Tourism is the biggest economical factor in Greece. Athens, the Greek capital, contributes pretty much to the tourism industry of the entire Greek country suggesting a list of some very old archaeological sites, archaic monuments and some of the best museums on the whole world. Here are some tips for first-time visitors to Athens city.
When is the best time to travel to Athens?
The best period to travel to Athens is during spring and autumn time because of the pleasing weather and the small number of visitors, which makes sites and museums less crowded and rooms cheaper and easier to book.
Winter is quite an interesting time to visit Athens because it is when you can discover a different city. Read this article about the weather in Athens.
Summertime, especially from July until August, is the worst period to enjoy Athens because of the big numbers of Athens tourism (tourists’ hordes) and the insupportable heat, that’s why most Athenians leave the city during August. If you want to read more about when is the best time to visit Athens, please read this detailed article.
Tradition and Culture
Greece is a country full of traditional culture, still resisting the changes coming with its entry in Europe and its membership in the European Union.
For example, “Name Day” is a big celebration for Greeks.
Refreshments are offered to visitors coming to give their wishes and gifts.
If you are lucky to assist to a wedding or a baptism, you’re going to live a fascinating experience because all those ceremonies have great significance for Greeks, much more than other countries because of the importance they give in the religion and the faith of God and traditions.
Hospitality in Athens
Greek hospitality is not a myth, even in the big city of Athens, as you will see if you get to know some local people.
Enjoy the Greek way of life by going into “kafenion” (Greek cafes) and “tavernas” (restaurants) and understand why the Greek people have a really festive reputation. See our selection with the best local taverns in Metaxourgeio
Places to go when in Athens
You can admire a lot of things and you can visit a lot of places in the amazing city of Athens.
Please your senses with colors and odors at the Athens Central Market in Athina Avenue, faced by the fruit and vegetable market, and in little shops selling nuts, herbs, honey, and dried fruits. Read our detailed article about the Dimotiki Agora, the Athens central market, and get the best travel info about how to get there, opening hours of the Athens market, and many more.
You can also take a walk in the district of Psiri where you can find, during the day, a lot of artisanal shops, a few modern shops with home furniture or, during the night, a lot of restaurants, tavernas, trendy bars, and wine places.
Of course, you have to visit the Lycabettus hill and enjoy the wonderful view from there.
Lycabettus Hill is a vantage point that gives a great view of the city of Athens below. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mount Parnes in the north, Piraeus in the west, and the Saronic Gulf. Kolonaki, which is the chicest area in Athens, lies at the base of Lycabettus Hill.
Lycabettus hill which means “Hill of Wolves” is the place to be on “Clean Monday” which is the first day of Lenten according to the Greek Orthodox Church. On this day Athenians gather here to fly kites and the sky is full of colors.
Cabs go half the distance and then you have to walk to the top. Another option is to take the funicular and you’ll cover the distance in two minutes. The cable cars are available every half hour from 9 am till midnight.
An open-air theater, τhe Agios Georgios Church and a café atop the hill are an ideal setting to spend the day in a pleasant manner and take in a show.
The theater is used to stage plays in the summer months between June and September.
The trail to the top of the Lycabettus hill is a thickly wooded one and the climb can be fun if you’re with a group of like-minded hardy trekkers.
The view from Lycabettus hill is worth the effort in getting up there.
Syntagma square is a place that you’re going to see a lot because it is the place where most of the buses leave from.
Look at the imposing neoclassical building of the Parliament (the old king’s palace) and at the Evzones (Greek guards wearing the traditional foustanella-skirt, hat and shoes) who guard it.
For a bit of freshness and nature, go for a walk in the National Gardens or in the smaller Gardens of Zappeion. Buses, metro, trolleys, and taxis will take you everywhere you want for a really interesting fare. Read a detailed article about how to get around Athens.
What you should not miss when you visit Athens
You shouldn’t miss the lovely walk around the Acropolis (built for the Olympic games and finished in 2002), starting from the site of the Arch of Hadrien and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, passing by the amazing theatre of Herodes Atticus, and descending to Thisio, where you can enjoy a drink or a coffee in one of the nice cafés with view on the Acropolis.
Reserve an entire morning to visit the majestic Acropolis, some of the best museums in Athens, and the lovely little theatre of Dionysos, south-east of the Acropolis.
Don’t forget to enter into a few of the many magnificent churches embellishing the city.
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