Athens was a bit of a surprise to me — I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, which is the best kind of trip!
We had about 48 hours in Athens and had a pretty good mix of sightseeing without feeling too overscheduled, and I think if you’re looking for a chilled few days filled with amazing food, I’ve got the itinerary for you.
Where to Stay
We stayed in Plaka, which I’d recommend. The area was adorable, very walkable, and central to everything. We stayed at Antisthenes Apartments which was cheap, clean, and great air conditioning, so all in all I’d recommend it if you’re looking for basic but pleasant.
Where to Eat
We ate all our meals on Lysiou Street, which is one of the most famous in Athens. It’s full of adorable houses, cute tavernas with outdoor seating, and all the food was delicious.
If you’re staying in Plaka, it’s an easy transfer from the airport. Just jump on the metro to Syntagma station where you can either walk from the famous Syntagma Square, or change to the red line and hop off a few stops over — our place was right next to the Acropolis stop.
We got breakfast at the airport and the journey to our flat and checking in took us until about 13:00. From there we decided step one was finding us some gyros, and you should do like we did and go to Kalopsimeno. It is cheap and fast but oh my god has some of the best gyros you can find. We didn’t have better our entire trip, so be prepared for your gyros game to peak day one.
It’s an easy walk to Kalopsimeno from Plaka, and from there you’re nearly at Mount Lycabettus. Depending on when you go and how hot it is, you may prefer a taxi. We walked but the heat was a bit insane and the hill felt steep. At the top you’re rewarded with an incredible view of the city and the Parthenon.
Take in the sights and then treat yourself to a cold beer (or wine! all the red wine was chilled which was much appreciated by yours truly) and maybe some ice cream. We chilled up there for a while with a pack of cards, and it was a really lovely way to spend an hour or two.
On the way back, route through The National Garden which has the Arch of Hadrian, Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Zappeion, and the Kalimarmaro Olympic Stadium of the 1896 Olympic Games. It’s kind of insane how many structures from the Ancient Greeks are still standing — it’s hard to walk more than a few minutes without spotting something.
Head back into Plaka and window shop the various vendors — there are some genuinely nice things amongst the standard tourist fare.
We had dinner at Zorbas, where I got my first taste of Moussaka, which was the start of a real love affair. This whole area is the best for food. All the places are on steps and super adorable, and they were all quite lively.
After dinner and a few drinks, get an early night so you’re up bright and early for the Acropolis.
The Acropolis opens at 8 am, and you should aim to get there early to avoid lines. Grab a pastry for the walk and be ready to spend a few hours checking out the ancient citadel. We didn’t go with a guide or headphones, but if they are in your budget I imagine hearing all the history whilst looking at the ruins would be so interesting.
Grab lunch back on Lysiou Street, we went to Yiasemi which had more amazing gyros and some pretty stellar tzatziki.
After lunch, head down to Monastiraki, where you can see Hadrian’s Library and the Ancient Agora whilst visiting the flea market and doing some shopping. If you’re heading to the port, from here it’s just seven stops to Piraeus. Try not to be too sad your time in Athens is coming to an end — you’ll be back, right? And you’re hopefully on your way to another amazing spot, like Paros or Crete!