Athens is always a question mark when it comes to things to do. Tourists don’t want to miss out on the capital, but find little to entertain themselves with. A day’s layover in Athens is enough before you hit the islands, it will save you previous holiday time. Given that Greece has way too many islands, with each one prettier than the other, it’s best to get on a ferry soon as possible, or drive off to the mountains!
1. Acropolis and Acropolis Museum:
This one’s a no-brainer. There are so many stories, myths and legends attached to the Acropolis. Skipping this one is a crime equivalent to not visiting the Taj in India! The 400 steps leading to the Acropolis are worth the climb, for the pillars at the Parthenon are famed to be so unique, architects and mathematicians are still struggling to figure a way to build them again!
There’s no wrong time to visit Plaka. It’s always buzzing, always full of people. If you go in the afternoon, you’ll find boutiques, souvenir stores, street vendors selling jewellery, artefacts and munchies. Trolley-fulls of olives, dry fruits and desserts are on display around the area. It’s a long walking street surrounding the Acropolis, with pubs, cafes and shops in abundance. Toy trains carrying tourists also run through the narrow streets of Plaka. In the evening it’s a beautiful place to enjoy the sunset and stroll through the ruins and the pubs.
This is where the Olympics began! Sports buffs will find it hard to resist this stadium that can seat 80,000 people at one time. There’s a tiny store outside the stadium that sells merchandise you can take home for fans and family!
This is a ceremony worth watching, not because it’s a very fancy one, but because the costumes worn by the guards are the traditional uniforms. The ceremony is quite adorable, especially because the entire thing takes place in slow motion!
Don’t go by the name, it isn’t half as boring as it sounds! This petite chapel is placed right at the top of Mount Lycabettus, with a panoramic view of the entire city. The city with its low-lying white and pastel houses is quite a sight from up here! The hill also has an open-air café that doubles up as a theatre sometimes. You could enjoy a cocktail here at sunset while you watch the sun go down over Athens.
6. Dinner in the sky, on a crane:
Imagine sipping red wine with bae, while you munch on some sea food a couple of hundred feet above the ground. Once you’re seated on the crane, it takes you up into the sky and places itself there, while you enjoy your dinner with wine, some music and the bright and twinkly city lights under and around you. The table usually seats about 20 people, and the service, seating, ambience and music- every single thing is perfect. The only drawback I can think of is the absence of a restroom!
If you’re in Athens on a Sunday and love shopping- it’s your lucky day! There’s a flea market here on Sundays, with everything ranging from food to trinklets. Monastiraki is always buzzing otherwise as well, with designer stores and vintage shops, galleries and cafés around the street.
8. Half day trip to Cape Sounion:
Located approx. 70 kms off Athens, it’s at the southern-most tip of the Attica peninsula. It’s where the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon (God of the Sea) are located. It’s at the top of the headland, with the sea on three sides, making it just the right amount of romance and mythology!
9. Visit Hydra:
Hydra is an island a few hours off Athens. You would need to board a morning ferry from Pireaus port and could opt for a day trip or to spend a night on the island. While the island is one of the cutest in Greece, the best thing about it is that motor vehicles are completely banned. Everyone commutes on donkeys or on foot, and though it sounds imaginable, there is no other way to move about here!
10. Day trip to Delphi:
Delphi is about 100 kms off Athens, and is famous for the ancient ruins of the “Oracle” –the seat where a whole lot of ancient decisions were taken. The ruins are located at the foot of the mountains, and are a UNESCO world heritage site. Worth the drive!