Our first big trip together was Greece, we prepared for this trip for MONTHS.. not exaggerating.. Athens was our first stop. It was also the stop that we had the most sights to see in such a short amount of time. Once we got there we realized how much closer everything was than we had originally anticipated! There was so much to see! After Athens we went to Mykonos and then onto Santorini.. both posts to come!
Where we stayed
We chose to spend a little less on our Athens hotel and honestly.. we regretted it. If you guys are planning to visit Athens, I would say find a closer option. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice- the inside was very updated and beautiful.. but it was a little further than we would have liked. Plus there was a KILLER view on the rooftop where they also had a bar and seating. In hindsight, we would have stayed on the other side of the the Acropolis. We stayed at the Athens Center Square Hotel. It was about a 15 minute walk to the Parthenon and like 8 minutes to the train station where all of the shops and restaurants were.
To the hotel
When we arrived to the Athens airport, we didn’t exactly have a plan for how we were going to get to the hotel.. but it was easy to navigate around the airport! First, we exchanged some money just to have on hand, we needed it right away with the Taxi that we ended up taking. It was 38 euros to get to the center of Athens. TIP: Make sure you know the address and have a screen shot of where the hotel is on the map. It also wouldn’t hurt to have printed Google Maps instructions, maybe we just had a bad taxi driver but it was touch and go for awhile on if we were going to get to our hotel… haha. The train will take you to and from the airport as well, but we weren’t sure how that would work for us. If we were to go again we would use the train because it was very easy to use.
Sites to see
We were there for two nights (one and a half full days) and that was absolutely plenty of time. We really only needed one full day to see everything that we wanted to! We bought a pass at the entrance to Ancient Agora that got us into all of the attractions except for Panathenain Stadium. It was 30 euros each and well worth it!
Ancient Agora - it took us about 3 hours to walk through and be able to take it all in. I think our jaws were on the floor the whole time we were in Athens, really… haha it had so many great buildings such as the Temple of Aries(which was nothing but markers of where it was), Temple of Apollo Patroos, and the Church of The Holy Apostles. We also met a tortoise friend.. so cute, melted my heart.
Stoa of Attalos - this was inside of the Ancient Agora and was so interesting to look at all of the artifacts that had been found in Ancient Agora. It had tons of things like beautiful sculptures, pottery, coins, statues, weapons and a mini replica of what Acropolis hill used to look like.
Library of Hadrian - We didn’t go in this while we were there but walked around it. In hindsight, I’m not sure that you could go in it. It did make for cool pictures though!
The Acropolis - This was something that we woke up really early to go do and we are so glad that we did. We were alone with very few people for two hours of the five that it took us to see everything. I would highly recommend getting there as soon as it opens to be able to take photos without people in the background. There are more than what I am listing but these are the highlights!
Herodes Theater - We spent so much time looking at this, we were just baffled at the narrow steps, the view, the architecture. Amazing!
Temple of Athena Nike - We walked through this to get to the Parthenon. There were no railings and slippery steps but it was just so amazing to see. Lots of photo ops!
Parthenon - basically the entire reason we wanted to go up the hill but shortly found out there was so much more to it. Dustin said it fulfilled every one of his childhood dreams of Greece. Absolutely breathtaking!
Erechtheum/Pandroseion - This building had 6 ladies carved as pillars holding the building up, and we joked about them being the ladies from Hercules.. They aren’t but it definitely looks like it!
Dionysos Theatre - Once we walked back down the hill on the other side, there was another theater to see. I believe it was the older of the two.
Temple of Olympian(Zeus) - This was a trek to get to from the Parthenon but well worth the walk. It was interesting because some of the extremely tall pillars had fallen over and were left there. Looking at these you could see all the detail that went into making them so they would all fit together! It was sort of sad at how little of it was still there.
Panathenain Stadium - This was one of my favorite things to see. It had a track to run around, everything was made of stone and just so cool to see. We spent a lot of time here taking pictures, like seriously it was so fun here!
National Gardens - On the way back to the hotel we walked through the National Gardens and this was interesting to see in the middle of all of the buildings. There were some streams and animals in the gardens as well. When we were walking back we were able to walk past the Hellenic Parliament building.
PHOTO OPP: Monastiraki Square both during the day and at night, or in our case at 5:30 am when we were walking to the train! It was great in the morning because there weren’t people in the shot, it was just Dustin and I!
Where we ate
We didn’t eat out very much in Athens, we were jet lagged and our schedules were so off so our meal times were really off.
Maiandros Restaurant.. We ate here for dinner on our first night. This place was delicious, it had a family-run feeling and they were the nicest people! We also ate on the roof, such a great view of the Parthenon! FYI: Most of the restaurants had the menu in both English and Greek.
DaVinci for gelato.. so good. Need I say more?! We tried the strawberry and the cookies and cream, no complaints here!
The Greco’s Project.. we ate so much food here haha we got the fried mini zucchini (MUST HAVE), the chicken meat on a spit with potato chips/french fries and then Dustin got the chicken souvlaki. Even when we were ordering the waiter was like that is plenty. The waiters were extremely helpful and even looked out for you. I had my phone sitting out on the corner of the table and he pointed to it and said “I would recommend you put that in a safer place.” Making sure we didn’t get anything stolen by a pick pocket. They also brought us a mini chocolate cake and then a sort of grittier(for lack of a better word) coffee cake(SO GOOD). We loved that most restaurants brought you a sample of dessert, it was a fun surprise to see what you would get at the end of your meal.
To the Ferry
We walked about 5 blocks from our hotel to the train station that took us all the way to the ferry. We liked the train, it was clean and quick(especially at 5:30am). We exited the train at Piraeus and walked out of the station. Almost every single person that was on the train with us was going to get on the Ferry. Before we could get on we needed to stop at the ticket booth to get our tickets because all we had were confirmation numbers in our email to pick them up. This took about 15 minutes because most people needed to do the same, so factor that in time-wise! We used Direct Ferries, there were huge signs for it, we saw them as soon as we walked out of the station. TIP: When you are booking your Ferry tickets, make sure that you triple check the date that you are selecting, even though you might have originally chosen a certain date, they will add dates around it at different prices. The people at the ticket booth told us which dock our ferry was at. We had no problems with it at all and it was fairly seamless. For the first ferry to Mykonos we opted for the longer ride which was cheaper and it was about 4 hours long. There was another option that cost more that was only about 2 hours long. We brought cards and that in addition to watching the ocean, the time flew by! I would recommend if you take the longer ride you can save even more by getting the standard ride ticket instead of assigned seats. We ended up leaving our seats and going topside to watch islands go by and get some sea air!
Athens has been a place I have wanted to go for so so long. Dustin as well, he took a lot of Greek Myology classes in college and it had been on his list ever since. Have you guys been to Athens? What was your favorite part?