The last few years I’ve been in Greece quite a bit, but I have never been to Athens before! This year’s travel-route to our summer-season destination had to include Athens. We had 2 days to see most of the ancient city of Athens.
Thom and I decided to do the PADI advanced freediving course in Athens and to explore this majestic city built on top of ruins. It took us two days to explore the ancient city of Athens after doing our freediving course. Such an amazing place to be!
A little vlog…
Walking around in Athens is a joy to my eyes. There are things to see at every street corner. Whether it’s an ancient temple ruin, an artful piece of graffiti or a cozy little Greek taverna where the smell of fresh mezedes lures you inside – there’s something magical about Athens.
– – – Athens travel guide for 2 days – – –
Exploring the Ancient Acropolis and its museum.
Whether your staying in the center of Athens or in one of the suburbs, you can get anywhere with the local transport. We preferred the bus this time and took the local bus every day to get to the main square called Syntagma Square. There’s no better place to start the day in Athens as from Syntagma Square where you can choose which direction you want to go today.
The neighborhood of the gods
Close to Syntagma Square the popular and historical neighborhood of Plaka is located. It’s streets make the neighborhood one big labyrinth and you’re only chance of finding a reference point for direction is to look up and find the Acropolis. Many old temples and other archeological sites are located within Plaka and therefore Plaka is known as the neighborhood of the gods!
The hilltop temple monument of Acropolis
During your walk in Plaka you cannot miss the hilltop temple monument of Acropolis. It has a few entrances but one that’s easy to find is near the new Acropolis museum. Inside the museum you will find plenty of statues that they saved during the excavations or that were about to fall down over the last few years. You can also learn more about the gods and the meaning of the statues. The Acropolis museum also has a spectacular view from its terrace. We enjoyed drinking an Ouzo at the museums bar and from the terrace we couldn’t stop staring at the Acropolis itself. Wish to bring a visit to the new Acropolis museum yourself? Click here!
After having learned a bit about the history and especially admiring the statues it’s time to explore the actual Acropolis and stroll around to find those amazing ruins!
Theater of Dionysus
The first ruin we encounter is the Theater of Dionysus, one of the ruins at the foot of the Acropolis hill. It’s one of the major theaters in Athens and it’s dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine. A funny thing about this god is that perhaps you’ve heard about who Dionysus is but it’s more likely that you know his companion Silenus. A man of the forest with features from a horse who was always drunk. Rings any bells? This reminds me of Bacchus in Disney’s animated 1940’s Fantasia film. Bacchus is actually the Latin translation of Dionysus, so they actually used the wrong character to be the drunk god!
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
A few 100 meters away from the Theater of Dionysus there’s another theater, but this one is significantly bigger and more intact. It’s the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, build in memory of the constructor’s wife in 161 AD. It used to be a musical venue with 5000 seats, but it got left in ruins 267 AD. After all those years the Greeks managed to restore the theater in the late 50’s and now they still use it for festivals and concerts.
Parthenon and Ereichtheion
After a bit of a hike up to get on top of the hill we finally reach the famous picture moment of Acropolis where the sun hits the Parthenon. What an amazing view! You can walk around the well restored ruins of the Parthenon and Ereichtheion and see the whole city from up there in 360 degrees. The columns of the Parthenon are spectacular as they are enormous and bright white with sandy yellow colors. Even the entrance itself, just before the Parthenon is beautiful and has lots of big spectacular pillars.
Done with being on higher grounds and want to get closed to Syntagma square to maybe catch a bus to somewhere else? Don’t forget to go visit the National Garden! It is located about two blocks away from the Syntagma square and they are beautiful gardens to make the final stroll of the day before or after dinner.
Discovering the other ancient temples
On the second day you might get interested in seeing the other archeological sites. Places like the temple of Zeus are easy sites to miss if you’re not exploring more than just Plaka. They are indeed very much worth a visit though. Walk around a bit nearby the Acropolis and you’ll also find other ruins to visit such as the ancient Agora.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The giant columns of the temple of Zeus show that this used to be one massive structure. Walking around the fallen down columns and the still standing ones you can find some land turtles enjoying the grass growing around the ruins. It actually seems that the temple of Zeus is one of the places that it least visited and lets turtles enjoy the area because nobody will chase them away. How they got there remains a question,
On the foot of the hill where you find the Acropolis you can walk around to discover the Ancient Agora. Over there you will find the Temple of Hephaestus (the best preserved ancient temple in Greece), Stoa of Attalos – which is like a museum inside a well-preserved temple ruin and the Church of the Holy Apostles. Walking around at the Ancient Agora is like walking at a park. Beautiful vegetation everywhere and here and there you find some ruins. Also here the land turtles seem the have found a safe haven.
As I enjoy walking around with my camera the city of Athens has many different angles to photograph. Even though I didn’t take as many pictures as I would’ve wanted to and I haven’t seen everything yet, I still think that two days in Athens is a great cultural city trip destination. My recommendation if you haven’t been to Athens or haven’t seen it all yet is to add it to your bucket list 😉
Want to do the same?
Walk up to one of temple ruins entrances and buy a ticket or get the all-in ticket with access to all the main archaeological sites in Athens which costs €30 per person.
Greets from sunny Greece!