I’d argue that three days in one city could never be enough. But sometimes it’s all we’ve got so let’s make them count people!! For us it was actually more like one full day and two half days. SO this is what we made of it:
TRANSPORTATION FROM THE AIRPORT
We arrived in Athens exhausted after a LONG travel day. After navigating our way to the train stop in the airport, we spent several minutes contemplating the best way to get to the city. The airport is the end of the metro line and turns out, there’s a flat “airport rate” that makes it quite a bit more expensive to ride from the airport all the way into the city compared to what it would normally cost per stop–go figure. We paid for the extra fare and found our way onto the train. It was crowded but well maintained and relatively comfortable. We made it to our stop and got lost in search of our hotel. I’m one of those people that thoroughly enjoys being lost in foreign cities (at least during the daylight hours)–it’s so fun to stumble upon cute corners and hole-in-the-wall restaurants!
Speaking of hole-in-the-wall restaurants! One of the most memorable experiences we had in Athens was a little place called Ambrosia – located at Drakou 3, Athina 117 42 (view on Google maps). It’s the tiniest little place right on the side of the street, but the food was phenomenal. I recommend the souvlaki and gyros and the house wine! We had two full meals, appetizers, and two pitchers of wine for only about €22!! We were so happy with the quality and value that we became return customers 🙂
The casual juxtaposition of ancient ruins and modern city life was surprising to me! Tourists walk around blindly in awe of the dilapidated temples while locals zoom around on motor bikes as if they see 2500-year-old structures everyday (oh duh, they do). I got ambitious with the sites and purchased the multi-site ticket (€30 each) — oops. We fit in the Parthenon, Odeon of Herodes Atticus (all contained within Acropolis), the Temple of Zeus, and the Arch of Hadrian. We could have done all of that for about €20 if we had bought individual tickets. I also highly recommend the Acropolis museum – €5 per person for entry. If you are a serious history buff, you could definitely squeeze more sites into a 2-3 day period. But fair warning: the popular temples are CROWDED. We were there in May – the beginning of the busy season – and the city was just mobbed with people. Walking up the hill to the Parthenon was like a zombie shuffle… everyone puts one foot in front of the other as you follow the body ahead of you. The crowds proved exhausting and definitely slowed us down a bit overall. We continued to use the metro and foot travel throughout our stay in Athens – you definitely don’t need to rent a car or even use cabs if you stay within the city! The metro was safe, efficient, and inexpensive.
This trip was several months before we began our backpacking adventure, back when we both had jobs, apartments, and normal income streams. We stayed at the Athenian Callirhoe hotel. It’s a nice mid-range option but if we were in full backpacker mode, we probably would have stayed in a hostel. Let me know if you have any good hostel recommendations for when I inevitably return to Greece! Opa 😉