ATHENS CITY GUIDE
From the hostel go back to Monastiraki square: you will see the Library of Hadrian (34) once the most luxurious public building in the city. Behind, the Roman Agora and the Tower of the Winds (aerides 15), an ingenious construction functioning as a sundial, compass and weather vane, built in 150 BC under Roman rule, all in Pentelic marble and bronze.
1 - Ancient Agora
Once the centre of civic life and government, a bustling hub of social activity and house to the law courts and the market. The 45- column stoa was an elite shopping arcade for rich Athenians – don’t miss the Agora Museum.
2 - Temple of Hephaestus
Built in 449 BC, dedicated to the god of metallurgy, it is the best well preserved Doric temple in Greece.
3 - The Acropolis and its temples
World Heritage, the Acropolis (meaning High City) was the hill where the Greeks built their temples to homage the goddess Athena. The Propylaia form the monumental entrance to the Acropolis. The Parthenon stands on the highest point of the Acropolis. It is the largest Doric temple in Greece and the only one built entirely of Pentelic marble. The Temple of Athena Nike (victory) depicts scenes from battles. The Erechteion was built on the site’s most sacred spot. The six maiden-columns are the famous Caryatids (originals in Museum of Acropolis).
4 - The Theatres
The Theatre of Dionysos (12) (6th century BC) built for the Dionysia Festivals and the Theatre of Herodes Atticus (73) which remains Athens’ premiere and most inspiring venue for summer performances.
5 - The Acropolis Museum
Finally the right place for the conservation of the invaluable Greek artifacts, where eventually the Acropolis sculptures have been reunited (apart from those still at the British Museum) (ticket 5 euro, 3 euro for students, free for EU students).
6 - The Temple of Zeus
The colossal temple of Olympian Zeus is the largest in Greece and took more than 700 years to build. Only 15 of the 104 Corinthian columns remain today, one lies on the ground. They were 17 m high with a 1,7 m diameter.
7 - The Panathinaic Stadium (next to the Temple of Zeus)
Venue for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, it was built in the 4th century BC for the Panathenaic Games, in honor of the goddess Athena.
8 - The Zappeion and the National Gardens
The majestic palace built in 1870 by the wealthy Greek benefactor Kostantinos Zappas. Walk through the former royal gardens, designed by Queen Amalia, up to the Parliament. The Gardens are a great cool refuge especially during the hot Summer days.
You can walk back along Ermou pedestrian street for some shopping and window watching or through the narrow Mitropoleos street passing by the Cathedral (Mitropolis) (88) and ending up again in Monastiraki square, right in the middle of the most popular Gyros restaurants (1,80 euro for a delicious take away 100% Greek)
From Monastiraki square, say hello to the stray dogs and:
- Walk along Athinas street you will find the Athens Central Food Market: on your right fish and meats, on your left fruits and vegetables. Daily 7am to 3pm, worth checking out!
- Turn right, cross the two big Avenues Stadiou and Panepistimiou to find yourself in front of the grandiose neoclassical trilogy of buildings built in white Pentelic marble (2) PANEPISTIMIO: Athens Academy (Theophle’s mopst impressive work in Greece) with the two giant columns where Apollon and Athena stand and the frescoes depicting the myth of Prometheus, Athens University and the National Library.
- You don’t need to walk further up along Athinas, Omonia and the little streets around it may not be the safest part of town and there is nothing to see. (note: please insert an arrow pointing north where we cut off Athinas “To Archelogical Museum: Victoria stop on green line”)
- Take Ifestou little street, you will see a big “Welcome to the flea market” sign above your head. Reach Avissinias square and wonder around the colorful Sunday stalls full of all kind of objects, or even during the week to visit the antiquity shops.
- Walk further down Andrianou or Ermou street, past Thissio, along the pedestrian street. On your right, even if doesn’t look like one, the largest and best preserved classical necropolis: Keramikos (16). It is green and peaceful, and you may encounter turtles and frogs!
OTHER 2 HILLS WORTH CLIMBING
(apart from the Acropolis)
- Filopappos Hill/Hill of the Pnyx (southwest of the Acropolis) the Monument of Filopappos stands on top, built for the Roman governor. The Hill of the Pnyx was the meeting place of the Democratic Assembly of Demostenes, Pericles and other great orators during the 5th century BC.
- Lykavittos Hill: climbing up is a steep walk, a funicular ride or simply a taxi ride to get to the top of the “Hill of the Wolves” where the Chapel of Agios Giorgos stands. Stunning views, you can even see the islands around Athens on a clear day. In summer the Theatre of Lykavittos hosts open air events.
Not very surprisingly, Athens has more than 130 museums, providing endless insight into the country’s rich past. We have tried to select a few for you, but feel free to come and ask for more!
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
28 Oktovriou-Patission 44 – (M) Viktoria
Αmong the top ten museums in the world, its impressive collection is housed in a beautiful neoclassic building. Cafe in the sculpture garden.
Dionysiou Areopagitou Street – (M) Acropolis
The most recent masterpiece of museum design, it has finally given home to all the Acropolis’ temples exhibits. You can see the ancient city streets and buildings through the glass floors of the museum and enjoy a coffee or a meal at one of the best museum cafes in Athens.
THE BENAKI MUSEUM
Main Building: 1 Koumbari St. & Vas. Sofias Ave – (M) Evangelismos
Starting at the bottom floor with the ancient times and going up through the various periods of Greek history, including heroes of the Greek Revolution and the birth of the modern state of Hellas.
The new Benaki Museum building is located at 138 Pireos Street – (M) Keramikos
Often hosts interesting contemporary exhibitions, worth checking out.
THE GOULANDRIS MUSEUM OF CYCLADIC AND ANCIENT GREEK ART
4 Neofytou Douka St, & Vas. Sofias Ave – (M) Evangelismos
This Outstanding collection of ancient Cycladic art is excellently curated. Interesting temporary exhibitions are also hosted. Pleasant café.
NATIONAL ART GALLERY
50 vas Konstandinou street (opposite the Hilton – M Evangelismos)
Greece’s premiere art gallery. The permanent collection of modern Greek painters and international contemporary artists includes large-scale sculptures.
NATIONAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Stadiou 13, Platia Kolokotroni – (M) Syntagma
Memorabilia from the War of Independence, including Byron’s helmet and sword, weapons, costumes and flag.
39 Nikis street at Kydatheneon in the Plaka
One of the most important in Europe, it traces back the history of the Romaniote and Shephardic Jewish community in Greece from the 3rd century BC.
BYZANTINE & CHRISTIAN MUSEUM
22 Vas. Sofias Ave – (M) Evangelismos
Hosed in Villa Ilissia, a Tuscan style villa, it features a priceless collection of art showing the glory of Byzantium which is slowly claiming its rightful place as a significant epoch in history after long being shadowed by ancient Greece.
Plaka: a mix of old Athens with busy restaurants. Explore the narrow colorful streets beyond the tourist drag. Discover Anafiotika quarter, paths that will make you think of being on a Cycladic island (built by homesick inhabitants of the island of Anafi brought in to build the kings palace after independence).
Exarchia: the student/rebel/bohem neighbourhood of Athens. Many rock bars, pleasant young atmosphere.
Kolonaki: the “posh” side of Athens, designers’ shops, excellent window watching.
1. DELPHI: the “Centre of the World” according to Greek Mythology. Zeus released two eagles at the two opposite ends of the world and this is where they met. During 4th century BC the wisdom of Apollo’s oracle was the mouthpiece of the gods and had powers to see the future. Leave early in the morning, as the museum closes at 2.45 pm. (Approx. 3 hours, bus from Terminal B Liossion).
2. CAPE OF SOUNION: The Temple of Poseidon (God of the sea) in a marvelous setting, especially if you visit for sunset. (Approx. 1,5 hours, bus from Mavromateon or Syntagma)
3. NAFPLIO: 800-step climb to get to the top of the Venetian Fortresse with a view over the gulf of Argos, it is a pleasant seaside town. (Bus from Terminal A – Kifissou)
4. HYDRA AND AEGINA ISLANDS: are the closest islands to Athens, respectively 1,5h and 1h away from Pireus port. Ferries go very often. Hydra is special, no cars allowed, only walking and donkey riding. Aegina, has more beaches and is famous for its pistachios!
1,40 euro ticket is valid for 90 min on all means of transportation. Validate it once more before the 90 min expire, if you are not sure if your last journey will last longer. 3 euro: day ticket. 10 euro: weekly ticket. Unlimited travel. (Airport not included)