Athens: This is not to be missed in the ancient capital is written by Cecilie Saustrup Kirk.
Versatile holiday paradise in the Greek capital
Greece is and will be one of the Danes' favorite holiday destinations. Every year thousands of Danes make a pilgrimage to them Greek islands in the assurance that summer, sun, beach and total relaxation await. But Greece offers infinitely more than white sandy beaches and azure waters.
Greece is the birthplace of civilization, and nowhere is it clearer than in the country's capital Athens and on day trips from Athens and the surrounding area, where it can be a great advantage to get help organizing the trips so you get the most out of your time.
We used e.g. Greece Private Transfer, who both picked us up at the airport and drove us directly from the ferry port on an excursion, so we saved a heavy traffic trip into the city center.
Here you get the editors' offer of the greatest experiences in Athens and the city's beautiful surroundings.
Athens by Athens
In ancient Greece, the Olympic gods ruled, and everything from mountains and islands to cities and sporting events were dedicated to the gods. The citizens of Athens faithfully followed the goddess of wisdom, war and art, Athena, and she thus became the patron goddess of Athens - hence the name Athens.
Athena, of course, was not the only god worshiped in Athens, and to this day one finds the remains of the magnificent temples that the Athenians of the past built in honor of the gods. But nothing is as magnificent - or so beautifully situated - as Athena's own temple, the Parthenon, on top of the 150-meter-high cliff known as the Acropolis.
Acropolis actually means 'the highest city', and although there are several acropolis in Greece, the Acropolis of Athens is the only place that can get away with simply calling itself the Acropolis. At the top, in addition to the Parthenon, we also find temples, theaters and 'odeons', which are dedicated to other great gods such as Zeus, Dionysus, Artemis, Poseidon and Nike.
The Acropolis is best visited early in the day. The hike up the cliff is definitely most comfortable before the sun's rays get too much power, and then you also avoid sharing the space with too many of the other tourists.
However, it can also be recommended to take the trip up in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. Better views are not available in Athens, and the last rays of the sun bathe the ruins in a beautiful glow of gold, purple and pink, making the experience magical and completely unforgettable.
If we move from the Highness of Power back down into the city, we find several beautiful ruins. At the foot of the Acropolis is the Temple of Zeus, which in the Hellenistic-Roman period was the largest of its kind.
The temple, with its 104 colossal pillars over 17 feet [16 m] high, housed one of the largest statues of Zeus in Greece. Under changing powers in Athens, the temple fell into ruins, and several of the pillars were used as building materials elsewhere in Athens. Despite this, XNUMX of the original pillars still stand, so one can still sense how magnificent the temple must have been in its heyday.
Nature and culture in ancient Athens
The Temple of Zeus is located right next to the popular tourist area of Plaka, which is definitely worth a visit. Here you will find everything the heart desires of souvenirs and local goodies. The area is among the oldest neighborhoods in Athens and consists of winding streets and the charming old houses that we know Athens for. Street up and street down is flanked by orange trees spreading its delectable scent of citrus in the summer, and the numerous balconies abound with flowers and climbing plants.
Right next to both the temple and Plaka you will find the park Ethnikós Kípos, which is a beautiful and peaceful breathing space in an otherwise densely packed big city. Among small streams and fountains, exotic plants and archeological finds you can get a respite from the city's os and noise.
Once you are recharged with new energy, it's time to take in the city's museums. Athens boasts many of these, but if you're here for the splendor of antiquity, then you should at least visit the National Archaeological Museum. The museum is the largest archaeological museum in Greece, and here you will find more than 11.000 objects on display, ranging from prehistoric times to late antiquity.
Another museum you must not miss is of course the fairly new Acropolis Museum, which is exclusively dedicated to the historical treasures found at the excavation of the Acropolis. Up through four floors, you move into the history of Greece's perhaps best known tourist attraction.
Dining experiences and shopping in modern Athens
If you have had enough of antiquity, then Athens fortunately also offers a lot on the more modern stage. The city is packed with little treats cocktail bars and nightclubs. There is also an abundance of amazing restaurants, where you can satisfy your craving for feta, olives, tzatziki and Greek delicacies.
If you're in the Koukaki neighborhood, take a stroll past the Drakou pedestrian street. The area is in the shadow of the Acropolis and is known as one of the more hip neighborhoods where locals come to eat and drink.
Be sure to try gyros, the local version of a durum roll. With delicious long-term fried meat, fresh vegetables and maybe french fries in the middle, you are guaranteed a wonderful meal that you can eat again and again.
After your lunch you are ready to take in the lively Monastiraki district. The neighborhood is known for its ancient ruins such as Hadrian's Library and the ancient Agora. But what really makes Monastiraki come alive is the plethora of shops and street vendors you’ll find here.
The square itself Monastiraki is one Hotspot for shopping and if you really want something out of it, go for visiting it on a Sunday.
On Sundays, you can experience Monastiraki's flea market with the rest of the people of Athens - at least that's how it feels. Here is a whole maze of shops and small tents, which sell everything from food to home decor and souvenirs, and what the locals otherwise just had in the garage.
The area is densely packed and a bit of a paradise for pickpockets, so keep a close eye on your purse while lounging in one of the most exciting shopping areas you can imagine.
When the shopping bags are full and the feet tired, have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area. Several of them have an exceptionally good view of the illuminated Parthenon and are a perfect way to end your busy day in Athens.
Day trips from Athens
You can spend days exploring Athens and exploring the local markets, ancient ruins and beautiful buildings. But if you still have had enough of big city life, then a Greek archipelago of exciting things also awaits day trips right around the corner.
As always, it can be an advantage to get help from the locals when you have to travel, and this also applies to day trips, where there are both regular trips and flexible trips only for one's own travel group.
Head to the port of Piraeus - the port city of Athens - and hop on board one of the many ferries departing from here. Beautiful islands that Aegina og Agistry is only 1 hour sailing from here and offers pure relaxation and Greek idyll. Aegina - also known as Aegina or Aigina - is the slightly larger of the islands, and this is where most tourists come.
The local Athenians, on the other hand, go to the neighboring island of Agistri, which is known as one of Greece's greenest and most beautiful islands. Take a day trip and enjoy the delicious bathing water or stay here over the weekend and explore the island both by water and land. Go on an experiential sailing trip around the island and jump right in havet or drive along the winding roads through the green mountains.
Inside the mainland you also have good opportunities to escape the summer heat. There are several beaches along the coast not too far from Athens, but be aware that on several of the beaches you have to pay admission.
If you want a slightly different bathing experience, then head to the hidden gem of Lake Vouliagmeni. The lake is located in superb nature surrounded by steep cliffs.
The lake is continuously filled with fresh water partly from havet, but also from underground heat sources. This makes the lake a favorite excursion destination both because of the good minerals in the water, but also because of the constant heat. The temperature of the lake is between 22-29 degrees all year round.
If it is not spa experience enough for you, try sitting on the edge and sticking your feet in. Within seconds, they will be stormed by a shoal of 'garra rufa' - also known as spa fish or doctor fish. After a few minutes of doctor fish, you will have soft sandal-ready feet.
Day trips among temples, oracles and ruins
There is no doubt that Greece is surrounded by some of the most beautiful seas in Europe. But if you want to make sure you are on the good side of the sea god, then it might be wise to take a walk past Sounion and visit the temple of the sea god Poseidon.
Perhaps the most beautifully situated temple in Greece is located on a cliff with a phenomenal view beyond havet. The place is popular for both bridal couples, Instagrammers and tourists for the amazing photos you can take here.
Northwest of Athens lies Delphi, which is especially known for its oracle. Delphi was in the old days the city of the sun god Apollo, and his priestess in the city was called the Oracle of Delphi. Today, the archeological ruins are occupied UNESCO World Heritage List and definitely worth a visit.
If you want to visit other classic cities in Greece, go to the Peloponnese peninsula. To get here, you must first cross the Corinth Canal - a 6-kilometer-long excavation that actually makes the Peloponnese an island. The canal was started as early as the first century, but failed repeatedly. It was not completely finished until 1893, and now it is primarily used by tourist ships.
Next, visit the former capital of Greece, Nafplio, which to this day still houses many of the city's original buildings. The architecture is characterized by the city's former inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire, the Frankish Empire and the Republic of Venice.
End your journey at Mycenae - a ruined city that was excavated in the 1870s. There is speculation as to whether the city may be home to Homer's Odysseus. The ancient city is especially known for the 'Lion Gate'. Take a walk around and feel the story.
A trip to Athens can easily be a combination of breathtaking ruin visits, sunny beach trips and a lively city break.
Really good trip to Greece.
What to see in Athens? Sights and attractions
- Acropolis and Parthenon
- Temple of Zeus
- Ethnicos Cyprus
- National Archaeological Museum
- The Acropolis Museum
- Monastiraki Flea Market
The editors were invited to Agistri by Greece Private Transfer. All positions are, as always, the editorial staff's own.