Day 1 - Explore the city
Athens city centre is quite compact and easy to explore taking into consideration the size of the city in its entirety. Those areas which are most interest to travellers are Syntagma, and Plaka.
The focal point of Syntagma is Syntagma Square. Over the years most major events in Greek history have occurred here, and the country’s parliament, known as the Vouli, were built here in 1843. It is in front of the parliament that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded constantly by two soldiers (Evzones) twenty four hours a day.
The centre of the square is adorned with a fountain and statues of King Otto. Trees stand tall on every side and it is always full of Athenians, making it a great place to people watch.
Plaka, which is just south of Syntagma, the oldest part of Athens. It is similar to many other ancient towns around Europe, with a maze of narrow, pedestrianised, labyrinthine streets. These streets here are filled with street musicians, street traders selling everything from flowers to beads to photographs.
While this area of Athens is somewhat commercialised, it still hasn’t lost any of its charm and is full of bars and restaurants in which to while away an evening.
Day 2 - The Acropolis
Every city has its instantly recognisable landmark. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty and Sydney has the Opera House. Athens, on the other hand, has The Acropolis (full admission €12). Standing proudly on the ‘Sacred Rock’ of Athens, it is the most important site in the Greek capital and pretty much the reason it exists today.
The most important monument on the Acropolis is The Parthenon and is Greece’s most instantly recognisable landmark. Built between 447BC and 438BC, it was built for Athena Parthenos, Athens’ patron goddess. Built almost exclusively from Pentelic Marble, it has eight columns on each of the narrow sides and seventeen on each of the long sides making it a sight to behold.
Other highlights on the Acropolis include The Erechtheion which was built around 420BC in the Ionic order and the Temple of Athena Nike which has a row of four columns on each side.
The best time to visit the Acropolis is in the morning when it isn’t too hot and the crowds aren’t as big. Whenever you go, make sure not to miss it when it is lit up at night time. This is when the Acropolis looks most impressive.
You can’t go to Athens without trying out some local Greek cuisine and the best place to do so is in the Plaka. One establishment which is extremely popular with both tourists and locals alike is Vizantino. And while the Acropolis is only a stones throw away, it isn’t as expensive as other restaurants in the area.
Day 3 - Get away from the city
Walking around Athens is as pleasurable as any other European capital, but considering its location so close to the sea it’s nice to know that you can go island hopping before you even leave the mainland.
Departing from the bus terminal in the centre of Athens at 8am, Sightseeing SA operates a tour where you can do some island hopping before going anywhere. The first port of call is the island of Aegina, well known over the world for its peanut production. From there you go to the Temple of Afaia, built on the top of a hill back in the 5th century BC which boasts amazing views.
The next port of call is Poros. Arriving there at approximately 1pm you enjoy a nice relaxed coffee at the café which hangs over the islands harbour as the carefree fishermen come and go. From Poros embark the boat once more en route to the next island, Hydra. Before arriving there you can enjoy a meal prepared by the chef, while enjoying music played by the orchestra!
Once lunch is served and you reach the island, famous for the architecture of the houses which stand proudly all around it, you can walk around the island’s main town, exploring all the hidden walkways and alleyways. As the Hydra always proves to be a favourite with tourists, you get to relax here for a while and explore the different towns. After exploring the towns various boutiques and shops, you then get back on the boat and return to the mainland for 7pm.
Rather than head straight to the nearest hotspot when you arrive back to Athens, Allou Fun Park is a more unique way to spend an evening. Attracting thousands every evening, it is full of weird and wonderful rides that will keep both young and old occupied.