Published on April 6, 2011 | by Andrea Guerriero0
A One Day Trip in Athens
Athens is a major European centre of culture, with amazing classical sites and world-class museums. Althought this city has always been in highlight for its great classical buildings, the 2004 Summer Olympic Games helped transform the city into a new fashionable destination, including the development of public transport and tourist facilities.
The daily blue-and-white buses offer more than 300 routes for quick travel in and around downtown Athens and there is also a limited night service available. However, be aware that buses are usually packed and it is always preferable to walk if you’re on holiday in Athens.
For tourists, the greatest advantage is that most landmarks are accessible on foot and are found in the central area. So whether you are on a short weekend or on a longer holiday including several destinations and you wish to visit Athens in one day, our suggestion is to enjoy your day trip in the Greek capital focusing on its three main attractions.
Syntagma Square in the Morning
Also know as Constitution Square, this turbulent square is in the heart of Athens – jammed with traffic and often focal point for political demonstrations. However, it is also home to plenty of luxury hotels, shops and pedestrian streets. Don’t miss the building of the Greek Parliament, the large water fountain right in the centre of the Square and the changing of the Guard ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the area between the Square and Parliament. Syntagma Square is located near the most famous neighborhoods of Athens, such as Plaka, Monastiraki and Kolonaki, all within walking distance, and most of the famous sites of ancient Athens are nearby, including the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora of Athens with Hadrian’s Library, the Kerameikos Cemetery and many historic churches dating from the Middle Ages.
The Plaka- early afternoon
Whether you like hanging out, shopping, eating, or wandering around, this is a great area to visit. The Plaka is the oldest section of Athens – mostly pedestrian – full of restaurants, jewelries, souvenir shops and cafes. Though it is a quite commercialized area, this is definitely the nicest neighborhood in central Athens, including many archaeology sites as well, such as the Tower of the Winds in the Roman Agora or the Monument to Lysikrates.
The Acropolis – every day open until 6.30pm
Walk up from the Plaka and you will get directly to the Acropolis – the complex of temples on the upper city (akro + polis) of Athens. This site includes the new Acropolis Museum (opened in 2009) and the ruins of several sacred buildings, such as the Propylaea – a monumental gateway in the Ionic and Doric styles, serving as the entrance to the site, the Erechtheion temple – a dual shrine to Athena and Poseidon-Erechtheus, the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus – a major open-air theatre used for festivals in honor of the god Dionysus, and of course the Parthenon – symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments; the sanctuary dates back to the 438 BC and is dedicated to goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Enjoy the Acropolis Museum video.
If you have some time left for shopping, try to visit one of the traditional markets – such as the Monastiráki Flea Market, the Kentrikí Agorá, or the Laiki, the trendy shopping street Ermou or the upmarket shopping district near Kolonáki – including Tsakalof, one of the most expensive streets in the world.
And if you’re leaving the morning after, after dinner you can still enjoy the charming nightlife in Athens. The most lively area is Gazi, while closer to the centre you get the attractive Psirri or the exclusive Kolonaki, all offering plenty of opportunities to enjoy your evening in the city.
Photo by Panoramas