Edited 22 March 2023 in Travel wanderlust
Why you should travel to Athens for the perfect European vacation
Intrigued by the amazing Greek history and want to take a peek at it? Visit Athens. The capital of Greece, Athens is a spectacular city that is testimony to the rich Greek history and culture while being modern and metropolitan at the same time. One of the cheaper European cities, Athens has some amazing and pocket-friendly bars and cafes, along with glorious panoramic views of the stunning architecture, quaint cobbled neighbourhoods, and vibrant nightlife.
As a country, Greece is mostly famous for its spectacular and beautiful beaches like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, but it is the capital city of Athens that truly is a city that must be on everyone’s bucket list. Athens has everything that a tourist would want, ranging from music, culture, tradition, nightlife, to delectable food.
Tourists generally use Athens as a stopover, as they use the city to travel to the pristine beaches of Greece. However, we would really advise spending a couple of days in this historic yet modern capital city.
Read more - Seven famous festivals celebrated in Athens that you should not miss
Reasons to visit
Starting from its finger-licking and delectable food to its picturesque landscapes and serene beaches, the city of Athens has a lot more to offer to its tourists than its rich history and archaeological ruins.
Here are the top five reasons why a trip to Athens should be at the top of your travel bucket list.
- Charming beaches - Athens might not be popular as a beach destination but very few visitors know about the mystery beaches that lie less than 14 km south of the centre of the city. Skalakia Aguas Marinas is one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in this city with its crystal clear turquoise water and sun-kissed golden sand. On the other hand, if you are into water sports and other adventurous activities, then Vouliagmeni Beach is a must-visit for you. It has everything you would want to enjoy from paddleboarding to windsurfing.
- Vibrant and eccentric markets - Renowned for its flea markets, Athens has one of the most popular markets in the world, known as Monastiraki Market in Ifestou. People come here every Sunday from far-off places to sell their trinkets. This place is filled with second-hand musical instruments, thrift items, old books and vintage paintings. This is a perfect place for you if you want to take a piece of Athens back home in your suitcase.
- Eclectic cuisine - Athens is a foodie’s paradise. The food and the cuisine here alone are enough of a reason for you to plan a trip to Athens. Starting from Klimataria which is one of the oldest taverns in Athens and serves all the traditional and authentic local Greek dishes to Tudor Hall, an extravagant outdoor dining arrangement with the view of Parthenon and Acropolis in the background, Athens truly has the best of everything. And so, if you just want some fun and effortless food on the go, then just a gyro that is the Greek version of a kebab is enough. Notably, O Kostas in Syntagma makes the best gyros in Athens.
- Fusion of history and heritage - If you are a history lover, then Athens is a must-visit. You will have a million things to see and do in and around the city. Athens spoils you for choices when it comes to visiting the historical architecture.
- Buzzing Nightlife - When in Athens be ready to be up all night as the bars do not open until 10 pm and once they do, there are endless options for you to choose from. Be it a trip to a 360 Cocktail Bar that offers you a beautiful 360 view of the city or a taste of the traditional way of life at Kavouras where you can groove to some Rembetika that is the Greek Blues music, the city of Athens has a whole different side to it at night.
Places to visit
A visit to Athens is incomplete without visiting any of the very famous and historically significant monuments. Some of the must-visit places in the spectacular city are:
- Acropolis - How can you visit Athens and not see an iconic 2,500-year-old ancient architecture? Acropolis has gone down as one of the greatest places of architecture in history. This place also houses the Parthenon Temple that is dedicated to Goddess Athena. Perched above the centre of the city, it will take about 20 minutes and a bit of effort to climb to the top but it is worth it. This temple was built with perfect proportion and is considered to be the finest Doric masterpiece in the whole world. Apart from the Parthenon, you can also check out Propylea, Temple of Athena Nike and Erechtheion.
- Temple of Poseidon - Dedicated to Poseidon, the Greek God of Sea, this is a must-visit for all Greek mythology fans. Located on Cape Sounio, which is approximately 60 m above sea level, this place is nothing short of magic. This temple, made of marble, was first built by ancient Athenians and now all that is left is a series of towing columns that look as magnificent as ever with the backdrop of a glorious Greek sunset.
- Neighbourhood of Plaka - One of the oldest neighbourhoods in the world, Plaka is a neighbourhood that is still inhabited by locals. The quaint and winding roads and cobbled streets are something that every tourist must experience. Plaka is located just behind the Acropolis, and brims with shops, cafes, restaurants and museums. While in Plaka, the Roman Agora must be visited, which was the commercial centre of Athens about 2000 years ago. Also, the Anafiotika is a must-see site, which is a cluster of houses from the 19th century. These houses are completely stark white and have vibrant gardens.
- Temple of Olympian Zeus - For the unaware, Zeus is the very proud Greek King of the Gods, and any structure built in his honour is bound to be massive and larger than life. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a huge white marble temple that took over 700 years to build. The original temple boasted 104 Corinthian columns that were each towering at a height of 50 feet. Over the years, 15 columns have survived, and are still standing tall, adding a certain charm and allure to the Athenian skyline.
- Lycabettus Hill - This is one of the highest peaks in the city, offers some of the best and most unadulterated panoramic views of Athens. You can reach this place by hiking up a forested slope or availing a cable car. This place offers a stunning view of the entire city. Here, you can visit St. George Church and enjoy food at Orizontes, a Greek gourmet restaurant. And, if you are here during summers, then you can also be a part of concerts that are held in the open-air theatre in Lycabettus.
- Monastiraki neighbourhood and Varvakios Agora - Packed with huge markets, ancient sites, and rooftop sights, this is one of the oldest and busiest places in the capital city. Here you can shop at flea markets that are loaded with ancient Greek handicrafts, handmade jewellery, and antiques or you can stroll through the narrow Greek alleys and take in all that Athens has to offer to you. Varvakios Agora is renowned for its fresh fish, meat, fruits, spices, and other products that are sold by vendors from all across the country. This place is filled with locals and so the atmosphere here is very authentic and real. Starting from a variety of Greek delis that offer local favourites to a range of fresh seafood, this market is your stop if you want to get the local vibe of Greece.
- The National Gardens - Placed in the heart of Athens is this beautiful hideaway from all the hustle and bustle of the main city. This marvellous garden covers approximately 16 hectares of land. This retreat is known for its ponds and gravel pathways. It also has a small zoo with peacocks, Greek goats, wolves, monkeys, birds, and a botanical museum.
- Museum of Cycladic Art - This place is meant for all the art lovers out there. This grand museum houses more than 3,000 artefacts of ancient Greek, Cycladic, and Cypriot origin. All the relics, starting from statues and marble figurines, that originated in the Bronze Age, to vases and weapons are grouped by themes. They are collectively given labels such as The World of Women, Gods and Heroes, The Underworld, and Eros.
Tourists are advised to get to the place before sunset and secure a good spot, as it often gets overcrowded. The Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus look delightful as they stand in the golden rays of the sun.
Foods to eat
Greek cuisine is known for being delicious and delectable, made from a variety of spices. The food comprises a lot of tropical fruits and vegetables, along with seafood, and is popular around the world. A visit to Athens is incomplete without tasting the following must-eat Greek dishes:
- Souvlaki: Souvlaki is a very popular Greek street food that is basically grilled meat. The souvlakis are barbecued, and then wrapped in a pita bread, topped with delectable dips and sauces.
- Greek Salad: A visit to Athens is incomplete without trying the Greek salad, or the Choriatiki. This salad is made from fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, delicious local feta cheese, and topped with olives and olive oil.
- Moussaka: Moussaka is one of the most popular Greek dishes, which is basically a baked dish made from aubergines, can contain beef or tomatoes, and is topped with cheese. It can be vegetarian too, with the restaurants eliminating meat and adding more vegetables.
- Tzatziki: Tzatziki is a Greek dip made from hung curd, which has become popular worldwide, finding its place in every mezze platter. This dip is easy and simple to make and has yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, and cucumber.
- Kolokythokeftedes or courgette balls: These are purely vegetarian appetisers, basically a fried fritter made from feta cheese, courgette, and herbs like dill and mint. This appetiser is light and creamy, and pairs really well with Tzatziki.
When visiting a foreign city, it is always better to be aware of a few tips in advance to make the trip better and avoid any unpleasant experience. Our tips for your travel to Athens are:
- Indian tourists require a visa to visit Athens. Make sure to have documents ready before your visa appointment.
- Several tourist attractions are closed on national holidays and Sundays so it is advisable to plan your trip accordingly.
- Always carry cash in Athens. This is not a cashless city and it is always advisable to keep a substantial amount of local currency.
- Tourists must use the metro system which makes travelling within the city easy and effortless. The transportation is cheap and easy to use and navigate.
How to get there?
Athens is close to many European and Asian countries, making travelling to the city easier.
- By air: It is easy to travel to Athens from India as IndiGo has collaborated with Turkish Airlines. From India, there are direct flights to Istanbul from India. Turkish Airlines then connects passengers to Athens via Istanbul. Hop on a comfortable IndiGo flight to Athens, and sit back and relax. The gorgeous Grecian sun awaits!
- By rail: Larissa Station or Athens Central Railway Station is the main railway station in Athens that caters to long-distance travels to places such as Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Larisa and other destinations in the Greek mainland. Athens is also connected to other major European cities such as Paris, Italy and Britain via the railways.
- By road: Athens Open Tour and several other bus agencies are there in Athens that offer interstate and international bus services. Those who wish to travel by car can do so as this city is well connected by expressways and offer a beautiful view of the city.
- The capital of Greece has a Mediterranean climate where the weather is mostly warm and tropical.
- June to September is the summer season when the city is most crowded with tourists. August is the peak summer season when the weather is the hottest. During this month, the city has an average temperature of 30℃.
- January is the coldest month when temperatures average around 10℃. During this winter period, the city is mostly deserted, and only locals are found.
- December is the wettest month, and the city receives a lot of rainfall during this period.
Best time to visit
Athens is the best place for you to experience the perfect Mediterranean climate. The beautiful city of Athens changes according to its changing seasons. Even though this historical city is filled with tourists all year long, the best time to visit this place is from early May to late June or from late August to mid-October. These months are great for outdoor activities as the weather is quite comfortable and it makes sightseeing very enjoyable and fun.
Athens is a city that must be visited just to experience Greek culture and the way of life. The Greeks are very warm and friendly people, and this is reflected in the entire laidback lifestyle of the city. Combined with the beautiful and spectacular archaeological sites, Athens holds a special spot in the hearts of all historians. Not only that, the city has a great bustling nightlife, the sunsets are spectacular, and the beach is pristine and clear, making it a fun spot for tourists.
In the words of John Milton, “Athens, the eye of Greece, the mother of arts and eloquence.” This statement precisely captures the true essence of Athens. This city will make you fall in love with Greece. Athens is an easy-going, warm and welcoming city that awaits your presence.
Book tickets and accommodation, get on an IndiGo flight and just revel in all the Athenian glory. The city will not disappoint!
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