The ancient city of Athens sits at the heart of classical Greek history, home to some of the world’s most iconic and wonderfully-preserved archaeological landmarks dotted across a sprawling modern metropolis.
6 hours in... Athens
With so much history to uncover across this fascinating capital city, it’s important to make the most of your limited time here, so whether you take a prearranged guided tour of the Athens or head out to explore on your own is up to you.
One of Athens most famous and historically-significant sites is the Acropolis, so you’ll want to keep it at the top of your must-see list. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back as far as the Bronze Age and boasts a number of historic landmarks to appreciate, including the Parthenon, the Erectheion and the Temple of Athena Nike (insert joke about trainers). More intriguing Athenian sites you’ll want to visit during your first visit to the city include the Ancient Agora, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Syntagma Square amongst many others, so you’ll have to plan your time well to fit everything into one day.
So you’re coming back to Athens for a second time and you’ve already seen the city’s historic landmarks – what else is there to experience? Why not take time to appreciate this bustling capitals contemporary culture and explore the city’s labyrinth of shops and restaurants to pick up souvenirs and sample traditional Greek dishes? The districts of Plaka and Kolonaki are the best for shopping and dining, and although Athens is a huge modern city, the small family-run business is still king here.
If you have a little more time to spare in Athens, you could even travel a short distance outside of the city to the stunning Kessariani Monastery. Located around five miles from Athens, this beautiful monastery is a joy to explore, and its surrounding grounds offers spectacular views across Athens and the Saronica Gulf.
Can’t keep away?
If you arrive in Athens for the umpteenth time and feel like you’ve experience all that the city has to offer, don’t waste a day staying aboard your ship, as there always something new to discover.
Theatre and the performing arts are an important part of Athenian culture, so if you’ve timed your arrival in the city well, you could catch of local show at one of 148 theatre venues across the city. A performance at the ancient Epidaurus theatre or the Theatre of Dionysus in particular is always a memorable event.
The parks and gardens of Athens are constantly changing with the seasons, so even if you’ve been to the National Gardens of Athens or the Parnitha National Park before, you’ll find that the landscape has transformed since your last visit, so head out and explore these scenic expanses.
Don’t even bother!
Like any city, Athens has its rougher areas which are best to be avoided – especially after dark. The areas around Omonoia Square are often associated with beggars and the homeless, but are usually well policed.
Also, while the city is home to plenty of quaint and trustworthy souvenir shops, there are also many illegal street vendors selling fake and knock-off products, so if you see a "Gucci" watch going for 10 Euros on a street corner – don’t bother!