My first day in Athens was full of sunshine and blue skies!  I sat outside at a restaurant, glass of beer in hand, ready to devour a Greek salad, which was brimming with fresh tomatoes, capsicum,olives, capers and a gloriously large slab of feta cheese balanced on top, drizzled with glistening olive oil.  If you’re looking to spend three days in Athens in winter, be prepared for shorter opening hours and longer periods of lazing about in restaurants.  Nonetheless, there is plenty to do and a lot of Greek culture to absorb.

The Acropolis and other ancient sites

The first and best attraction in Athens, the Acropolis, stands on the hill in the middle of the city and is visible around every corner.  I climbed to the top via some narrow laneways, full of cats!  A multi-site ticket for 30 euros allowed entrance into the Acropolis, as well as many other ancient sites around the city.  The Acropolis is huge and it takes at least half a day to walk around everything properly!  My favourite buildings were the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the ancient theatres, where Greek philosophers, playwrights and poets would have shared their creative works with the public.

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View of the Acropolis
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The Parthenon
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The Erechtheion
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Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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Theatre of Dionysus

On the multi-site pass, you can explore the Ancient Agora (market place), the Agora, Hadrian’s Library, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and more.  Remember to take a look at the Acropolis by night, glowing on the hill under all those lights.  In winter, the Acropolis only stays open until 3pm, so make sure you plan your days well if you are only here for a limited time.

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The Agora
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Temple of Olympian Zeus

National Archaeological Museum

To brush up on your knowledge of history and see many of the artefacts discovered all over Greece (largely pottery and statues), take a walk to the National Archaeological Museum.  It offers a full morning of exploration!

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National Archaeological Museum

National Gardens

These gardens would be much more beautiful in the Summer.  However, it is always nice to take a break from city life and walk through some green space – we enjoyed discovering the bird park and even some enclosures with goats inside!

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Goats at the National Gardens

Lycabettus Hill

Despite the long and exhausting climb to the top, it is extremely satisfying to conquer Lycabettus Hill.  Walk up though the nettles and cacti before reaching a small church and cafe at the top, revealing spectacular 360 degree views of the city!

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View from the top of Lycabettus Hill

Greek Vegetarian Cuisine

I was a bit worried at first that I would have to eat Greek salads all trip, as meat seemed to be a very prominent feature on the menu.  However, after a bit of research and some lucky coincidences, I found some delicious vegetarian food, including cheese and zucchini pies, Gemista (rice-stuffed capsicums and tomatoes), garlic with buttered mushrooms, risottos, olives and plenty of feta cheese!  I also spent many hours in cafes, sipping on Greek coffee and red wine.  Ouzo is a popular drink here, with a strong aniseed flavour.  I particularly enjoyed Avocado, a vegetarian restaurant in the city centre that served a huge variety of dishes and fresh juices.

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Our first Greek salad
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Gemista

Athens is a young, vibrant city mixed with Ancient history and tradition.  From here, you can jump on a ferry and make your way to one of the many Greek Islands scattered across the Aegean Sea. I feel a return trip will be needed in the Summer!

Have you been to Athens?  What else would you recommend?  

15 thoughts

  1. Lovely post and great photos! Made me feel very hungry for Greek salad!!! Great time to see it too, without all the heat and the crowds! Amazing to see the age of Ancient Greece side by side with the modern city of Athens. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you! Maybe you should make a Greek salad with some fresh home-grown tomatoes! It was definitely really nice seeing Athens without the crowds. Wish I could transport you there too! Xox

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  2. Lovely article! Don’t forget to try Tsipouro (it’s stronger than ouzo) and Mastiha, and some traditional sweets like baclava, loukoumia, or amygdalota.

    Just a minor correction: In the 3rd photo the temple, with the famous Caryatids, is called Erechtheion and is devoted not only to Athena, but also to Poseidon and Erichthonios as well (where the name comes from).

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    1. Ooh thank you for all the delicious suggestions! Unfortunately I am no longer in Athens but will have to go back sometime soon!

      And thank you for the correction! Am I right in thinking the ruins in the front of the photo are remnants of the Temple of Athena and the main building behind is the Erechtheion? Maybe I didn’t read the sign properly! 🙂 You sound like you know your ancient history very well!

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      1. Well, you are correct that the front part is mainly for Athena, but the whole building is named Erechteion. Supposedly, inside were the remains of a salt water spring and an olive tree, which Poseidon and Athena created to convince the Athenians to choose one of them as their lord protector. Also, the tomb of a mythical king (Cecrops) is located in the front part. (here is a summary http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/erechtheion)
        Thank you! There is an infinite amount of info about ancient Greece, both mythical and real events, so I try my best!

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      2. Ah, that makes sense. I will adjust the caption on picture 3! Thanks for the link – I look forward to learning more about the history of Athens now that I’ve seen these places in real life!

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