Best time to visit:
The best time to visit Athens would be either during spring (March – May) or autumn (October – November). During summer, it gets very hot and it would be ideal to avoid Athens during the summer months of June to September
Flight tickets from India:
A return ticket from Chennai to Athens in the month of October will cost you roughly around Rs. 35,000. Here is a screenshot of a flight booking page. I got a return ticket to Athens for just Rs. 39,000!
You could get very good places to stay from as low as Rs. 1500 per night if you book via Airbnb. Here is a sample offer I took a screen shot of!
Places to visit:
- Acropolis: An ancient citadel located on top of a hill that contains the remains of several buildings of great architectural importance. You will have a great view of the city of Athens from the top of Acropolis. The temple of Athena, the Parthenon, is located atop the Acropolis
- Syntagma square: The central square of Athens. The Greek parliament building is located here. If you’re there on a Sunday, you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony that happens at 11:00 AM every Sunday in front of the parliament building. The guards would be wearing a traditional Greek attire.
- Panathenaic stadium (The first Olympic stadium): It is the stadium that hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896. This stadium is built entirely of marble.
- Parthenon: A temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. It is located on the top of Acropolis.
- Hike the Lycabettus Mountain: A small hill located right in the middle of the city. It is roughly around 300 metres from sea level. It takes you around an hour to hike to the top of the hill from where you would get a wonderful view of the entire city of Athens including the Acropolis, the temple of Zeus, etc. The below picture is a view of the Lycabettus mountain from the top of Acropolis
- Ancient agora: The centre of the ancient city: A large open square where the citizens could assemble for various purposes. There are several notable monuments located within the Agora.
- Temple of Zeus: A temple dedicated to the Greek god Zeus. Located very close to the Acropolis
- Plaka: Old historical neighbourhood of Athens situated very close to the Acropolis.
- Theatre of Dionysus: Located near the foot of the Acropolis, a large theatre dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine. It is the first stone theatre to be built and could host around 17000 spectators
All of the above are located in walking distance from each other. That’s the reason it’s best to avoid travelling to Athens in summer because there would definitely be a lot of walking. Except for our airport transfers, we never used cabs. Always use trip advisor Athens/Google Maps to navigate your way. The best way to look around is to walk. You can also get a single pass that covers all the above tourist destinations so that you wouldn’t have to pay individually at every spot.
Day trips from Athens:
- Cape Sounion: Located around 70 kms from the city. It is the southernmost tip if Athens and you will have a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea from here and also a look at some of the distant Greek islands. The temple of Poseidon is located on the Cape. There are suburban buses (KTEL) that go regularly from the city to Cape Sounion and back. You can board the bus from the Egyptou square. You can pay after you get into the bus. Please avoid the tours/taxis. They are very expensive. You have two routes to go to cape sounion. You can either take the bus that goes via the inland route or the bus that goes along the Attica coast. It goes without saying that the latter is much more picturesque and beautiful. You can go to the cape via the inland route and return via the coastal route to enjoy both the city and the coast! It will take you an hour and a half to two hours to get there.
- Delphi: It is an UNESCO world heritage archaeological site. It used to be the place where oracles used to interpret the messages from gods and guide those who approach the oracle to seek wisdom. It takes around 3 hours to get there by bus. You need not book the private tours. They are again, very expensive. There are buses that go regularly from Bus terminal B located at Liossion street. Please note that the buses coming from the city centre do not stop at the bus stop. You need to walk a little further to reach the bus stop. You can just ask a few people around and they will guide you (we did that!). It is advisable to book the return tickets in advance. You can visit the temple of Apollo and Temple of Athena here and also have a look at their museum.
- Meteora: It is an ancient Greek orthodox monastery located in the Greek town of Kalampaka. It takes around 4 to 5 hours to reach this place from Athens. There are buses that go regularly from Bus terminal B located at Liossion street. It is advisable to book the return tickets in advance. You can hike to the top of Meteora and also do rock climbing. You can visit the monastery atop the Meteora. Mushrooms are quite famous here! You can buy yourself some amazing mushroom products.
Delphi and Meteora are quite far from the city and may take your entire day. Some of the other places to explore in your day trips – Mycenae, Ancient Corinth, Nafplio and Epidaurus. These places are much closer than Delphi and Meteora. You could also visit one of the nearby islands as a day trip from Athens. But I didn’t find that too appealing. I wanted to immerse more into the history of the city!
Vegetarian Restaurants to eat:
- Avocado: A vegetarian restaurant specializing in international cuisine (A little on the expensive side but offers amazing vegan and authentic Greek cuisine.)
- Rosebud: A vegetarian restaurant specializing in Greek cuisine
- Indian chef: A restaurant specializing in Indian cuisine – you get both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes here
- Mama Tierra: A vegetarian restaurant specializing in Greek cuisine
Food to try:
- Spakakopita (Greek spinach pie)
- Greek salad
- Feta cheese
- Greek yoghurt
- You could also buy olives and olive oil
Budget for one for a stay of 6 days & 5 nights:
Air ticket: Rs. 39,000
Accommodation: Rs. 1500*5
Food & Beverages: Rs. 10000
Miscellaneous: Rs. 4,000
Total: ~Rs. 60,000 for one person for an amazing holiday in Athens, Greece!