Yes, No, Maybe: What (Not) To Do In Athens
There’s a Hera-a-lot to see in Athens – from Ancient Roman treasures like the Acropolis, to The Temple of Olympian Zeus and sassy Muses providing a live soundtrack during your visit (oh no wait that’s from Disney’s Hercules)
You can’t visit Athens without stopping by the Parthenon. Located on the Acropolis, the Parthenon was a temple for the goddess of wisdom, Athena and stands 156 metres high above the city as a place of worship and power. It has been home to a royal palace, a sacred temple, wartime fortifications and cultural festivals. It’s pretty magic at sunrise or sunset and is all around an awe-inspiring sight to behold.
While you are up there make sure to check out the The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, a major open-air theatre used for festivals of Dionysus – the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy – would have loved to go VIP at one of his clubs or parties!
Before going up, you might want to check out The Acropolis Museum, is an archaeological museum showcasing the incredible pieces they’ve uncovered. It houses every artefact found in Greece ranging from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece that’s a nice way of saying that you’ll see aka A. LOT. OF. STONE. STATUES. and little rocks. Keep that in mind before you commit.
Being cultural all day makes you hungry! Good thing you’ll find a lot of food options in Athens! And the best thing? It’s quite affordable compared to other European capitals. Some dishes to cross off your list: Tzatziki (yoghurt + herbs dip) moussaka (aubergine lasagna) and kolokithokeftedes (courgette fritters). And to wash it all down with…the Greek did frappé coffee long before the famous chains introduced us to a poor knock-off, so make sure you at least make sure you get one of those frothy drinks.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a ruined temple right in the centre of Athens, dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. The build began in the 6th century BC but it was not completed until the 2nd century AD … that’s about 638 years after the project began – take that Sagrada Família!
Let’s face it there’s only so much stone you can chase around, but what you really want to do is relax on the beach, right? Edem would be closest to the city and the only thing you have to do is take the tram to Edem and walk to the beach.
It pissed me off that you pay the full price but a lot of the monuments are not well protected from people who innocently don’t realise they are walking on sacred grounds which to me, seems disrespectful.
I don’t know if it’s common but there were a lot of stray dogs on the street, with mixed experiences. One day a dog followed me around and didn’t want any food and the other evening I walked around two streets to avoid one as I was convinced he wanted to chew on my calf.
The National Archaeological Museum is home to some of the most amazing ancient artefacts and proof of really old civilizations and has the mask of Agamemnon that goes back 3,600 years. Greek sculptures, Cycladic idols, pottery and ancient jewellery, coins as well as a 2,000 year-old finding of a computer – I bet it still required stupid updates before it would work.
For a day trip you might want to head to Kessariani Monastery just outside Athens. The monastery is maintained and run by a group of monks, and the beautiful architecture, scenic hilltop location and historical nuggets mean it’s quite the tourist hotspot.
Constitution Square houses the Parliament Building and the whole lot is guarded by Evzones, guards similar to those at Buckingham Palace, but instead of a funny hat they wear funny shoes. You can watch the Change of Guards here every morning at 11 AM – if it’s your cup of tea.
The National Garden is where to get your flowers and plants fix. Located behind Parliament House, it’s connected to the Zappeion, where fencing at the first modern Olympics took place. It’s a relatively peaceful break from the hectic city and somewhere to admire pretty things that aren’t made of stone.