Athens, Greece’s ancient and storied capital city, stands as each a ruin, relic, and reminder of what great travel is to astute explorers. The cradle of Western Civilization, Athens is one of those rare behemoths of bucket list destinations that contains it all – art, history, beautiful weather, food, and generous people. It rivals Rome in stunning architecture and historical relevance. If you’ve ever read the Iliad, Odyssey in high school/college or drooled over Gerard Butler ‘s amazing painted on six pack in 300 then you know the ancient Greeks were no joke.
How to Get There
Aegean and Easyjet run regular flights from the UK to Athens daily starting from £100.
Where to Stay
Athens is full of accommodation options to suit a variety of budgets, so depending on how much you have to work with – you can plan accordingly.
Book at Divani Caravel, which is located just outside of the main Syntagma square and so you get a little more for your money. It’s a five-star palatial offering and yet around £127 per night, so it’s really affordable if you’re trying to keep costs down.
Getting into the main square is just a 1 stop, 1 euro metro ride away, so you won’t miss out any of the action – and the extra walk means you can explore even more of the city in your 48 hour window!
For sheer Belle-Epoque splendour, see the refurbished and impossibly sumptuous Hotel Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square . There’s butler service in most rooms and a marble lobby. Doubles from €245, room only.
Fresh Hotel (9) in the meat-packing district at Sofokleous 26 is simple and stylish, with Acropolis views from its rooftop pool. Doubles from €93.50, including breakfast.
For something in the heart of the action and with that same touch of luxury, I’d recommend the Electra Metropolis, where you can spend one afternoon on their incredible rooftop terrace, which offers panoramic views over the city. You can enjoy a cocktail or two in the hotel and won’t want to leave, so I’m sure the bedrooms are just as awe-inducing!
Once you have arrived in Athens, take the metro to Monastiraki. You’ll fall in love with Athens from your first glimpse at the Acropolis when you come out of the station!
Once your settled into your hotel rooms and showered since you had been traveling overnight. Once your were ready to go, the first thing you should do is have lunch by the Acropolis before embarking on a privately guided tour. Next, head to the Parthenon, which stands sentry over the city of Athens as it has done for 2500 years, but its founders might be shocked by the concrete jungle that has developed a few hundred metres below it over millennia.
After the Acropolis, you will visit the most exciting museum to open in Europe in the past decade. The New Acropolis Museum is filled with exquisite sculptures from the Acropolis. Return to the hotel, rest up and then get ready for dinner. Your evening meal will be at a classic restaurant in Plaka where you will enjoy Greek gourmet cuisine.
Next, Grab a table outside for lunch on the terrace at the Acropolis Museum restaurant overlooking the Acropolis.
As you promenade down the Dionysiou Areopagitou Boulevard towards the east, pass stylish town houses, restaurants and shops, and buy a crown of olive leaves for the fancy-dress box from a stall along the way.
At the Temple of Olympian Zeus, on the east side of Hadrian’s Arch, the complex’s imposing Corinthian columns, measuring 17.25 metres tall and 1.7 metres in diameter, give true meaning to the word awesome.
Wander through the cobbled streets lined with shops selling specialty souvenirs: olive oil, vacuum-packed olives and donkey-milk soap, pom pom slippers, linen clothing and leather sandals. Or buy a treasure to satisfy a contemporary goddess, a piece of Dimitrios jewellery from Byzantino.
Wake to the sound of church bells pealing from the tiny churches dotted throughout Monastiraki before heading to the fish market in Athinas Street to take in the action.
After breakfast you will be met at your hotel by your private guide. Visit the ancient Agora and then take a walking tour in the heart of the classical city, viewing Greek and Roman architecture and learning about the politics of ancient Athens. Highlights include the best preserved temple in Greece, the Temple of Hephaistion.
Go to the National Archaeological Museum near Omonia Square, one of the greatest archeological museums in the world and a perfect spot to chart the history of Greek sculpture. The vast collection ranges from the minutiae of life – tiny gold hairpins, decorated with ram’s and goat’s heads, brooches and decorated vessels – to the timeless tragedy of death; an infant’s shroud made from beaten gold and a room full of Egyptian mummies.
A must do is have lunch in Plaka and then return to your hotel to relax before your next adventure. Later on in the day you will want to depart from the center of Athens and will be driven along the coastline to the Temple of Poseidon, around a 1 ½ hour trip with breathtaking scenery. As watching the sunset from the Temple of Poseidon is something that should not be missed, we suggest that you depart from Athens during the afternoon.
Another great way to finish the night is by listening to some music at the Jazz CafE Bar on the corner of bustling Iroon Square. Drink a night cap or two before ambling back to your Hotel In the morning at your convenience, you will have a private transfer from the hotel to the airport in time to meet your flight home or to jet off to your next Willing foot destination.