What we concern the most during our city break holiday in Athens, is the paradox of using SHORT time-frame to experience the paramount history and to visit significant amount of landmarks. We hope sharing our 36-hour Athens experience as your Travel Guide can help you to make the most of your short stay also live like an Athenian.
Tick Tock…Tick Tock…
Friday: Acropolis Museum – Monastiraki
First thing first, make sure to get a day trip metro tickets for your 36-hour trip (EURO 7.5 per person per day). It should be sufficient to take you anywhere in Athens. To be honest, if you don’t mind walking, it’s actually walkable distance between stations (Thissio, Acropolis, Monastiraki, Syntagma or Fix) in Athens city centre, very much like London.
5:30pm: We arrived in our accommodation in Kerameikos. Our Airbnb hosts were so nice that they prepared and provided us with club sandwich and Raki (like Italian Grappa).
7:30pm: Time is precious. We took the metro from Kerameikos to Monastiraki. There are 2 options once arrived at Monastriraki: either wander around the flea market or walk to the Acropolis Museum (closes at 10pm on Friday). Of course, a night museum, learning about the history of Athens and Acropolis is the winner –a prep for our visits the following day. Plus the night view from Level 3 of the museum is recommended and undisturbed.
9:45pm: Dinner time!!! When you in Greece, do what the Greek people do. Having dinner around 9-10pm is normal. The more south you go in Europe, the later they have their dinner. We chose one of the tavern for dinner recommended by our Greek friends, called “Tzitzikas & Mermigkas“ (a new contemporary style Greek tavern) around Monastriraki/Psurri area. It was really buzzing when we arrived, most importantly, hardly any tourist face around (good sign).
The food was absolutely divine. We ordered Tzitzikas salad (similar to Greek salad but better), Meatballs, Kagianas «alliotikos» (eggs sunny side up with smoked pork, yogurt and fresh tomato sauce) as appetizer, “Masticate” (chicken fillet served in a “kadaifi” pastry nest with Chios mastic sauce and bacon) — my favourite, and Beef fillet as mains all for share. Sharing is caring. The portion is generous, we only just finish the food despite 3 of us had long day and were starving. Instead of alcohol, highly recommend you to try Epsa Lemon (fizzy lemonade). Not bad EUR 20 each (by the way, water is free in Greece, better taste than Thames water for sure).
Midnight-ish: Home time… night night…Definitely a good night with full belly and ready for the climb on Saturday.
Saturday: Acropolis – Plaka- Anafiotika – Thiseio – Syntagma
8:30am: Woke up with coffee and some Greek biscuits. Took shower and put on our comfortable shoes. Acropolis here we come.
9am: Arrived the site of Acropolis. If you are earlier bird, I would suggest to be at the site even earlier (it opens 8am, if not mistaken). The advantage of coming earlier is that the temperature is cooler in the summer and there are fewer people (good for taking photos).
Right before reaching the top, we passed Herodus Atticus Theatre (it’s literally below Acropolis). Unfortunately it was not open for sighting. A truly beautiful site, which was actually an auditorium in the ancient time. We actually completed our journey around noon time due to our addition of taking photos. To be honest, you can spend as long as you’d like till its closing.
12:30am: Wandered through a few sites on the way down from Acropolis to Plaka – one of the prettiest areas in the city centre. Picked a cafe and sit down for a wee rest with Nespresso Frappe and I had freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. Yummy…
p.s. if you are too thirsty to go down to Plaka, the cafe in the Acropolis Museum is not bad at all.
1:30pm: Headed to our next destination cafe Yiasemi in Plaka. On the way to cafe we also passed the Zeus temple (picture time). While usual tourists take some photos and just walk pass, you MUST go in and visit this cafe. It is absolutely Athenian and quirky. This is the place where all the young Athenians hang out. If you feel a bit out-of-place in Tzitzikas the night before, you will definitely feel a bit intimidating and alien in Yiasemi, but in a good way. Shall I trust that you have the curiosity and courage to merge into the locals lives and lose your time in the Mediterranean rhythm? Of course, I will.
3:30pm: Continued our journey to Thiseio and the ancient market, nice walk in the afternoon. Because we had an appointment with an old friend in Syntagma, we had to cut our walk short.
4:30pm: Duty calls!!! We met our friend in Syntagma (Constitution Square), where is the main square and most central point of the city. Walked around and stopped for coffee plus Greek filo pastry. YES, another coffee break…life is just so relaxed in Greece…
7pm: Departed from our friend, we swiftly entered into the crowd in front of the Greek Parliament building and waited for the Evzones changing guard ceremony, which happens every hour on the dot. Evzones are usually tall and well-trained soldier. It is considered a great honour to be chosen as one. This is an unique experience you should not miss. I really felt the sense of honour and integrity throughout. If you happen to be in Athens on Sunday, try to make the 11am session. This is because that Evzones wears traditional uniform perform the ceremony ONLY on Sunday.
8:15pm: Abandoned the only Greek choice Athinaikon in Syntagma, recommendation from both our friend and TripAdvisor, but without the view to any famous landmarks. We decided to make our way back to Plaka – our favourite spot in Athens. Our choice of dinner is either Psarras (seafood) or Hytra (greek). Since it was our last night, the choice is obvious – seafood. We were absolutely lucky. The place was packed, but we were seated as soon as we arrived the restaurant (even w/o reservation).
Our view was splendid: Acropolis almost on top of our head and the Philopappou hill from far away is just in front of us. In addition, we have the privilege sitting next to the live band, like they were only playing for us. Fresh fish, live music, great view plus friendly atmosphere, the thought of “Maybe ONE days for this wonderful city.” is still enchanting.
10:15pm: After a couple of Tsipouro, take the last look of the acropolis. Finally time to say good night to this lovely city, and prepare our departure the next day morning at 6am.
The 36-hour stay was certainly short, but fun. We definitely lived like locals, indulged the traditional and model/fusion Greek cuisine, and enjoyed the friendly Greek hospitality. A vow is made to come back in the near future and to visit missed sites, like Archaeology Museum (apparently this is where the locals go to search for true history).
The rest of our Athens photos is HERE.
See you next time… Bon voyage!!!
p.s. Some more tips on the alcohol, which could be useful for you:
- Greek Beers you should try: Fix, Mythos, Kaiser, Alpha.
- Greek Wines you should try: Kanenas ( has both white and red varieties), Malagouzia, Assyrtiko, Vinsanto (both assyrtiko and vinsanto are varieties mainly known in Santorini – try any label that comes from there), Avaton by Ktima Gerovasileiou, and wines from Limnos island.
- Greek Drinks you should try: Ouzo, Tsipouro (either with or without anise) Raki, Mastiha.