Updated: January 8th,2019
72 hours in Athens, Greece
Is it possible to conquer Athens in 72 hours or less? If you ask me, you can spend a lot more time in this beautiful city taking in all the sites, sipping some of the world’s finest coffee, and dining at some truly amazing restaurants. After all, it is the capital as well as the largest city in Greece. Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with it's recorded history dating back to over 3,400 years ago. Known to be the "archaeological hub" of the world, this timeless city has an overload of historical sites and landmarks that will take you on a trip back in time. So yes, with the right information and the right planning you can absolutely conquer the next 72 hours in Athens. Will you miss a few things? Of course, but it'll leave you coming back for more!
Transportation in Athens
Once you've landed at Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos", you're left with quite a few options as far as transportation is involved. You could:
METRO - Take Metro Line 3 (Aghia Marina – Douk. Plakentias - Athens International Airport), which connects the Athens airport with the city center. Trains run every 30 minutes, 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The trip from/to the Airport to Syntagma station (Athens center) lasts 40 minutes.
EXPRESS BUS - Take the Express Bus routes that connect Athens (city center & greater area) and Piraeus(port) with the Athens International Airport (AIA) “Eleftherios Venizelos directly”. Service is provided on a non-stop basis seven days a week including holidays (24/7 operation). All buses disembark passengers at the Departures Level (inbound trips to the airport) and depart from the Arrivals Level (outbound trips from the airport). Bus tickets are sold at the info/ticket-kiosk (located outside the Arrivals between Exits 4 and 5), or onboard (ask operator) at no extra cost. Cost is 6 euro per person and takes about an hour and a half to reach city center where you can either walk to your final destination or transfer.
TAXI - Taxis are available at the designated Taxi waiting area located at Exit 3 of Arrivals Level. A taxi from the airport to the city center (inner ring) costs a flat rate of €35 from 5:00 a.m. to midnight, and €50 from midnight to 5:00 a.m.
Note: Aside from taking a cab from the airport to your hotel, do not, I repeat, DO NOT get in a taxi without the meter running. I've done this many times, and it never works in your favor. I've been charged 5x-10x the actual rates, and you most likely will as well.
Athens Spotlighted City Pass
The main difference between the Athens Spotlighted city card and the city passes is in its price, or to be more precise in its absence! In some cities, the CityCard price can go up to 200 EUR for 3 days. In Athens, the card is issued to everyone FOR FREE and is valid for 10 days. You can get Athens Spotlighted at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport (at baggage claim and information desk).
The benefits of using an Athens tourist card may not be as great as of its paid counterparts. However, it will help to significantly save on vacation. Its owner receives a 50% discount on entrance tickets to the most interesting museums and other cultural institutions of the city. Among them are: the National Art Gallery of Athens, the Benaki Museum, The Frissiras Museum, and many others. In addition, you can visit performances, concerts and other events of the National Theater of Greece and the National Opera with a discount of 15 to 20%. More than 15 cafes and restaurants will reduce the check by 20%. The same discount is valid in dozens of grocery, souvenir, clothing, shoes, and accessories shops. Read more about Athens city pass and participating companies on the official website.
Accommodation in Athens
If you're looking to get the most out of your time in Athens, find yourself a centrally located and safe neighborhood to stay in. I spent 2 nights each at the Aristoteles Hotel in Archanon, Zorbas Hostel in Victoria Square, Athens Select Hotel , Athens Backpackers, and Athens Studios in Koukaki, and without a doubt I will be staying in Koukaki every time I come back. With its welcoming charm, you will feel completely at home and part of this beautiful community from the moment you step foot into it.
Athens Backpackers - Budget Hostel
Athens Studios - Mid Range Hostel/Hotel
When I am deciding where to stay, I consider four major factors: comfort, location, amenities, and price. Athens Studios hits the nail on the head when it comes to all of these. Both Athens Backpackers and Athens Studios, located at the foot of the Acropolis, offer incredible amenities and a warm, welcoming environment that make it feel more as though you're staying with family than at a hostel. With everything from 6 bed mixed dormitories to twin private rooms and luxury penthouse apartments, Athens studios successfully creates the "home" setting for all types of travelers. Designed almost intentionally, you feel as though you do not have to leave the property for anything! With Athens Sports Bar, Bullseye Burger, and Laundry services on site, it makes it very easy to stay put. If you're feeling adventurous, you can take the 2 minute walk over to the Athens Backpackers and take the elevator all the way to the top. Here you'll be faced with the rooftop bar and one of the best views of Acropolis in all of Athens!
Herodion Hotel - Luxury Hotel
This gem of a hotel also located in the same region as the other 2 accommodations above has all the necessary elements for a luxury hotel without breaking the bank and entering that 5 star pricing! With a family run atmosphere, comfortable and spacious rooms, excellent location, and a wonderful restaurant and rooftop bar…you really can’t go wrong!
Where to eat in Athens
In Koukaki alone you'll be overwhelmed with the amount of restaurants that flood the main road of (Makrigianni). But when you think of Greek culture and family values, it's hard to think of any restaurant in the neighborhood but one: "Gods Restaurant”. Upon entering you'll be engulfed in 2 generations of family style cooking, grade-A service, and the warmest welcome you've felt to an area in a long time.
Open in the area since 2000 when the area had only 2 restaurants, Gods Restaurant has prided itself with creating the home atmosphere and making sure everyone who comes in and out of the restaurant is left with a piece of Athens in their hearts.
This diamond in the rough is located in the heart of Athens just down the street from Acropolis. With its modern touch on traditional greek cuisine, it’s an absolute must try when in Athens! The restaurant itself is a multi-story complex with a rooftop terrace providing romantic views, atmospheric ambience, and a large selection of fine wines. When it comes to food they serve only the finest ingredients and all served with quality, not quantity. Visited this restaurant 5 days over the past two years and have not once been disappointed in any aspect! Seen below in order (Greek Salad, Deer Carpaccio, and Braised Lamb)
FIND THE BEST GYRO’S IN ATHENS!
We searched far and wide to find the best gyro’s for our money and the search itself did not disappoint. You’ll find yourselves passing by so many places that offer them, it makes for a wonderful lunch selection for only 2 euro each. If you find yourself having to pay more than this you should read the reviews online to find out why and if it’s worth it! Don’t have cell service? Maybe try somewhere cheaper, as more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better!
A Night Out in Gazi
Full of restaurants, cafés, cinemas, bars, music venues, and, of course - art, the old city gasworks has been turned into a museum/cultural center named “Technopolis” – a unique experience I haven’t seen anything similar to in the rest Europe.
Gazi is where all the young people, visiting or local, come to enjoy the thriving nightlife unlike any other neighborhood in the city. With an abundance of restaurants, cocktail bars, lounges, and dance clubs, this is not an area you want to miss.
Some of our favorite places to check out in the area are:
Looking for a couple day beach getaway while in Athens? Consider majestic Santorini. Think visiting Santorini is too expensive and near impossible? Well, we proved it wrong by visiting there on our own and living very cheaply!
Sites to see in Athens
No visit to Athens would be complete without taking a few hours to visit the historical hilltop of Acropolis. For a 10 euro admission fee, you get access to not only The Parthenon, but Theater of Herod Atticus, Theater of Dionysius and the Ancient Agora as well. All in all it’ll take you about a casual 30 minutes to get to the top.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to see the sunset from the top of Acropolis, make sure you’ve entered before 5:00PM as they won’t let you enter afterwards!
Taking a stroll through the oldest neighborhood in Athens is a necessity when it comes to properly exploring this city. Situated at the bottom of Acropolis, Plaka, also known as "neighborhood of the gods”, has been inhabited for the past 5,000 years and shows no signs of slowing down. With its wide variety of tiny shops, cafes, workshops, and cozy restaurants, this area makes for a perfect picture and even better experience.
Located a comfortable 35 minute walk from Acropolis is where you’ll find the base of this must visit hill in Athens. A mere 908ft above all the rest of Athens, you’ll be able to see the city in every direction visible! At the top you’ll find a couple of restaurants and a small church. The peak can be reached in about 30 minutes by foot or by paying 5 euro to take the tram to the top in under 3 minutes.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to get the perfect picture of the skyline here in Athens, we highly suggest this to be the spot! As it doesn’t draw anywhere near as many people as Acropolis does and you’ll be much higher up in the air for less to no money!
Situated at the base of Ardittos Hill, in the Pangrati region of Athens, this popular attraction hosted the very first modern day Olympic Games of 1896. The elegant three-sided stone stadium was constructed on the site of the original stadium, built back in 330 B.C. It is also now the finishing point to the Athens marathon. Entrance fee is only 5 euro to get in…and if you ask me that’s well worth it! You can run around the track and get a photo taken standing on the podium, plus you get a free audio tour included!
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