3+1 Reasons to Visit Athens in Greece

3+1 Reasons to Visit Athens in Greece

400 400 Velvet
Athens, named after the goddess Athena is located in the region of Attica with an exceptional regional-climate (also known as the Attica climate — imagine 300 days/yr of sunshine). This is the city that flirts with all your senses. It is a loud, intriguing, yet, a laid-back city, with a “chaotic” skyline as one of its trademarks. It awakens some of your most primitive instincts and delivers a feast for culture-hungry eyes as myth and modern day realities clash. Some hate it, some love it. But you must definitely visit it for yourself and wander through it before you decide. I can promise you that it will deliver a lot more than you expect.
The Parthenon of the Acropolis in Athens all lit up sticking out from the rest of the urban landscape

Source Athens skyline at sunset.

View towards the hill of Lykabettus after sunset

Source Lykabettus hill

3 Reasons to Visit Athens

Why visit Athens? In a sentence: it is bound to be one of the most rewarding travel experiences of a lifetime! Do a little homework beforehand. Then set aside the travel guides and allow yourself to get lost. This city has been through a lot and it’s been all over her, but she stands proud with her typical Greek unrest that keeps her alert and on her feet.

 

The Parthenon standing proud on the hill

Source The Parthenon

The odeon of Herod Atticus

Source Odeon of Herod Atticus

One of the external facades of the Acropolis Museum after the sunset

Source The Acropolis Museum

View of some of the antiquities from the permanent exhibition inside the Acropolis Museum

Source The Acropolis Museum

But first things first. The first reason is:

  1. Her history! Travel back in time to the cradle of democracy. This city has so many ancient monuments that celebrate a culture whose legacy lives on throughout the world. The Parthenon, symbol of a thriving democracy at the time, rests upon a hill overlooking the ever changing Athenian skyline. Along with the city’s most famous landmark, you should definitely pay a well worth visit to the new Acropolis Museum. It is a must. Naturally, there are many more museums such as the National Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Benaki Museum and the Hellenic National Maritime Museum in Peireus to name a few.
Melina's coffee house from the outside looking in at night time.

Source. Melina coffee house. Photo by George Baritakis.

I also recommend taking a walk from the pedestrian zone of the Acropolis area (Dionysiou Areopagitou street) all the way to Plaka’s meandering streets, one of the most historic neighborhoods that includes the Roman Agora. Don’t miss the Tower of the Winds, the very first clock tower and weather station in history.

You will come across a lot a touristy shops, coffee houses and tavernas. The one that stands out in my mind is Melina’s coffee house. It has a plethoric personality and a really cozy atmosphere, just right for a cup of coffee.

There’s a unique aura about the whole place and if you allow yourself to wander you’ll discover a lot more than meets the eye like the flea market in Monastiraki with some hidden treasures, or live music tavernas in Psirri with locals as regulars.

View of a street in the Plaka district with lots of blooming flowers

Source Plaka district

The temple of Olympian Zeus leading to the Plaka District

Source The temple of Zeus

Busy streets in the Plaka district filled with people eating away at tavernas at night

Source. Plaka

2. Her social life. Athens, has an unbeatable social life. It has a great number of theaters, bars, clubs, open air movie theaters, all sorts of gourmet restaurants and naturally, tavernas where one may savor traditional Greek delicacies. The Greek cuisine is noteworthy for dishes like the Greek salad with its sun grown veggies, fish dishes, and meat savories (i.e. “souvlaki” and “gyros”). Pastichio, mousakas, stuffed tomatoes are only but a few traditional dishes worth trying.

 

A beautifully outdoor setup on a rooftop for dining with view of Lycabettus hill

Source. Rooftop dining

A rooftop bar in a hotel with view of the Parthenon

Source. A hotel’s rooftop bar with view of the Acropolis.

Athenian social life happens mainly outdoors, including on many of its rooftops with a breathtaking view. Having a cocktail drink (I recommend any one infused with ‘mastiha’) on a rooftop bar watching Athens boasting with life is truly divine.  Athens, has a great renowned night vibe that will surely indulge any sort of mood. Do not be surprised if you find yourself in a 3 a.m. traffic jam. It comes with the territory; after all this is a city where one is always on the move. 

 

View of 'Mikrolimano' a small port of Pireaus with lots of small boats docked and tavernas along the coast.

Source. Mikrolimano, a marina in Pireaus

3. Her sandy coastline.  What most people love about Athens, is the fact that it stretches to the sea, making Piraeus its natural port. Almost any isle destination is within an easy reach proximity due to the many ferries from this port (Hydra, Spetses, Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Crete, etc). The Athenian Riviera stretches all the way to Sounion (the southeastern tip of Attica, about an hour away from the city center). There lies the Temple of Poseidon yet, another iconic monument to visit.

 

The temple of Poseidon on the cliff while a bunch of yachts and sailing boats are sailing by

Source. Cape Sounion

Moreover, Athens, is probably the only European capital with such an easy access to the seaside — a sea that anyone may enjoy

An outdoor setup at the beach of Varkiza, with benches, stools and lounge chairs

Source. Beach at Varkiza

safely all year long (this capital is awarded the most “blue flags” by the way). Its suburbs form a lacy, sandy 75 mile (120km) coastline. Heading out to a beach even after a long day’s work is probably a national past-time. During the summer months, these beaches are boasting with people who want to chill out and forget about their worries, especially now with the recession. Renting out a sailboat from any of the yacht marinas for a day trip, a weekend away or even a week’s holiday to any of the Saronikos or Cyclades isles cannot be easier, while yacht chartering provides guests an enjoyable stay in luxury. Personally speaking, a sailboat trip over a three day weekend to Hydra – Spetses – Aegina is one of my most memorable holidays. It was an amazing experience (read more).

 

A sandy beach with sunbeds and sunumbrellas in Mikro Kavouri

Source. Image by Perikles Merakos. Mikro Kavouri (south suburb)

View of the Vouliagmeni lake with its surrounding cliffs and caves

Source via Shutterstock. Vouliagmeni Lake

An outdoor space with lots of seating overlooking a cove by the sea during the sunset

Source The Matsuhisa Restaurant, in Vouliagmeni (one of Athen’s southern suburbs).

Finally, I would like to add one more reason. Her people. Greeks are warm, sociable, friendly people with a great sense of hospitality, empathy and solidarity. That’s why it should not come to you as a surprise that many of them own a family-run traditional business and strive hard for the welfare of their families. They keep close ties with friends and family and will go out of their way to welcome and help out the best way they can their guests. Even during these times of economic hardships, Greeks will proudly offer to help one another and that’s what makes Athens a “humane city” to live in and that makes up big time for any aesthetic mishaps. Should you decide to visit Athens, it would be real nice if you dropped me a line. I could definitely help you setup your itinerary and give you some great tips!

 

Travel lots and live big, xo

1 comment
  • Truly an beautiful city that never sleeps! With an amazing history and so many museums to visit, with endless beaches, sunshine, friendly people and beautiful Greek cuisine! How can you not fall in love with Athens?

Leave a Reply