A panoramic view of the Acropolis and Monastiraki Square in Athens, Greece

Athens | 30 Secret Tips from a local

Is Athens safe to travel? What’s there to do for free? Which are the bad areas of Athens? Read my guide, explore the city, discover the best places to stay, hang around and get the most out of your trip.

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A statue by the emblematic architectural building of the University in Panepistimiou Street In Athens
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens was officially founded on April 14th, 1837, stands as the first University of Greece

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Estimated Reading time 6 min 43 sec

The statues of Plato and Socrates facing the Academia of Athens on the background
The Academy of Athens’ consists of three buildings National Library – the University – and the Academy which was founded in 1926 as the Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts

WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT MISS?

  1. Visit the Acropolis, skip the ticket line and enter the site with a pre-booked entry ticket. Explore the top archaeological sight of Athens by enjoying a self-guided audio tour on your smartphone (Android & iOS) in English. Book your ticket here.
  2. Be sure not to miss visiting Ancient Agora. The Agora was the political, commercial, administrative and social activity centre of ancient Athens, a significant gathering square where religious and judicial activities were taking place. Your local licenced tour guide will show you the Hephaestus Temple, the wonderful church of the 12 Apostles, the Temple of Apollo Patroos, the Stoa of Zeus, the Altar of Zeus and Attalos Museum. Book your tour here.
  3. Do you have limited time to explore the city? Discover Athens from an open-top hop-on hop-off double-decker sightseeing bus. Take the option to visit Piraeus too, and see the best of the Greek capital’s famous sites while enjoying audio guide commentary as you ride. Looking to explore the city for 3 consecutive calendar days, access 16 museums, galleries, shows and attractions on a combo ticket? Skip the hassle and use one handy combo pass to gain entry to some of Athens’ most well-known sites, as well as 48-hour access to a Hop-on Hop-off bus.
  4. Explore some of the greatest sights of this historic city. Get your camera ready to photograph the amazing architecture of The National Gallery, Academia, National Library, the National and Kapodistrian University.
  5. Which are the squares to visit? Walk around Syntagma and Omonoia Square, the most central and buzzing sites of the city centre. Looking for a nice terrace to enjoy your coffee under the Athenian sky and capture the best viewpoints of Athens? Where can you watch the sunset?
A red sunset in Plaka district in Athens, Greece
  1. Which are the best places for museums in Athens? Well, the National Archaeological and Acropolis Museums are on the top of my list to visit.
  2. Watch the ceremonial change of the guards every Sunday at 11:00 taking place at Syntagma Square. Daily, Evzones – the Greek Presidential Guard – change positions every hour on the hour.
  3. Walk around Plaka and Dionisiou Aeropagiotou street, where some of the finest building architecture stands.
  4. Book a free of charge guided tour to the new headquarters for the National Library of Greece. Pre-registration is required both for adults and children.
  5. Explore Ermou street, the most central pedestrian street of the city centre. Ermou Street, the most commercial shopping street in central Athens, is a one-and-a-half-kilometre-long road, connecting Syntagma Square to Kerameikos archaeological site.
  6. Where is the best place to watch the sunset? Climb Mount Lycabettus, the highest point of the city, rising 277 meters to get a spectacular view! Do you love walking and trekking as I do? If you are in a good shape walk up to the hill to see the amazing Athenian panorama. Feeling motivated to take the cable car to the Hill and walk down on foot? Take the funicular departing from Aristippou and Ploutarchou corner and enjoy the ride to the top.
The neoclassical architecture buildings of the National Greek Library
The National Library of Greece was designed by the Danish architect Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, as part of his famous Trilogy of neo-classical buildings including the Academy of Athens

WHERE SHOULD YOU NOT STAY?

  1. Are you travelling on holidays or a business trip? The Greek capital is considered a safe destination to hang out, however, like in every city of the world, there are unsafe places and rough areas. As a native having lived in the city for more than 30 years, to the best of my knowledge Athens is an amazing city to hang around and I am sure you will have a great time!
  2. I would recommend you not to walk at night around Omonoia area. Here I list the squares and parks to avoid walking at night like Pedion tou Areos, Filopappos (Philopappou) Hill, Strefi Hill, Agios Panteleimonas, Koumoundourou, Karaiskaki, Amerikis, Vathis, Victoria and Attiki Squares.
  3. Pay extra attention when walking during the day and night around the streets of 28 Oktovriou (Patision), Sokratous, Mavromataion, Menandrou, Ioulianou, Ipeirou.
  4. What should you avoid in Athens? When keeping in mind places to avoid know that Menidi, Zefyri, Acharnes, Agioi Anargyroi, Exarcheia districts are not the greatest to visit.
  5. If you prefer getting off the beaten path during your travels and would like to go somewhere different, why not to explore the districts of Koukaki, Petralona, Pangrati and Mets? Discover the most beautiful non-touristy neighbourhoods of the city.
A large area of ancient ruins and greenery, a major archaeological site, located in the city center of Athens
The Ancient Agora of Athens is located to the northwest of the Acropolis
  1. If you love bustling busy areas, then walk around Psirri, Thisseio, Monastiraki and Plaka. Explore Plaka, one of the most picturesque and historic neighbourhoods of the city.
  2. Are you looking for a hostel in Athens? If you are staying or hanging out in a hostel you will meet travellers from all over the world. What are the best hostels to stay?
  3. Which are some of the hot hangouts in the city? Where you will come across locals? Look out for Agia Irini Square, named after the church of Agia Eirini, Kerameikos (Gazi), Kolonaki.
  4. Are you on a low budget and looking for accommodation within easy access to the airport? Book your place in Airbnb in the neighbourhoods of Peristeri and Aigaleo, where the metro line is connecting the areas to the city and the airport. Get your discount here.
  5. Be extra careful and always mind your personal belongings when you take the bus, ride the subway and commute by rail.

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Different views of the architecture buildings and seaside districts of Atrhens

WHICH ARE THE BEST NEIGHBOURHOODS TO VISIT?

  1. There are plenty of lovely neighbourhoods to stay outside the city centre. If you are a lover of the sea, explore the picturesque districts of Alimos, Vouliagmeni and Palaio Faliro.
  2. Kifisia, Marrousi, Melissia and Nea Erythrea cover the northern suburbs of the city. Which is my favourite neighbourhood? Nea Smyrni! Which are the best neighbourhoods to stay?
  3. Get lost in Piraeus yacht harbours, walk along the picturesque seaside area of Kastella, explore Peiraiki and Mikrolimano.
  4. Enjoy the ultimate shopping experience in the Varvakeios market, which is the central and most popular open market in Athens. Varbakeios has a history of 150 years, was created thanks to the national benefactor, Ioannis Varvakis and constitutes the most genuine style of market in the city. Take the chance to wander for hours, you will come across thousands of stalls selling from steaks of pork, veal chop, delicious veal meat to tea, greek camomile, mint, tilio, eggs, olives and spices like cinnamon stick, spearmint, cardamon, cumin, onion e.t.c.
  5. Take a stroll in the National Garden, explore the green pathways, take a break on a bench relaxing on shadow, visit the turtle pond and the zoo. The garden is estimated that covers an area of 15.5 hectares.
  6. Explore the area surrounding the garden, take a photograph of Zappeion Hall, discover the emblematic Panathenaic (Kallimarmaro) Stadium, visit the mythical Temple of Zeus, a temple which was dedicated to Zeus, the head of the Olympian Gods.

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A panoramic view of Monastiraki Square and the Acropolis
Monastiraki Square is one of the capital’s most central meeting points for both tourists and locals

UNUSUAL PLACES TO VISIT

How to get off the beaten-path sights when visiting Athens? For a large number of travellers, Athens is Acropolis. There is so much to do and see in the city, stay tuned to skip the tourist path!

  1. Little Cook
  2. Lake Vouliagmeni
  3. Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center and countless things to do!!

Discover the off-the-beaten-path places to visit in the Greek capital. Read my Guide!

THINGS TO DO, ATTRACTIONS AND TOURS

Here I introduce you things to do in the city from visiting museums to wine tasting, hopping to islands within 2 hours of Athens and visiting UNESCO Meteora monasteries. The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and buy a tour.

  1. Full Day Tour and Sailing to Agistri, Moni and Aegina islands
  2. The Acropolis Museum Ticket and Access to Ancient Excavation
  3. Sunset Trip to Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon
  4. Delphi Full-Day Tour from Athens
  5. Museum of Illusions Admission Ticket
  6. Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train
  7. Sailing Cruise along the Coast
  8. Nea Makri: Marathon Cape and Bay of Schinias Snorkeling Trip
  9. Wine Tasting with a Sommelier under the Acropolis
  10. Bus Trip to Mycenae, Epidaurus and Nafplio

Hey Traveller

Clouds and nature lanscape over a lake
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Looking to travel solo and need a little inspiration to make that first step to book your solo trip? Follow my tips and advice to go the extra mile and get ready for your adventure!

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IS ATHENS WORTH A VISIT?

How much spending money do you need for a day in the city? Following the budget things, I recommend you should plan to spend €25-30 per day on your holidays. This post recommends additional tours and activities to get the most out of your holidays in Athens.

4 thoughts on “Athens | 30 Secret Tips from a local

  1. I remember my trip to Athens well. It was a great time. I especially recommend your # 3 on your list of Things Not to Miss, the Double Decker Bus Tour. It was a nice relaxing way to see a lot of the city and check out things to explore later on.

    Liked by 1 person

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