The Kiwi.com Top 10 – Athens

Destinations

The Kiwi.com Top 10 – Athens

By
16 July 2017

By | 16 July 2017

Here at Kiwi.com, we love exploring new places, but we also know that sometimes you want to go back to somewhere you’ve already been. Here’s our guide to some of the most popular destinations that Kiwi.com customers fly in and out of

Airport – Eleftherios Venizelos

City – Athens

If you’ve never been …

… Prepare to be surrounded by a city as ancient as civilisation. Athens dates back to around the 10th century BC, and the Acropolis in its centre is the hill to which Greece has clung throughout its long and storied history. So whether you’re a first time visitor or a lover of all things Greek, here’s what we reckon you should do.

They say of the Acropolis, where the Parthenon is …

The route around Pantheon in Acropolis during the noon can turn into a sweaty mess - Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. The route around Pantheon in Acropolis can turn into a sweaty mess at noon – Shutterstock

… That there are no straight lines. One of the most iconic structures on the planet, the Acropolis was begun in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the very height of its power. Today, thousands of tourists visit it every year. You can either climb up the hill yourself and wander about, or pay for one of the numerous walking tours. However, it’s advisable to go up early in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the midday sun can make the experience rather a sweaty mess!

Dig up the past

The National Archaeological Museum has more than twenty thousand exhibits -  imagIN.gr photography / Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. The National Archaeological Museum has more than twenty thousand exhibits – imagIN.gr photography / Shutterstock

The National Archaeological Museum is Greece’s largest museum, with over 20,000 exhibits, ranging from ancient pottery and statues to frescoes and musical instruments. Give yourself a few hours to explore the historical and cultural context of one of history’s great civilisations. Entrance is 10 euros unless you’re a student, in which case it’s only 5 euros … Or, if you’re an EU student, free!

Find the village on the hillside

Anafiotika village - Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. Anafiotika village was built by Greek islanders who had moved to the city – Shutterstock

Anafiotika is a small, picturesque suburb cut into the north-eastern side of the Acropolis, and is often likened to a Greek island village – with its steep, narrow streets and whitewashed houses – but in the heart of the city. It’s a piece of tranquillity in a bustling metropolis.

Please the Gods

Temple of Olympian Zeus - Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. The Temple of Olympian Zeus took almost 650 years to build – Shutterstock

Eventually taking nearly 650 years to complete, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is situated right in the heart of the city. All that work was not entirely worth it, mind you, because after its completion it was a working temple for a little over a century. Then it was ripped to bits during a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD. It suffered the same fate as the Colosseum in Rome – namely being quarried for the stone to build houses in the surrounding area. Still, you get a good impression of the size it must have been in its glory days: big.

Become a true Olympian

Temple of Olympian Zeus - Nick Pavlakis / Shutterstock  Athens Group Created with Sketch. The Panathenaic stadium is a replica of the one used for the ancient Olympic Games – Nick Pavlakis / Shutterstock

Built on the site of the original, the Panathenaic stadium was reconstructed in the 19th century as a replica of the original venue for the ancient Olympic games. It was used as the venue for the archery and as the finish of the marathon during the 2004 Olympics. If you fancy a jog around it yourself, between 7.30am and 9am it’s open to runners. If you’re not feeling that energetic, you can still have your photo taken on a medal podium anyway!

If you’ve already been and feel like going back, what about these?

Have a bite to eat on the stairs

Mnisikleous street -  lenisecalleja.photography / Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. Could there be a better place to eat a Greek salad? – lenisecalleja.photography / Shutterstock

Mnisikleous street in the district of Plaka is, simply, a massive staircase. On both sides all the way to the top there are lots of different bars and restaurants. If you can get a space, you can sit with something tasty and watch the other people struggling up in the heat, and pride yourself on your good fortune!

A civilised commute

Syntagma Square station - Wikimedia Commons Athens Group Created with Sketch. Syntagma Square station is full of artefacts discovered while it was being built – Wikimedia Commons

Obviously, with millennia of history behind it, digging in Athens is always likely to turn up something once lost. Therefore, when engineers were building the Metro system, they worked alongside teams of archaeologists to make sure nothing was missed. At Syntagma Square station, this is graphically illustrated as they’ve kept many of the artefacts there, as well as housing a cross-section of the sub-strata of the city behind a huge glass wall. You can actually see the layers of civilisations, one on top of the other, as you follow the commuters through the station.

One person’s junk is another’s treasure

Monastiraki square - : Sanga Park / Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. The flea market in Monastiraki Square is one of the best places to pick up souvenirs – Sanga Park / Shutterstock

Have a browse around the Monastiraki market if you’ve always wanted an old bird cage, some Greek vinyl records from the 1970s, a sword and a dented flugelhorn. Perfect souvenirs, surely? Doubt you’d get a sword through airport security on your way home though, mind…

Light up the night

Pittaki street with lamps - NataliaMilko / Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. Pittaki street’s lamps has become a much-loved feature of Athens – NataliaMilko / Shutterstock

In 2012, Pittaki street underwent a remarkable transformation. Previously a dirty, unloved alleyway, an urban regeneration team started collecting abandoned lights from around the city, and nowadays over 150 lights of all different styles hang down and brighten the street every night. It’s become so well-loved that Athenians regularly donate their old lights so that the beauty and joy continues to spread.

Life’s a gas

Technopolis -  Milan Gonda / Shutterstock Athens Group Created with Sketch. The gas processing plant at Technopolis is now a museum and art space – Milan Gonda / Shutterstock

Technopolis is a disused natural gas processing plant that, during the day, is an interesting museum concerning 19th century industrial Athens. But it’s also an art venue and event space that regularly hosts concerts and DJs; check their events calendar to discover what achingly cool happening is, er, happening that evening.