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Where Do I Start? The Beginner’s Travel Guide To Explore Athens in a weekend

One can find countless reasons to be Athens, Greece. It may be for its history, its attractions, or its people. But one thing is for sure, a visit to the city will prove to be an unforgettable one – regardless of the length of your stay.

short stay in Athens will be as meaningful and as enjoyable as being in the city for a long period of time if one will only plan for his/her itinerary carefully. Spending a weekend in Athens, for instance, will bring the same fun and enjoyment as with spending a month or two in the city with properly laid out activities and places to visit. Your visits to the top attractions in Athens may be shorter and probably be quicker than usual but the important thing is that you get a glimpse of what’s in store in the country’s capital.

You will most likely have more time to explore the city with a long weekend in Athens. Although you might just have a day or two longer than spending a mere weekend in the city, these days will already be a huge bonus to check out more sights and experience more of Athens. This will mean more restaurants to visit, more Athens delicacies to try (yum!), and more Athenians to meet.

Of course, many would still prefer to spend (at least) a week in Athens to establish that “journey”-like feeling to the most flourishing civilization of ancient times. You will have the whole 7 days to travel the city’s best-kept treasures, including a climb to its hills and a swim to its magnificent beaches. And if you have more time, spend a day trip to Athens by visiting its neighboring towns and discover more of Greece’s beauty

Whether you have a short or long stay in Athens, the important thing is that you make the most of your stay.

Weekend

Spending time in Athens even just for a weekend has been a dream of many people. If you have been given this chance, make sure not to waste any of your time in the city by carefully planning out your weekend in Athens. The key to this enjoyable weekend in the city – and to avoid the cram as well – is to make sure to arrive in the city early Friday and late Sunday. A good plan for an Athens weekend can be:

Friday

Upon arriving at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, take a metro or bus going to the city proper. You can leave your suitcase or bags first to your hotel to allow you to explore the city without any baggage. It may be good to book in a hotel that is centrally located or in proximity to the Plaka as most of the attractions are in this area. From your hotel, you can head to the Acropolis – one of Athens’ most important sites. Because there are just too many things to see and explore in the area, it will eat up your whole day, so block this time already.

At night, you can walk down to Kydathenion Street and spend your time for a good drink with your pals or mingle with the locals.

Saturday

Since you’ve already paid your visit to the Acropolis, you can then move on to other interesting attractions in Athens – so wake up early on the Saturday of your stay. You can start your day with a tour of the ancient Agora. As the political and administrative hub of ancient Athens, the place will offer you a lot of interesting things to see, which include the Stoa of Attalus and the Temple of Hephaestus. You can stay on in here for the whole day before you head out for your dinner which can serve as a kick-off to your nightlife in the city of Athens.

Sunday

Granting that you’ve spent your nightlife in the city well, then spend your Sunday (and last day) in the city a bit late (you, of course, need to sleep first!). Visit the National Gardens for a relaxing last day then head to the Piraeus before you bid bye-bye to the city.

Planning for activities on a weekend in Athens may be a bit challenging, the key here is to identify the places you’d really want to visit and budget your time well.

Long Weekend

Athens, Greece may be a fulfillment of many people’s dreams. It’s classical, mysterious, and the magnificent setting is a big come-on to tourists from all over the world. Although a whole week may not be enough to fully explore the city, a long weekend in Athens may just be enough to give you a short yet meaningful experience in this Greek capital.

Day 1: Thursday

Upon arrival at Athens airport, head to your hotel to leave your belongings; enjoy your welcome drink and freshen up to be ready for your Thursday adventure.

Start your day in Athens with a visit to the Benaki Museum. Established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father, Emmanuel Benakis, the museum, which is housed in the family mansion, contains Greek artworks dating from the prehistoric to modern times. Because the museum is only open on Thursday, this is the only time that you can stop by the museum during your short stay in the city.

Day 2: Friday

Try on the city’s transport by taking the metro to make a visit to one of the city’s most important sites, the Acropolis. Savor your stop here and make sure to also not to miss visiting the museums surrounding it. In the afternoon, you can head to the Ancient Agora to continue your journey to Athens’s history. As the former political and cultural hub of the city, the Ancient Agora will give you a good glimpse of the city’s past.

Day 3: Saturday

On your third day to the city, pay homage to Zeus, the chief of the gods, by visiting the Temple of Zeus. Erected in 472 and 456 BC, the temple is one of the most famous sanctuaries in Greece. You can also drop by the Olympic Stadium and be amazed by the first venue of the Olympics in 1896. In the afternoon, you can take a tour of the National Archaeological Museum and see its displays of important archaeological artifacts. The museum is also considered one of the greatest and richest museums of its kind in the world.

Day 4: Sunday

On your last day in the city, visit Athens’ Byzantine and Cycladic Museums. With its one-of-a-kind collections, you will definitely be amazed by the treasures kept and preserved by the city. Take a walk to the Lycabettus Hill to and get an overall view of Athens. Your last day in the capital of Greece will definitely be hard to miss!

Week

You have a whole week in Athens. A whole week to learn, explore, shop, eat, drink, party, and discover everything there is the Greek capital. If you are given this luxury to enjoy the city for seven long days, then rejoice! You have Athens at your feet without cramming all your activities in two or three days.

On day one of your tours, start with your sightseeing at Sintagma. Go have a walk to the streets of Voukourestiou and Kolonaki in the morning and ride to the cable car at Lycabettus Hill at night. If you intend to do your shopping as early as this time, take note that most stores in the city close down as early as 3:30 in the afternoon.

On the second day of your stay in the city, visit the Acropolis of Athens. Manifesting the flourishing civilization of the city’s ancient times, this place is just a not-to-miss on your list. Go take a walk, shop, and eat around Monastiraki, Thisio, and Plaka. As most of the shops here close at 9:00 pm, you will have more time to enjoy and savor the area.

Take a breather from the chaos of the city on your third day by heading to the Attica Coastline or to the Sounion- home to the Temple of Poseidon and a local favorite for its marvelous sunset. Drop by the National Archaeological Museum on your fourth day in Athens or take a leisurely walk to the National Garden.

On your fifth day, indulge your artistic side by visiting the arty parts of Psiri, Gazi, and Kerameikos. You’d be interested to know that Kerameikos is where the word “ceramics” came from being where many potters of the city used to live. If you are interested in contemporary art, you can drop by the Benaki Museum for its cool and interesting displays. At night, enjoy the nightlife at Psiri or at Gazi.

Allot your sixth day in the city for shopping. You can spend your entire day going around the stores in Kifissia or try on the dozens of outfits at the malls located in Marousi. Because there’s just a lot of interesting things to buy in Athens, you would surely have a great time shopping for souvenirs.

Finally, on your last day, you can head out to the Monastiraki flea market to shop for some antiques and other interesting items. You can go have a coffee in the Kolonaki square and enjoy a chat with your friends before you bid goodbye to the city.

Day Trip

Got an extra day to spend in Athens? Why not consider exploring beyond its boundaries and see more of Greece’s best-kept treasures?

Day trip in Athens is recommended for those who’ve already exhausted their stay in the country’s capital. Among the best places to do a day trip to the city are Rafina, Marathon, and Sounion.

Rafina is located on the other side of Himitos and Mount Pendeli. Going to the town will give you an experience of like going to an island. Aside from its relaxing setting, the town also has several restaurants that specialize in sumptuous delicacies which include, a shark with garlic sauce, small fried fish called mareedes and fried squid called kalamarakia (its own version of calamari). If you are traveling with a partner, this place is the perfect getaway for a romantic evening.

If you’ve heard of the Athenians victory against the Persians in Marathon, then you’d probably be more than interested to take a day trip to the place. Although there is not much to see on the battlefield, the place will give you a glimpse of what happened to the conquerors (Persians) who traveled several thousand miles only to be finished off by just a fraction of the army 27 miles away from the city of Athens. The burial mound with an olive grove is an interesting place to visit as it is dedicated to the victory of the Athenians. If you aren’t that interested in history and stuff, you can still have fun in Marathon’s cool beaches. If not, you can stop by the marble dam – the one marble dam in the world – which holds Athens’ water supply.

Fan of the Greek mythology? Then have a tour at the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion. Located at the hilltop of the peninsula of Attica, the temple is the best place to see the sunset. You can also enjoy a bath at the small beach below the temple with your pals or family without having to worry sitting on a hotel property (well, no one can own the beach in Greece after all).

Day trip in Athens is just as interesting as spending a weekend or two in Athens. It will give you a sense of a breather in the city as well as an opportunity to discover more of Greece’s magnificence and beauty.

Sandy

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