2 days in Athens exploring ancient Greece
Why did I choose Athens, Greece?
Athens has been on my bucket list since sixth grade when we learned about ancient Greek history. In middle school, we pretended to be Greek Olympians, built cardboard chariots, and wrote papers on gods and goddesses. After learning about it in class, I could not wait to see all the things in my textbook in person. I’m also a pretty big Hercules movie (cartoon version) fan, so seeing everything in real life was something I really wanted to do. There is so much history in the city!
Easy, majority of people were able to speak English; since it’s a metropolis, they cater to both English and Greek
Check currency exchange site
My Travel Time
November (US Thanksgiving)
This was a great time to travel to Greece as it’s considered off peak season. It was around 20 degrees Celsius on average, so it wasn’t blazing hot like it usually is in the summer during peak season, but not too cold where you need anything more than a lighter jacket. It rained a couple days while we were there, so make sure to bring an umbrella and shoes that allow you to walk through puddles.
Click here to check the weather
Click here to check when the sun rises and sets
My Flight Details
Airline: Turkish Airline, SFO – ATH (~15-16 hours total flight time); we had a layover in IST airport in Turkey
Price: 685 USD round trip; I’ve been keeping an eye on flights to Greece and it seems like wherever I fly from in the United States, it’s always around 600 to 700 USD at least
We took a taxi from the airport (54 Euro from 00:00 – 5:00 and 44 Euro for any other time, flat rate), but also tested the train. The train was quite easy, especially if you have time and not a crazy amount of luggage; it was 14 Euro a person, round trip (8 Euro one way). The trains leaves the airport every 30 minutes starting from 6:30 and ending at 23:30.
My Hotel Details
Athens Mansion Luxury Suites
This hotel was walking distance to the Acropolis and other tourist sites. It was close to a lot of restaurants, shopping, and the square. There was a great rooftop where you could see the Parthenon sitting on top of the Acropolis. Breakfast was served on the roof top so you could enjoy the view while sipping some orange juice. The hotel was on a darker street, which might not be comfortable for everyone. We were in a good sized room, someone is always at the front desk, and they give complimentary water bottles every day.
Athens Edition Luxury Suites
We stayed here before our flight back to San Francisco after our entire Greece trip (Athens, Crete, Santorini). It was also walking distance to the Acropolis and tourists. It was very convenient with lots of restaurants and shops in close distance. The rooftop also had a great view of the Acropolis! There is no 24 concierge, the elevator is slightly tighter, and the lights in the hallway turn off after a minute (you’ll have to press a button for lights to turn on). There’s a very bright green exit sign light hanging above the front door, which may make it difficult for some people to sleep. We weren’t bothered by any of those things above, besides the bright green exit light. However, we were exhausted, so it was still easy for us to fall asleep. Beds were comfortable and room was spacious.
My Athens Trip Itinerary
~1 hr of walking
Syntagma Square: Central square of Athens
National Garden: Beautiful garden and park with some wildlife
Zappeion: A building often used for meetings/ceremonies in the National Garden
Fokianos Sports Park: Dustin wanted to see a local basketball court in Greece. We love seeing what the courts are like in different countries as it often does make a difference, so we stopped by here since it was on the way to the Panathenaic Stadium.
Panathenaic Stadium: This was no doubt one of the coolest things we saw in Athens. The Panathenaic Stadium is the first modern Olympic stadium made in 1896 completely from marble. The best thing about this place is that you can walk/run on the track and sit on the marble stands. There is even podium on the track for those that want to truly get in the spirit. In the stadium, there’s a little museum with some history of the Olympics and all the Olympic torches.
Temple of Olympian Zeus: Former colossal temple at the center of Athens dedicated to Zeus, the head of the gods.
Ellevoro: We had our lunch here; it’s slightly more on the expensive side, but there were mainly only locals here. The food was good (not mind blowing), but we did love the fresh spinach pie.
Fresko Yogurt: Greek yogurt with several choices of toppings available
Monastiraki Square: Flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens
Mirch: Indian restaurant, quick place to grab a bite; I didn’t particularly love the curries here, I think we might have not ordered the best things on the menu
~1.5 hrs of walking
Parthenon/Acropolis: The Parthenon is what we’ve been waiting to see! This is the temple sitting on top of the Acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena, completed in 438 BC and still in decent form today. On the Acropolis, there’s also the Erechtheion, a temple dedicated to Athena and Poseidon.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus: Stone theatre on the slope of Acropolis
Theatre of Dionysus: Considered to be the world’s first theatre on the foot of the Acropolis
Ancient Agora of Athens: Ancient Greek Agora; the initial use of this was for commercial, assembly or a residential gathering place
O Kostas: Souvlaki (pork & beef available) wrapped in pita bread with tomatoes, onions, and other condiments; it was delicious and less than 3 Euro.
Le Greche: Very yummy gelato! We got cookies & cream (European cookie, not oreos).
Central Municipal Athens Market: Wet market
National Library of Greece: Located near the center of Athens
Pax burgers: Burgers and fries for dinner; I’d say this was an average dinner and there’s a lot more around to eat, but good for a quick bite
Lukumades: Must go! Fried dough smothered in a sauce of choice (honey & cinnamon, nutella & praline, etc). One serving comes with 10 fried balls for around 3 Euro.