The only bad thing about visiting Athens is that time will fly, but the good thing is that you are the pilot of the flight! You could spend a lifetime and it wouldn’t be enough to discover all that Athens has to offer, however, that’s no reason to despair. if you’ve only got 48 hrs in our charming city, apart from the ivory-colored wonder that is the Acropolis, there are a lot of places to visit and things to experience that will make your trip unforgettable in just a short amount of time. From colorful markets to quirky neighborhoods, outstanding eateries, and an eclectic nightlife scene, Athens is, as she ever was, a city of warmth, vibrancy and indefatigable character.
Koulouri - credits: vovidzha/Shutterstock.com
If you're an early birdie and you're up and at 'em early in the morning, keep in mind that no adventure is ever conducted well on an empty stomach, therefore, grab the chance to be introduced to the food Athenians like to start their day with. Now, you could choose to visit the hotel breakfast buffet or you could start city exploration and head to one of Athens’ many, many bakeries, just like a local would. It would be difficult to recommend one without starting a full-on office fight about which bakery is the best and in truth, each has its own specialties. The aromas of freshly baked bread and warm pastries will make your choice close to impossible but, for starters, why not try the local-favorite, traditional koulouri? Either plain or with sweet and savory fillings, with wholemeal, multigrain or white dough, this is the perfect morning fuel for many an Athenian. Another local favorite is spanakopita, a filo pastry made with olive oil and stuffed with spinach and sometimes feta too. If you get addicted to spanakopita, which we imagine you will, you can join us for a 1.5 hr Phyllo Pie Pastry Workshop in a tailor-made experience! You can definitely fit it in during your two-day stay; our professional pastry chef will show you the ‘tricks of the trade’ and send you home with a recipe that will last you a lifetime!
Having fed the troops, the Acropolis, iridescent in the morning sunshine, awaits you. Hosting the majestic Parthenon -the survival of which is a miracle in itself, given the centuries worth of attempts of its destruction- the ethereal Erechteion with he iconic Caryatid sculptures and the imposing Propylaea, the magnificence of the Acropolis is undeniable. Like so many of the worlds’ incredible landmarks, the magnitude and craftsmanship of the Acropolis can be truly understood when you witness it from up close. No picture, postcard or painting truly does the Acropolis justice and every individual will experience the archaeological site differently. Visually, the Acropolis is nothing short of incredible, however, what makes it unique, is the history and mythology that runs through every Doric colonnade and marble plinth. To fully experience the sacred rock and to get the most out of your available time, let one of our expert guides take you on a journey through time to Ancient Greece and back again.
After your mythical morning, its time to for you to explore modern-day Athens. Where better to start, than the vibrant, bustling hub of Monastiraki? A short walk from the Acropolis along the sweeping cobbled road of Dionisiou Areopagitou will take you to the popular flea market of Monastiraki. Here, you can wander through stalls and shops that sell just about everything, from second-hand books and antiques to tourist wares, military surplus, and interesting jewelry. The square of Monastiraki is often described as being a visual representation of all the eras that Athens has lived through across the years. Tzisdarakis Mosque, side by side with Hadrians’ library, the Monastiraki Metro Station and the Byzantine church of Pantanassa make for a striking mix of architecture and culture. Once the central grain market during the late Ottoman era, Monastiraki has managed to still be a vibrant area today. Notable establishments such as the 360 Cocktail Bar and A for Athens, provide panoramic views of the city, while around the corner lies the oldest -end best- kebab stores of the city, ‘Savvas’; if you’re feeling peckish, their pastourmali is a must-try.
Greek food market - credits: Nenad_Mihajlovic/Shutterstock.com
From Monastiraki, a 2-minute walk will take you to the Central Market of Athens, an area of the town that is not to be missed. Prepare yourself for plenty of banter and noise as you weave your way through Athens' meat, fish, vegetable, fruit and spice markets! Many of the vendors here have been in the trade industry for generations, with their offerings being the products of truly dedicated artisans. For the foodies amongst you, why not combine mythology, history, gastronomy, and culture? Explore the magnificence of the Acropolis and discover the culinary wonders of modern Athens on our exciting Acropolis Delights Tour. Be savvy; don’t waste time with maps and ambiguity, let our erudite, passionate archaeologist-come- foodie guide bring to life the ancient sites of Athens followed by a culinary showcase of what locals know to be the very best of Athenian food!
For the afternoon, one of the cities’ numerous museums is a must as well as a welcome respite from the heat if you’re visiting during the summer months. Located in Exarcheia, an area particularly popular among Athens' young crowds, in an impressive neoclassical building with striking colors to match, is the world-renowned National Archaeological Museum. Displaying some of the most remarkable pieces of art and sculptures from the Mycenaean, Neolithic, Egyptian, and Hellenistic periods, walking through this museum is a feast for the eyes. For more on this wonderful collection and other noteworthy museums in Athens, check our guide to Athens' most interesting museums.
National Archaeological Museum - credits: Lefteris Papaulakis/Shutterstock.com
As night falls, ‘a city whose columns rests upon the sunset’ emerges. The warm glow that fades into a starry evening with streets filled with incandescent lights, the sound of bouzouki players and the chinking of glasses will prepare you for a romantic evening in Athens. For the night owls amongst you, welcome home because Athens is a city that is ebullient by night. Whether you choose to take the tram to the coast and walk the marinas of the Athens Riviera, catch a classic film at an outdoor Athenian cinema or recline with a cold glass of white wine from the vineyards of Santorini on the terrace of a wine bar, the evening is sure to be a memorable one.
Areas such as Petralona, Metaxourgeio, and Koukaki are local favorites with a diverse and vibrant array of bars, taverns and music venues, all offering their own unique element to the charm of the city. In order to find the real treasures, Athenians themselves often rely on word of mouth for recommendations. Where should I go for the best wines? Who is making the latest innovative cocktails? Have you tried cheeses from the Cycladic region? The Cretan cuisine is famous but where do you go to find the ‘real deal’? These are some of the questions that you should be asking and the answers can be found on our Athens Evening Highlights tour! Being one of the most unique Athens tours, get ready for the very best haunts in the city, far from any tourist trap; a truly fantastic way to spend your first night in Athens!
Psirri neighborhoud by night - credits:Milan Gonda/Shutterstock.com
Take a morning stroll in Anafitika - credits: eFesenko/Shutterstock.com
As the dawn breaks over the magical city of Athens, grab your koulouri and head for a morning stroll through the winding and undeniably photogenic streets of Athens’ oldest neighborhood, Plaka. With Venetian shutters on the windows, bougainvilleas arching overhead and brightly-colored houses, you will feel as if there's a possibility for you to come across Woody Allen and a film crew at any moment. It is cinematic by day and so romantic by night that even the more demanding of visitors will eventually succumb to its charm. Although busy during the day, as it is mostly a pedestrian area, it is particularly peaceful to visit really early in the morning. What makes this neighborhood so fascinating, is its diversity. Byzantine churches, Ottoman buildings or the remnants of antiquity, along with walls of modern day street art and neoclassical touches, make Plaka a beautiful melting pot of architectural style. If you climb higher towards the Acropolis, it's worth stopping for coffee on one of the streets that overlook downtown Athens. Precariously perched on the corner of Thrasivoulou street is Klepsidra café, a perfect spot to pull up a brightly-colored chair, enjoy an iced coffee and watch the sprawling city of Athens under the cool shade of the Acropolis.
If you can bear to leave (you could easily spend a whole afternoon reading books from the adjacent bookstall and keep ordering from the drinks menu), make your way towards the little known ‘island’ on the slopes of the Acropolis; Anafiotika. Built by homesick masons and carpenters from the Cycladic island of Anafi, brought to the city by King Otto to carry out restoration on the palace, the neighborhood has a very magical feel to it, as well as an impeccable aesthetic. with whitewash walls and cerulean doors decorating its streets. Since, hopefully, you are beginning to realize how much history and lesser-known wonders the Acropolis and the surrounding area has to offer, don't hesitate to hop on our Mythical Athenian Hills and Hidden Anafiotika Tour accompanied by your local guide, and discover a different side of Athens, one which is truly enchanting.
Ruins of Temple of Poseidon - credits: sborisov/Depositphotos.com
When you’re stood in the center of Syntagma Square taking in the sights and sounds of the metropolis it’s easy to believe that, given the short length of time and perceived distance of concrete before you, the countryside is out of reach. This, however, is not true, and if there’s one landmark worth escaping the city for it is the majestic Temple of Poseidon and its reverential gaze across the Aegean. Around an hour and a half-hour drive away by the coast, the temple is located at Cape Sounio, offering truly humbling views across Attica and the Saronic Gulf. A favorite of Lord Byron, who etched his name on a column and the final resting place of the mythical King Aegeus, who ended his life in the mistaken despair that his son, Theseus, had died fighting the Minotaur, the temple is a particularly beautiful sight during sunset. Just across from the temple, is the perfectly positioned Naos Café, where you can watch the fading light of a summers day with a sundowner. Foodies, we haven’t forgotten you, in the area, there is an excellent seafood taverna, Syrtaki, which is always full of locals and serves delicious fresh seafood and fish.
Everyone at Greeking.me loves to travel and it’s true that discovering new places can be an exciting yet troublesome task. Therefore, along with our knowledgeable guide and your very own driver forget the apps, guide books, outdated maps that were donated by family members who visited Greece in the 70s, and join us for your final evening in Athens on an unforgettable tour of Cape Sounio and the Temple of Poseidon. As the sun sets on Sounio, enjoy a glass of ouzo, in good company and resolve to return to Athens for longer!