Comment

Before even arriving in Athens, I knew that I had friends who would spend two days in the city. Chris and I then decided that it was better to wait and visit all the touristy things with them! The good thing about that is that because they have only two days and need to fit a gigantic amount of sightseeing in those two days, we were going to have to do that too. It was a good thing, because since we’ve been traveling, we’ve been pretty lazy. Visit one thing one day, go back home and work online, then visit something else a week later.

We hadn’t been in a rush to visit something in a long time and it made me feel like a tourist again! So here’s how our day went:

8:00 AM ― Wake up time

9:00 AM ― Find the metro station. As we live in Zografou, which is a neighborhood twenty minutes in car outside of the city, we couldn’t walk downtown. Or we could have, but it would have taken us a lot longer. The problem? We totally got lost trying to find the subway station and ended up asking strangers how to get there. They were actually very helpful and we finally made it!

10:30 AM ― Exit at the Acropolis Station. Our plan was to hike to the top first, then enjoy all the other things around this amazing mountain. We quickly got to the top, even though we were sweating lots and breathing heavily (okay, yes, we do need to get in better shape). Fortunately, we’d brought water bottles! (Who wouldn’t, when the weather reaches close to 40 Celcius every day!)

We would have appreciated the Acropolis more if there would have been less people… It was SO crowded I didn’t have a clue how we’d find my friends. It also sucked for pictures, as there was always someone (or most of the time MANY PEOPLE) in your way. Plus, they’re renovating the Parthenon, so you’ll always get scaffolding in your pictures. Not the greatest, but we still had a good time looking at the ruins and the view of the city from there is amazing!

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As we walked around the Parthenon, I was asked to take pictures of a couple and a solo female traveler. Apparently, if you’re not taking pictures yourself, then you’re perfect to take pictures of other! And then you try to take a picture and someone steals your spot… Yeah, not the best. In the next ones, you can see Pic #1 full of people and Pic #2 with well… less people.

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So which one do you prefer? (I’d prefer the second one in my case, if the wind hadn’t messed up my hair, haha!)

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Selfies are much better, aren’t they? πŸ™‚

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So now, let’s continue with the day’s adventure!

11:30 AM ― Head back down. We were all getting a bit hungry and we had more things to see, so we headed down the south side. As we did that, we got a better look at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which is in very good conditions as they use it for performances.

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Finally, the last thing we checked out was the Theatre of Dionysus. After we visited one in Cholula, Mexico, Chris and I only wanted to clap our hands and see if we’d hear the bird sound we did in Mexico, but it wasn’t there… I guess Greek theaters aren’t as cool as Mexican ones… Still, it was very impressive!

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12:30 PM ― Stop for lunch. We were all getting hungry and decided to grab a quick lunch. As we were already in Plaka, that’s where we started looking for a cute restaurant. We were all dead from the heat, so I didn’t even think of taking pictures of our lunch. Too bad! All I got were ones of the street, showing that nothing chaotic is happening right now in Athens. Life is just… Normal! So if you were scared to come because of their economic crisis, please don’t be!

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2:00 PM ― Visit the Museum. After visiting the Acropolis, we decided to head to the Acropolis Museum. There would be more ruins to look at, but mostly it was air conditioned. Just that fact made us go there. Even if we didn’t stay for very long, we had a chance to cool down, while learning more about the past of Athens!

The museum is pretty recent and all of us interior designer girls loved its architecture! But the coolest thing in my opinion is that it’s built on top of ruins, which you can see wherever you walk.

My favorite parts of the museum? The rock/powder showing how they made color/paint and the Acropolis made out of Lego. It was probably built for kids, but hey! adults can enjoy it too!

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3:30 PM ― Visit the National Garden. After being in the heat and surrounded by tourists, we decided to retreat to the National Garden for a bit of shade and quiet. It took us a while to find it, but once we got there, it was absolutely beautiful. For the nature lovers that we are, staying in Athens can be a bit hard sometimes. Sitting in front of the bird cage in the park helped us a lot, even if we didn’t stay for very long!

As we exited the park, actually, we happened to stumble onto a change of guards, so we sat and watch the traditional routine which is, let’s be honest, part funny and part cruel. I mean, those guards are wearing white pantyhose and long sleeve when it’s 40 outside, dancing around. But I have to admit they have a lot of strength and courage to be able to do something like that. I know I wouldn’t.

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4:30 PM ― Visit the Panathenaic Stadium. Home to the first modern Olympics, we decided to take a quick look at the stadium, since it was relatively close to the Gardens. We didn’t feel like paying the entrance fee, so we stayed outside of it, but we didn’t need to climb 100 stairs to get what it was all about!

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5:00 PM ― Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus. During the day, I’d seen something poking out the trees that I wanted to see. It happened to be the Temple of Olympian Zeus! And finally, around five o’clock we were there! If you’ve visited the Acropolis earlier that day, you don’t have to pay to enter. Just show them your ticket as you already paid for your admission.

Even if the site isn’t nearly as big or renovated as the Acropolis, it was actually a lot more impressive. There weren’t a lot of people, which also made us appreciate it a lot more. But with its fallen column and its missing pieces, it looked more… real than the Parthenon can ever look. It was also the perfect time to take pictures and pretend we were Zeus πŸ™‚

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5:30 PM ― Jump in the Metro. After looking at the map, we had one last thing to see: the Ancient Agora. Because it was on the other side of the city, we decided to take the subway to get there, as we’d walk more than enough already.

6:00 PM ― Visit the Ancient Agora. Again, you don’t have to pay to visit the Agora if you’ve already bought tickets to the Acropolis. We kind of walked quickly through it, as it was mostly ruins that were hard to understand and even though I listened in all of my history class, without a guide it’s hard to understand everything that’s there. So that why we focused on the buildings that we could understand and had a good time looking at the Temple of Hephaestus and its turtles (because there were two turtles just chilling in the grassy spot right next to the Temple!)

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7:00 PM ― Dinner Time. After such a long day, it was time to sit down, order a beer and relax. We were all exhausted for a big day of walking and decided to eat in a restaurant close to the Agora. We could have taken the subway back to Plaka, but we wanted to try something new. That’s how we ended up at Antica, which had a cool (I meant cool as in it had fans) terrasse and a lovely owner. Because I’d seen it everywhere, I had to try the pastitsio as Chris ordered a kebab. Everything was delicious and it was the perfect end to a perfect day!

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8:30 PM ― Time to go home. We parted with my friend quickly on the subway, and when we got back home, we just crashed on the couch to watch some TV. After all, we don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow or visit anything else, because well… we’re in Athens for two months! It was great to be a tourist for a day, but it also happens to be exhausting and reminds me I love to actually be a slow traveler. πŸ™‚

PS: A cool tip about Athens! If you’ve got a water bottle, don’t buy another one when it’s empty! There are so many places where you can actually fill up yours. Water tastes great, even though the fountain could look a bit shady πŸ˜‰

What would you like to do in Athens? Do you prefer ruins or modern buildings?