While living in Greece, I wanted to plan a quick trip to Athens. Everyone told me that I wouldn’t want to spend much time in Athens; I booked my flight to spend a single day there.
Alas, one of my friends in Athens wisely advised me that I must give the city more time. He suggested that five days would be better. I changed my flight to give Athens a full six days [because let’s be honest, I am an over-achiever] and I am so glad that I did! That week in Athens was one of the best weeks I had in the three months of staying in Greece. I believe travelers should spend more time in Athens, and here are my top 5 Reasons why:
1- The Feel of The City
Athens is a large and diverse capital that’s bustling with life. The Acropolis sits high in the center of the city allowing sightings from nearly every street you wander down.
Saying that it’s a vast and active metropolitan is a complete understatement. Walking through the narrow streets you are surrounded by colorful street art, bustling locals and tourists alike, ancient buildings, cheap street food, music performers, and artists.
Athens is the perfect balance between urban and historic. If you are interested in reading more about the Ancient World of Athens [AND how you can experience it] Kasiawrites Travel Blog has a great post filled with photos.
2- Can be Done on a Budget
For one week in Athens, I spent less than $100 USD. How?
First, cheap hotels and hostels are plentiful and Couchsurfing is very popular [I was offered a place to stay by 17 different hosts.] I divided my time between three different Couchsurfing hosts for my week in Athens. This made an enormous impact on my wallet and my experience as my hosts took me to unique places around the city that I would have never found on my own. Below you can see me with one of my Turkish hosts.
Everywhere you go in Greece, there are gyros. The street food that is both satisfying and cheap! Athens has no shortage of gyros shops or delivery services. You can easily live off Gyros, and trust me, you will want to.
Plus, taxis are easy to find and surprisingly affordable to get around in. I went from one side of the city to the other side- in traffic, AND the taxi driver got lost for only 11 euro total.
3- The Beaches
Many people think of Greek islands for beach life but Athens sits along the sea. There are not many large capital cities that also allow you to dine at quiet beachside restaurants, watch the sun setting over the sea, dip your feet in the water, or take a walk along the coast.
While it is an urban metropolitan, you can still experience those sought after ‘Greek beaches’ nearby.
4- Hiking in the City
One of my favorite experiences was a walk up Filopappos Hill [also spelled as Philopappos] with one of my Couchsurfing hosts. This hike, near the city center, allows you to see how vast and dense the region truly is; Athens is a big city. According to the Greece demographic reports: over 2/3 of Greeks live in Athens at 19,000 people per square mile in the city.
There are paths and walkways around the hill with monuments, 360-degree views. Plus it’s a green and quiet getaway from the city.
While we were above the city we did some yoga and meditation here before returning to the bustling city center.
5- The Nightlife
Nightlife is one of my favorite things to experience in big cities, probably because I come from a smaller town in Utah where options are limited. Personally, I prefer small bars that allow for conversation rather than loud nightclubs, but Athens’ variety of nightlife has options for everyone.
There are countless rooftop restaurants and bars; you can find one by simply walking down nearly any street. If you are lucky, maybe you can find a cute local to join you and take you on a tour of the city! This was something that made the city unique: having evening cocktails with an incredible view of the Acropolis sparking in the night.
Walking the streets at 3:00AM near Monostiraki Square, there were still many people out having a good time. I felt comfortable walking around by myself in the crowded bar areas. While it is busy and crowded, the ambiance is easy going and relaxed. I wouldn’t say that everywhere in Athens is ‘safe-feeling’ to wander all night as a solo female traveler. I stuck to busy streets and I never felt out of my comfort zone.
So yes, you could easily go to Athens and see the archaeological sites in a day or two. However, there’s more to this modern day city than its past and it would be a shame to miss it!
Athens is one of my favorite cities that my eyes have seen!
*Don’t let people convince you that a day or two in Athens is enough; give yourself time to enjoy the city*
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