It’s hard to imagine who wouldn’t enjoy a trip to Athens – history buffs will be amazed by the stunning ancient sites, whereas those who enjoy more modern creature comforts will love the café culture. Athens is an expansive yet friendly city, where conversation is easy to make, as are friends. Plus, the food is delicious.
With so much on offer, it would be possible to return to the city many times and explore its many treasures. However, if you only have one trip – here are our top 5 things you don’t want to miss.
1. The Parthenon
For an idea of how incredible Athens must have been in Ancient Greek times, look no further than the former temple of the Parthenon. Originally constructed in 438 BC, the building was a temple dedicated to Athena, and constructed after the Ancient Greeks defeated the Ancient Persian empire. It is considered of the prime examples of Greek architecture, and a must see for visitors to Athens.
2. The Acropolis
Hovering above the city and visible from just about everywhere within it, the Acropolis is one of the most impressive ancient sites on the planet. The building dates back from approximately 400 BC, when it had a variety of uses including being the entry site to massive Olympic-esque festival called the Panathenaea. A definitely must see.
3. Walk the Plaka
One of the most picturesque and oldest neighborhoods in all of Athens, taking a stroll around Plaka is a must do. There are no cars here, only bicycles and the odd moped, so the area moves at a slower pace than elsewhere in Athens. Be sure to stop and enjoy a coffee and some people watching, like a true Athenian. There are also many great souvenir shops to remind you of your visit to the Greek capital.
4. Drink ouzo at a rooftop bar
The Greek drink of choice is ‘ouzo’, an intense, aniseed flavored beverage that is usually drunk “on the rocks” or neat. While white-haired Greek men seem to be able to drink this like it is water, we suggest drinking it more in moderation – particularly if enjoying it at a rooftop bar, where the views of the Acropolis are beautiful but the stairs are dangerous!
5. Monastiriki Flea Market
Despite it’s name, this is not really a flea market most days of the week – it is more a sprawling shopping street, with your usual selection of stores hawking tourist souvenirs. Here, you can buy I LOVE GREECE t-shirts or replicas of the Acropolis. While these can make for fun (if a little tacky) gifts, the true attraction is finding the few old, intriguing stores selling objects such as exquisite jewelry and antique books and records. Hands down the best day to visit is on Sunday, when many different Athenians spread out blankets and sell various items – but it is open and accessible every day of the week.