Time of travel: Winter 2010 during New Year’s eve. They have a huge new year’s party in front of the Parliament building in Syntagma Square with live music, street vendors and lots of fun stuff. The place is very nicely decorated for Christmas and New Year. It gets very cold at night, thank God that it didn’t rain.
Hotel we stayed in: We stayed in Athens for 3 days in Hotel Intercontinental. They didn’t have free breakfast but they had a free shuttle service which dropped us off every morning in Syntagma Square. From there we started our day.
Food You Should Try: When you are in Greece, please try the Greek salad. The feta cheese, olive, olive oil…everything is different (better actually) from what we get in the states. Also, same goes for gyro and kabab. You can find all of these in restaurants in Plaka or Monastiraki square. Definately try the Greek delights, they come in variety of flavors with fruits and nuts.
Things to Buy: You will find tons of things to buy when you are walking around Plaka or Monastiraki Square. I loved their long “Athenian” t-shirts, their unique paintings with blue water and white buildings, extra virgin olive oil (they are the best in the world) especially if you can find one from Crete, Parthenon miniatures, hand-painted vases/pots.
Here are some places we visited during our stay.
1. SYNTAGMA SQUARE: Its a very big open place in front of the
Parliament. You will find a McDonald there and some other restaurants.
Everything that you want to see in Athens is nearby, like Acropolis, Roman
Agora, Monastiraki Square, Plaka, Temple of Zeus, Museum of Acropolis and many
2. ROMAN AGORA: You will see very old ruins in Roman Agora. This can be dated back 300o b.c. This used to be a main trade center and a gathering place for the public. The ticket is 4 euros and one hour is enough to visit this place.
4. Shopping & eating in MONASTIRAKI SQUARE and PLAKA: You can buy all your souvenirs and gifts from either Monastiraki Square or from Plaka. Don’t forget to buy their preserved olives and Greek delights. Also, Greek olive oil is the best in the world. Both of these places have tons of typical european style restaurants to serve you. While you are in Greece, definitely try the Greek salad, I thought its much better than what we get here in the USA.
Plaka also has a night market, where you can find hand crafted jewelleries, original amateur hand paintings, and lots of goodies. If you don’t want to buy anything, just take a stroll after dinner and you will get to see the nightlife in the city.
5. THE MUSEUM Of ACROPOLIS: We ended up going there because it was raining so hard and we needed to do something indoor. Thanks to the weather that we went there. If you can spare 2/3 hours out of your schedule, this is a good place to spend some time and look at the history. You can hop into one of the tourist trains from Syntagma Square and it’ll drop you right in front of the museum. Kids will love the train ride.
6.CHANGE OF GUARDS In Front Of The PARLIAMENT: The change of royal guards takes place every hour, 5 minutes before the hour starts. It takes place in Syntagma Square in front of the Parliament.
7. TEMPLE Of ZEUS: It dates back in b.c. You can use your ticket from Acropolis to visit this site. You can get the view of Temple of Zeus from the Acropolis. But come down and look at the pillars face to face. Although, I thought this place could have been maintained in a nicer and more organized way, it is a nice place to take some pictures and spend an hour walking around the temple.
8. TEMPLE OF POSEIDON Temple of Poseidon is at Sounion. It is about hour and half drive from downtown Athens. The drive is very beautiful. You get to see the sea, mountain, small cities/villages. Once you arrive at the Temple the view is truly amazing. Poseidon was the god of the seas. The sunset here supposed to the best after Santorini. We couldn’t stay till the dusk. It was worth spending half a day there.