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Things To Do In Athens
If it is the fertile historic ground and azureness of the Mediterranean that beckons you, then it is a taken that Athens beckons you. This capital city of Greece has been the centre of evolution for the western civilisation as well as the cradle of ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures. From the time of Socrates to the current millennium, Athens has stood tall and rode over every era with its head held high. Already making plans for a visit to this incredible city? You will need a credible list of things to do in Athens. And here’s that list, concise and crisp; from monuments, temples and museum-visits to exploring the ancient neighbourhoods of Athens; from enjoying the nightlife to climbing mountains in the middle of the city. This is Athens.
Visit the Acropolis
This is literally the most coveted thing to do in Athens. In fact, the moment you start your tour, the first place you visit is the Acropolis. Now, Acropolis is a hill in the centre of the city and has three distinct temples at its top, namely, the renowned Parthenon, the Erechtheum and the Temple of Athena Nike. The former is considered one of the greatest marvels of humankind while the latter two are not so famous. But for those who have seen all three with their own eye, each has a distinct past etched into it. You can hike up the hill early in the morning and enjoy touring around until mid-morning, then descend and eat a hearty brunch at one of the many tavernas and cafes in the Plaka neighbourhood.
Do an Athens Monuments Tour
When in Athens, roll in history. That is what most tour agents suggest, and rightly so. Instead of going for one temple or monument a day, do the whole circuit in a day. Start with places like the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Library, then tour the Ancient Agora marketplace, head to the Kerameikos Cemetery and end your tour with a nice dinner down in a local restaurant.
Explore Plaka & Anafiotika Neighbourhood
Plaka is the area that is located just at the foothills of the Acropolis, a neighbourhood that has flourished since time immemorial in the shadow of this hill. It has a quaint Greek village feel, with its pastel coloured houses, white-washed stones steps cut into real rocks, bougainvillaea winding down walls and gates, with cafes and tavernas run by local families. Just at the fringe of Plaka is another neighbourhood called Anafiotika. This one has an island vibe, and was settled back in the 1900s by immigrants that came from Anafi Islands. The Anafiotika is all white-washed homes and colourful doors, narrow streets and hilly alleys. What more can you want from a stroll?
Climb the Lycabettus Hill
Lycabettus Hill is Athen’s tallest hill and also one of the best viewpoints to get the scenic panorama of all of Athens. You can reach here by means of a cable car, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, we recommend you hike your way up the beautiful hill, earn the view that will completely take your breath away and walk back down the hill. Nothing works up an appetite for Greek food than a good walk. You will also find a small church, a fe quaint cafes and some benches at the top of the hill. And if the weather is nice and holds, you can also pack up a lovely picnic!
View Athens’ Street Art
If a city’s culture is through its buildings and monuments then its character is through its streets. And Athens’ streets let up a wild wild culture of the Mediterranean with its graffiti painted walls and bougainvillea kissing them from all corners. Some of the pieces of art sprayed on these walls are immensely symbolic, others politically charged and intensely graphic. There is a special 3 hour guided tour to check out Athens’ graffiti scene and you must take it. Or, pick up your camera and start walking. Do go to Sarri Street, Exarchia Square and Athens Polytechnic University to observe street art.
Enjoy Athenian Nightlife
What do Athenians do by night? Party of course! You will find that for a city so steeped in history, Athens has some of Europe’s best nightlife spots. Party mongers will find their pockets unburdened with so many happy hours on drinks as well as food, special events and celebrations, funky bars and hip pubs down in the Psiri neighbourhood. Visit Exarchia for live thumping music and Plaka for quiet fancy dinners in upscale restaurants. Heroes Square is the best for hopping around pubs and cafes.
Shop from the Flea Markets
Forget your Fendis and LVs, when in Athens, shop from its flea markets. These are such sweet, charming places, with stalls and blankets spread on the ground, sellers of junk, antiques, stolen ware as well as old watches, cameras, pins, books, badges and trinkets. You will find clothes that are high street and chic, as well as records of albums that came and went way back in the 50s, all just at bargain rates. Try the Monastiraki Flea Market, located in the centre of Athens, one of the city’s biggest flea markets.
Change of Guard at Syntagma Square
The Changing of Guard Ceremony at Syntagma Square in Athens is one of the coveted sights to see. The ceremony takes place when the Presidential Guard in front of the Hellenic Parliament change duties. They are in their traditional garb, with pleated skirts and pompom shoes, working the protocol march and changing in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier everyday at 11 am.