Athens – a great combination of culture, excitement and a little grunge, all of which combines to creates an intriguing city. I’m not quite sure what we expected from Europe’s oldest city, but we were pleasantly surprised. We payed a visit to the Acropolis and spent the afternoon meandering through the old town of Plaka in what was a fantastic day (if a little warm at this time of year!)
Sightseeing around Athens
The Acropolis and it’s surrounding slopes and the home to one of the great wonders of the world; it was the birthplace of democracy and Western civilisation we know it. These structures, including the infamous Parthenon, were built at the height of ancient Greece’s Golden Age, in the 5th century BC and no visit to Athens is complete without paying homage to these incredibly historic sites.
The castle of Athens is the most precious jewel in the world – Peter IV of Aragon, 11 September 1380
Tickets to the Acropolis and it’s surrounding slopes will set an adult back €20 each. If you’d like to take an additional structures in the area, full access is granted for €30 each. We settled on the cheaper tickets and came away with a great sense of the area. The Parthenon and the other ancient buildings built high on the hill were by far the most impressive and the expansive views over Athens were the icing on the cake.
It’s hard to imagine exactly how the ancient Greeks would have gone about the practicality of building with such heavy materials, perched high atop the city. Not only though, did they manage to do so, but they built structures of beauty that would stand the test of time.
With that said, work is currently underway to preserve and rebuild damaged areas of these structures of future generations to enjoy.
We recently visited ancient Olympia to see the origin of the Olympic Games, but found the Acropolis (in particular, the Parthenon) to be significantly more impressive – by comparison, Olympia was not much more than rubble.
Athen’s Old Town: Plaka
One of the oldest parts of Athens, Plaka is found on the northern slopes of the Acropolis. The narrow cobblestoned streets felt more like France than we’d ever imagined Greece would, lined by gorgeous big trees, Greek flags flittered about in the breeze. As we wandered in and out of shops we enjoyed a number of street performers and munched on the most delicious gelato and sorbet. The area houses many different cafes and tavernas, so there is no shortage of places to stop for lunch – we decided on Greek slovakis (chicken in Greek pita) which cost €8 (for two pitas and two cans of fizzy) and were delicious!
Plaka is strikingly beautiful but retains a touch of edge, making Athens all the more enjoyable. We had a fantastic days in this historic city and would highly recommend it to those of you looking to plan a trip – it’s definitely a city worth seeing for yourself.
How do I get from the port to Athens?
The cruises dock about 25 minutes from the city and though there are a few ways to get into the city, the metro is the cheapest option. It’s straight-forward (whereas the buses are only signposted in Greek), and much cheaper than a taxi or hop-on hop-off bus (which was quoted to us at €60 each). To get to the metro from the port, turn to the left and follow the road around as it skirts the ocean. The tracks are about a 15 minute walk and found opposite gate 7.
Jump on the metro at Piraeus (the green line, M1), ride it until you get to Omonia and then transfer at that station onto the red line (M2) and ride the few stops to Akropoli. Once you’re finished at the Acropolis, you can walk around Plaka and then carry out this same journey in reverse to get back to the port.
Single tickets are €1.30 each or you can buy a full day pass for all public transport for €4.50 per adult. As it turned out, we would have only needed two single tickets each, so didn’t need the full day passes that we purchased – save yourself the money and get singles unless you’re planning a massive day of exploration.