A Guide To The Acropolis in Athens

It is hard not to imagine Plato or Socrates walking next to you as you walk along the Parthenon at Acropolis

A magical scent of History and Modernization is in the air as I take my first breath after landing at the airport. There is something truly magical about this place. And as I walk through the ruins of an ancient civilization with my swollen feet, heavy legs, scorching heat, I explore this historical sanctuary and think to myself, Perhaps in another life I would have been archeologists, searching for long lost treasures buried by the sands of time. Truly my this trip is another example of that desire to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors. It is hard not to imagine Plato or Socrates walking next to you as you walk along the Parthenon at Acropolis. Seeing the incredible monuments that have survived for thousands of years can sometimes make us question whether civilizations today are truly as superior as we would like to believe them to be. I often end up such debatable self-conversation during my travels and they turn out to be the most educating strolls. Here I am referring to the city known as the birth of Western Civilization-Athens, pronounced as (aa-thens), the capital of Greece.

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This is the first day of my four weeks long Europe travel and I decided to start with Greece although my family did not think it was a very good idea due to its reputation created by the media. I landed here around noon from Bahrain, Gulf Air had the best deals to Greece and to my surprise upgraded me to business class at no extra cost . I headed straight to my Airbnb apartment at Sygmora Fix Studio Dimitris (10 minutes walk from Acropolis) On my two days stay here I did not hire any local transport to immerse well into the narrow historical alleys. The best way to discover the city is to walk around.

The Acropolis

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The Parthenon: The Most Sacred Site of the Ancient World
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Odeon of Herodes Atticus: A Second-Century Theater
The city of Athens is an open air museum of tremendous interest and rich heritage.  Every step brought me closer to a piece of its history: world heritage monuments, archaeological museums, art galleries – an overflow of cultural stimuli.
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Porch of the Caryatids at the Erechtheion
After a few hours spent meandering the Acropolis Museum, it was time to climb the hill to the real thing.  Our ascent was slow to allow time for more history lessons and photo ops as we passed important sites–the Theatre of Dionysus and Odeon of Herodes Atticus, most notably–and because the heat of the day hadn’t so much as dropped a degree since we first entered the museum
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Theater of Dionysus
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Lower colonnade of the Stoa of Attalos
Once atop the hill where the ancient Greeks had first given birth to their civilization, we marveled.  We marveled at the sheer size of the towering marble columns, we marveled at the unexpected details; we marveled at the idiocy of the people attempting selfies on top of the surrounding walls (people do, apparently, occasionally fall to their deaths doing just that), and we marveled at the sea of white buildings spreading in every which direction we looked.
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The Ancient Agora 
As the sun began to set, we set off for our final stop on the historical portion of our tour, the Ancient Agora.  The Agora was the heart of ancient Athens, the focus of political, commercial, administrative and social activity, the religious and cultural center, and the seat of justice.  In contrast to the barren land on top of the hill, this area was lush and green with an abundance of colorful flowers.  It wasn’t long though before the sound of urgent whistles pierced the air, alerting us that it was finally closing time.
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Old Byzantine Church within Agora
We spilled out of the Agora into the busy pedestrian streets of Monastiraki, a lively neighborhood known for its bustling flea market.  From there, we entered Psirri, a neighborhood more suited to those looking for chill restaurants with ambiance where they could have a nice meal or drinks with friends.
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The Aerial View of Athens from Top of Acropolis
Athens is home to the most breathtaking ruin – the thing everyone comes to (rightly) see and photograph – the Parthenon. The former temple, which dominates the hilltop Acropolis, is magnificent. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, you really have to pay a visit to see why it’s considered one of the greatest cultural monuments in the world. You could spend hours here just wandering around and soaking up the history.
Traditional Flea Market
There’s no harm in admitting that even the best of us get tired of ruins sometimes. Fear not, there are many other attractions that’ll keep you happy. Let’s start with a market where you can buy almost anything, aka the Flea Market in Monastiraki Square. This traditional market has a festive atmosphere, combined with an onslaught of more modern souvenir stalls. Permanent antique and collectables shops are open all week, while the streets around the station and Adrianou fill with vendors selling jewellery, handicrafts and bric-a-brac
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Monastiraki Flea Market
 Street Art of Old City

The street art in Athens is said to be the biggest in the world. You can’t help but notice the excessive amount of graffiti that coats every available surface throughout city, where every available wall, shop front, brick wall or obscure alley is a canvas waiting to be filled with artistic optimism, political reference or social satire. As explained by my local friend, the general view is that the graffiti movement began in New York as a reaction to economic crisis, spreading throughout the world and arriving in Athens around 1992 where artistic murals first began appearing in the outlying neighbourhoods before moving to the centre.

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Street Art at Old City of Athens
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Street Art at Old City of Athens
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Taverna Restaurant for traditional Greek meal
Must See Places :

1. The Parthenon: The most comprehensive architectural creation of Athenian democracy, built during a period of the city’s greatest prosperity.

2. The Agora of Athens: the Agora is not important for the splendor of its buildings, but for the significance of its history.

3.  Propylaea: A monumental gateway to the Acropolis built of white Pentelic marble.

4.  Erechtheion: A building complex from 420 BC, made of Pentelic marble, a unique example of the Ionic order.

5. Temple of Athena Nike: A masterpiece of the Classical era, built by Kallikrates in the Ionic order, with a four-column structure.

6. New Acropolis Museum: Stunning exhibits and architecture: the complete modern museum.

7. Museum of Cycladic Art: Superb exhibits from the ancient Aegean civilisations, with an emphasis on Cycladic period.

8. National Archaeological Museum: The biggest in Greece and one of the most important in the world.

9. National Gallery: Contains more than 15,000 works

I did not visit all as I spent only two days at Athens and was happy with Acropolis and surrounding Old City areas

Practical Tips For Athens

-You can take Metro, Bus or Taxi from the airport. I took taxi for €38 which is a flat rate for range of areas in Athens. If you are taking the metro, get down at ACROPOLIS  to visit Parthenon.

-Old city is very convenient to walk. Walk to discover the graffiti laden narrow alleys and al-fresco eateries which is the essence of Athens

– The Acropolis Museum is closed on Mondays

– All archaeological sites and museums are closed on the following dates: 1 January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December and 26 December. But are open on Sundays.

-The Ticket to Acropolis is €20 or €30 (depends how much you want to cover). Free entry for kids unto 18 (carry the age proof)

– Tickets for the metro, train and bus cost € 1,40 and are valid for an hour and a half after purchase on all buses, trains and metro lines. International student card gives discounts on the public transportation tickets (€ 0,70), but NOT on suburban railway, suburban bus or ferry tickets

-If you are staying in the center city, you can easily get there walking, as everything is nearby. If you are a bit further, there are 3 metro stations near the Acropolis: Thesion, Monastiraki and Acropolis and from there is really easy to find it

– Keep in mind that Acropolis is the most visited attraction in the country, thousands of people go there every day. Arriving early as soon as the gate opens is highly advised, to avoid the crowd, as well as high temperatures during the warmer months. Another option is to arrive later in the day

-Indulge in local delicacies like Gyro, Souvlaki at a Taverna restaurant or Cheese Pies and Greek Coffee (Traditional Bakery). The quaint neighborhoods of Anafiotika and Plaka have many inviting cafés and restaurants. But beware of the tourist traps especially at the famous Plaka restaurant staircase

Have you been to Athens?

41 thoughts on “A Guide To The Acropolis in Athens”

  1. I haven’t been to Athens before, but it is high on my list. After seeing your pictures, I need to move it up the list ever further. Thanks for the really valuable tips! They will save both time and money for my future trip. – Lee

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    1. Glad you found it valuable. Its worth visiting Acropolis. Two days are more than enough here if you are short of time. Old city is the only place I found worth spending the time. Other parts of the city can be experienced anywhere else.

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  2. I love you writing, it makes me feel like I was there! I saw the ruins in Rome and it left me feeling the same, wanting to know about this history. I love the shot you got from the top, what an incredible view!

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  3. Absolutely beautiful. Greece is a place of dreams, I am going there next year with my family so I will show them this post. Thanks for all of the information, it was really useful for us! I love that there is some street art there, I am always watching out for beautiful street art

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  4. Such a good guide! I’ve never been to this part of the world but it’s on my list. Until I get here I’ll just have to live vicariously through your great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. The Acropolis is such an iconic monument. The architectural design is amazing. I cannot believe that there are people who will put themselves in danger for the purpose of taking a selfie on top of the walls. The street arts are pretty cool. I would love to visit Athens someday.

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  6. Visiting Athens has always been a dream of mine! You captured the city so well, I love the shot from the Top of Acropolis – WOW. Can’t wait to visit one day, I can only imagine what these structures looked like at their prime.

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  7. OMG! So glad to have found this post because I’m going to Athens next month and haven’t had time to do ANY research! I’m pinning this for sure. Thanks for including must see places also. Where did you stay? I didn’t see that above.. Did I miss it?

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    1. Hi Christie I stayed at Studio Dimitris at Syggrou Fix through Airbnb. It is 20 minutes walking distance from Acropolis. Right opposite to the metro station, 45 minutes from the airport. If you want to be next to Acropolis then try the stay in the Old city. I have left the link of this apartment in the blog. Small place but beautiful with view of Acropolis.

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  8. I will visit Athens this winter and really want to see the Parthenon so its good to read about your experience here. I didn’t know the theatre, Odeon of Herodes Atticus existed so that’s something else to look forward to seeing. Walking around the Acropolois looks to be an amazing experience and your photos really do it justice!

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    1. Oh thats great. Winter is not busy time and I was told by locals that it doesn’t snow much in Athens. It will be a quite time and yes you can get more clear pictures with less people around.

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  9. I’ve always been interested in history, and it is harder to get more historic than the Acropolis. Being able to stroll through where so many of the things that form the basis of the modern world began there. Philosophy, art, science and history can all trace their roots to there. Your photos do a wonderful job of bringing the scene out.

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  10. Great information about Acropolis of Athens. I visited it in spring break and stayed in a hotel facing Acropolis with its view from my window. Really it is very cultural and ancient place. My favorite is The Parthenon and temple of Athina. Also street art of old city is very beautiful.

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  11. I have some Greek family and I still have never been to Athens! Shocking really. I have just never had the chance to go. I would love to visit one day though and this is a great post that includes other things to do as well as the normal tourist things. I so relate to what you say about getting ruins burn out haha. I felt like that in Thailand with the temples after 3 weeks haha. Loving the street art too and the cafes look lovely.

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  12. Yes we have been before! It’s been so long we have to go back, your pictures really inspires us to go back asap! Totally love the street art you spotted Athens, last time didn’t see much of it.

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  13. Acropolis is one of the best tours I did in Greece. I always recommend it to my friends. We stayed close to Acropolis and crossed iyt all the days while touring the city. You have captured impressive street art! I have very few.

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  14. Greece is absolutely beautiful. I have never been but seeing your photos make me want to travel there next! Athen is a great place to visit all the cultural monuments. The flea market looks so lively. I never knew that you can find street arts in the old city!

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  15. Greece and particularly Athens should be on every history lover’s list. Just being in the presence of these ancient monuments is enough to make one’s jaw drop. Imagine if we could have seen these in their original glory…

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  16. Wow! Such a comprehensive list. The article is very helpful to those wanting to visit Athens. I liked the pic of Stoa of Attalos in particular. It was simply splendid.

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        1. If you want to avoid tourist rush then April to Mid June is the best. From mid June until Sept beginning it gets very expensive, three times the usual rates. Sept to Oct end is a good season too. Post Oct the rush picks up again.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. How lovely to see things from the eyes of wonder and imagining how things must be in the past. It creates a strong sense of connection and curiousity. Loved the way you wrote and the way you captured in pixels. 💓

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