Athens, the city of ancient and modern ruins.
Things I did and loved in Athens
- If you plan on hitting the major tourist places, buy a citypass (okay I forget the actual name of the pass but you’ll see it when you’re buying your tickets at the entrance). It gets you into every major historical site, and is actually worth the money in this case.
- The acropolis, like obviously. But be warned, it’s a bit of a hike up! And it’s quite windy up there so don’t wear a dress! But once you’re at the top you’ll have a view over all of Athens.
- We stayed in a great little airbnb apartment here. And by great I mean it was ridiculously cheap (3 euro/night each) with all the accommodations we could need. It looks like they’ve extended the minimum stay since we visited, however. So good for a lengthy stay in Athens!
Things to skip
- The guarding of the tomb of the unknown soldier was very crowded and a bit anti-climactic (though I suppose the point isn’t to be entertaining).
Things to eat
- Eat on the cheap! The food in Athens is pretty cheap, so use this as your time to experiment with the Greek food to find what you like.
- Smile Cafe Restaurant has the best orange juice of your life. We still talk about that orange juice.
- You also have to get a gyro here!
Get in, around, and out
- The map below shows the route we took through Greece. Flying into Thessaloniki via RyanAir was cheapest (coming from Germany). From Thessaloniki, catch the #78 bus to the main train station, then take the couple hour train ride down to Athens.
- Athens itself is walkable if you’re down to walk a lot. Otherwise, do a little research into the city bus system. Easy once you get the hang of it!
- To get out towards the islands, you’ll need to bus it to Syntagma Square, then take a train to Monastiraki, then another train to Piraeus Port.
- If your next stop is Italy, take a train out to Patras, where you can catch a ferry with Superfast Ferries to Bari, Italy (but get there early, they board earlier than you’d expect!). This is an overnight ferry (15 hours), so get on as FAST as possible to secure the best spot to sleep (options: couches, chairs, or floor, unless you pay for a bed). This ferry is also included in a Multi-Country Eurail Pass.
- I would highly recommend getting a Eurail Pass for your trip. You get unlimited train travel, and a lot of the ferries are included or discounted as well. You can choose the number of countries and days that your pass will cover, and in the end you save so much money. With the Eurail you’ll need to reserve your ferries ahead of time, but train reservations aren’t as necessary.
Things to note
- Toilet paper does not go in the toilet here! Don’t be that foreigner who clogs all the plumbing.
- Dog lovers be warned, there are stray dogs everywhere. (The collars signify that they have been spayed/neutered, I believe, an ongoing project to end the high stray dog population).
- Athens really isn’t a beautiful city. It has some great sights, but anything that is not a tourist area is rundown. You won’t need to spend many days here (1 or 2 is good).