'the cradle of modern day society has it home in athens'
after all these years of travelling, thirteen to be precise. i had never been to greece for some reason it felt like a package holiday destination. but this winter i had the opportunity to visit the capital, athens for a few days before flying home for xmas. the first thing you will notice coming from north america or northern europe in december is the temperature is a lovely 20 degrees. as soon as i arrived i pulled out the shorts & t-shirt to the dismay of the locals whom where dressed in heavy winter jackets. but as i had not been in the sunshine for a few months i decided the funny looks meant nothing as long as i had some winter sun on my skin.
if your interested in history then athens is truly the city for you. the sheer amount of museums, galleries and ruins it would take you months to visit them all. i decided to come in the winter for a few reasons, the weather; summertime is extremely hot here. tourist levels in winter are much lower than in the summer therefore you get no queues to the attractions around the city, a friend of mine said you can wait a few hours to get into the parthenon. and lastly the price in winter, all tickets are half price compared to the summer. if your lucky to have a european student card then you get free access to most attractions in the city.
where to stay
while in the city i decided to try both a hotel and hostel as i wanted to have a few days of luxury in a hotel before flying home.
city circus hostel; my first accommodation option was a super cool boutique hostel in one of the young hipster districts close to the acropolis. now when you arrived at the hostel you will be forgiven for thinking that you have arrived at a 5* boutique hotel. the hostel is full of flora & fauna, vintage furniture and high quality finishing. the hostel offers both dorms and private rooms. the communal space is a great way to meet people with a full professional kitchen just to the side. rooms all have on-suites and the beds i truly believe are the best beds that i have ever slept in they are super comfortable. now one of the great things about this hostel is the on site restaurant thats located next to the hostel but with direct access from the common area. zampano is a greek bistro and wine bar that has a hipster industrial vibe. i spent most of my time here durning breakfast as it was included in the hostel price but also in the evening when the hostel offered a free glass of wine most days durning my stay. the quality of the food is excellent and the drinks list is vast.
now on to my last few days in luxury at the..... new hotel. this luxury hotel in athens located near syntagma square is perfectly located for you time to explore all the glorious attractions of this ancient city.
the hotel is in effect an art galley as it was designed by renowned duo. campana brothers. the interior is a living art installation from the walls in the lobby to the furniture in the rooms the attention to detail is astonishing each room is well thought out with super high quality finishings. my room was overlooking the national gardens with the mountains in the background. in the morning i had the most unbelievable views of the sunrise over the mountains in the distance while having my cappuccino on the balcony. my time in the evenings where spent in the 7th floor bar with amazing vistas of the city and surrounding areas i had some of the best cocktails in my life there. since im also trying to keep fit the basement gym made my life much easier than running on the streets on the old centre. well less traffic for sure. i can truly recommend this hotel as its one of the best hotels that i have ever stayed in from the helpfulness of the staff to the general feeling of the hotel this is a hotel for that can put a smile on anybody's face.
where to eat
like italy, greece is known for its superb food and while its lesser know than its ancient partner italy, the food here is definitely on par. its surely some of the best in the world. so for me to explore the culinary food scene in-depth i decided to take a food tour with athens alternative this company had one of the best scores on trip advisor for there food tour so i decided to go for it.
we started the tour at 10am and not having breakfast that day i was starving. we met with our guide andreas and set of for the first location, a traditional coffee house. we where served traditional greek black coffee that is extremely strong and has more in common with its origins in turkey rather than italian espresso. for the next few hours we visited local street food stalls, tasted oil, balsamic and greek wine all very high quality from different regions in the country. we stayed on the tour for over 4 hours traversed many neighbourhoods and even visited the central food market. i really liked the way the tour was organised afterwards i was stuffed. this is a must do while in athens.
kebab's... this city is full of places to eat some of the best kebabs of your life. you will find places on every street corner just make sure to order the local speciality and not the tourist variety.
vegetarian... although greece and athens are not famous for there veggie food the variety of vegetables, olives and fruit that is produced in this country is amazing. my favourite veggie restaurant avocado is super cozy with beautifully presented plates of local food.
athens truly has enough attraction to keep you occupied for weeks. but for me some of my picks are.. parthenon, acropolis museum, panathenaic stadium, mount lycabettus (best views), national gardens. for something a little different the athens central meat & fish market. the best advice that i can give you when visiting any of the major attractions is to get there as early as possible, the queues materialise very quickly after 10am.
the city can be a little hectic thoughout the day with all the people & cars buzzing around so finding a place of zen was important for me to catch my breath. mount lycabettus provided me with the peace and tranquillity that i was looking for. you can't beat the views either simply one of the best sunset views in the world.
just over an hour away on the south coast you'll find the temple of poseidon. its a 5th century ruin with massive columns and sweeping views of the sea. a great day trip to get you out of the city for the day.
my recommended places to visit
- mount lycabettus
- central meat & fish market
places to eat
- athens alternative food tour
- kebab stores
- morning sesame bread
how to get around
- bus & train
- uber (super cheap here) (use code; carlm5078ue for a free ride)
where i stayed
- new hotel
- city circus hostel
length of stay
- to really experience the city i would say you need at least a week to do everything in the centre and visit the surrounding areas.
- euros. the city is very inexpensive compared with northern europe.
- if your a european citizen and you travel often see my blog post on the curve card its the best travel card around i have saved hundreds of euro's using it. download the app and enter my promo code to get a free card & €/£5. click here to see the post
country travel tips
atm: any is fine they all charge a small fee.
taxi: can be expensive here. take an uber.
sim card: vodafone has the best coverage in the area.
uber: use code; carlm5078ue
booking.com: get $20 / £20 off your booking click here
airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here: www.airbnb.com/c/cmuies