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Top 5 things to see if you’re visiting Athens

A guide for all tourists that really want to make the most of their time in one of the oldest cities in the world

So recently I realized that after my number one passion, which is journalism, a close second in my “favorite things to do”-list is traveling and visiting cities all around the world. I’ve been to quite a few of them actually. Additionally, having spent over three years working in tourism gives me a bit of an edge in regards to explaining to people what they should see and what they should avoid. Which is why I’ve decided to create this new mini-series of articles.

I’ll start off strong with one of the most tourist-heavy places in the world and the city I spent most of my life in, Athens. So you know that you can trust what you read in the list below.

  1. The Southern suburbs

When people talk about Athens, their minds usually go to places like the Acropolis or the old market (agora) or the nearby areas like Plaka and Monastiraki that have maintained the ancient Greek element throughout the ages.

And while they may be worth visiting, they’re nothing compared to what the south part of the city has to show you!

Head down to the Glyfada area, or go even further towards Voula, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza to discover what Athens really has to offer. Amazing cafes, a wide array of shops, incredible beaches, bars and night clubs that would put even Miami itself to shame. It’s no Mykonos of course, but when it comes to living the good life, Athens is a close second and the south suburbs are the perfect example.

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2. The Northern suburbs

Alright, this might seem a bit contradictory, but hear me out. If you happen to be visiting Athens during the winter period (because a. the tickets are cheaper then or b. you found a guided tour that goes out to the ancient Olympia region and you’re only interested in antiquity, not partying) then head towards the opposite side, the North.

With incredible places like Kifissia, Anixi, Kefalari and, of course Marousi, the lovely stone-made sidewalks full of luxury cafes with people lining up to find a seat will give you the sense that you’ve somehow been transferred to one of the central European nations like Germany or Switzerland.

Just remember to bring a jacket because it’s known to snow in these areas. And don’t forget to visit the nearby Olympic Stadium where the 2004 opening and closing ceremonies were held.

3. A one-day cruise of the nearby islands

If you don’t have that much time on your hands but don’t want to spend it in the big city, then this is the perfect solution for you!

Hop on one of the many mini-cruise ships that can take you to the smaller islands near Athens and you’ll have a great time. These ships usually leave from the smaller port of Neo Faliro (also a great location for a night out) and provide on-board entertainment while you head to your next destination.

It’s a great way to spend the day if you have some time to kill and you think that you’ve gotten all you can out of the city.

The islands these cruise ships usually visit are: Poros, Hydra, Aegina, Spetses and Kea.

4. Find the luxurious side of central Athens

Kolonaki is an area very close to the Syntagma Square and the Parliament building, yet not that known to many people, mainly due to the fact that it is well hidden within the alleys of the city.

Although it is one of the oldest areas in city just like Plaka and Monastiraki, it feels entirely different since many of the wealthiest people live there so it has been given a facelift in order to stay in touch with the current era. You are bound to find your fair share of shops, cafes and bars to explore in this side of town.

But despite its modernization, the cafeterias in the main square are some of the oldest and most well known in all of Athens and you would be missing out if you didn’t make the time to visit at least one of them.

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5. Go to the ‘bouzoukia’!

As everyone knows, Greece is well known for its night life and Greeks are known for partying until the early morning hours. One of their favorite places to visit are the ‘bouzoukia’, indoor concert halls where talented artists give night-long performances while people dance on-stage and throw roses to one another.

It is truly one of the most Greek things that you can do and although it may take some stamina (especially if you’re in the 30+ group,) you’ll definitely keep the experience as one of the most cherished moments of your life. Especially if you’re travelling with a large group.

While you may not necessarily understand the lyrics of all the songs or what exactly is going on, you’re guaranteed to have one of the most fun nights of your adult life.

And those are the five things you should really do if you happen to visit Athens in the near future. Because, yeah, museums and antiquity are nice and all that, but you’re looking to create lifelong memories, not stare at a rock.

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