A Day in Athens
A backpacking trip to Europe is not complete without at least a day spent in Athens!
The Flight to Athens, Greece
Our flight into Athens went swimmingly; we flew via Ryanair and arrived into Athens at 22:55. From Hungary to Greece we experienced an hour time change, so the three hour flight was actually only two. Not unlike our past flights we were all sound asleep, catching up on much needed sleep.
At Athens International Airport
Transportation to the City Center
As you exit the airport, you can purchase tickets for the public transportation at the bus stand. In order to get from Athens International Airport to the city center you must get tickets for Bus X95 to Syntagma Square. Now we easily could have gotten a taxi, but as the budget travelers we are we opted for public transportation, even at 11 pm at night and happily took the hour long bus.
Transportation in the City Center
At Syntagma Square we could have walked 40 minutes to our Air BNB or we could have taken a tram and cut that time to 10 minutes. In order to use the tram, you need to purchase a ticket at a kiosk and then wait by the tram stop. It was pretty hard trying to find the tram stop late at night, and even harder to find someone that spoke English. We wasted 30 minutes looking for this stop and turns out it was across the street from us. Our night didn’t progress any better, turns out we missed the tram and had to wait another 20 minutes for the following tram.
We were rushing to get to our Air BNB, but our host was kind enough to wait up and let us in at 1 am. Finally, we got to our Air BNB and met our host Luisita who was just the sweetest host. She even gave us some oatmeal, containers of drinking water, jam and crackers! It was a lovely apartment with everything we could need and Luisita’s kindness and hospitality is something I will always remember. If you find yourself on Air BNB be sure to use my code and save yourself $40 on your next trip! Click here to save mula $$$$
The next day we were up and about by 8 am because we wanted to get to the Acropolis before it got busy. On our walk there we realized the areas just outside of the “tourist area” had graffiti everywhere. However, once you entered the touristy area the city looked more like you would expect it to. However, we come across some very interesting street art, take a look.
Also, the streets and neighborhoods began to look more “Greek” and less like the Bronx.
I read online that hiking up to the Acropolis is quite a trek, and exhausting – and I wholeheartedly disagree with this. Maybe it was because I was growing accustomed to walking 15+ miles, but it was a breeze, more like a nice elevated stroll up to the Acropolis hill. While trekking to the top I managed to get this awesome photo of the Temple of Hephaestus. I spent a good chunk of an hour walking through a park trying to find this temple later on to no avail – we couldn’t figure out how to get to the entrance.
At about 8:45 am we were at the entrance of the Acropolis to pay for our tickets.
Pro Tip #1: EU STUDENTS GET IN FOR FREE!
Pro Tip #2: Go in the winter and early in the morning – the crowds are minimal and you can browse the Acropolis at your pleasure.
Obviously, we all showed our U.K. student ID cards to get our free ticket. Yes, BREXIT did happen – but technically the U.K. is part of the EU for the next few years until everything settles. If you ever want to visit Athens, I highly recommend it doing it w h i l e a student, and preferably while an EU student. Almost everything we did was free because of this. Not an EU student? Fear not, you do still get a discount with a valid student card.
As you enter the Acropolis you make your way gradually up the rest of the hill and past various ruins that comprise the Acropolis Hill. For some reason, I had this silly notion that the buildings were still intact but duh since they are ruins very few of them actually are. The ones I’ve highlighted in this post are mainly the distinguishable buildings. Another fact, that surprised me the most – is that many of these ruins aren’t the original ruins. Due to constant restoration and preservation, The Acropolis moved many columns, statues and buildings to museums and substituted them with fakes.
Odeon of Herodes
The first we came across, was stunning. Behold the Odeon of Herodes.
Propylaea and Temple of Athena Nike
The next major ruin we saw was the main entrance leading into the Acropolis known as the Propylaea. To the very right of the first picture you can spot the Temple of Athena Nike.
Here we are immediately after crossing through the Propylaea:
While walking around the Acropolis you really get a great view of the city below and the mountains beyond, plus if you looked hard enough behind me in the photo below you can see a peak of the ocean.
The next major monument we saw was the famous Parthenon. The sheer size of the temple is stunning. It’s mind blowing that people moved these columns and towers together to create such a magnificent building without the aid of cranes and modern technology.
The Old Temple of Athena and The Erechtheum
Also at the Acropolis is The Old Temple of Athena (visible to the left of the building) and The Erechtheum. Check it out.
One of my favorite pictures that I took at the top of Acropolis hill was the Athenian landscape with the Grecian flag in the forefront.
Theater of Dinoysus Eleuthereus
We came across The Theater of Dionysus Eleuthereus, on the lower end of the Acropolis which had some beautifully carved statues. By this point, we were pretty much done looking at ruins and our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. A large 50 person tour came through and it got rather loud and crowded quickly. It definitely pays to be the early bird at the Acropolis hill.
Pro Tip #3: Before you leave the Acropolis, make sure you’ve seen every single thing you wanted to see – because once you exit you cannot re-enter without paying again.
Ruins Outside Acropolis Hill
The Arch of Hadrian
While walking throughout the city we came across The Arch of Hadrian. Just under the archway you can spot the Acropolis hill.
Temple of Zeus
The Arch of Hadrian stands right before the entrance to see the Temple of Zeus. Be warned, it does NOT look like Disney’s Hercules depiction.
Pro Tip #4: EU students can visit The Temple of Zeus for FREE!
A short ten-minute walk from the Temple of Zeus, we came across THE Olympic Stadium of Greece. It was pretty cool to see an Olympic Stadium, but of all places in Greece. This however was not free to enter for EU students, but you did get a discount. I believe a ticket was about €5. We opted to just view it from the outside and skip the tour.
The Ancient Agora or The Roman Forum
Following the Olympic Stadium, we walked over to The Ancient Agora or the Roman Forum where we saw more…ruins. You guessed it. Again, this was free for EU students.
Temple of Hephaestus
After strolling through the shops, we tried to see if we could find Temple of Hephaestus mentioned earlier. We managed to find the fence, that bordered the park in which it was located and figured if we followed it all the way around we would eventually come to the entrance. Well turns out, no that didn’t work. We could not find the entrance for the life of us, but we could see people walking around inside and it was killing me to figure out how to get in there. BUT the plus side, on our walk through the park a stray dog befriended us and walked us through the entire park. Once we got to the end of the park she left us and went back into the park, it was the cutest thing.
The Good Eats
At this point, it was approaching 3 o clock, and we were starving as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
We settled on ATITAMOS for lunch, they had great reviews on trip advisor, offered authentic Greek food, and spoke English. They did not disappoint, the food was delicious, affordable and the staff extremely friendly. They gave us free samples of some sort of alcohol (that ended up being pawned off to James) and free dessert tasters – score!
I ordered the lunch special of the day – Moussaka, which I would describe like an eggplant lasagna. James got freshly grilled octopus legs, and we ordered a side of olives. The jam was delicious and fruity, it tasted almost like guava jam.
After our lunch, we decided to head back to the AIRBNB, grab some showers and freshen up and then relax a little before heading back out that night for dinner. By 4 pm we had seen everything we wanted to see. To be fair we were somewhat exhausted from all the walking we had done – so we may have been a little deterred to do further exploring!
Later that night we went out to dinner at Savvas which was another highly rated trip advisor option. The food was delicious and affordable however, they were very busy. Fortunately, we got a table indoors in the warmth rather than outside in the cold. We ordered a baklava as we weren’t too hungry, and Jocelyn and Eli each got a falafel meal. Oh my goodness, the hummus was absolutely amazing.
Transportation to the airport from the City
We were up at about 3 am the following morning so we could get the X95 bus back to the airport. The bus runs about every hour, so if you’re in a time crunch its best to be there early. You must purchase the ticket for the airport bus at at a specific kiosk, which is separate from the regular transport tickets. It should cost you about €5. Don’t do what we did – we made the mistake of buying public transportation tickets, and then realized they weren’t for the X95 bus. The ride back was about an hour long. It seemed that a lot of commuters used this bus to get out of the city. Once we got to the airport we got through security just fine and we were on a plane ready to take off at 7 am for Country #4, Rome, Italy!
Miles Walked in Athens, Greece
Over a day in Athens we managed to walk a whopping 14.1 miles!
Total Cost: $113.04 & €52.90
- USD spent on prepaid flight and accommodations: $113.04
- Euros spent in Athens: €52.90
- Beginning balance of Euros: €681.68
- Total Euros spent: €52.90
- Ending balance of Euros: €628.78
Breakdown of costs
Prepaid Flight Cost:
***ALL 9 Flights Totaled Roughly $301 ea. per 7/17/16 conversion rates. This portion:
- Flights to Athens for James and I: $89.04
- (BUD 19:55 – ATH 22:55)
Prepaid Accommodation Cost:
- $48 for the four of us, therefore $24 for James and I at 2 nights
Cost Incurred in Athens:
- Post Card: €1
- Food: €23.50
- Grilled Octopus €8.50
- Mousaka €6
- Olives €5
- Baklava €4
- Transportation: €28.40
- X95 Bus: €6 one way; €12 round trip = €24 total
- Tram Tickets: €1.10 ea = €4.40 total
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