Athens, Greece: Things to Do, Places to See, and How to Get Around
Athens, Greece is an astonishingly beautiful city steeped in history and culture. Tourists flock to Athens all year round, because of the sheer number of tourist attractions to see and experiences to be had in this ancient city. Athens is warm and dry all year round, although it’s typically cooler in the winter, which means that tourists can be found in Athens every month of the year.
There are so many sights to see, places of cultural and historical significance, gardens, museums, and more, that discussing them all in one article is nearly impossible. This article will discuss a few of the most famous sites in Athens, for you to be properly acquainted with them before you embark on a trip to the city of Athens, Greece.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a vast theatre made of stone. It dates back to Ancient Greece and it has a seating capacity of 5,000 – 6,000 people. It was built by Herod Atticus and dedicated to his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilli. It is one of the primary venues of the Athens Festival and often houses concerts, events and shows. It is located on the Southern Slope of the Acropolis. It’s a remarkable sight, especially in the evening during a concert or an event, when floodlights illuminate the entire structure.
Constitution Square, also known as Syntagma Square, houses the Parliament Building. The Memorial to the Unknown Soldier can found within this square is guarded by Evzones, guards similar to those at Buckingham Palace. You can watch the Change of Guards here every night at 6 PM.
The National Library
The National Library is a beautiful example of neo-classical architecture. It is part of the Danish architect Theophil Feiherr von Hansen’s Trilogy, which includes the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. The National Library has in its possession 4,500 Greek manuscripts and is a must-visit for scholars, book lovers and history buffs alike. It is located at the right-hand side of the University of Athens, on Panepistimiou Street.
The Academy of Arts
Situated next to the University of Athens, the Academy is also part of Hansen’s Trilogy of neo-classical structures. The building features Ionic columns and sculptures of Plato, Socrates, Apollo and Athena.
The National Garden
Formerly known as the Royal Garden, the National Garden is home to several species of plants and flowers. It is located behind Parliament House, and a gate connects it to the Zappeion, a building that was used as a fencing hall in the first modern Olympics. The National Garden is an ideal place to visit if you feel the need to get in touch with nature while remaining within the city proper.
In Ancient Agora, you can find a number of ancient ruins such as the Odeon of Agrippa, massive statues of Tritons and Giants, the Church of the Holy Apostles, the Thesion, the Royal Stoa, and the famous Altar of the Twelve Gods.
Need a little pick me up before you continue with your tour of Athens, Greece? Grab a frappe (an iced coffee drink many Greeks are fond of) and relax in a sidewalk café on Thiseo. Thiseo is filled with quaint coffee shops, eating-places and resting areas; making it an ideal stopover on a busy tour.
Temple of Poseidon
Located in Cape Sounion in Attica, the Temple of Poseidon overlooks the beautiful waters of the Saronic Gulf. Although the famed sunset at the Temple of Poseidon is every bit as breathtaking as they say, if you want to beat the tourist rush, visit early in the morning. The cool air and tranquil atmosphere at the Temple of Poseidon during an early morning visit is balm to the senses.
Acropolis and the Parthenon
You can’t visit Athens without dropping by the Parthenon. Located on Acropolis, the Parthenon was a temple for the goddess of wisdom, Athena. The Parthenon was built in the Doric architectural style, and some say it’s the finest example of Doric architecture ever made. Only 15 Corinthian columns from the original 104 remain standing; one other column fell down in 1852. Nevertheless, the majestic beauty of each column is guaranteed to make any viewer breathless. The Parthenon can be seen from a distance, especially in the evening, when the entire structure is illuminated by floodlights. Acropolis Hill also boasts a spectacular view of the city of Athens.
Lycabettus Hill or Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in the city. You can find the Chapel of St George and an open-air theater on its peak. It features a breathtaking view of the city of Athens.
Plaka and Monastiraki
If you want to give yourself a break from sight-seeing, shop for unique souvenirs in Plaka and Monastiraki. Stroll down Ermou, a pedestrians-only street, and browse through the wares of queer little stores that sell everything from vegetable molders to statue replicas to funky shirts to handmade silk roses. You can also find well-known stores such as Armani, D & G and Gucci, along Ermou. Before you embark on a shopping spree in Plaka or Monastiraki, make sure you eat a big meal beforehand and wear comfortable shoes, as you may find yourself staying at the shops for far longer than you think! On a side note, Plaka was built on the site of the residential areas of Ancient Athens.
Getting Around in Athens Greece
Travelling in Greece and taking in the sights can be an extremely rewarding. It can also be quite exhausting. When visiting Athens, you have quite a few options as far as getting around is concerned. You can rent a car or a moped, or you can take the bus. However, rental vehicles are expensive, and taking a bus can prove to be inconvenient, what with all the waiting around at bus stops and having to walk the remainder of the distance to the destination where you’re headed. Taxi tours in Athens are a comfortable, inexpensive and entirely novel way of getting around Athens. Athens Taxi, in particular, offers half-day and whole-day tours in Athens, and they also offer tours from Athens to Mycenae and Epidavros. Athens Taxi can also provide a personal guide for you and your group. If you prefer walking tours, Athens Taxi can also arrange for a personal guide to accompany you and to point out the landmarks and provide mini-history lessons and interesting facts.