How to spend 24 hours in Athens?
How to spend 24 hours in Athens?
Don’t be discouraged by the hustle and bustle of the city center, and the stressed Athenians’ fast pace; instead grab the opportunity and use any free time to experience the city as both an observer and a learner!
After careful observation, in order to love Athens, one has to see it and experience it from a different point of view. You must be a tourist for a day in the capital, both literally and metaphorically, even if you know it by heart.
The question thus remains; where one has to go and what one has to see, in order to feel the pulse and see the beauty of this eternal city?
A good idea and recommendation if you do not want to get too tired strolling around, is to try the Athens Happy Train! This train (open from the sides like an old tram) will take you to all major historical attractions of Plaka, Thissio and the Parliament while you sit and relax.
However, if one wants to devote the day walking around, smelling the distinct aromas of the capital, touching the old buildings and seeing from up close the monuments then this is the route that is recommended.
Starting point: National Garden
National Garden (Get there by taking the metro to Syntagma Square Station and then walk a bit downhill on Vasilissis Amalias Avenue - the street in front of the Parliament and just a few meters away on your left hand side you will find the National Garden!)
Right in the center of the capital, the National Garden is an oasis of flowers and freshness amidst the grayness and fussiness of Athens! Walk among the trees, the lakes and animals that are located in the Garden; you can still enjoy a small picnic by buying food from the nearby shops. Lay down for a while on the grass, enjoy the Athenian sky and let the sun rays brighten your day. Feel carefree for a few precious moments in the heart of Athens!
Next destination: Lycabettus Hill
You can get there using the blue line of the metro from Syntagma Square towards Evangelismos and then walk on Marasli Street uphill for 700 meters and you have arrived at the foothills of Lycabettus Hill.
This is the highest point of Athens, offers overwhelming panoramic views! Do not forget to take pictures, especially if you head towards the top of the hill. There you will find the beautiful little white chapel of St. George (Agios Georgios), which has been there since the Middle Ages.
Descending from Lycabettus hill, do not hesitate to walk towards the Hellenic Parliament building from Vasilisis Sofias Street (just outside the metro station of Evangelismos). Despite the traffic of the avenue, it still is, one of the most beautiful streets of Athens. Admire the architecture of the Embassies buildings that have historic significance, as well as the remarkable museums with Benaki Museum standing out.
Next stop: Syntagma & Old Districts
Before arriving on Syntagma Square turn right to Panepistimiou Street (avenue in front of Grand Bretagne Hotel) because the cafe in the garden of the Numismatic Museum is one of the best in town. If the weather is good, as is usually in Athens, the atmospheric garden and the monumental building of the museum - palace of Heinrich Schliemann will add another check to your exploring list!
By now it should be high time for everyone to try the infamous Mediterranean – traditional cuisine of Greece! Just walk down Ermou Street, which starts at the lower end of Syntagma Square and after 1km walk you will come across Monastiraki Square. This is a neighborhood that time has left untouched and a market full of colors and aromas, in which, one will literally find everything; from souvenirs and antiques to toys, jewelry, handmade sandals, and clothes. There are also many good ice cream parlors and some of the best places in town for a delicious souvlaki!
Choose from the many taverns on the paved road from Monastiraki Square to Mitropoleos Street. Moreover, on the Monastiraki Square, there is always some cultural event happening; young people dancing and playing music, street actions by various organizations and craftsmen selling jewelry, tobacco cases and souvenirs. The fact that one never knows what they will see, adds up to the magic of the square!
Hopefully, a good tourist, will be up for a walk after a delicious lunch. From Monastiraki Square you can quickly reach Thissio (one stop by train towards Piraeus) and either walk on the pedestrian side of Apostolou Pavlou Street, or join the Ancient Agora, one of the most beautiful spots of the historical center!
Continue your walk towards the magnificent Acropolis Hill that on top lies the breathtaking temples of Athena Nike, and the Parthenon. Just walk from Apostolou Pavlou Street towards Dionysiou Aeropageitou. It is a 20-minute walk with many ancient monuments to admire on the way, such as Herodes Atticus Odeon, Dionysus Theater and the world renounced Acropolis Museum. Make a quick stop for a coffee there so as to enjoy the majestic view of Parthenon.
As the afternoon approaches, and the sun sets, it is time to experience the countless hues of the orange Attic sky... from above! Just walk uphill and climb towards the rock of Acropolis. In the end of the climb admire the ancient temple and enjoy another panoramic view of the city. An alternative route is to climb towards the Pnyka Hill. It is a rather large hill, with great views of the Acropolis from one side and to the sea on the other side. On the hill of Pnyx you will come across many people who run, do yoga or cycle. You better enjoy the view with a leisurely walk!
Finally, to end this magnificent day, head towards Plaka for an evening stroll. From Acropolis' metro station walk on Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street towards Syngrou Avenue and after only 350 meters on your right hand side you will arrive in Anafiotika, the center of Plaka. Take your time, as you stroll the narrow streets. End up for coffee on the stairs of Mnisikleous Street or in one of the countless cafes and taverns in Plaka you will find along the way.
It sounds like a tiring day but it is literally worthy of every step you take, as it offers the opportunity to experience the historic part of Athens in just under 24 hours; a beautiful, magical, and unique Athens! Take the chance and do the walk, this city will definitely surprise you!
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