3+1 Reasons to Visit Athens in Greece

3+1 Reasons to Visit Athens in Greece

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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. Athens 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.

View of the Acropolis on the Parthenon hill in Athens Greece.

The Acropolis.

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.

View of the Acropolis and the quarter of Plaka in Athens. Image by Velvet.

The quarter of Plaka and the Acropolis in the background.


The Parthenon. Image by Elisabeth.

The Parthenon. Image by Elisabeth.


View of Athens and the Acropolis Museum from the Parthenon. Image by Elisabeth.

View of Athens and the Acropolis Museum from the Parthenon. Image by Elisabeth.

But first things first. The first reason is:

Reason 1: Athenian history

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.

  • Partial side view of the Acropolis
    Side view of the Acropolis Museum.
  • Ancient ruins before entering the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
    Ancient ruins before entering the Acropolis Museum in Athens where many people throw

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.

Quarter of Plaka with the monument of the Winds.

Quarter of Plaka with the monument of the Winds.

Ruins in the area of Thision.

Keramikos ancient cemetery.

Two women walking up Areopagitou street in Athens. In the background the Acropolis can be discerned.

View of the Acropolis while walking down Dionisiou Areopagitou. Image by Elisabeth.

Facade of building on Aeropagitou street in Athens.

From the Aeropagitou street – a pedestrian zone in Athens.

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. But I also consider that the latest must see landmark, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, designed by Renzo Piano, that Athenians are proud of is also worth the visit if you have the time to spare. It includes a public library, that is considered one of the best looking in the world, and plenty of outdoor activities for all, including outdoor live concerts during the summer season. As a matter of fact, I have written a detailed article about the importance of this new landmark that you can read it here).

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center after sunset.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center with its stunning roof.

The Agora at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center after sunset.

The Agora at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center.

  • View of the canal and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center after sunset.
    View of the canal and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Culture Center after sunset.
  • Part of the Public Library of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center.
    Part of the Public Library of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, considered one of the best looking libraries in the world.
  • Partial view of Athens from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. Image by Velvet.
    Partial view of Athens from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center. Image by Velvet.
  • Partial view of Athens from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation Center's watch tower.
    Partial view of Athens from the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation Center’s watch tower.

While wandering about downtown Athens, you will come across a lot of street art, touristy shops, coffee houses and tavernas. The one that stands out in my mind is Melina’s coffee house at Anafiotika, in the quarter of Plaka. It has a plethoric personality and a really cozy atmosphere, just right for a cup of coffee and some chit-chat.

Looking at Lycabettus, the hill, from Anafiotika in Plaka.

Looking at Lycabettus from Anafiotika in Plaka.

  • Partial view of Monastiraki square.
    Square of Monastiraki.
  • A large wall mural from street art in the square of Psiri downtown Athens.
    Square of Psiri.

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. Also a great alternative way to feel zen again and spend a good 90 minutes is to head to Thision for a hammam spa treatment that you will never forget. (I wrote about my experience here).

Partial view of one of the pedestrian zones from Thision going into Monastiraki in Athens, Greece. Image by Velvet.

From Thision heading to Monastiraki (left) or towards the hill of Parthenon (right).


View of Ermou street - a pedestrian zone with shops everywhere downtown Athens.

Ermou Street – best known High Street for shopping – on Sunday morning. But if you are serious about shopping, then head to Kolonaki for shops with high-end products with a more cosmopolitan vibe.


The Parliament House at Athens, Greece.

The Parliament House.

Reason 2: 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, and stuffed tomatoes are only but a few traditional dishes worth trying. However, there are many more non-traditional dishes that you should give a go made with local produces. Thus, at this point I will recommend the food at Kuzina at Thission for its non-traditional but quality dishes.

  • View of the interior of Kuzina restaurant in Thission, downtown Athens.
    View of the interior of Kuzina restaurant in Thission, downtown Athens.
  • Another non-traditional dish with pork and mashed sweet potatoe from Kuzina found downtown Athens at Thission
    Another non-traditional dish with pork and mashed sweet potatoe. from Kuzina.
  • A salad dish from Kuzina Restaurant in Thission downtown Athens.
    A non-traditional salad dish from Kuzina Restaurant in Thission with spinach leaves, grapes, nectarines and rucola.
  • Olives and olive oil along with bread buns as an horderve.
    Olives and olive oil along with bread buns as an horderve.
  • Partial view of a bar at the Riviera restaurant in Voula.
    Partial view of a bar at the Riviera restaurant in Voula.
  • Interior of a seafood restaurant in Vouliagmeni
    Interior of a seafood restaurant in Vouliagmeni

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. If you visit during the summer, then I highly recommend that you head for the southern suburbs for a night out.

Partial view of the Zea port in Pireaus.

Partial view of the Zea port in Pireaus.

Reason 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).

Vouliagmeni - one of the southern Athenian suburbs.

Vouliagmeni – one of the southern Athenian suburbs with several sandy beaches.

View of a sandy beach in Kavouri, Vouliagmeni. Image by Velvet.

View of a sandy beach in Kavouri, Vouliagmeni. Image by Velvet.

  • Gazebos at a sandy beach along the Athenian coastline.
    A beach at Lagonissi.
  • Looking at the sea from a gazebo on a sandy beach in Lagonissi.
    Looking at the sea from a gazebo on a sandy beach in Lagonissi.

The Athenian Riviera (that includes the suburbs of Paleo Faliro, Alimos, Elliniko, Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni) 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.

View of the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion (Attica) standing on a cliff by the seaside

Source. Temple of Poseidon in Sounion

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

Visiting the Vouliagmeni Lake is also another great idea, it was once a cave but its roof collapsed after an earthquake and has unique environmental conditions. It is a brackish-water lake with a water temperature that never drops under 18ºC, rich in hydrogen sulphide and therefore, works like a spa.

View of the Vouliagmeni Lake after sunset. Image by Elisabeth.

Vouliagmeni Lake. Image by Elisabeth.

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.

One more reason: the people

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.

One of the alleys of Plaka with lots of tavernas and restaurants and outdoor seating.

One of the alleys in Plaka.

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. That in my book, 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! Of course, it would be great if you combined a visit to Athens with some Greek island hopping starting with Andros and Paros.

I hope you always travel lots and live big, xo

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Last update: 10/14/19

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?

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