Is Athens worth visiting? With an economic crisis that has seen unemployment reach 25%, the last few years have been a real hardship in the storied history of Greece. And Athens has a reputation of being referred to as an outgrown concrete jungle. Greece is one of the most visited countries in the world, yet many skip Athens and fly straight to one of the islands to bask in the sun. Along with being American, the Alex half of this website is also a Greek citizen and has spent a lot of time in Athens over the years. Here’s 5 great reasons to plan a trip to Athens.
1) The Acropolis
The Acropolis is reason alone to make Athens worth visiting. Some mistake the Acropolis for just the Parthenon, but the ancient “city on a hill” has much more to offer than simply the temple to Athena. You can spend an entire day roaming the ancient agora (marketplace) and other monuments around the hill.
The archeological museum is loaded with Greek antiquties and there are great restaurants and cafes in abundance nearby. Greeks still love to philosophize on life’s greatest questions and concerns like government and justice. The whole aura of the place can make you feel like throwing on a toga and chatting up some tables, Socrates style. Consider pondering even a simple question like ‘what makes a great meal?’ as you dine as fresco at one of the many restaurants that line the acropolis in the wonderful Monastiraki and Plaka districts, which are very worthwhile on their own. Enjoy the present as you savour the past.
2) Stunning panoramic views everywhere
Greece is surrounded by mountains, and has two mountains within the city center. Along with the Acropolis there is also Mount Lykavitos, which arguably offers an even better view because you can see the entire Acropolis. There are several restaurants and cafes on Mount Lykavitos that offer wonderful vistas. There’s also lots of hotels and restaurants that offer a great elevated view of the Acropolis. Perfect for enjoying great food, drinks and traditional live music and dancing. Athens is encircled by three mountains, with the largest being Mount Parnitha. Mt. Parthina stands at 1,413 meters (4,635 feet) high and even has a casino called Regency offering a stunning panoramic view of Athens, if rolling the dice is your thing. The views alone make Athens worth visiting.
3) World Class History
Greeks are extremely proud that their ancestors contributed so much to western civilisation, as the birthplace of democracy made forever lasting contributions to science, architecture, art, theatre, sports and math. For fellow Olympics fans, it’s a must to visit the world’s only all marble stadium, Panathenaic, which hosted the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. Panathenaic was again utilized when Athens hosted the 2004 Olympics for two events- archery and the conclusion of the marathon. Many Greeks are upset that so many of their antiquities have wound up in foreign museums in London, Paris and elsewhere around the world- often through dubious sales and looting during foreign occupations. But the Athens Archaeological Museum is truly world class and a must for anybody interested in ancient sculptures and antiquity.
4) Delicious Greek Food Makes Athens Worth Visiting
Athens is the capital so you’ll find everything here, from the very best to the very worst Greek food has to offer. A must eat is a traditional souvlaki- succulently seasoned pork meat with oregano and lemon stuffed in pita bread with fries, onion and tzatziki yogurt sauce. My mouth is watering for one just typing this! Athens many markets are great for fresh quality food. A unique experience is the massive Athens Central Market, offering loads of fresh meat, seafood and vegetables. Just be forewarned that if you don’t like the image of severed lamb and pig heads and carcasses, you might take issue with this place. But if you eat meat, you may want to get more in tune with what you’re putting into your body. The Athens Central Market is the perfect place to do that.
5) A Base to Explore Incredible Sites in Mainland Greece
Ancient sites like Delphi, Epidauraus, Korinthos and the old Venetian city of Nafplion are just a few of the incredible places you could explore even on a day trip. When visiting these places in the past, I was fortunate to have my wonderful family drive me. Depending on the ancient site, you could either rent a car, catch a train and utilize a local taxi or walk, or use a tour company. I haven’t used any tour companies in Greece and it’s been over a decade since I’ve visited the ancient sites outside Athens. As I’ll be attending the European edition of the world largest conference for travel bloggers, TBEX in Athens from October 22nd-25th, 2014, I’ll be reviewing some tours for Wanderlust Marriage Travel afterwards.
Athens is well connected internationally and domestically through the modern Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos), which was completed prior to the 2004 Olympics. And Athens modern subway system conveniently and comfortably connects the airport with the city. You can also catch the subway from the city center to the port of Piraeaus, one of the largest in the world, a good place to enjoy a meal before island hopping the Aegean sea! We can most definitely recommend a visit to the gorgeous Cyclades island chain, featuring the likes of famed Mykonos and the island chain’s capital of Syros.
So is Athens Worth Visiting? Absolutely!
Need assistance planning a trip to Athens? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you get great bang for your buck on your travels in Greece!