Published on September 6th, 2017 | by Amy Foyster
How to spend 24 hours in Athens
Read time: a bit over 3 minutes
Ordinarily we would say that nobody likes a show-off. But Athens is one of the most show-offy cities in Europe, and we confess – we love it.
Just casually, Athens is the birthplace of democracy, home of the Olympic Games, and played a pivotal role in early philosophy, theatre and art. And with the option of souvlakis for breakfast, lunch and dinner, what’s not to love?
If we only had a day in this historical masterpiece of a city, here’s what we’d do:
8am: Start your day with some bougatsa, a breakfast pastry that can be filled with anything from custard or cheese to minced meat. To give you enough energy for the day ahead, enjoy some seasonal fruit and a very black, very strong traditional Greek coffee too.
The Panathenaic Stadium. Photo by Chris Karidis via Unsplash.
9am: There’s no better way to clear the cobwebs of the night before than with some exercise, so make your way to the Panathenaic Stadium. It’s the world’s only stadium built entirely out of marble and was originally constructed in 330 BC for the Panathenaic Games, AKA the Olympics. Aside from a bunch of history, there is also a track and winners podium, so race someone else in your tour group and then mount the podium victorious!
10am: Head over to the Athenian Agora, the historic town square of the ancient Athenians. The agora was once the central gathering place where everyone in town would catch up and talk arts, sports, religion and politics. Pretend you’re watching a comedy by Aristophanes or listening to a lecture from Aristotle.
12pm: Lunch time. Get to the Plaka neighbourhood under the Acropolis. It’s the oldest part of town and has a great view of the Acropolis; it’s also chock-full of interesting places to eat, drink and shop. Try Meliartos for lunch, a unique restaurant with its own Greek pie bakery onsite. And if your sweet tooth gets the better of you, pick up some classic lukumades from the cafe of the same name. These crisp and sugary balls of deep-fried dough make the humble donut hang its head in shame.
1pm: Most people think the Acropolis just refers to the iconic Parthenon ruins on top of the hill, but it actually refers to the entire site, which also houses the Temple of Rome and Augustus, Theatre of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Step back to a time when democracy was born and artists and philosophers ruled Athens. Spend a couple of hours exploring all that this symbol of world heritage has to offer; it’s truly magnificent.
The Acropolis Theatre. Image by Louisa Vergato.
3pm: Take a hike up Mount Lycabettus for some amazing panoramic views of the city, and a well-earned drink in the afternoon sun (an icy cold Mythos tastes even better when you’ve worked for it). It’s about 300 metres (908 feet) above sea level, so a decent walk. If sweating it out isn’t your style, a funicular railway will take you to the top from the terminus at Kolonaki.
6pm: Head back down the hill and jump on the metro or grab a cab towards Piraeus, where you can sup like a god on fresh fish and seafood. This working port city may not be the prettiest waterfront, but there are still a number of great dinner options and you can watch the sun set over the water. Winning.
8pm: Even if you’re not a sports fan, we HIGHLY recommend you head over to watch a game of football (soccer) at Karaiskakis Stadium. You’re more likely to spend more time watching the crowd let off brightly coloured flares, chant complex songs and be dragged out by security than you will watching the game.
11.30pm: The late night souvlaki, a tradition as old as democracy itself. Can’t you just picture Socrates enjoying a handful of pita, delicious shaved pork meat and garlic sauce? Yeah, so can we, which is why it’s the perfect way to end your time in Athens. With endless souva joints all over the city, you can’t really go wrong, but we like Kati Allo behind the Acropolis. Kick back with your souvlaki and appreciate the view.
Roll around Athens on a small group adventure with Geckos.