As you know, I’m living month-to-month in different countries while building my businesses abroad. After a month and 10 days in Athens, I started feeling like a local. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly. I experienced 105 Fahrenheit weather in a flat with zero air conditioning and climbed an extreme amount of steps each day, something I was NOT used to as a couch potato back in America. Athens challenged me in many different ways but taught me a lot as well.
I’d like to explore the wonderful parts of Athens – basically what I enjoyed during my time in the city. Here is my list of 15 things to do in Athens:
It’s a given…when you’re in Athens, you MUST check out the Acropolis. If you only have 1 day in Athens, I’d still recommend going because it’s one of those touristy attractions that’s awe-inducing. The Acropolis consists of the Propylaia, Parthenon, Temple of Athena, and Erechtheion. Cost: 20 Euros per person, or 10 Euros if you’re a student.
Aside from the Thissio area, there are also some small streets that surround the Acropolis that are nice to explore.
2. Syntagma Square / Old Royal Palace
Syntagma Square (the central square of Athens) is right across from the Old Royal Palace which houses the Parliament, so you can knock out two touristy attractions with one stone.
3. Open Air Cinemas
I visited Cine Paris and Thision Open Air Cinema multiple times while in Athens. It’s a unique experience because you’re able to view the Acropolis at night while you’re watching your movie. To top it off, popcorn is only 2 Euros and water is only 0.50 Euros.
Cost: As of July 2016, these cinemas are only 6 Euros on the following days: Tuesday – Wednesday for Cine Paris, and Monday – Wednesday for Thision Open Air Cinema
Thision Open Air Cinema
Left-side view from Cine Paris
4. Monastiraki District
Monastiraki is arguably the best shopping area in Athens. And clothes there are quite affordable!
5. Rooftop Bars/Restaurants
I loved visiting rooftop bars and restaurants, because the atmosphere is, again, amazing when you have the view of the Acropolis at night. It’s also insane how affordable meals can be even with such surroundings. You can pay around $10 for a nice meal while something like this in San Francisco can run up to $30-40.
6. Board Games & Drinks at Kaissa
This was a new concept to me. I’ve been to cyber cafes in which people play computer games in a room, but I’ve never been to a place purely for board games. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to play because I didn’t speak Greek. Fortunately, the employees will bring you certain games and actually teach you how they work (and there are plenty of games understandable for English speakers)!
The cafe I frequented was around Ambelokipoi station, but I hear there are multiple ones around Athens. It’s crazy, you can play unlimited board games for only 1 Euro!
Kallisto was one of my favorite games at the cafe
I ended up coming here multiple times, sometimes to have a drink while working, other times to play board games with my parents when they visited or with the workers. I loved this place!
7. “The Rock” next to the Acropolis
When I first arrived in Athens, my floormates took me to “the rock”, a place that locals frequent at night with drinks (yes public drinking is allowed)! It is a wonderful area overlooking the city and the Acropolis. You can get there by visiting Monastiraki Station and walking up towards the Acropolis until you see the spot on your right.
Amazing views! I’d recommend for your first look of the city.
8. Temple of Poseidon – Beach Hopping
One of the most enjoyable parts of my trip was driving along the coast and seeing all the amazing beaches Greece has to offer. The waters are actually quite blue and clear. We drove all the way past Glyfada (where many stop for the beaches) down to the Temple of Poseidon around Sounio. After visiting the Temple of Poseidon, we chilled at the beach next to it.
There were much nicer beaches before this one at the southern tip, but after visiting the temple it was too hot for us to backtrack and look for a different one.
9. Greek Nightclubs like Akanthus Summer Club and Banana Athens
On a random night, my AirBnB floormate and I hung out with a digital nomad I had met through the Slack channel on NomadList. We ended up getting a table at Akanthus Club, which was an interesting experience. They mainly played live Greek songs. I must say I’m not that into this type of music, but it is still an interesting experience if you’d like to check it out!
10. Eat a $2 Gyros
When I arrived I was in shock that you could buy the following for just $2:
It is quite delicious. But when you realize Greek food mainly consists of meat and carbs, you might get sick of it all and start to feel unhealthy.
11. Farmer’s Market Near Ambelokipoi Station
This particular farmer’s market in Athens is pretty amazing. I’d say the entire market spanned about a mile, and as you can see, the fruits and vegetables were amazing!
After I moved to Bucharest, I started missing this market as the produce was much better in quality in Athens.
Gazi is chill in the afternoon. We frequented the “Gasoline Bar” in Gazi:
But at night, the atmosphere completely changes. The streets become overrun by people and loud nightclub music booms from the speakers of each venue. It is quite a fun experience if you’re into clubs!
13. Shisha for $5
I was so amazed by the price of shisha in Athens. Normally shisha in the United States would cost around $20, and we’d still think this was quite affordable considering it would be $5 when split amongst 4 people.
You can’t beat $5 shishas. The price is the same in Romania as well!
Plaka is near Syntagma Square and Monastiraki. It has a bunch of little streets with souvenir shops and restaurants:
Plaka is definitely worth a visit if you love narrow streets.
15. Piraeus, and then the Greek Islands
Piraeus is the port region of Athens. It doesn’t really have beaches (there’s a crappy one I trekked to, but you’re better off not looking for it). But there are shops and restaurants. I took a day trip to Piraeus and ended up working at a cafe that overlooked the waters. It was not a bad view:
It’s actually been 1.5 – 2 months since I’ve been in Athens so I apologize for this late post. But I hope this gives you a better grasp of Athens! Let us know in the comments if you have other additions.