Unlock the secrets of Athens in this comprehensive guide. Explore its captivating history, embark on a 3-day adventure, learn how to navigate the city, discover top-notch accommodations, savor delicious cuisine, and find the perfect coworking spots.
The History of the City
The cradle of Western civilization, Athens, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of human achievement. Its history, a winding narrative that stretches back over 3,000 years, encompasses the birth of democracy, the flourishing of the arts, and the development of groundbreaking philosophy.
Athens’ story begins in the Neolithic period, around 3000 BC, with the first settlements on the Acropolis Hill. This rocky outcrop, which would later become the epicenter of Athenian life, was chosen for its natural defensive advantages. As the centuries passed, Athens grew into a powerful city-state.
The Golden Age
The 5th century BC marked Athens’ Golden Age, primarily under the leadership of Pericles. During this time, the city witnessed an explosion of intellectual and artistic achievements. The Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, remains an iconic symbol of this period’s architectural prowess.
The Birth of Democracy
Athens is synonymous with democracy. In 508 BC, Cleisthenes introduced a system where all eligible citizens could participate in decision-making. This groundbreaking concept laid the foundation for modern democracies worldwide.
Roman and Byzantine Rule
The city faced various conquerors, including the Romans and Byzantines, before becoming part of the Ottoman Empire in the late 15th century. This marked a period of decline for Athens, which lasted until the 19th century.
Greek War of Independence
The 19th century saw the Greek War of Independence, and Athens played a crucial role in regaining Greece’s sovereignty. In 1834, Athens was declared the capital of the newly independent Greek state.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, Athens continued to evolve. The city hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and again in 2004. Today, it’s a bustling metropolis, a vibrant blend of ancient history and contemporary culture.
What to Do if You Have 3 Days in the City – Full Itinerary
With only three days to soak in Athens’ wonders, you’ll need a well-planned itinerary. Let’s embark on an unforgettable journey through this historic city.
Day 1: Ancient Athens Exploration
- Morning: Begin your day at the iconic Acropolis. Marvel at the Parthenon, Erechtheion, and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. The Acropolis Museum nearby offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history.
- Lunch: Head to Plaka, the old neighborhood of Athens, for a traditional Greek lunch. Try moussaka or souvlaki at a local taverna.
- Afternoon: Explore the Ancient Agora, where Socrates once walked. Don’t miss the Temple of Hephaestus. Stroll through Monastiraki Flea Market for unique souvenirs.
- Evening: Enjoy a sunset view from Lycabettus Hill. Dine at a rooftop restaurant in Kolonaki and savor modern Greek cuisine.
Day 2: Cultural Immersion
- Morning: Visit the National Archaeological Museum. It houses an impressive collection of Greek antiquities, including the Mask of Agamemnon.
- Lunch: Taste Greek street food at Varvakios Agora. Try koulouri (sesame bread rings) and loukoumades (doughnuts).
- Afternoon: Explore the historic district of Plaka further. Visit Anafiotika, a charming neighborhood with a Cycladic feel.
- Evening: Attend a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Check the schedule for concerts or Greek tragedies.
Day 3: Modern Athens and Relaxation
- Morning: Discover the modern side of Athens. Visit Syntagma Square, home to the Greek Parliament and the changing of the guard ceremony.
- Lunch: Dine at a trendy café in the hip Exarchia neighborhood. Enjoy Greek coffee and a bougatsa pastry.
- Afternoon: Explore the Benaki Museum, focusing on Greek culture from antiquity to the present.
- Evening: Wind down with a leisurely stroll along the Athens Riviera. Enjoy a seafood dinner at a coastal taverna in Piraeus.
How to Get There and How to Get Around
Getting to Athens and navigating the city is a breeze, thanks to its well-connected transport system.
Getting to Athens
- By Air: Athens International Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH), serves as the primary gateway. It connects Athens to major cities worldwide.
- By Train: Athens is well-connected to other Greek cities by train. The central railway station is Larissa Station.
- By Bus: KTEL buses provide intercity and regional connections. The main bus terminal is Kifissos Bus Terminal.
Getting Around Athens
- Metro: Athens boasts an efficient metro system with three lines: red, blue, and green. They cover most of the city’s attractions.
- Bus: Buses complement the metro network, reaching areas not covered by the subway.
- Tram: The tram line connects the city center with the coastal suburbs.
- Taxi: Taxis are readily available and relatively affordable for short trips within the city.
- Walking: Many of Athens’ attractions are within walking distance in the city center, making it a pedestrian-friendly city.
- Cycling: Athens has started promoting cycling with dedicated bike lanes and rental services.
Where to Stay – Examples
Athens offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget and preference.
Luxury: Hotel Grande Bretagne
Located in Syntagma Square, this historic hotel offers opulent rooms, breathtaking Acropolis views, and top-notch dining at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant.
Boutique: New Hotel
In the heart of Athens, New Hotel features avant-garde design, unique artwork, and a rooftop bar with panoramic city views.
Budget: Athens Studios
Perfect for budget-conscious travelers, Athens Studios offers clean and comfortable rooms, a lively bar, and a central location in the heart of the city.
Family-Friendly: Hera Hotel
Situated near the Acropolis, Hera Hotel offers spacious family rooms, a garden restaurant, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
For a more immersive experience, consider renting an Airbnb apartment in a local neighborhood.
Where and What to Eat
Greek cuisine is renowned worldwide for its flavors and freshness. In Athens, you can savor authentic dishes at various eateries.
Traditional Greek Tavernas
- Ta Karamanlidika Tou Fani: Try their selection of cured meats, cheeses, and traditional dishes.
- Oinomageiremata: A cozy taverna in Plaka serving classic Greek dishes like moussaka, stifado, and fresh seafood.
Street Food and Snacks
- Kostas: Famous for its souvlaki, Kostas offers a quick and delicious meal in the heart of Plaka.
- Bairaktaris: Savor gyros and kebabs at this beloved Athens institution.
- Funky Gourmet: A Michelin-starred restaurant offering a modern take on Greek cuisine. The tasting menu is a culinary journey.
- Spondi: A two-Michelin-starred restaurant where you can relish gourmet French and Mediterranean cuisine.
Cafes and Desserts
- Cafe Taf: A specialty coffee shop with a selection of beans from around the world. Perfect for coffee aficionados.
- Little Kook: Step into a fairytale world at this whimsical cafe, famous for its extravagant desserts.
Markets and Food Halls
- Central Market (Varvakios Agora): Explore the bustling market and taste local delicacies, including olives, cheeses, and cured meats.
- Athens Central Market: A modern food hall with a variety of stalls serving everything from traditional Greek dishes to international cuisine.
Athens has a thriving community of digital nomads and remote workers, and there are several excellent coworking spaces where you can be productive while enjoying the city.
The Cube Athens
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Exarchia, The Cube Athens offers flexible coworking options, meeting rooms, and a supportive community of entrepreneurs.
Impact Hub Athens
With a focus on social impact, Impact Hub Athens provides a collaborative workspace for individuals and organizations dedicated to positive change.
A cozy and friendly coworking space in the heart of Athens, Stone Soup offers a variety of membership options and a welcoming atmosphere for freelancers and remote workers.
The Athens Way
Situated in the city center, The Athens Way provides a stylish and professional coworking environment with high-speed internet and all the amenities you need for a productive workday.
A creative hub in the heart of Athens, Romantso offers coworking spaces, art exhibitions, and events, making it an inspiring place to work and connect with the local creative community.
In conclusion, Athens is a city of profound historical significance, where ancient ruins and modern amenities coexist harmoniously. With a well-planned itinerary, you can immerse yourself in its rich culture, explore its historical treasures, savor its delicious cuisine, and even find a productive workspace. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a culture enthusiast, or a digital nomad, Athens has something exceptional to offer. So, pack your bags and get ready to uncover the layers of history, culture, and gastronomy that Athens has to offer.