If you were the kind of person that dreamed of having a time machine so you can travel to the past, then a simple visit to Athens might feel like you already did. It is a city that retells the stories of another time. It is so spectacularly unique, that every corner you turn to, you are confronted with some relic from a distant past.
In this article, Tripdukaan brings you a five day trip to this city that will quench your thirst for history, unlike any other city you have visited before.
Day One – Walking through Plaka and Syntagma Square
In the shadow of the Acropolis is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Athens – Plaka. Today, Plaka is a famous place filled with restaurants and bars, where you can taste traditional Greek cuisine and have a drink of their best beer. Although old, this place has become more mainstream, being more famous for its entertainment than for its history.
Another thing that might attract tourists are the countless souvenir shops, filled with different kinds of items, from a miniature replica of the Acropolis to a miniature size statue of a Greek God or Goddess. A real treat for tourists. After purchasing some souveniers, try out some Greek delicacies like a nice Greek gyro and a glass of Mythos at the Quick Pitta Restaurant.
Your next destination is Athens’s most famous square, the so-called Syntagma Square, with the Parliament building in the background. Arrive just in time to see the changing of the guards, which is a unique experience. Syntagma isn’t just a pretty place for a picture, but an important part of Greek history.
Throughout history, it had a key purpose of either celebrating victories or mourning failures. In recent years it has become a stage for expressing one’s point of view, through protests, pep-rallies, demonstrations etc. With that being said, it is a place that contains epic stories from the past, present and the years to come.
After a long day of walking through the streets of Athens, head back to your hotel for a good night sleep. We recommend staying at a hotel called Exarchion in the Exarchia neighborhood. The hotel offers great accommodation as well as a good breakfast. Exactly what you need for a good start of the day.
Day Two – A trip to the past
The second day of the trip must have been the most anticipated of them all. This is so because you will finally get the chance to see a real architectural masterpiece. This piece of art is the pride and joy of Athens – The Acropolis.
The Acropolis is an ancient citadel set on a hill above Athens. In its walls, it houses several monumental buildings, the most famous being the Parthenon. The temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion temple as well as the remains of the Theatre of Dionysus can also be seen here.
We are sure you were eager to see the Parthenon. This building is probably the most important of them all, as it is the embodiment of Greek art and history. One glance at this massive structure will leave any man speechless.
The Athena Nike is yet another magnificent temple. This one is dedicated to Athena, the Goddess of war and victory, hence the name Athena Nike, since Nike translates to victory in Greek. The Erechtheion is the third temple, dedicated to the Goddess Athena and the God Poseidon. It received its unique name from the Greek hero Erichthonius. The Theatre of Dionysus (pictured below) is another structure that you will encounter here. It is believed that this theatre hosted the beginnings of drama as we know it.
Something else that will catch your attention, and just like everything else here it is hard to miss due to its massiveness, is the gateway to the Acropolis. This gateway is named Propylaea and it is constructed entirely of marble. Therefore, although the Acropolis might require climbing a steep hill, the history that awaits you at the top is more than worthwhile. However, if you are not interested in history, then the panoramic view of Athens will surely make up for the climb.
Day Three – Visiting the God of the Sea
The third day of our trip will take you to the Temple of Poseidon, the God of the Sea, located at Cape Sunion. Although not a lot is left of the initial structure, you can still clearly see the pillars of the outer walls. Just like many historic buildings in Athens, the Temple of Poseidon is another that withstood the test of time. Staring at it, makes you appreciate how much blood and sweat it took to build such an impressive piece of art. This temple is located outside of Athens, so instead of the normal concrete view, you would get from the Acropolis, where you witness the beauty of the Aegean Sea. A spot fit for the God of the Sea.
After finishing your walk around this temple you can have a cup of coffee at a small bar just below the hill, before heading to have lunch. You may decide to have lunch at Sunion at the Elias Fish Restaurant before heading back to your hotel.
Day Four – The remains of an ancient city
Apart from the Acropolis you can also set out to visit the ruins of a city known as Mycenae. This site covers an area of 80 000m and it showcases the remains of a city so ancient that it is a miracle evidence of its existence still exists. Something that will catch your eye is the Lion Gate, which is the entrance to Mycenae, depicting two lions. As you walk through this maze of ancient history, you can see outer walls of halls, private rooms and much more. It is unbelievable to witness how civilizations of such a distant past lived such a similar life to us. It just goes to show, that regardless of when and where we were born, we are more similar than we realize.
From Mycenae, you can set out to see one of the best preserved ancient theatres Epidaurus. It is said that the acoustics of this theatre is so unbelievable that from the highest row you can hear the whisper of the actors.
After a trip to the past, you can go to see something different from what you’ve seen so far, the Corinth Canal. As the name suggests this is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. This canal stretches 6,4km in length and 21,4m in width. Since it cannot cater to modern boats, because of how narrow it is, it is primarily used for tourist transport. Try to see a small boat pass through it, navigating through its narrow walls.
Day Five – A walk through nature
On your final day in Athens, you can set out to visit two more places, the first being the National Gardens. What is interesting about this place is the fact that it is located in the midst of the busiest streets of Athens. Therefore, if you need a place to relax and recharge we would definitely recommend this. It is a garden filled with greenery, wooden benches, a playground as well as a small zoo with peacocks, chickens and other animals. Therefore, it is not only a place where you can take your children but also a perfect spot for reading a few pages of your favorite book.
As you exit the gardens, you come across a massive building known as the Zappeion. This building pays homage to a great man called Evangelos Zappas, a person who laid the basis of the modern Olympic Games. Just like any other building in Athens, this one is just as spectacular with its massive structure and astonishing architecture. The park in front of this building is just as beautiful.
The final destination of your trip can be the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Although only fifteen out of one hundred and four columns remain of this masterpiece, its beauty is unmistakable even today. Its architecture is so unique that it makes us wonder how they managed to build such a massive piece of art, with the limited means of those days. Stand there for a couple of minutes, admiring the beauty of this wonder, before leaving this fairytale.
Article and photos by Andriana Moskovska. All rights reserved.