Athens is the capital of Greece and its largest city with a population over 3 million. There are records of human settlements here from over 7,000 years ago. Currently we find it to be a bustling metropolitan city with over 70 museums to see, international restaurants to try, old and new architecture and easily navagatable public transportation.
A popular area to stroll through while shopping or to enjoy a meal while gazing up at The Acropolis is the Plaka district. We chose to stay nearby in the Koukaki district because it was more affordable, less touristy and had quiet walking streets with lots of green space.
Our main reason for visiting Athens was to see the Acropolis. We were nervous when we read about 2 hour wait times for tickets. Ian did some research and discovered the smaller gate on the southeast side that supposedly had smaller lines. We also learned it’s less busy in the afternoon. When we arrived around 3 pm there were only a handful of people ahead of us so we practically walked right in! Of course Covid may have something to do with the smaller line.
The trek up was a bit sweaty with temperatures in the high 70’s and a steep climb with lots of steps. As you get closer to the top there is a lot of reflected light and heat from the white marble, so stay hydrated. We spent 2 hours exploring and taking pictures. The view from the top reaches the Aegean Sea.
With so many museums to chose from and limited time we decided on a fun one (Museum of Illusions) and a cultural one (National Archeological Museum). Travel Tip: Currently (October 2021) museums require you to show proof of Covid vaccinations along with ID so be prepared.
The Museum of Illusions has a limited time frame of 50 minutes which was perfect for us. For 9 euro we had our minds tricked into seeing things in strange ways, had funny pictures taken and almost fell down in a vortex tunnel that seems to be spinning around but actually is not moving.
We decided on the National Archeological Museum because it’s the largest in the country and contains pieces from all over Greece. Tickets are 12 euro and we spent 3 1/2 hours. I could have stayed much longer but Ian was over it by then.
Bus and Metro Tips
It’s very easy to get around Athens using public transportation. You need to head to a metro station (or use an automated kiosk which we couldn’t find) to get the ticket that works on both the city busses and the metro. There are several options from one stop to a 5 day pass. You cannot buy a bus ticket on the bus! You must get them from the metro station (or kiosk). There is also a tram but we didn’t try it.
In conclusion, there is much more to Athens than ancient history and we barely scratched the surface. This is a thriving hip city with so much to offer. Cheers!