Athens Stopover

Athens Stopover - the Parthenon at Night

Athens Stopover - everyone has their own relationship with Athens Αθήνα. We love Athena. We say it is definitely worth spending time to get to know her...

Intro to Athens

If you are coming to Crete for a quick visit or an extended stay, it is most likely you will have the opportunity to stay in the ancient capital, so we have put together this guide for you, to enjoy your Athens stopover.

Here are some of our ideas on what to see and how to spend your time in Athena, and some lovely hotels to choose from, tips on getting around in the city and highlights of festivals.

For an Athens Stopover we suggest to focus on the centre of the city including:

  • The Acropolis
  • Monastiraki
  • Plaka
  • Kolonaki

All of these diverse sectors are within walking distance and will give you a taste of history, markets, inner city living and old Athena.



If you choose a hotel in one of these areas, you will be in walking distance of the major downtown sights and fantastic restaurants and cafes. Athena will be at your doorstep.

Our suggestion is to choose a hotel in Plaka. See some lovely hotels below. This area has the feeling of a village right in the heart of Athens, and is away from all the hubbub, right at the base of the magical Acropolis with the ancient Parthenon.

Here in Plaka are some of the best restaurants and tavernas in Athens, with music and atmosphere.

Also close by is the airport bus station, Syntagma Square and the Athens Cathedral, museums, parliament house and Ermou street, a principle shopping street.

The enclave of Plaka is serviced by both Syntagma and Monastiraki Metro stations, from where you can travel to Pireaus to catch your ferry to Crete. The modern metro system in Athens is the way to get around, and the way to get from the airport to the city, making a quick Athens stopover possible.

Leave plenty of time to visit the Acropolis, to wander up the hill, take in the view, to see and learn about each of the monuments and ruins, and visit the various museums.

Leave time because there are always crowds, especially in summer, and if you are relaxed and have plenty of time you won’t be bothered by those sweating, rushing hordes speeding past you. You get to stop and enjoy the view and the immensity of it all.


Αθήνα - the Ancient Agora or Marketplace - a green space at the base of the AcropolisThe Ancient Agora - green heart of the city


There is plenty more to see at the Acropolis than the Parthenon, including the stunningly beautiful Caryatids of the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

On the graceful hillside of the Acropolis are the Theatre of Dionysos and the simply breathtaking Theatre of Herodes Atticus, with its white marble amphitheatre.

What many people don't realise before they arrive in Athena is that at the base of the Acropolis is the Ancient Agora (above), the former market. It is now a park dotted with ruins and trees, including the beautiful Stoa of Attalos, the Temple of Hephaestus, and the picturesque Holy Church of the Apostles from 11th century.

The agora is a green space in the middle of the chaos of Athena, and certainly worth a good exploration.



Athens Stopover
Guided Tour Suggestions

Αθήνα - evzones guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

If you only have two or three days in Athens it might make sense to take a short tour to get oriented and see the highlights of the city.

We have put together our suggestions of small tours with excellent guides who will share their passion for history and for Greek culture with you...

Walking tours are a great way to get the feel for the Acropolis, Plaka and the atmosphere of Athens...



Athens Stopover
Kifissia in the North

Αθήνα - Kifissia in the north is a leafy green suburb which makes a good base for a long stay

To the north of the city is Kifissia, a 30 minute ride on the metro and train line. It is a beautiful leafy green area, known for its cool temperatures and great shopping.

See our dedicated Kifissia page with hotels, cafes and tips for enjoying this lovely northern suburb.


Athens Stopover - Museums

Soak up the history of the modern world here in the capital of Greece. There are so many museums and so much history to explore; it is hard to decide which ones to visit. If you are just stopping over in Athena for a quick visit we recommend two extensive collections, right in the centre of the city.

New Acropolis Museum - Parthenon Marbles

The Acropolis Museum opened for visitors for the first time in 2009 and is a very modernistic sweeping statement, housing the Parthenon Marbles and awaiting the return of some marbles from other countries. This controversy, and the design of the new museum, makes for a fascinating collision between history and current affairs.

Located at 2-4 Makriyianni Street only 300 meters from the Acropolis, it is easy walking from Plaka. Entry is 5 Euro and the museum is open from 8am to 8pm daily except Mondays. Nearest metro station is Acropolis.

Queues can get very long in busy season - we suggest going through the museum with a guide to get the most out of it...

Take a guided tour of the Acropolis Museum - 1 hour and 15 minutes 


National Archaeological Museum - the golden Mask of Argamemnon

The National Archaeological Museum has been established since 1829 and houses the most significant archaeological treasures from all over Greece.

With Prehistoric, Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean exhibits, as well as other collections, you will need to leave some good time in your itinerary to enjoy this feast of history.

Located at 44 Patission Street it is again easy walking distance from Plaka.


Entry is 7 Euros and the museum is open from 8.30am to 3pm except Sundays when it is open from 1.30pm to 8pm.

Take a private guided tour of the National Archaeogical Musuem - 3 hours



Athens Stopover - The Port of Pireaus

Pireaus - port of Athens

Most ferries to Crete leave Pireaus in the evenings and travel overnight, so you will have plenty of time for a good day exploring Athens. Relax and enjoy, and of course leave plenty of time to get to the ferry, remember it is quite a walk within the large port of Pireaus to your departing ferry.

Pireaus is the largest passenger port in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It accommodates over 20 million people each year. For those coming in from other ferries, it is handy to know that there are good services available at the port, like left-luggage, a 24 hour café with internet and a little bus to take you along the dockside.

When coming from the metro to take the shuttle bus, cross the road on the new pedestrian footbridge, with lifts, and to your right there is a shaded waiting-room. Next to this there are shuttle buses that take you around to the Anek or Minoan or Blue Star moorings. Just tell the driver which boat you are taking.



Choosing a hotel for your Athens stopover

Plaka at the base of the Acropolis - a little village amongst the chaos of a big modern city

We recommend the relative quiet and charm of Plaka at the base of the Acropolis and central to Athens. Of course in summer availability is a challenge so we can’t emphasise enough to book ahead.

It will make such a difference to the quality of your stay in Athens.

We choose smaller hotels (with 30 or so rooms), with a rooftop terrace, where we can enjoy the view to the Acropolis. We also like hotels with atmosphere and beautiful architecture, of which there are a few in central Athens.

Below you will find some budget hotel options, as well as some stylish inner city hotels.

The Downside - we must remind you that Athens is a noisy, busy, big, modern, hustly bustly city. The traffic, taxi drivers and noise can be an issue, and pickpockets, even if the famous smog nefos, is ancient history since the Olympic cleanup.



Athens Stopover - Small Hotels

Athens Greece Hotel - see all our selected accommodation locations on our interactive map of Athens...




View Larger Map



A for Athens Hotel

A for Athens - rooms and apartments just so close to Monastiraki Metro stop and Plaka and the Acropolis. Acropolis views. Modern and crisp with smooth lines, a very comfortable stay.

A for Athens - Rooms and Apartments...



Adrian Hotel. This small hotel is in Plaka and represents good value. It is a small hotel with only 34 rooms. Make sure you request a balcony with a view to the Acropolis, perfect for an Athens stopover. The terrace for breakfast has a wonderful view of the Acropolis and this starts off the day in a special way. This hotel is a bit shabby but is in an excellent central location for exploring Plaka.

Details and rates at the Adrian Hotel, Athens




Metropolis Hotel

Metropolis Hotel. This small very centrally located hotel is near the Athena Cathedral in Plaka. Also near Ermou Street, a popular shopping street, it has only 21 rooms and lots of features for the discerning traveller, such as air conditioning and double glazed windows, which help with the noise of Athena.

More details and rates for the Metropolis Hotel...




Acropolis Select Hotel

Acropolis Select Hotel. This hotel has a terrace with Acropolis views, and again is a small stylish hotel. An excellent location with everything in walking distance and a more up market three star hotel, ideal for an Athens stopover.

Compare rates on the Acropolis Select Hotel...




Hotel Philippos

Hotel Philippos. This hotel is within walking distance of Plaka and again is a delightful small hotel. Some of the rooms have views from the balcony so be clear when you are booking to request one with an Acropolis view. Very safe and handy location and a good three star hotel.

More details and rates for the Hotel Philippos...




Art Hotel

Art Hotel - a little outside our usual location and may require a taxi or metro ride to stroll through Plaka, for those looking for a luxury boutique hotel. A renovated neoclassical building from the 1930s, an eclectically decorated interior and a modern hotel. Some great rates are available...

More info and rates for the Art Hotel...



Athens Stopover - Getting Around

Getting around Athena is easy with the modern Metro. Coming from the airport, which is 27 km out of the centre of town, you have options of taxi, metro, local bus service or regional train service. See information at:

  • www.ametro.gr for the Metro
  • www.aia.gr for Athens International Airport

To pre-book a taxi transfer - this service provides a driver and transport to meet you at the airport, put your luggage in the vehicle and take you to your destination with a pre-arranged price. This service is especially handy for groups or families, with a minibus service available. We prefer it for peace of mind.

Check transfer prices here…



Athens Stopover - Festivals

Hellenic Festival - This image is Epidauvros Theatre during the Athens Epidavros Festival held annually

The Hellenic Festival, with events in and around Athena, including Epidauvros, from May to September, this festival is the epitome of summer in the Greek year.

Also known as the Athens Epidauvros Festival, it encompasses so many art forms from ballet, theatre, opera and contemporary dance to exhibitions and workshops of all rich varieties.


The Petras Festival runs from May to September featuring the best in Greek theatre and concerts in Petropoulis, Athena. See the works of Aristophanes, Sophocles and Euripedes performed.




Athens Stopover - Guides and Books

The only guidebooks we have ever needed for Athens are the Lonely Planet guide to Greece, and the Lonely Planet Encounter Guide to Athens. These are both available below.

Some interesting reading about Greece and Athens is included below, 'Winds of Crete' is a little dated (1974) but well worth the read for its authenticity. 'North of Ithaka' tells of one woman's return to Greece from the diaspora.

'Greek Fire' is an easy to read account of the relationship between opera singer Maria Callas and shipping icon Aristotle Onasis. Written by a journalist, the eye for detail and history makes it an excellent backgrounder for visiting Greece.

'Eurydice Street' (2004) is a down-to-earth and realistic account of one woman's relocation to Athens, her discovery of all things Greek, and her intelligent integration into Athens life, together with her husband and two children.

The following titles are recommended reading for those visiting or relocating to Greece.






Athens Stopover
On to The Greek Islands

If you are heading on to the Greek islands on the way to Crete, we have plenty of tips for some of the most beautiful islands such as Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Hydra...and those close to Crete such as Kythera and Karpathos...



Flights to Athens

Options for cheap flights to Athens Greece, and information on the Athens airport hotel which is a convenient option for a first night's stay after a long haul flight.



Images...

Images of Athena in all her moods...

Ancient Agora (image by Charbel)The ancient Agora of Athens is at the base of the Acropolis, now a beautiful green space in the centre of the city
Plaka at the base of the Acropolis - ochre coloured village home (image by Rosino)Plaka is at the base of the Acropolis in Athens


The view from my hotel at breakfastThe morning view from my hotel in Plaka

Acropolis and Plaka - the view from my breakfast tableThe view from my breakfast table in Plaka

In the Agora - this view with the Stoa in the backgroundHere I am exploring the Ancient Agora - the Stoa in the background, Acropolis above...

Ancient AgoraExploring the Ancient Agora with a friend - looking up at the Acropolis

Agii Apostoli in the ancient agora at the base of the AcropolisAgii Apostoli in the Ancient Agora - Αγιοι Αποστολοι Αθηνα

Strolling Ermou Street with friendsI took the metro to Syntagma and went strolling on Ermou Street with friends...

Ermou Street Cafe Scene - LucafeI loved the lively cafe scene on Ermou Street - this is Lucafe

Cafes downtown - corner of Ermou and EvangelistriasCafes downtown - corner of Ermou and Evangelistrias

Ermou Street - chapel from 11th Century - Εκκλησία της Παναγίας ΚαπνικαρέαςHere I am on Ermou Street - chapel from 11th Century - Εκκλησία της Παναγίας Καπνικαρέας

This is the small chapel next to the main cathedral - Agios Eleftherios MicropoleosThis is the small chapel next to the main cathedral - Agios Eleftherios Mitropoleos - one block from Ermou near Syntagma

Agios Eleftherios - detailAgios Eleftherios - detail

Exploring Plaka - surprise detailsExploring Plaka - surprise details

Plaka cafes - nice shady spots to relaxPlaka cafes - nice shady spots to relax

Dafnes Restaurant in PlakaI relaxed in Dafnes Restaurant in Plaka - in the lovely shady courtyard

Acropoli Metro stop signAcropoli Metro Stop - I got off here to visit the Acropolis Museum

Acropolis MuseumThe views from the Acropolis Museum are brilliant - this is Mount Lykavittos

Roof Cafe - Acropolis MuseumEnjoy the sweeping views to the Acropolis from the Museum cafe on the rooftop - well worth a visit

Lykavittos from Acropolis Museum cafeViews over rooftops to Mount Lykavittos - from the museum cafe

Acropolis Museum - reflections of the ParthenonAcropolis Museum - reflections of the Parthenon

The Metro is clean and modern with good signageClean, modern Metro stations

Marousi Metro signageVisiting Marousi in north Athens...

Metro signage is in Greek and EnglishMetro signage is in Greek and English

Irini Stadium all ready for a gameColours of competition at Irini Stadium

Nuts for sale before the game at Irini StadiumNuts for sale before the game at Irini Stadium

All set up at a cafe - taking a break before exploring MaroussiI am all set up at a cafe - taking a break before exploring Maroussi

Kifissia park near the MetroKifissia park near the Metro

Meeting a friend for coffee - KifissiaMeeting a friend for coffee in Kifissia


Videos of Athens...


The video below shows highlights of modern Athens...




The video below features the Acropolis Museum...




The restoration work undertaken at the museum is highlighted below...











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