One of Europe’s oldest capitals, the history of Athens begins in the Neolithic era. And it’s in the 5th century BC that the city becomes a significant worldwide as its values, ideas and civilization spread across the world. Throughout the centuries, many different people invaded the ancient capital but its most historic monuments survived and are open to visitor’s in Europe’s largest pedestrian-only area.
For me and Joana, visiting Athens was a dream. After so many History and Philosophy classes, we could only imagine what it would be like to finally walk along the same streets as Socrates and Plato and photograph the monuments that have survived for centuries and remain prominent on Athens’ skyline.
Even though we spent most of our time exploring the historic center of Athens, there were many details about the modern part of the city that we loved to discover. Below, check out the best that Athens has to offer and discover how its vibrant modernity contrasts with its stunning historic area:
We can’t help but recommend that you visit Athens’s historic center first. This is the main attraction in the city and we know that it’s also likely what you want to see in Athens. With its magnificent temples and a modern museum, there is a lot to see on the Acropolis. We created our best route so you won’t have to miss a monument in this special place.
And before you climb up to the Acropolis, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit this modern museum. Built in 2009, the three floors of the Acropolis Museum offer a stunning view of the historic hill and are filled with works of art, ruins and artefacts. Read more about how to visit this museum here.
Located in the heart of the Athens’s flea market neighborhood, Monastikari Square is where everything happens in Athens. The small streets around it are perfect for some cheap shopping and the square itself is full of life. I distinctly remember being here with Joana and listening to the sound of Greek guitars in the distance. You can really feel the joy of the Greek people here!
Also on Monastikari Square, you can taste the most delicious Greek yogurt. At Yogolicious you can try a sweet combination of six yogurt ice cream and place over 80 toppings to create your own yogurt masterpiece! This is the ideal place to take a break, especially on those hot days.
On a summer night, there is nothing better than to climb up to Hotel Central’s rooftop and admire the sun setting on the ancient city of Athens. I remember that Joana and I came here at night to enjoy a fresh drink and it was the perfect break to enjoy the view of the Acropolis.
Near Monastikari Square is where you’ll find Adrianou Street – the best shopping street in Athens. It’s funny because it was here, in the middle of Athens, that we found our favorite souvenirs to date! We even came across a store where we could make t-shirts and I bought one for my brother that said “Angry Greek” (you know, because of Angry Birds).
In the heart of Athens, Sintagma Square is the central square in the city and where the city’s and country’s main political events take place. Since it was built in the 19th century, this has been the stage of some of the Greeks’ most important protests – the best known ones being the ones that occurred between 2010 and 2012 to protest the country’s economic situation. It’s worth it to come here and get to know this place that is so important in Greek public life.
And since you’re at Sintagma Square, stay to watch the changing of the guard. Right in front of the Parliament building there is a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and every hour, its two soldiers (fully dressed in traditional uniforms) will change. On Sundays at 11am, an entire platoon marches through Vasilissis Sofia to the tomb accompanied by a marching band.
Have you visited Athens? What other places would you recommend us to visit?
honeymooners, Athens 09/2014