How to discover Athens…in ONE day!
Athens, a vibrant city buzzing with Ancient Greek spirit and culture. The city boasts archaeological sites, picturesque backstreets, sandy beaches and tongue tantalizing Greek dishes. That sounds like a lot to discover in just one day, but our journalist Emily was more than happy to get a flavor of Athens in just one day!
As I usually do, I had a quick browse through Trip Advisor before traveling and this time it was ‘food tasting tours of Athens’ that caught my eye. Athens food on foot promising me a taste of authentic Greek cooking AND a tour of the city centre, I thought this was a fantastic way to get ahead; see the sights and not have to worry about where to eat out.
So here I am sitting in a quaint little dairy shop, tucking into the most creamy Greek yoghurt I think I have ever eaten and a cup of strong yet smooth Greek coffee. My bubbly tour guide Anna, who actually feels more like an old friend than a guide, promises me I wont be eating for the rest of the day!
The food tasting tour has come to an end in Monastiraki Square and I am both smiling and stuffed! This is a great concept to cover a huge part of your sightseeing without getting, lost, tired or hungry. The tour passes by; The Athenian Trilogy, Parliament, various monuments and many beautiful cathedrals and churches all situated within in the historical city centre. Not only that, but I also tasted an array of traditional Greek snacks and dishes; from mousakka to loukamadas, Greek mezze and traditional pies to shots of the famous Raki! Each stop was more mouthwatering than the next and the staff in every eatery treated me like family! Do not miss out a tasty Athens food tour!
After only just a few hours I think I’m starting to slowly get a feel for the Athenian lifestyle and so far…I’m a fan! After all that aaaamazing food, I must admit I’m feeling a little dozy now, so I’m on the search for another coffee! Everyone I’ve spoken to suggests the backstreets of Psirri area, where I’m told many cute little cafes hide, so thats where I’m heading to now. The Monastiraki Flea market leads me directly into Psiri and is already in full flow, so I’m going to explore that whilst on my hunt for caffeine!
I can see why everyone suggested the backstreets of Psirri for coffee, the cobbled pathways are lined tight with charming little cafes. The streets are dressed with fairy lights and seasonal decorations which create a fantasyland feeling and the blossoming trees that dot the pavement add a touch of tranquility to the otherwise concrete veins of the district. I observe the ‘Pappoudes’ (Grandpas) that seem to sit in their chair for hours, nursing one coffee whilst aimlessly playing with their holy beads, a pastry chef rolls out the bougatza dough to precision in a shop window, Athenians fidget in line whilst they wait for their freshly baked koulouri; no matter where you visit in Athens, you can constantly feel the buzz of Greek culture, even whilst experiencing something as simple as a coffee -It’s beautiful! Feeling revitalized and appreciative of the slowly cooling weather, it’s a perfect time to head to the most famous landmark in the whole of Greece, the majestic Acropolis and it’s highly acclaimed museum!
Looking up to the Acropolis now I feel 1) relieved to now be sitting down in the shade with my sandals slipped off my feet and 2) totally awe inspired. No matter how much you have heard or read about Greek history before visiting Greece, it will not prepare you in any way for the truly magical moment of being stood surrounded by a white sea of monopoly sized houses and what I can only describe as a feeling of great honour; standing once where Greek kings, Athenian leaders, politicians and possibly even Greek Gods once stood. The museum, nearly as impressive as the Acropolis itself, was fantastically well layed out and very engaging. Well worth a visit!
On my way down from the Acropolis I took a stroll through the islandic beauty that is Anafiotika, I won’t say too much, it’s something you have to experience for yourself, but if you want a break from the hustle and bustle atmosphere of the city, this place will make you feel like you’re lost on a colourful island.
After all that walking (and sweating) I am heading back to the hotel for a quick shower and then off to Anglais rooftop bar for a well earned cocktail and 360° views of glowing Athens.
On my way to the bar, the seductive smell of souvlaki whiffing through the streets overpowers me and I find myself following the alluring scent to Kostas souvlakia. My mouth salivates as I watch the chef methodically build my pita of flakes of juicy pork, fries, tomatoe, onion and a wonderfully generous helping of Tzatziki. IT IS PURE HEAVEN and for me, a real taste of the local Athenian people. I’m pleasantly satisfied and back on track towards the bar.
The air is buzzing, you can physically feel it. The chatter of Athenian friends catching up, tourists reliving their adventures of the day, the quiet but distinctive strum of a bouzouki humming from the streets below, all combined together with such breathtaking views makes for a truly electrifying feeling. The service in the bar isn’t great but I couldn’t care less, it is totally worth the wait with views as magical as this. I could sit here for hours and just take it all in…
I pretty much collapse into bed, but regardless of my sleepiness, the huge grin I’ve been walking around with the whole day remains on my face. In just 24 hours I really do feel Iike I have had a feel of the Athenian lifestyle and learnt a lot of its history and culture. I may not have had time to hit the beach and see every single museum Athens has to offer. But in 24 hours I can safely say I have experienced a huge part of Athens and it has been truly memorable. I cannot wait to continue my exploration of this enchanting city, but for now, kalinihta!
24 hours in Athens check list:
Omonia Square ✔
Panepistimio – The Athinian Trilogy ✔
Syntagma – Parliament ✔
Monastiraki – Farmers market & flea market ✔
The Acropolis ✔
The Acropolis Museum ✔
Rooftop bar & cocktails ✔
Traditional Greek food (Yoghurt, bougatza, mousakka, cheese, olives, olive oil, Greek Mezze, Souvlaki, to name only a few!) ✔
Athens Food on Foot
Written by Emily Amber Downs