Country: Greece
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Peak Season: June-August
Shoulder Season: April-May, September-October
Median Temperature: 18.30 C / 64.94 F
Main Languages: Greek, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, metro, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 3 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $140.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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Athens, a city of legends and myths, is an archeologist's delight (another nearby being Cairo). Most people have been exposed to the wonders of Greek history in their youths, so it should be no surprise that Athens is considerably popular to people of all ages. Athens' postcard landmark, the Acropolis plateau, is testament to the golden age of Greek scholastic achievement. Many great civilizations have also perched their flags in Athens—Romans, Byzantines, and Turks among others—so the city is a melting pot to many edifices other than mythic gods and goddesses. Today, Athens stands in the forefront of Greece's cultural exposition, with libraries, museums, operas and sites that preserve the city's historical importance.

Athens is that one place people keep dreaming of going, but actually defer visiting because of shallow understanding of how great it truly it is sans the mythology and the devastated ruins it left off. But before you head on to other places in the Mediterranean, which do not come to our surprise, as more “hip” and “fresh,” take another look at the face of Greece—yes, the Athens of present; the one which the world’s richest keep coming back to. Greece is sophisticated-yet-superstitious, and over three millennia of its remarkable influence have infused us the tenets of Athens’ key virtues: democracy, liberty and the academia. That’s the reason why you’ll love Athens. Never mind the superficial, it’s the transition of past to present that make it such a lovely city.

Though not quite as captivating and alluring as most Mediterranean cities in terms of modern night life and revelry, the historicity the Greek capital beholds is enough to keep a history buff to dig for more answers. Athens of today primarily sets its sights on business and first-class leisure. Its key industries include heavy machinery, export and archeological/anthropological tourism. The locals are highly refined, preferring to eat at fancy restaurants and relishing their internationally-acclaimed Greek cuisine. You’ll also be surprised to find how immaculate Athenian beaches are—unsung wonders, to be honest.

Athens is mature and brimming with culture and historicity. Enjoy the refinements of Athens: so much history is left to be unfolded. It’s the preferred vacation spot of the rich and powerful and we aren’t wondering why.

Packing List

  • Decent clothing to gain entry inside Orthodox churches and some casual clothes (jeans, sweaters), paired with good walking shoes for long excursions; swimwear and sunglasses for the clean beaches
  • A credit card (they’re honored almost everywhere) and extra luggage bags if you intend to shop for traditional handicraft and religious paintings, which are very popular souvenirs, by the way
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries—the ruins of ancient Greece make for an excellent backdrop; it’s ideal to get background on basic panoramic photography and working with direct sunlight
  • Essential medication (aspirin) and toiletries; since many adults visit Greece, it’s advisable to bring some anti-rheumatic treatments to keep you on your feet—mid-day excursions can be exhaustingly long
  • Portable media or a good book to keep you company—Athens is a far cry from a technology district; swathes of open spaces are sure to get you bored from time to time, so bring some entertainment

Things to Do

  • Be surprised to see old (and young) people clinging on to their superstitious beliefs; staring at someone (especially children) for a prolonged time may make them think you’re passing on the “Evil Eye”
  • Understanding pre-Hellenistic courts and tribunals or just catching a lovely evening at the Areopagus hill, whose name might have been derived from the god Ares (Areo) & “big rock” (Pagus)
  • Paying a visit to the Temple of Olympian Zeus (or what remains of it); history has it that there stood beaming statues of Zeus and Emperor Hadrian before it was totaled during the Byzantine period
  • Socializing around Syntagma Square, which not only serves as a beeline for historic city landmarks and modern tourist attractions— it also is a primary transportation hub for every point in the city
  • Peering inside the National Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts all the way from the Neolithic age; it is heralded by ceramic and sculptural masterpieces ancient Greece is known for

DON'T

  • Cause public distraction by wearing otherwise skimpy dresses, especially in churches; a lot of Athenians are of Greek Orthodox faith, which advises people to dress properly—even outside of the church
  • Be rude inside households—as with many Mediterranean countries, Greeks are very close-knit with family and relatives; the typecasting of Greeks being overprotective of their kin is indeed true
  • Talk about the politics and economy, unless it’s your business there; Greeks are overwhelmingly fond of these topics (and not to mention gossip), so the conversation might stall your leisure in Athens
  • Smoke at public spaces—it’s considered ill-mannered; although a majority of Greeks are chain smokers themselves, they get easily offended when someone (especially a foreigner) reprimands their smoking
  • Be surprised to see old (and young) people clinging on to their superstitious beliefs; staring at someone (especially children) for a prolonged time may make them think you’re passing on the “Evil Eye”