Is it safe? Is it worth it? How many nights should I book? These are the most frequent questions we receive from tourists wondering whether they should include Athens in their Greek holiday schedule or not. In this article, we have gathered most such questions and… their answers. So, here is how we introduce Athens for tourists.
# How many days?
Generally 2 or 3 nights the most are enough to see Athens. Until few years ago, many visitors would arrive in Athens airport and then go directly to the port to board the ferry to the islands. Now the trend has changed and tourists choose to spend a couple of days sightseeing in Athens and then continue for beach holidays to the islands.
# Best time to visit
Most visitors come to Athens in tourist season, which lasts from April to October in Greece. However, over the last years, due to good weather and flights frequency from abroad, Athens is growing into a great city break during autumn and winter months. Weather in winter season is great in Athens, with average temperature 8-15oC and many days of sunshine. Hotels are open all year round and room rates are cheaper than in high season. Sights and museums are also open every day (except Monday) until 15:00 in the afternoon. July and August are busy but very hot months, so make sure you have hat and plenty of water during your walks.
# Is it safe?
Although there is some concern about safety in Athens, the truth is that the Greek capital remains one of the safest places in the world. Visitors just have to choose accommodation in a safe area, such as Syntagma Square or Plaka, and avoid places with higher criminality, especially at nights. Such places with higher criminality rate are Omonoia Square, Viktoria Square or Metaxourgeio. Also have your mind for pick pocketing in crowded places, like buses, metro or the port.
# Where to stay
Very central places to stay in Athens are Syntagma Square, Plaka, Kolonaki or Monastiraki. These places are in short walking distance from the most important sightseeing in Athens and have easy transportation with buses and metro stations.
# Is it worth to book a tour?
An organized sightseeing tour is a great choice if you are staying in Athens for only one day. This way you can see all major sights easily and quickly. If you are staying for more than 2 days in Athens, try walking around the city centre and most sights will appear on your way.
# How to get around
Athens is very easy to get around. If you are staying in the city centre and it is not a very hot day, try walking. You can easily go from Syntagma or Plaka to the Acropolis and from the Acropolis to Thissio or Monastiraki. This round walk will allow you to see all important sights and monuments. Athens for tourists is a very easy place to get around. The metro system of Athens is also very easy, with close stations and very modern. Actually the metro lines connect all neighborhoods of Athens centre to each other and also the city centre with Athens airport and the port of Piraeus.
# What to see
Athens for tourists offers plenty of interesting monuments and places to visit. The symbol of Athens is certainly the Acropolis Rock, easily accessible from Acropolis Metro Station. Right opposite this Holy Rock is the fantastic Acropolis Museum, a place of impressive architecture and with interesting exhibits. Do not miss a walk through the picturesque quarter of Plaka and a stroll around the archaeological site of Ancient Agora in Thission.
# Where to eat and have a drink
Plaka, Thissio and Monastiraki are great places to find a restaurant or have a lounge drink. These restaurants are actually traditional taverns with Greek dishes and occasionally live music at nights. Stamatopoulos Taverna in Plaka is very famous and so is Thanasis Kebab in Monastiraki. For a drink, try the many cafe-bars with tables in the open air in Plaka. For a drink with view to the Acropolis, try the always busy A for Athens and 360o Cocktail Bar at Monastiraki Square. If you need something more upscale, the restaurants and roof bars at Athens Hilton or Grande Bretagne Hotel are very nice.
# Are there beaches to swim?
It may sound strange to first-time visitors but, yes… Athens has beaches! In fact, many of these beaches are found very close to the city centre and are easy to get there by public transport. Take the tram from Syntagma Square and from Faliro to Glyfada, you shall see many organized beaches. Get off and take a relaxing swim or try sunbathing. The beaches of Glyfada and Alimos, in particular, are organized with sun beds and umbrellas.
# How to spend one extra day in Athens
Apart from city sightseeing, Athens for tourists offers many chances for close excursions. A nice half-day bus trip is to Cape Sounion, the southern most spot of Attica, where is the famous Temple of Poseidon. From Athens there are also day bus tours to Ancient Delphi or Epidaurus and Mycenae, some of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. If you have an extra day in Athens, also consider a day cruise to the beautiful islands of Saronic, such as Hydra, Poros and Aegina.