The best ways to experience Athens

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Athens is certainly worth the visit. From ancient monuments to world-class museums and other wonderful sights, it’s hard to get bored in Athens. Even if you don’t care about archaeology, you can’t come to the capital city of Greece and not visit the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. The Acropolis museum is a modern building at the foot of the Acropolis, housing important ancient Greek statues and much more. After visiting many of Athens’ monuments, it was amazing to climb to the summit of Mount Lycabettus and get a completely new perspective of the city. It’s a long climb by foot, but well worth it. However for those who want a more relaxing experience there is also a cable car.

Parthenon
The Parthenon building, one of Athen’s oldest buildings and the highlight of any visit.

A walk through the oldest neighbourhood in Athens, Plaka, is a must and one of the most enjoyable strolls to take, especially in the early evening. There are hundreds of tourist shops and several good restaurants and Greek taverns that are an excellent place to have a slow lunch or dinner. I always enjoy looking out the windows and watching the people of Athens pass by while I eat dinner.

Let’s not forget Anafiotika, the neighborhood closest to Acropolis where you can wander around and feel like you are on an island in the middle of the Aegean.

For quick and low-budget meals try a “souvlaki”, mainly grilled meat, vegetables (tomato and onion slices) and Greek tzatziki, which is yoghurt enriched with garlic and cucumber. All of the above are wrapped a pitta. It costs from €1.80 to €2.50.

A nice place to visit in the centre of Athens is Monastiraki square, which is full of young people throughout the day and long into the night. There is also a market there where street venders sell clothes, jewellery and many souvenirs. Many Athenians visit Monastiraki square to watch street performers. If you’d rather look at the Acropolis from afar you can do so by visiting one of the cafe-bars on the top of the hotel, A (for Athens), at Monastiraki square.

Athens is also famous for its vibrant nightlife. There are plenty of choices and they appeal to all tastes. In Athens, the hip, modern areas include places like Gazi, Psirri, Metaxourgio, Exarcheia, Monastiraki, Theseion and Kolonaki.

If you want a more quiet or traditional evening you could visit Plaka. But whatever you choose, keep in mind the culture in Greece is very different than in many other countries and nightlife starts significantly later than in most of Europe. A dinner with friends won’t be expected to start before 9 pm and an evening out clubbing or bar hopping would usually start at
midnight.

The Hellenic parliament building in central Athens. This area is full of government offices.
The Hellenic parliament building in central Athens. This area is full of government offices.

This is only a small selection of what Athens offers and will no doubt keep you busy. If it is your first time visiting Greece, don’t forget that there are hundreds of islands within a few hours of Athens that are also well worth the visit.

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