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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?