My husband and I took my step-daughter to Athens over New Year to celebrate her 18th birthday. She wants to see the world, and we knew a trip and the memories we created would be more special than any physical gift.
It was a fab trip – here’s my highlights!
There’s some really rather magical about visiting the Acropolis. The 2,500 years of history is a bit mind-blowing, of course. The fact that the ancient Greeks worshipped their gods so fervently that they built this huge site is pretty amazing… The Acropolis is set up on a hill, and as you ascend it’s pretty amazing to see the ruins, temples and theatres (including the world’s first theatre).
There are several temples to explore, each one dedicate to another Greek god/goddess. It’s wonderful to walk around, taking them in, picturing not only those who came to worship but the slaves who had to build these amazing structures without modern technology. I was in awe.
The views across Athens are spectacular. December is a great time of year to visit… The weather was wonderful – warm and sunny, but not so hot as in summer + of course it wasn’t so crowded either. If you like history, this must go on your bucket list.
Temple of Olympian Zeus & Hadrians Arch
Another wonderful historical site, great for a walk around – although you only need about half an hour (or less if you just want a quick look). The temple is still well preserved although a few columns have fallen and much of it is missing. The arch is also well worth seeing, and there are some good views of the Acropolis standing ever-mighty on top of its hill not far away.
We walked all around Greece… however we got a bit lost in Kolonaki looking for the funicular up to the top of Mount Lycabettus. It’s kind of hidden on a road part-way up the mountain. The views from the top are pretty wonderful in every direction, you can see how to sea and admire the Acropolis from a distance. We had really good desserts up there with hot drinks.
This was one of my favourite places in Athens. It’s the only all-marble stadium in the world and hosted the first modern Olympic games in 1896 – although the site history dates back to 330BC. We got there early before the crowds came, so we had the place almost to ourselves.
There’s a mini-museum there with a torch from every Olympic games, really interesting to see all the different designs. The torch relay starts from here every four years before travelling to the host nation.
You can also walk all over, up into the seats and look down at the track from all angles… you can run on the track and stand on the podium. Dreams have been realised and lost in that stadium. Fascinating place.
Another fascinating place with links to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
The Agora itself is quite small and doesn’t take long to view, but there’s a really interesting museum on the same site which is really interesting and worth visiting as well.
New Years Eve in Athens
There were various parties and things going on for New Years Eve, but we decided to have an early dinner and then watch the fireworks from our balcony (we had a view of the Acropolis in one direction and the sea in the other – both had displays). It was really quite special and a good tick on the bucket list: to see in a new year in a foreign country.
Driving down the western coast of Greece to the temple of Poseidon @ Cape Sounio
There are stories about the ship of King Menelaus who stopped briefly at Sounio on his way back from Troy – we’ve all enjoyed reading historical fiction and watching movies about Troy so we were keen to go.
The journey was lovely; lots of beautiful coastal views. The areas were mixed; some a little run down, others more touristy. Unfortunately the template was closed as it was New Years Day (oops) but the drive was lovely and we could see the temple from a distance! From there we went to the airport… a fabulous trip.
Nightlife and Food in Athens
The Plaka district is brilliant in the evenings; lots of bars, restaurants and shops to look around. It’s lit up, has lots of character, and is where we spent most evenings.
Food in Athens, just like in Kefalonia, is very very cheap – even a meal with a view of the Acropolis for two courses and alcohol was less than €60 for three of us! They cater well for vegetarians, with things like veggie moussaka, greek salads, greek pasta (pasta with feta, red onion, olives and tomato – sooo good), pizza and vegetable souvlaki – vegetables and french fries in a wrap. Soooo good.
We love Greece. We loved Athens.