Athens, Greece

Athens, we will be back without a doubt!

The columns of the Parthenon stand against a cloudy sky
Athens, Greece (2022)

Athens, we will be back without a doubt!

Athens is loud and busy and interesting and exciting. The vibe here is totally different from Lisbon, the city we had just arrived from. You could technically use those same adjectives to explain both cities, but Athens had a certain roughness that I fell in love with.

In similar fashion to most Greek men I know, Athens is the kind of place that feels like it just doesn't give a f*ck if you like it or not.

A city that's been continuously inhabited for roughly 5000 years, Athens has seen it all. It's real and it's raw, and if you allow yourself to see what lies beneath the rough exterior, Athens' warm and honest heart will surely steal yours.

The juxtaposition of some of the world’s most ancient structures intertwined through a modern cityscape didn’t fail to amaze us as we wandered through the never ending labyrinth of streets.

A grungy concrete jungle with little gems tucked around every corner, this ancient sprawling city is like no other.


The Acropolis of Athens

Collage of Alek and Alexia with various ancient Greek monuments and artifacts
The Acropolis, Athens, Greece (2022)

You're not doing Athens right if you don't visit the Acropolis, an iconic site that symbolizes the foundation of modern culture and civilization. This citadel dates back to the 5th century BCE and holds some of the world's most important and recognizable monuments.

At the Acropolis you will find:

After your tour of the Acropolis, head to the Acropolis Museum to learn more about the history of this place and see some beautiful artifacts.

Our advice to you:

  • Buy your tickets and audio tour online in advance, we highly recommend doing the hyperlinked tour package with the audio because it gave us so much more information about the monuments and museum displays we otherwise wouldn't have known
  • Check that the day you are planning to go isn't a designated free day before you buy tickets
  • Go early, this is obviously a very popular tourist destination and it's really worth going before it gets crowded
  • Grab breakfast at the museum restaurant, it's yummy and a beautiful spot to take a break during your visit
  • Be ready for it to be windy

First Cemetery of Athens

Collage of various statues, mausoleums and a calico cat
First Cemetery of Athens, Greece (2022)

One of our favourite experiences was walking around the First Cemetery of Athens. Big beautiful trees, marble statues and exquisite tombstones and mausoleums adorn these burial grounds. Due to the stormy, moody weather that day we had the cemetery entirely to ourselves. To be the only living walking amongst the resting place of so many dead was a surreal experience.

As we were winding our way through the hundreds of gravesites, a small calico cat appeared out of nowhere. Not only did she immediately greet us demanding to be pet, but she kept us company for the remainder of our time walking through the cemetery.

We aptly decided to name our new companion Stormy. She escorted us back to the entrance and abruptly stopped at the gate, meowing a soft farewell behind us as we walked away.

Perhaps our sweet Stormy was a guide sent from another realm.

Philopappos Hill

Philopappos Hill, Athens, Greece (2022)

This short hike up Philopappos Hill only takes about 15 minutes and offers a stunning view of the massive cityscape and the Acropolis. The Philopappos Monument at the peak of this 147 meter hill is an ancient dedication to a prince who died in 116 CE.

There are a number of nice trails to walk around before or after you spend some time soaking in the breathtaking views from this spot.

The Changing of the Guards

Two soldiers in traditional garments stand by small blue huts in front of a large tan building
Hellenic Parliament, Athens, Greece (2022)

The Changing of the Guards is an important historical ceremony that takes place at the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma Square. The guards stand perfectly still outside the building, never moving until it is time for the change.

Though the guards do change hourly every day, the official ceremony routine in the traditional garments only happens on Sunday at 11 am.

Unfortunately because it was raining the day we went, the ceremonial routine was not performed and the guards made the change very quickly. There was no announcement to the spectators, and we only realized after the fact that the ceremony was not happening due to the rain.

The thing to keep in mind here is that this is not a performance. This is a military duty and tradition, and the soldiers do not treat the spectators as guests at a show.

Our advice to you:

  • Don't go if it is raining
  • Go early (at least 10:30 am or even earlier) to get a good spot to view the ceremony, it gets very busy and can be hard to see especially if you are short
  • Be respectful and do not get in the way of the soldiers, they will not tolerate people being disruptive or standing in places they should not be

Other places to check out:

  • The National Garden: Located right by Syntagma Square, this beautiful garden is a lovely spot to walk around and see some flora and fauna in the middle of the city
  • Little Kook: A totally random seasonally themed alley I stumbled upon by accident. There are shops and cafés where the hostesses are dressed in full costume. While I was there, everything was Alice in Wonderland themed! I would not recommend trying to get food or coffee here, it's overpriced and touristy, but it's definitely worth walking through and snapping some photos!
  • Arch of Hadrian: This monumental gateway is a massive marble arch that dates back to the 2nd century CE
  • Panathenaic Olympic Stadium: Entirely made of marble, this race course (built in the 6th century BCE) and stadium (built in 144 CE) are a main historic attraction in Athens. You can purchase tickets to explore the stadium, but we just viewed it from the outside and grabbed some photos

Where we stayed

Small white apartment decorated with hardwood and green modern accents
LOFUS Bio-Suites, Athens (2022)

We stayed at the LOFUS Bio-Suites in the Plaka neighbourhood, which was a great location. It's just a short walk from Monastiraki Square, a popular and busy area with lots of shops and restaurants. We were very happy with our bright, quirky and cozy little apartment for our two night stay.

Athens has pieces of history scattered across it like stars in a night sky.

It has stories to tell. It has character.

There are no pretenses here.

Two nights in Athens was not enough. We will be back one day!

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