Athens, Greece

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The Acropolis in Athens

July 17th, 2017

Athens is known as the classical, marble-pillared cradle of Western civilization built upon ancient ruins and as a modern urban city of concrete and traffic. As the capital of Greece, it’s definitely worth visiting this city for at least a few days. Whether you want to be island hopping through Greece or spending a couple of days in the capital exploring.

Regardless of the financial crisis and as a result an increase in VAT prices tourism has actually picked up recently in Athens. Greece has always been among the first 15 travel destinations world and the second most visited country in Europe.

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Accommodation

We stayed at the Wyndham Grand Athens hotel (£140 per night) which is located by the ‘Metaxourghio’ metro station. The hotel is very grand as the name describes it and rooms are beautiful with a rooftop pool located on the same level as an exclusive restaurant and bar with a 360 view overlooking the whole of Athens.

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Districts

There are a number of beautiful Districts in Athens including the Monastiraki and Plaka which is always a top place for tourists due to it’s colourful buildings, green plants and classic architecuture. The main city centre is at the station Syntagma, which is where the Parliment is located. Most of the places are within walking distance but if you decide to stay where I stayed it’s advised to take the Metro to the centre. It should only take 10 minutes and a daily unlimited travel ticket costs 4.50 euros

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Must Dos

The number one thing to see in Athens is  the Acropolis aka the crown jewel of Greece (if not the whole of Europe). Crowned by the Parthenon it rises over Athens, visible from almost every where within the city. Also included in the Acropolis is the Erechtheion (the design unites separate temples to each of the two Gods) and the Templo de Atenea Niké. Alongside the actual building is the Acropolis museum which is also worth a visit.

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Entrance fee cost 12 euros for adults and it is best to go early to beat the crowds (first entry 8am). For the best view of Athens and the acropolis at sunset and sunrise go to the Philopappos Hill.

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The Panathenaic Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium and one of the main historic attractions of Athens. Fun fact is that it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.

Temple of Olympian Zeus is the Ancient Greece’s most colosal temple which stands beside the monumental arch that divided Athens between Greek hero Theseus and formidable Roman Emperor Hadrian.  Also right next door to the temple is the Hadrian’s Arch. Entry for both costs 6 euro and is free admission for students-so don’t forget to pack your student card!

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Located around the Monastiraki área is the Athens Flea Market open between 7am -2pm. This market sells a mixture of fruits, raw honey, meats, fresh fish and old antiques.

The Church of Kapnikarea is a tiny church and you’ll find this right in the centre of Athens close to Syntagma metro station. This is also the best place for shopping.

Slightly further out (30 minute drive from city centre) is the O.A.K.A Mapouol which is the Athens Olympic park. Worth a visit for those keen photographers.

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Food

Popular greek dishes include grilled octopus, moussaka, pittes, stifado, horiatiki (aka greek salad), souvlaki, gemista and kokkinisto. The top five Greek drinks are Ouzo, Tsipouro, Retsina, Hima and Mavrodaphne.

The entire Plaka area is filled with Greek restaurants to choose from. With many restaurant owners chasing you down the streets it’s sometimes difficult to choose the best ones so I’ve written a little post on my top four restaurants in Athens.

Estrella Athens
This is the perfect brunch place located right in the centre of Athens (by Syntagma metro station). They sell a variety of pancakes from red velvet and oreo to dulce de leche and eggs cooked in any way you like!

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A little Taste of Home
This place is voted as number 1 on trip advisor so I thought I’d check it out as it was located super close to our hotel.  It’s a local restaurant with only a few tables and has a very cosy ambience. They served the most amazing meatballs, baba ganoush, fresh pappardelle pasta served with hummus and falafel. Our meal for two came to 40 euros which I think is amazing value for the most efficient customer service and hospitality. The owner even offered us desserts and shots on the house. You’re certain to find a personable service if you choose to eat here.

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Balcony Restaurant and Bar
As the name suggests this is the perfect place for an intimidate balcony dining setting. The food was a refined and original twist to traditional Greek food. On the menu they have the most amazing fresh pasta with oxtail meat. I would also recommend the souvlaki chicken thigh skewers which comes with grilled aubergine, zucchini and roasted potatoes.

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(Souvla means spit roasted and this is Greek’s favourite way to serve meat). Our meal for two came to 40 euros including dessert and two mains. Most places tend to give you a famous Greek alcohol on the house with your meal. The restaurant is located right by the Acropolis metro station, the perfect place for dinner after a tourist day viewing the Acropolis.

 

Ellevoro
We had stumbled across this cute little restaurant on our way back from the Acropolis as it is located about a two minute walk from the Acropolis metro station. The restaurant had a real vintage flair to it and with only a few tables it had a real intimate homey feel to it with nostalgic music in the background. The decoration included a fireplace, frames on the wall, vintage bottles and lace tablecloths…

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The food was unbelievable too, we ordered the fried aubergine with tomato and feta cheese and fried zucchini balls with fresh yoghurt for starters and then shared the moussaka. Everything tasted homemade but I highly recommend the zucchini balls as these just melted in your mouth. For dessert we shared the praline chocolate halva with candy floss. The only downside would be that they could have a wider variety of main courses, however with the numerous cold and hot mezzes to choose from this wasn’t really a problem. A three course meal for two costs approximately 50 euros.

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Tips

Do not use local taxis as they will rip you off. Uber is super cheap in Athens but just be aware of the exchange rate fee charged.

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