Athens; ‘a global city’
Athens (or Athina) is the largest cosmopolitan city and the capital of Greece. It is one of the world’s oldest cities with its ancient history dating back 3,400 years. It is the centre of arts, philosophy, learning and home of Aristotle’s Lyceum and Plato’s Academy.
Because of its perfect location on the map, which is ideal for shipping, finance, media, trade and tourism, it is recognised as a global city. It is home to the Acropolis and the Medieval Daphni Monastery regarded as UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Also, it was the first city to host the Olympic Games in 1896.
24 Hours in Athens
So you’re going to the Global City, but only have 24 hours to spend (most probably cause you’re planning to go on Greek Islands hopping, but you’ve first arrived in Athens?), here is what you should do, just like I did with my travel on Aegan Airlines.
1: Olympieion; The Temple of Olympian Zeus
I started my tour of Athens from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is one of the largest temples in ancient Greece that included 104 columns, dedicated to Olympian Zeus. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and only after a century of its completion, it was plundered during the barbarian invasion in the 3rd Century A.D. After that, it was probably never repaired and now reduced to its ruins. Only 16 of it’s original columns remain in existence today and is known as one of the most visited archeological attractions in Athens.
Go ahead, count them, they’re indeed 16 columns, LOL. In order to get into this site, you would need to buy a ticket. However, I had received the entry for free cause I was supposed to write a blog about it, LOL. Just kidding, but I didn’t pay anything to get in because of my Student I.D. Yes, I am still in the final years of completing my PhD, so it saved me a lot in Athens. Please don’t forget to show your Student I.D to get a free entry, other folks would have to pay.
2: The Acropolis
After visiting the Temple of Olympian Zeus, I started walking towards the Acropolis of Athens. Located on an extremely rocky hill above the the city of Athens is the Acropolis. It’s name perfectly describes it’s location, as the word Akron means ‘Highest Point’ and polis means ‘city’. It contains the remains of numerous ancient buildings of historical and architectural importance. Among all, the most iconic being the Parthenon. This archeological site depicts the history of ancient Greeks dating back centuries of civilisation.
You can admire the 360 views of the entire Athens from the top of the Acropolis. You can easily locate other iconic sites from the top, as you can see the Temple of Olympian Zeus in the picture below:
There’s also a gigantic flag of Greece placed on the top of the hill from where you can admire the city views.
This place is the highlight of Athens, so if you’re visiting this city and thinking of not going to the Acropolis, you would hate your visit, trust me on that. As I said before, if you’re a student then please present your Student I.D at the entrance and you’ll get the entry as Gratis to all the archeological sites, including the Acropolis. Other folks would pay €20 entry fee or reduced fee for elderly/disabled/etc. There’s also a ticket for €30 that includes the entrance to all of the archaeological sites in Athens, which actually works out better in comparison, but only if you’re planning to visit all of them. Within the 24 hours or slightly more, you would only be able to visit a couple of sites, like me, so don’t buy a multi-site ticket.
NOTE: Please remember to bring a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, hat or umbrella, camera, sun-screen/SPF 50+ and wear comfortable shoes. If you miss any of these, you’ll regret it later.
Find out more information here:http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2384
3: Walk around Plaka Neighbourhood
The Plaka is one of the lively neighbourhoods in Athens with plenty of Greek and international resturants, boutiques and cafes. You’ll also find a very big market for shopping souvenirs just around the corner. There are plenty of roof-top resturants and bars from where you can admire the sunset views of the Acropolis.
Please don’t fall for the aggressive hosts baiting spectators to enter their restaurants cause the food might not turn out to be exactly what you’re after or slightly over budget. First, read the menus displayed outside, then decided whether to dine in or not. There are several fresh juice shops from where you can buy delicious pressed mixed fruit juices for under €2.50 to refresh your mind due to the heat of Athens.
In order to get to Plaka, if you’re arriving from the Metro, get off at Monastiraki Station and walk towards the main street market taking you up the hill. Where you’ll see plenty of cute restaurants, it would definitely be Plaka or simply ask a local, it’s an easy walk from Monastiraki Station.
4: Changing of the Guards at Syntagma Square
One of the most exciting and remarkable experiences in Athens is to watch the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square. The guards stand in front of the Hellenic Parliament on Syntagma Square 24/7, all year round. You’ll see the guards wearing their traditional white costume with pleated skirt detail and pompom shoes. I truly wished those guards are paid well, as it’s an extremely difficult job to stand in extreme heat all day long without moving.
In order to get here, simply take at the Metro at get off at Syntagma Square. Once you come out of the station, you’ll see the Parliament Building right behind you.
Download the printable version of Athens City Tourist Map here: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/downloads/maps/athens
I truly loved my stop in Athens and hope that you’ll enjoy your little time in this beautiful city too.
See you at other destinations around the world!