Five essential things to do in Athens
1) Visit the “high city”
You cannot imagine how awe-inspiring the Acropolis really is until you see the Parthenon and the Caryatids up close. If you are short of time or breath, take a taxi to the car park or the metro to Acropolis station.
2) Watch the changing of the guards at Syndagama
Soldiers goose-step past the tomb of the Unknown Soldier wearing tasseled cap, kilt, woolly leggings, and pompoms on the shoes.
3) Browse the flea market east and west from Monastiraki
You might pick up a souvenir but probably not a bargain. Carnivores (only) might walk through the covered meat market in the Omnia. It’s a cross between a jeweller’s shop and the floor of the stock exchange.
4) Enter a Byzantine church
There are many monasteries, big and small, around the city. If the door is open, no-one seems to mind if you tiptoe in to admire the silver-bundled icons, gleaming in the candlelight.
5)Take a taxi to Pireas for a fish dinner overlooking an ancient harbour.
There are three harbours in fact; the smallest one is called Mikrolimano and the place to eat is
“Jimmy and the Fish”, (Tel: 210 41 24 417, booking essential on weekends. Expensive).
In the shadow of the Acropolis
Athens lives in the shadow of the Acropolis in more ways than one; vestiges of ancient Greece outclass anything a modern city can offer. But more literally, the area called Plaka, on the slope leading up to the Acropolis from Athen’s busy city centre, is overshadowed by the magnificent ruin at its summit.
While on its lower slopes the river of tourists is expertly fished by the restaurant touts, the higher in this ancient district you walk the more deserted and picturesque it becomes.
Nearer the top, in Anafiotika, the twisting streets are lined with tiny houses where builders from the island of Anafi lived in the 19th century. You could happily spend the evening up here in a taverna enjoying a meal of grilled meat or fish and there might even be a Greek sing-along to accompany it. The experience would be neither new nor trendy, but then at heart, neither is Athens.« Back