What to do with 3 days in Athens

So you’re planning a trip to Greece!! We spent two weeks in Greece, spending 3 days in Athens, 1 day trip to Aegina, 6 days in Crete and 4 days in Santorini. I’ll be breaking up my posts by the areas of Greece that we traveled to. So here we go with what to do if you have three days in Athens. If you are staying exclusively in Athens, three full days will be plenty of time to explore it all. Honestly, two full days in Athens is enough accompanied by a day trip to a surrounding attraction or nearby island is even a good option.

Day One

We arrived in Athens in the late afternoon and got checked into the New Hotel in the heart of Athens. I would highly recommend this hotel because of the amazing service, clean (albeit tiny) rooms and it’s centrally located. It’s got a modern, artsy vibe and you are in walking distance of the Plaka.

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Walking through the Plaka

To combat the jet lag, we walked through the Plaka that night, taking in the sounds and sights of the bustling city. For dinner we were looking for very traditional Greek fare to kick off our first night in Athens. We landed on Liondi, a small restaurant at the foot of the Acropolis. It did not disappoint with big portions of traditional, delicious Greek fare.

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Chicken gyro, Moussaka and complimentary chocolate cake at Liondi’s

We finished up the night exploring more of the Plaka. There are countless gelato shops, touristy stores and nooks and crannies to explore including the colorful, one of kind doors that adorn the old buildings.

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Meeting one of the many cats of Greece

Day Two

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and if you feel the same way, visit Yiasemi in the Plaka. There are several open air, eclectic rooms where you can sit and enjoy the breakfast buffet, a spread of homemade baked goods, egg dishes, yogurt, honey and absolute deliciousness. You feel as if you are at someone’s house taking part in an amazing potluck. There’s live piano music in the background and it’s just beyond lovely.

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On the steps outside Yiasemi

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Inside Yiasemi, complete with piano player

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Some of the delicious bites at Yiasemi’s buffet

Next we were off to the Acropolis. We purchased the three day pass which allowed us to take in the other historical sights. We didn’t buy these in advance, just purchased while in line to get in. While we went in May, it was still quite hot and there really is no shade throughout the entire trek or when you are at the top. I’d recommend either taking a guided tour or reading up beforehand on all of the history. The signs are fairly limited and more of an explanation of the architecture rather than the history.

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It’s quite breathtaking and exciting to be viewing a part of such ancient history as you meander up to the top of the Acropolis to the Parthenon, passing the Amphitheater temples and ruins along the way. Keep an eye out for tortoises as we saw a few munching on grass amidst the ruins. There are restrooms and water fountains at the top as it is quite warm if you’re there in the Spring and Summer months. I’d allow at least 2-3 hours to take in all the sites here.

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Hadrian’s Library

Next we walked on to Ancient Agora (you’ll get a lot of walking in!) and then to Hadrian’s Library. Hadrian’s library is in the heart of the Monastraki marketplace. We were still full from our yummy breakfast so we grabbed fresh veggie and fruit juices from Xymopieio (so good we went there the next day too).

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The best juice from Xymopieio in Monastraki marketplace

We got caught in a long downpour here and waited it out in the rather sketchy transit station. There is quite a lot of open air shopping here and rooftop dining, but it did feel a bit sketch. The downpour continued so we ran through the rain to Ancient Agora where we explored the Agora Museum. It’s a very impressive museum and admission is included with your site pass. Due to the rain, we didn’t explore the grounds of the Ancient Agora and headed back to get ready for dinner.

We had a long walk to dinner from our hotel but it was worth it! We went to Atitamos in the center of Athens. It’s a tiny restaurant (plan on a bit of a wait) with a small outdoor patio. We enjoyed fresh bread, phyllo wrapped feta drizzled with sesame and honey, salads and the best baklava I’ve had so far. The service was impeccable and prices could not be beat.

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This baklava deserves its own photo.

Day Three

We had breakfast at a little curbside cafe (sorry, can’t find the name of it). From there we toured Hadrian’s Arch and surrounding grounds. We then went back to Ancient Agora and the Temple of Olympia. There’s really so much to see here and it really depends on how much of a history buff you are to determine how long you’d like to spend here. I would really recommend getting a tour guide though as the signs are really nominal and not very informative.

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We went back to the juice bar, Xymopieio, for a midday snack as we wanted to save room for a big, later dinner. We then checked out the Acropolis Museum which really is a must see. It’s built over an ancient Athenian neighborhood and it’s quite an experience to peer down into it through the glass floors. The museum is beautiful and has a nice terrace restaurant and bookshop.

Dinner plans were for a rooftop restaurant with an Acropolis view. We made same day reservations at Strofi which had really strong reviews. A few tips, make your reservations further in advance than we did so you can get a later time (8pm or later) so you can really enjoy the Acropolis lit up at night. Also, I can’t recommend Strofi. The service was seriously lacking and the food for the price was just not very good. Maybe it was an off day when we went, but I wouldn’t return. Regardless, do make sure you do an Acropolis view, rooftop restaurant for dinner at least one night while in Athens.

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Looking out over Athens from the Acropolis vantage point

I’d love to hear about your plans and experience in Athens! It’s a beautiful, albeit busy, big city with a rich history which you need to experience.

Safe and happy travels!

 

 

 

 

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