I first arrived in Athens last May, after spending four long months in India. I remember thinking Athens was shockingly clean, so clean and well kept, surrounded by the pristine sea; I thought it seemed like a fairy tale city. Still in awe, I spent the next few days walking around, and getting re accustomed to “Western life.” It’s surprising what four months of life in a completely different reality will do to someone!
My first impression of Athens was that it was a big city in a country filled with meat eaters. I knew I wanted to see more of Greece, and spend some time by the sea, but my stomach was growling after a few days of eating sides of fava or salad without feta.
But soon, I discovered the fresh, light, veggie side of Greece, and was able to navigate and enjoy on subsequent visits.
Like New Delhi which was a main transit hub for Northern India, Athens served the same purpose in my journey in Greece as Delhi did in India. And like Delhi, I visited Athens three times during the three months I spent in Greece.
Athens became my little home away from home in Greece and I still think happy thoughts when I reminisce on my time there.
So what did I see in Athens? Let me give you some ideas:
Check out some trendy neighborhoods. Athens is a walkable city, you can see most of the sites on foot, or hop on the local metro to get around.
Syntagma – Home of the Parliament square, where political demonstrations often take place. This is also the entrance to the main shopping street. You can find lots of cafe’s and restaurants along this strip, but beware they are usually touristy prices.
Monastiraki – If you continue walking on the Syntagma shopping street, you will reach Monastiraki. This is a nice square with views of the Parthenon above. I like to sit in the rooftop bars here and shop in some of the more unique shops and the flea market nearby.
Exarchia – The is the “coolest” area of Athens in my opinion. It is very hipster you could say; vegan food, eclectic cafes, and street art.
Plaka – The place to be seen at outdoor hillside bars and cafes.
Even if you don’t go in the Parthenon, walking up the hill gives you a lovely lay of the land. But I think it is worth it to check out the Parthenon if your heart desires; in my opinion the views were exceptional, and it was cool to see some ancient architecture close up.
Parliament and Gardens
The Parliament building is right behind the infamous Syntagma Square where many protests have occurred. At certain times of the day, there is a changing of the guard in front of Parliament. Behind Parliament is a large park with walking paths and some attractions inside.
I am not totally sure which beach this is, but I do know the farther you get from Athens, the nicer the beaches become. It was a windy day, so this beach was about a 20 minute drive from Athens. You can find Athens beaches by public bus, but I would probably opt to rent a car or look for a ride.
Rooftop Bar with City View:
360 Cocktail Bar and A for Athens are two well know bars, and though they are a little pricey, it’s a nice treat to have a coffee on one of these rooftops to enjoy this view.
Island Hop: There are several islands nearby Athens suitable for day trips.
Hydra – This island has no cars, making it a peaceful day trip from busy Athens.
Aegina – I spent the night here, and it was also a nice get away from the city, plus my friend took this fun photo of me as the sun set on the beach.
Did you enjoy Athens? What was your favorite thing to do in this historical city?
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