In 5 words: Ancient history and lively spirit.
For your first visit you need 2 full days to properly get acquainted with the major sights of the city.
Distances are mostly walkable in the city center.
Worthy attractions: Acropolis; Plaka; Monastiraki; Metropolitan CathedralAreopagus Hill; Philopappos Hill.
Left for another visit: Acropolis Museum; other archaeological sites (saw most from the outside).
Last visit: July 2018.

Acropolis, Athens
Common wisdom suggests that Athens (Αθήνα) is a single-day destination. In blunt terms, for a city of its size, it has too few remarkable points of interest to warrant a longer stay.

There is a measure of truth in that. Only one sight in Athens has to be considered a must; many other archaeological sites in the city center can either be viewed while walking by or completely bypassed in favor of more impressive sites elsewhere in Greece. As a result, you will probably not linger in the Greek capital for long.

Nonetheless, the city is lively and a less highlight-oriented visitor will find many interesting locations to explore here.

Acropolis ♥♥♥ has got to be the must when in Athens. It is very impressive, the scale of Parthenon and the views all around are magnificent; the more preserved Erechtion is exquisite. Tip: come after 5pm to get in practically with no lines.

Acropolis Museum is a separate entity with a separate entry ticket. It reputedly holds a magnificent collection of the ancient Greek artifacts, but we decided to leave it for a future visit to the city (when hopefully, the push to recover Parthenon’s parts that are currently on display in British Museum in London will come to a positive conclusion).

All Athenian archaeological sites are open-air museums, which means that you technically can view them without paying for tickets and stepping in. Our itinerary through Greece took us to a lot of ancient ruins in various parts of the country, so we did not consider taking more than a passing-by look at sites such as Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Zeus Temple ♥, Hadrian’s Library. Even an exterior look can be informational, though. For instance, Horologion of Andronikos ♥ is technically on the grounds of Roman Agora, but there are information stands accessible to the passerby to explain a lot about this “Tower of Winds”.

A pedestrian path around the Acropolis takes you by the most of the central archaeological sites.

There are several high hills in the city center to climb for expansive views. Areopagus Hill ♥ offers the closest look at the various ancient ruins. Philopappos Hill ♥ provides a level look at the Acropolis, as well as panoramic vistas over the entire city; plus, it has its own ancient monument at the top. The highest hill in the city, Mount Lycabettus, can be reached by a funicular and has a restaurant at the top, but it did not fit into our itinerary.

On the east and north side of the Acropolis Hill lie two vibrant neighborhoods of Plaka ♥ and Monastiraki ♥, both fairly commercialized and full of people, especially in the evening. A portion of Plaka, called Anafiotika ♥, was built by its first occupants to resemble the island villages of their origin – exploring its narrow walkways is especially worthwhile if you don’t get to explore any such villages firsthand.

The Orthodox Church ♥ on Monastiraki main square is among those that are very ornately decorated. The Metropolitan Cathedral ♥ has been very recently restored and is definitely worth a look.

Large squares on the main road ring in the city are all nice without being exceptional. You probably will find yourself on Syntagma Square at some point regardless, so time it for the top of the hour when you can watch a fairly uniquely choreographed change of guard ♥♥ at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier.

Off Syntagma starts the National Gardens ♥, a nice oasis with a children playground, a picturesque lake, and a small petting zoo.


Metro network serves main central points of interest, but is not very extensive, and runs not too frequently (especially on weekends); it can also be subject to strikes. There are other modes of public transportation available as well.

Taxis are plentiful and comparatively cheap to get around the central areas.

Places to Eat

All visits in 2018.

Dioskouroi ♥♥ in Monastiraki by the Ancient Agora is part of a row of restaurants that all look fairly touristy, but are frequented by locals in the off-season, according to our local guide. Nice menu, reasonable service, live bouzouki music every night is a great bonus. The kitchen was able to cater to the very peculiar requirements of an 8-year-old without missing a beat. Some appetizers are bigger in size than main courses, so be careful with ordering too many plates. We ate here twice, in the party of four, once for €113, and the other time for €85, with wine and tips.

All other meals were taken on Drakou Street, the main pedestrian drag of Koukaki neighborhood, which sees a smaller portion of tourists than Plaka or Monstiraki.

Ambrosia ♥ – mostly local patrons, simple traditional fare, tons of inexpensive choices. €27 for 3, including wine.

Kalamaki Bar ♥ – specializes in skewers of meat (kalamaki), we effectively had a quick-bite lunch here. €13 for 2, including wine.

Skoumbri ♥♥ – very fast service, pretty good simple seafood dishes. €36 for 2, with wine.


In 2018, we rented an AirBnB-listed apartment on Despos Sechou ♥♥ (link), around the corner from Syggrou-Fix metro station in Koukaki neighborhood. Nice not too touristy area, close to Acropolis, full of cafés and food shops. Large apartment, old-fashioned, some antique-quality furniture and dishes, not renovated any time recently, but fully adequate, with balconies on two sides, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a/c in all rooms. A few items stocked in the pantry and fridge.

Other notes for Greece