Exploring the Ancient and Modern Charms of Athens: A Week in the Greek Capital
Arts & Culture
Athens holds a special place in my heart as a travel experience due to its captivating blend of ancient history, vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes. Exploring iconic sites such as the Acropolis and its ancient ruins allowed me to connect with the rich heritage of Western civilization and witness the marvels of human ingenuity. The bustling streets of Athens, filled with diverse neighborhoods, charming cafes and vibrant markets, provide a glimpse into modern Greek life. Additionally, the warm hospitality, delectable cuisine and immersive experiences like the walking food tour and day trips to Corinth and Nafplio make Athens an unforgettable destination that truly captured the essence of Greece.
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Where to stay
Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
Luxe property along the Aegean Sea with refined rooms, private beaches and seasonal bungalows.
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Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens
A historic hotel known for its spectacular views of the Acropolis, as well as its best-in-class service and elegant suites.
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Ivis 4 Boutique Hotel & Restaurant
A stylish and intimate destination offering luxury accommodations and exquisite dining experiences.
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Day 1: Monastiraki
Upon setting foot in Athens, I embarked on a remarkable journey that combined ancient wonders, culinary delights and breathtaking landscapes. Over the course of seven unforgettable days, I was able to delve into the heart of this vibrant city and venture beyond its borders to uncover the hidden treasures of Greece.
Day 1 began with a warm welcome at the IVIS4 Boutique hotel, where I settled into the comforts of my charming accommodations. Eager to immerse myself in the local culture, I headed to the Monastiraki neighborhood, where narrow streets brimming with life and vendors offer an array of traditional goods. Later, as the sun dipped below the horizon, I savored a delectable dinner at the hotel, indulging in flavors that hinted at the culinary delights to come.
Day 2: Acropolis
On Day 2, with sunscreen, water and hat in tow, I conquered the Acropolis. Despite the scorching heat that blanketed the city, the sight of the ancient ruins against the backdrop of the modern cityscape left me in awe. The grandeur of the Parthenon and the sweeping views of Athens from the hilltop were truly mesmerizing. Delving into the history and significance of the Acropolis, I explored the modern Acropolis Museum, which brought the past to life with its stunning exhibits and intricate artifacts.
I wasn’t done with reaching new heights and adding a lot more steps to the count. I then took the Metro to Evangelismos to visit Mount Lycabettus. Ascending heights on the funicular is an exhilarating journey that transports you from the bustling streets of Athens to a serene mountaintop oasis. As the funicular climbs the steep incline, you're treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the city below, offering a captivating blend of urban landscapes, historical landmarks and the vast expanse of the Aegean Sea.
Day 3: Walking Tour
Day 3 brought one of the most extraordinary experiences — a 5.5-hour walking food tour through culinary backstreets. From delectable souvlaki to creamy feta cheese and mouthwatering loukoumades, each stop revealed a new layer of the city's culinary tapestry. Rejuvenated by the aromas and flavors, I then visited the 1896 Olympic stadium. The experience of standing where athletes once competed and relishing the rich history of the Olympics was truly inspiring. I wandered through the Athens National Garden, finding solace in its tranquil oasis amid the urban buzz, with a final stop at Syntagma Square. The changing of the guard at Syntagma Square is a captivating display of precision and tradition, as the Evzones soldiers, adorned in their iconic uniforms, execute intricate choreography with their distinctive marching style.
Day 4-6: Discover hidden gems
For Days 4 to 6, I embraced the freedom of a rental car, embarking on invigorating day trips to uncover the region's hidden gems. On Day 4, I headed North, and my first stop was the Athens Olympic Park and Museum, a testament to the city's proud sporting heritage. This beautiful museum should be on your list if you are a fan of the Olympic movement. My journey continued eastward to Porto Rafti, where I delighted in a traditional Greek lunch overlooking the picturesque harbor. The captivating Temple of Poseidon in Sounion was next on the list, offering a mesmerizing sunset backdrop. Then it was back to Athens for an exquisite dining experience and a mesmerizing view of the Parthenon from NYX Japanese Rooftop Gastrobar.
Day 5 led me west to Corinth, where I marveled at the engineering feat of the Corinth Canal. Further south, the ancient ruins of Epidaurus evoked a sense of wonder as I explored the awe-inspiring theater. The charming streets of Nafplio beckoned, inviting me to meander through its picturesque alleys and indulge in a leisurely lunch at a local eatery. Before returning to Athens, I veered off the beaten path to Larissa Castle in Argos, where I wandered through its ruins, accompanied only by a handful of fellow adventurers.
Day 6 saw me venture north to Chalkida, where a delightful brunch overlooking the tranquil waters set the tone for the day. As I drove west towards Delphi, the captivating village of Arachova revealed itself, offering stunning views of the majestic mountains. Though rain deterred my visit to Delphi, I embraced the unexpected, returning to Athens to savor the evening's ambiance.
Day 7: Piraeus
On Day 7, I bid farewell to Athens, but not to Greece's treasures. After a delightful breakfast at the hotel, I embarked on a train journey to Piraeus, where the Celestyal Crystal cruise ship awaited, promising a continuation of my Greek exploration. The allure of Thessaloniki, Ephesus and the captivating Greek islands of Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Milos beckoned, with promises of new adventures and unforgettable moments.
In conclusion, my week in Athens was an extraordinary blend of ancient marvels, tantalizing flavors and breathtaking scenery. From the towering Acropolis to the hidden corners of the city and beyond, Athens captivated my senses and left an indelible mark on my heart. Greece's rich history, vibrant culture and warm hospitality ensured that my journey was filled with unforgettable experiences, setting the stage for the enchanting chapters that lay ahead on the Celestyal Crystal cruise.
Need to Know
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Athens.