Thursday, 18 March 2021

48 Hours in Athens - Part One


48 Hours in Athens

Athens... the land of gyros. The kingdom of Ouzo. The birthplace of Plato. The ancient city where democracy was born. The home of the Acropolis. The place where Athena - the goddess of wisdom - emerged from her father Zeus's forehead. The city of sun, temples, love and ruins. 

Athens is one of my favourite cities I've been to. It has the right amount of absolutely everything: fantastic architecture, delicious food, a rich history, stunning views, fun nightlife, beautiful weather, friendly locals... you can even hit up the coast just a short drive from the centre. Athens is the perfect place for a weekend city getaway and has everything you need for the best weekend break. 

If you're thinking of heading there for a weekend and you're not sure what to prioritise or squeeze in, find out what I did with my first 24 hours below! 

48 Hours in Athens

We stayed in an apartment right in the centre, just a couple of minutes walk from the National Garden. The apartment was gorgeous - a big, open-planned space with two balconies, a roof terrace with an Acropolis view and - perhaps most importantly - a really good air con system, which was an absolute life saver because we visited at the end of July and it was pushing 40°C. I can't be totally sure whether prices were low because of the lack of tourists in the area due to the pandemic or whether prices are generally pretty good, but we were really impressed with the price of our accommodation. It was roughly 20€ per person per night (there were two of us) for a HUGE apartment in the city. 

If you fly directly into Athens and are heading there for a short city break, I'd say you don't need a car. Public transport is regular, easy and accessible; you can easily get anywhere by foot or bus. 

Saturday 

11am - We started the day with brunch on the roof terrace. Luckily, we had leftovers ready; we arrived late the night before when most food places were shut, so ordered gyros (and enough for brunch the next morning) to our apartment for a late night dinner. Gyros were around 2€ each which is insane considering how good they are and how much restaurants charge for them at home. 

12pm - We wandered into the centre to explore and look around. I genuinely could have spent all day walking through the quaint streets of Athens; it was everything you expect from an ancient Greek city and more: narrow, winding streets lined with shops and trees, cafes, restaurants and bars spilling out onto the streets, music, markets and stunning architecture. So I'd definitely recommend setting some time aside to get lost in the streets and admire the Greek architecture and general buzz of the city. We spent a few hours exploring the streets and squares of Athens and then stopped for a beer at an outdoor restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis. 

48 Hours in Athens

3.30pm - Time to visit the Acropolis Museum and learn all about Greek mythology, the ancient ruins and how Athens came to be the city it is today. I'd highly recommend visiting the Acropolis Museum if you want to find out as much about Ancient Greece as possible and set off on an impressive journey through space and time. The museum overlooks the Acropolis hill and is designed to rely on natural light, reflecting the Acropolis in its huge glass panels. Spread over four different levels, there's loads to do, see and learn so it's definitely worth a visit. 

5pm - Naturally, it was time to quench our thirst with a cocktail - and trust me, we weren't just going to settle for any old cocktail bar. A quick Google pointed us in the right direction of a nearby rooftop bar, Ciel Athens. We headed to the top of the building and, cocktail in hand, marvelled at the beautiful city. I feel like Athens is one of those places where you could spend a long time - as I looked down, each bustling street and square seemed to tell a different story. As the sun grew heavy and started to drop, the city only seemed to become more alive. 

Athens sunset

7pm -
Dinner time! And once again, we weren't settling. In fact, when it came to dinner, we were incredibly lucky - we pretty much stumbled across the most amazing restaurant. I wanted to see the Plaka Stairs (another iconic little corner of Athens - beautiful vibrant stairs that restaurants and bars spilled out onto, creating a literal movie scene) and just by chance, right at the bottom, was a doorway leading up to a rooftop restaurant with a table free just for us. 

Mostrou Restaurant & Roof Garden, nestled right at the foot of the Plaka Stairs, was incredible and I highly recommend paying a visit. The views were incredible; our backdrop consisted of the Acropolis (which gradually lit up as the sun dropped - pretty spectacular), the buzzing city and the most beautiful sunset. The food was delicious, the prices were affordable and the staff were so friendly I honestly felt like hugging them on the way out (but that might have been the wine). 

9pm - We finished our night on the Plaka Stairs. Sat on a small table about halfway up the steps, we drank Ouzo from the bottle, played cards and laughed at how absolutely perfect the scene was. From the vibrant live music to the delicious smells of fresh Greek food swirling through the steps, it felt like everything was heightened. The air was thick and warm, everyone was laughing and dancing, and I think it might just have been one of my favourite nights. 

Part Two (how we spent our Sunday) coming soon. 
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