We came to Athens a bit by accident, “on the way” to the Cyclades. The flights worked for us, and it’s easy to get to the islands from the Greek capital, Syros was our first stop. Since we were to go thru Athens it would be a crime not to take some time to explore so we spent 2 days there. We don’t regret this as it stole our hearts. We understand this is probably one of those cities that not everyone will like. If you prefer harmonious, clean and tidy cities – Athens could be disappointing – fortunately for us, we really enjoy hectic vibe like this.
Acropolis of Athens – 2 days in Athens
Does the Acropolis need to be introduced to someone at all? Acropolis is a place that cannot be missed even when you spend only 2 days in Athens. The Athenian Acropolis rises from the ground in the middle of the urban jungle, it’s situated on an approximately 70-meter high limestone rock. The Acropolis has been a place of worship for Athens since the 6th century BC. It houses numerous temples of Athena, with the Parthenon dedicated mainly to Athena Nike . This structure is probably the most recognizable and associated with the Athenian Acropolis, the Parthenon was built in the 5th century BC. of white marble.
It has been surrounded by scaffolding for years due to the ongoing renovations, and after seeing the photos from years ago, we came to the conclusion that the Greeks put it back together stone by stone. The whole complex is quite impressive, both from the inside and from the outside. In 1987, the entire complex was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unfortunately, the entrance isn’t cheap, it costs as much as EUR 20 per person, but in our opinion it’s worth it!
Lycabettus hill – 2 days in Athens
The Lycabettus hill is another hill with a distinctive shape, emerging among the cream-white buildings of Athens. There is a park on its slopes, and at the very top there is the church of Saint Gregory. There is also a bar and a restaurant. From the top there is a beautiful view of Athens, including the Acropolis. In the background you can see the sea and the Peloponnesian peninsula.
During sunset, you can watch the endless sea of white, cream and grey city buildings which takes shades of gold and orange. It’s worth coming for sunset in advance, because there are practically always crowds of observers. You will get to the top on foot in about 15 minutes and it isn’t a super demanding route but steep enough. However, if you don’t want to get tired, choose the cable car, a return ticket is 7.5 euros, one way is 5 euros.
Panathenaic Stadium – 2 days in Athens
The stadium built of marble dating back to 330-329 BCE, it was rebuilt in 140-144 CE. In 1870, the stadium was excavated during archaeological works and it was decided to rebuild it for the Olympic Games, which took place in 1896. The stadium could accommodate up to 80,000 spectators! However, we skipped going inside, the view from the street satisfied our curiosity enough.
Filopappou Hill – 2 days in Athens
Filopappou Hill is right next to the acropolis, which means it has a great view. There is a park on the hill and many interesting places, such as the prison of Socrates or the Philopappos monument. Unfortunately, being on the hill, we learned from a French photographer that apparently it isn’t the safest place. During the day it didn’t seem to be disturbing, but just letting you know so that you won’t hang around there at night! Unless in a large group.
Anafiotika – 2 days in Athens
Anafiotika is a small neighbourhood, basically part of the Plaka district, you could say that it’s “glued” to the slope of the Acropolis. After entering the narrow, charming streets of Anafiotica, you immediately know that this place is unique and so different from the general appearance of Athens. If it occurred to you that Anafiotika is a bit like the Cyclades, you won’t be far from the truth!
At the turn of the 19th century, immigrants from the Cyclades began to arrive in Athens to ern their living and, under the cover of night, at the foot of the Acropolis, began to build houses for which there was no permit. This is also how the district was created, which is completely different from Athens and has its own unique character. The name of the district literally translates to “little Anafi”, and Anafi is one of the Cyclades islands, it was its inhabitants who came to Athens first.
National Garden – 2 days in Athens
We wouldn’t be ourselves if we hadn’t wandered to a park during our journey. While admiring the city from Lycabettus Hill, we noticed that there was little green patch in it. The National Garden is just a green oasis in the urban jungle, we would call it more a huge park than a garden. In the Garden, it’s nice to walk along the shaded streets, loud parrots fly overhead, and water turtles catching rays of the sun in the pools. Entry is free and the Garden is right next to the Greek Parliament and Panathinaiko Stadium.
National Archaeological Museum – 2 days in Athens
A Mecca for all fans of archaeology, we read somewhere on the internet that this museum has better collections than the Acropolis Museum. Of the two of us, Dawid is an absolute psychofan of museums, especially archaeological ones. Two days in Athens isn’t much, but somehow they had to be squeezed into the schedule.
There are many collections and they are interesting, lovers of sculpture and archaeology will surely find a lot of interesting artefacts there. From April to October, admission is € 12, and from November to March just € 6. You can find more information about the museum here.
Plaka – 2 days in Athens
Plaka is a district of Athens located in the heart of the city, near the Acropolis. Plaka is quite touristy, but you will find plenty of atmospheric pubs and brilliant rooftop bars with a view of the Acropolis. Many buildings in this area are covered with graffiti (we don’t know how it happened that we don’t have photos …), it’s worth getting lost in the streets of Plaka and get to know Athens in your own way.
Areopagus hill – 2 days in Athens
The hill is located right next to the Acropolis from which there is a pretty nice view of the city. The Acropolis can be seen a little, but it’s not a stunning prospect. We were there for sunrise and at this time it’s easier to catch a good light for photos with the city background than with the Acropolis. We saw there were quite a lot of people in the evening, but we recommend that you be careful, in the morning there were a lot of homeless people sleeping between the rocks.
Greek Parliament – 2 days in Athens
2 days in Athens, and in fact not even full 2 days, seemed to be such a short time that we had to give up the Greek Parliament. But we found ourselves just in front of it when going to the National Gardens, and as the full hour was approaching, we decided to stay and see the change of the guard.
The change of the guard takes place exactly at Syntagma Square, every hour, and at 11am on Sundays it’s extremely solemn. Guard at the Parliament is carried out by an elite formation of the Greek army, this formation is called Evzoni. The change of the guard is really worth seeing, because it’s an extremely interesting spectacle, but if you are going on a Sunday – come early because of the crowds.
Athens – where to eat?
Εστιατόριο Αυλή (Avli) – a pub to which the entrance looks literally like a gap between buildings, and in fact the restaurant itself is located on the tiny strip of concrete between two buildings. It’s narrow, with a few tables inside, but it’s packed to the brim at lunchtime! It’s located close to the centre, but the neighbourhood itself seemed rather interesting – for this reason, there were only locals inside. Affordable prices, delicious food. A hidden gem worth visiting!
Αγίου Δημητρίου 12, Αθήνα 105 54
Agiou Dimitriou 12, Athina 105 54, Greece
Kostas – there are said to be two best places for pita in Athens and they both have the same name (the coincidence is accidental). We hit at random one of the two Kostas and while we can’t say it’s the best pita in town, we can definitely say it’s one of the best we’ve ever eaten! There is always a queue in front of the shop, and the choice is small, we just took the pita of the day.
Πεντέλης 5, Αθήνα 105 57
Pentelis 5, Athina 105 57, Greece
A for Athens – we had three rooftop bars on our ‘to visit’ list, but we knew the time would only allow us to visit one. We chose A for Athens, from the sidewalk it seemed to be the highest and the view would be the best (the three bars on our list are practically next to each other). The view of the Acropolis, especially in the evening, is insane from there! It’s worth spending 10-12 euros for a drink to enjoy it.
Μιαούλη 2, Αθήνα 105 54
Miaouli 2, Athina 105 54, Greece
Street Souvlaki – an accidentally found pub that looks very chain-like (which usually scares us off) serving tasty and cheap souvlaki. For two small beers and two pita with meat souvlaki we paid 10 euros.
Κολοκοτρώνη 30, Αθήνα 105 62
Kolokotroni 30, Athina 105 62, Greece
Brettos – the oldest liqueur producer and bar in Athens. The interior filled from the floor to the ceiling with illuminated, colourful bottles makes a great impression, and their products are really tasty! While we don’t like liqueurs too much, cocktails based on them were delicious. We bought a bottle of peach liqueur there, which we then mixed with champagne to obtain a fortified version of Bellini.
Κυδαθηναίων 41, Αθήνα 105 58
Kidathineon 41, Athina 105 58, Greece
The Greco’s Project– the best pub we visited in Athens and one of the favourite of the trip. We ordered several mezzas there and literally every dish was amazing! From tzaziki to eggplant dip! We would love to come back to Greco’s Project for another meal, and we’ll definitely do it if we’re in Athens!
Πλ. Μοναστηρακίου 5, Αθήνα 105 55 Pl.
Monastirakiou 5, Athina 105 55, Greece
Bread factory – a chain bakery open 24/7. The bread factory was next to our hotel and we grabbed a quick breakfast and coffee there on our way early in the morning. The selection of baked goods, sweet and salty is crazy! During the day you can also order a fresh take-away salad there and the coffee is probably served 24 hours a day …