Greece is one of the most visited European countries and favourite travel destination. Before this trip I have been to Santorini, the most beautiful and famous island of Greece. Athens was on my bucket list for a long time. I reached Athens airport at 12 midnight and checked with information desk about transport to go to my hotel. She told me that I can get bus X95 from outside Gate 5 which will take me to city center, Syntagma square. I got the bus after waiting for about 10 minutes. It was €5 ticket and it dropped me at city center in around 50 minutes.
Taking its name from the most benevolent goddess of Greek mythology, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, inspiration and civilization, the city’s role in history proudly justifies her patronage. Being the landmark attraction of Athens, Acropolis was first on my list and I found that it was not very far from my hotel. It took me around 45 minutes to reach there because it was uphill. I was going towards ticket office, when I saw people are going on hill top opposite to Acropolis. I thought to go there before acropolis.
The Areopagus is a bare marble hill across from the entrance to the Acropolis. According to Greek mythology, Ares (the god of war, known to the Romans as Mars) was tried here by the gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son Alirrothios. It is this legend that gives the hill its various names. It was really great view of city from there.
After admiring beauty of the Athens from the Areopagus hill now time to go to the main attraction of Athens. I bought Acropolis ticket for €12 which gave me access to 6-7 sites including one museum. However, it does not cover Acropolis museum or national Archaeological museum. You need to buy separate tickets for these two museums.
The Acropolis is a symbol of Ancient Greece so this UNESCO heritage site is among the first to come to mind when asked to cite the best known sites on the list. The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.
Acropolis actually refers to the whole hilltop complex which included the Parthenon, the most memorable temple ruin, and Erechtheum and Propylaea etc. The Parthenon is indeed impressively beautiful and tragically ruined.
Of course the rich history of Athens is captured in this attraction which is in the process of being partially restored. The view is breathtaking and the architecture is amazing. Parthenon is sectioned off so you can’t get close and all the rocks are closely watched-seriously though. You also get an amazing view of Mt Lycabettus from here.
Mt Lycabettus view from Acropolis
I will say a must see monument – the symbol of the Greek Contribution to beauty, geometry and architecture.
Theatre/ Odeion of Herodes Atticus
This is one of the hidden sights you could see from the top of the acropolis. Located on the south-west slope of the Acropolis, this ancient amphitheatre was built in the 2nd century A.D. this semi circular amphitheatre can house over 5000 people. Considered as one of the nurseries of European theatre, the Odeon is still used for theatres and musical concerts, especially during the Athens Art Festival.
If you want to watch a performance there, you could plan for Athens in the summer during the Athens festival at the Odeum of Herodus Atticus. The Parthenon is just above the Odeion.
Theatre of Dionysos
Inexpensive attraction with uphill walking then downhill on return. This is included in the price for the Acropolis, along with 6 other sites. You can sit all around the theater, or climb up the hill to get a bird’s eye view of it. A total ancient Athens experience! Awesome place to be able to sit right in the theater and feel the ancient vibes.
Ancient Agora of Athens
Entry included with Acropolis ticket. A nice large site you can stroll around. Varied architecture, and site sculptures.
This is the place where Aristocrats and Tyrants enforced their rule on their Athenian subjects, and the place where the concept of “direct democracy” was forged. An excellent site right near the Monastiraki flea market where you can grab an afternoon coffee or bottle of ouzo.
An Interesting Experience
Around 3 pm after having been through Acropolis and nearby sites I was looking for a restaurant where I can go for lunch when a funny incident happened. An old man came to me and asked me whether I was a tourist. When I confirmed him he asked me from where I came from and when I told him my country. He said he also has some friend in Britain and his son is also in London. Then he talked to me about my trip and where I am going next day etc. He became very friendly and asked me to join him for a drink. As soon as he asked me from drink, it strike in my mind that I had read about a similar story of scams in Athens on internet in some blog.
Some tourists have mentioned that people ask you about your native place and then they will say that they have some friend and relative in your place and then they will ask you for drink. If you will go with them, they pub will make money by giving you very expensive drink or some girl will come to you and she will ask you to buy a drink for her obviously one of the most expensive ones. So when I found same thing, I refused him politely that my group is waiting for me. As soon as he heard that I am with some group he didn’t ask anything further and left. Be aware of these types of scams.
From there I walked towards Syntagma Square. In front of the Parliament buildings, Syntagma square is at the very centre of Athens and here each day you can enjoy the almost hypnotics changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the Parliament building at the top of the square.