Athens, the cradle of Western civilization, may pack millennia of histories. But you’ll be surprised to learn that you can cover quite A LOT within just a day. We certainly had enough time to cover the below itinerary… entirely on feet!
1. Panathenaic Stadium
This historic stadium hosted the first ever modern Olympic Games in 1896. It’s HUGE, and not to mention the only stadium in the world built entirely on marbles! Worth a quick photo-shop, if only just to tick if off your bucket list.
2. National Garden & Zappeion
Continue on through the National Garden, which is decorated with plenty of statues commemorating the national heroes and brilliant Greek philosophers. At its center piece is Zappeion, erected specifically for the revival of the modern Olympics.
3. Temple of Olympian Zeus & Hadrian’s Arch
A mere 5-minute walk to the west and you begin to see the first sign of Greece’s past glory. Though only a few columns remain of these artifacts, you can imagine just how huge it must’ve been in its full-sized glory.
Definitely THE ONE PLACE you should not skip when you’re in Athens. Of course, Parthenon is the main star. But there are a couple of other interesting monuments in Acropolis equally deserving of the spotlight, such as Porch of Caryatids (pictured above) and Odeon of Herodes Atticus (I’ll rank it as the second best theater ruin after Colosseum).
5. Aeropagus Hill
Exiting Acropolis, we walked up the Aeropagus Hill and were pleasantly treated with a beautiful view of the city, with layers of buildings building into the distant hills.
6. Ancient Agora
Agora was the heart of ancient Athens’ seat of political, commercial, administrative, social religious, cultural and justice. I actually like Ancient Agora more than the famed Acropolis itself. It’s far less crowded and there’s a museum inside the Stoa of Attalos, which houses many intricate sculptures. It also has its own mini-Parthenon called Temple of Hephaistos.
7. Ekklisia Agia Triada
After a quick lunch, we passed through Ekklisia Agia Triada, which is arguably the most gorgeous church in the entire of Athens.
Kerameikos wasn’t initially on the plan, but since it was packaged together in our archaeological visit pass, we thought why not… it turned out to be the most interestingly-themed of all the sites. Everything is themed around the grim topic of death and cemeteries! The ruin itself has nothing much left and it’s up to your imagination to conjure an image up, but the museum inside is insightful!
Technopolis (Gazi) is so prominently featured in our city map as an attraction, but this was unfortunately a dud. Apparently, it is an old gas factory which has been artfully reformed into a modern industrial museum, with concerts and operas occasionally performed here.
After passing through many faceless churches, we chanced upon a hidden gem in the street of Louka Nika of Psirri neighborhood. Athens is usually defaced with many ugly graffiti, but the street of Louka Nika is legit street art. It’s like discovering the true face of Athens, far from the touristy city center.
We were then greeted with a sight of majestic Tzistarakis Mosque with a glimpse of Acropolis overlooking the Monastiraki Square from the top. Monastiraki is essentially a giant flea market, and this is where you should be if you’re looking to do some merchandise shopping. P.S. Olive oil products are essentials!
A little bit further in the back of Monastiraki, you will also come across more archaeological ruins such as Gate of Athena Archegetis, Roman Agora, Tower of the Winds, East Propylon, but to be quite frank by now we’ve already been hit by ruins fatigue.
12. Syntagma Square & Hellenic Parliament
Most European cities have beautiful squares. Syntagma Square is a famous name, but to be quite honest it’s a little bland for my liking. It does have a huge crowd of pigeons, which make for an entertaining afternoon though. Grab a bread and spread it, then watch all those pigeons fly towards you!
We ended the evening in the best possible way though. The vibrant street of Plaka is full of lush garden and greenery, with plenty of taverns which just make you want to stop, dine and sit there for hours. Doesn’t hurt that the food was absolutely good!
What are your favorite places in Athens?