We spent a couple days in Athens during our Greece trip last week, as we flew into the city before heading on to the islands. The first thing I noticed about the city, after driving through countless groves of olive trees, was the architecture, as I guess I was expecting more of the older buildings to have been preserved, however, most of the downtown area, is filled with more boxy looking 70’s style high rise apartments and shops. Another thing that you’ll notice pretty early on is the graffiti. There were areas of the city where almost every single surface was completely covered with spray paint. Although I was a bit taken aback by the graffiti, Athens is a great city to visit. We were blown away by the kindness of everyone we met. We were received with a warmth that I haven’t seen in many other countries I’ve visited. If you only have one day in Athens, read on for my suggestions for what to see, eat, do, and where to stay.
Visit the Acropolis
Athens is bound by four mountains on each side, with the Acropolis in the center. Looking out on Athens, it’s almost as if the city is lifting it up into the sky. Even if you’re not a history buff, a visit to the Acropolis is a must. I would try to go very early or later in the day as the crowds get pretty intense here.
Make sure to admire the beautiful columns of the Temple of Athena Nike.
There is an area where a large Greek flag flies on the edge of the complex, here you can see sweeping views of the city.
Some of the ruins are under construction, so make sure you walk on past the side of the Parthenon that has scaffolding. If you keep walking all the way to the far side, it is possible to snag a photo without crowds of people (tip: use the ruins to block the large crowds of people). *see top picture.
Stop for a Yogurt Break
Try out Fresko Yogurt, where you can choose your own toppings for your Greek yogurt. I was boring and went with my favorite, honey. They have an outdoor patio that’s great for people watching.
Visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a short walk from Fresko, in fact, you can see the gate from the outdoor patio. The grounds of this temple actually give you sweeping views of the Acropolis as well, from a vantage point that shows the true scale of the citadel structure.
Grab Drinks at A for Athens
A for Athens has amazing views of the city and the Acropolis on their outdoor rooftop patio, plus many non-alcoholic drinks for those who don’t drink. We went around 2pm, which seemed like a good time, as it started to fill up shortly after.
Take a stroll around Monastiraki Square
This is a short walk from A for Athens. Take some time to wander around the narrow twisting streets, as this area has such great energy and many more buildings with a more old style to them. With all the outdoor cafes and creeping bougainvillea, this area is humming with life.
Eat at Ama Lachei
They have a cute outdoor patio garden lit with fairy lights, and lots of Greek small plates to choose from. Beware the kitties of Athens out there though, they got braver as the night went on, sometimes jumping in my husband’s lap to get a snack.
Stay at Grand Hyatt Athens
This is a super new hotel, so their staff really tries to go above and beyond. I liked the clean, modern style of the hotel with nods to their Ancient Greek roots. They also have a rooftop glass sided pool that has views of the city and Acropolis. Because this hotel is so new, they are still working out some hiccups, so leave plenty of time to check out if you’ve got a flight to catch.