Athens, Greece is not your typical European city, and it often falls behind other study-abroad destinations such as England and Italy, but that doesn’t mean it’s one to be missed. So if you ask if Athens is a good place to study abroad, here is a quick answer: Athens is a city with a visible history, fun and beautiful surrounding islands, and a vibrant population. With its exciting nightlife and friendly people, it’s a great choice for study abroad and here you can read five tips for anyone choosing to study there.
Learn a Few Greek Words
While Greek can be daunting to someone not familiar with the language or the Greek alphabet, it well works the effort to learn a few words.
Greeks are generally friendly and willing to speak in English if they know it, but the effort to begin a conversation in Greek is always appreciated.
If you have the time, try to learn the alphabet before you go. The language becomes much easier to pronounce when you can sound out the words from their Greek spelling and there are quite a few words that become recognizable when said aloud.
Here are a few words to start off with:
• Hello – Γεια σου (Ya Soo)
• Thank you – Ευχαριστω (Ef-har-e-sto)
• Please – Παρακαλω (Para-ka-loh)
• Sorry – Συγνωμη (Sig-no-mi)
• Yes – Ναι (Nay)
• No – Οχι (O-he)
Find Places to Eat out of the Tourist Areas
Athens is the place to go for gyros, spinach pie, and tzatziki. Word of warning, gyros in Greece is not the processed meat Americans have come to expect, rather it is large cuts of chicken or pork roasted on a vertical spit.
Gyros serve as a delicious and inexpensive meal in the Greek capital, and they are served with fries in the pita! For a less fatty option, go for the souvlaki in a pita. Souvlaki is seasoned chunks of meat, usually chicken or pork, grilled on a stick.
For a more traditional meal in Athens, hit up a taverna.
Typically, food is ordered for the whole table and shared, so everyone can try everything, although it is still easy to order individual meals.
Eat like an Athenian and go out for dinner around 10 p.m. when the locals begin to fill non-tourist tavernas.
A good area to check out for tavernas is Metaxourgeio and another one is Pagrati, a residential neighborhood by the Kallimarmaro Stadium, just east of the National Gardens.
The tavernas in this area are a tasty and cheap alternative to restaurants in the tourist areas around Monastiraki and Plaka.
For a quick snack, check out crepe shops and Everest, an inexpensive sandwich, snack, and coffee chain in Greece.
While crepes may not seem like typical Athenian fare, there are small shops around the city and they are a good choice for a snack when one’s had their gyros-fill.
One delicious and centrally located crepe and waffle shop is Zuccherino, in the Monastiraki area, and they offer an English menu.
Hang Out in a Cafe and Drink a Frappe
The Athenians of Ancient Greece were known for their debate skills and even now a favorite past-time is sitting in cafes and drinking coffee.
While drip coffee, Greek coffee, espresso, and blended drinks are offered in most places, don’t leave Athens without trying a frappe.
A frappe is a drink made from Nescafe Instant Coffee and water over ice. It can be ordered with or without milk, and with a lot of sugar, a medium amount, or none at all.
As good as they taste, these drinks are not for the faint of heart!
Visit Greece’s Archaeological Sites
Athens is filled with history and sites are everywhere, from the ever-visible Acropolis to small enclosures on main streets where ancient artifacts have been excavated.
Make a day to visit the Acropolis, Roman Agora, and Greek Agora.
The Acropolis offers amazing views of the city and makes sure to explore the hill and winding streets surrounding the area for they offer views and sights not to be missed as well.
Poseidon’s Temple at Sounion is about a two-hour bus ride from Athens.
Read: Getting Around Athens
While there is not much more than a restaurant and gift shop near the temple, the two rocky cliffs overlooking the sea offers enough sights and exploration to make it worthwhile.
Try to time your visit to catch the sunset there before the last bus leaves.
Athens offers many things to do and places to explore.
On weekend mornings, Athens neighborhoods such as Kolonaki and Pagrati have farmer’s markets, and there is an outdoor market in Monastiraki, as well. Plaka and Kolonaki both have open-air cinemas in the summer months, showing movies from current titles to classics, offering a unique and fun experience.
Shop on Ermou street for clothing, shoes, and paintings, as you head toward Monastiraki and Plaka.
Wander around the graffiti-filled streets of Exarchia, commonly referred to as the Anarchist’s Neighborhood.
The most important thing to remember is to explore some of the best places in the Greek capital and get to know the city by wandering through it.