How many people can say in their lifetime that they have visited Athens three times? Well, that would be me!
Arriving in Athens the third time around, I definitely feel that I have figured out the city in terms of what to see and do!
So today on the blog, I have compiled a list of my Top 10 sights and attractions that are a must see on your first (or third!) visit to Athens!
1. Visit the famous parthenon with all the other hundreds of tourists.
It wouldn’t be a visit to Athens without a seeing the parthenon now would it? Don’t forget to admire the view from the top of the Acropolis!
2. Pay a visit (or a few visits!) to Monastiraki Square
Monastiraki square is the BEST area in Athens for two things: FOOD and SHOPPING.
You’ll find many beautiful restaurants near the entrance to Ancient Agora with Greeks standing outside trying to convince you to eat there for a good price.
You will also find the Athens flea market where you can purchase some really cool Greek souvenirs and keepsakes; these may include a pair of authentic and hand-made Greek sandals (highly recommend getting them from Melissinos – The Poet Sandal Maker) and traditional Greek jewellery (something for the ladies! I highly recommend Speira). The best part about the flea market is you can negotiate and bargain a price that works for your budget.
Quick Tip: Pay in cash, some shops can do a better deal for you than if you were to pay by card.
3. See the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square
One of the highlights of my visit to Athens is to see the tomb of the unknown solider at the Greek Parliament, guarded by two Greek officials.
The official changing of the guards ceremony is every Sunday morning at 11am if you are interested, or if you would like to see the guards change on another day, they change the guards every hour.
It is so inspiring to see their commitment and dedication to their job, along with the pretty awesome pom poms on their shoes! Definitely not to be missed in Athens!
4. Go to Lukumades in Monastiraki Square and get fat on Greek donuts; go on, you know you want to.
One of my favourite dessert places in Athens is Lukumades! What are Lukumades I hear you ask? Lukumades are deliciously tasting Greek donuts! The official Lukumades shop is located in Monastiraki Square in Athens.
Traditional Lukumades are honey puffs (the Greek version of donuts) soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds which taste incredible!
If you are feeling a little more adventurous in the dessert department you can opt for Lukumades that are FILLED WITH CHOCOLATE, drizzled with chocolate topping, sprinkled with pistachio nuts and a scoop of ice-cream, and that is just one of the combinations you can try! You may also be enticed by Lukumades drizzled with vanilla topping, sprinkled oreos and strawberry cheesecake ice-cream (pictured below!).
I have had both traditional and chocolate infused lukumades, and I can definitely recommend that you first try the traditional lukumades and then try them with something a little extra (if your stomach can handle it!).
Eating lukumades in Athens was an absolute highlight of my trip and one of the most delicious melting-in-your-mouth desserts I have ever tasted! You really should go there!
5. Visit the temple of Zeus, Greek God of the sky, King of all the Gods.
Everyone who is a Disney fan like me has seen Hercules and knows the mighty Zeus, King of all the Gods. Ancient ruins in Greece are so rich with history and seeing the traditional columns at the temple of Zeus are well worth it on your trip to Athens.
6. Visit the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus on your way up to the Parthenon.
On your way up to the famous parthenon you will come across the theatre of Dionysus, and a beautiful theatre called Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Don’t let both of these beautiful theatres pass you by as they are absolutely stunning!
The Theatre of Dionysus (named after the God of plays and wine) was the first stone theatre ever to be built, holding approximately 17,000 people. It was also supposedly the birthplace of Greek tragedy.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (often confused with the Theatre of Dionysus) is a beautiful stone theatre which is still used today for theatre and music performances. Definitely worth a look (and to snap a few photos!).
7. Soak in the Greek dining experience at the Plaka.
The plaka in Athens is for FOOD and MORE FOOD!!! The plaka district is basically an entire pedestrianised area in Athens with amazing traditional Greek restaurants offering you amazing service and delicious Greek cuisine.
The Plaka hillside is a really popular place to eat as there is basically a big hill with restaurants on both sides left and right! (picture below!). Just be aware that it can get quite busy of an evening!
The dining experience at the plaka is guaranteed to be amazing, and you might be lucky enough to be serenaded with traditional Greek singing and dancing! Opa!
Quick Tip: Have dinner late! The restaurants in the Plaka will be buzzing after around 8pm!
8. Experience dinner with a view.
All over Athens there are many restaurants and bars that have an amazing rooftop views of the Acropolis mountain. Some of these include: A is for Athens and 360 cocktail bar located in Monastiraki Square, Thissio View Roof Garden and also, Kuzina restaurant which was recommended to us by our Airbnb host.
Kuzina restaurant is located on a long strip of restaurants directly opposite Ancient Agora. If you would like to eat at this particular restaurant make sure you book and reserve a table in advance and request to sit on the terrace. The terrace (pictures below) has gorgeous views of Ancient Agora and also Mount Lycabettus accompanied with great service, food and atmosphere!
9. Win first place at the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Summer Olympics were held
Okay, maybe you won’t win first place, but in my race round the track (more like walk round the track) I was a winner!
The Panathenaic Stadium is the only stadium in the world that is built out of marble. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics in 1896 and it was an Olympic venue at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
The stadium only costs 5 euros to get in (quite a cheap price!) and in my eyes it is a very impressive stadium. You can see the marble stone tablets near the entrance which lists the locations of every Summer Olympic games ever held, stand on the winners podium, and sit in the fancy VIP marble seats which have the perfect view of the entire stadium.
I think one of the coolest parts about visiting this stadium is that each time I have visited (that would be three times!), there are hardly any tourists around.
10. Get lost in the ruins of Ancient Agora.
Only a short walk (1 minute) from Monastiraki square is Ancient Agora! The ruins outside are really interesting and the museum really opens you up to what it was like in Ancient Greek times. Plus, there is a pretty cool view of the Acropolis mountain!
11. Take the funicular to Mount Lycabetus
Okay, my post says my Top 10 things to do in Athens, but this one was too good not to include on this list! One of the coolest things you can do in Athens if you are seeking some of the BEST 360 views of the city, is to take the funicular (only 7,50 euros) to the top of Mount Lycabetus. Mount Lycabetus is in fact higher than the Acropolis mountain and definitely has the better views where you can see all of Athens all the way out to the sea! Check out the photos!
Other sights and attractions in Athens that did not make the Top 10 list, but still may catch your interest!
1. Hadrian’s Arch
Hadrian’s Arch is a monumental gateway resembling a Roman triumphal arch. It has been suggested that the arch was built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian to honour him for his many contributions to the city.
Hadrians Arch in Athens is located in the same location as the Temple of Zeus, so you may as well pay it a visit on your way to the temple!
The Zappeion building is located in the National Gardens of Athens, and is commonly used for ceremonies and meetings, both official and private. Currently, the Zappeion is used in Athens as a conference and exhibition centre.
If you happen to be strolling through Athens, walking on your way to the Panathenaic stadium and would like some cool buildings to see, why not check out the Zappeion, it’s a pretty impressive building!
Have you ever been to Athens? What are your recommendations for things to do and see?
Leave your recommendations/advice in the comments below!
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