Athens: dirty, crowded tourist trap not worth visiting. In the run up to my recent work trip to Greece, that was what I kept hearing, and it surprised me. Although I admit to being more likely to get excited by the city than the average tourist – full disclosure: I minored in Classical Civilizations – I don’t think my scholastic background is the only reason I enjoyed my visit in 2006. So, would it be different 7 years later?
Nope. Athens is still pretty cool in my book! I only had one day to sightsee and decided to hit up some of the big ones again. Back in 2006 I may have remembered exactly what each temple was used for, but this time I had the advantage of knowing how to take pictures. The Acropolis deserves far better than I gave it the first time around.
The Acropolis isn’t the only game in town, however. I started out at the Panathenaic Stadium, home to the first modern Olympics in 1896. The impressive marble bleachers were worth a photo but not the entry fee since you can see everything from the street for free.
Next up: the Temple of Olympian Zeus with its massive columns. See the tiny people?
And yes, I may have a minor obsession with this particular archeological site. The friend who took that 2006 trip with me will commiserate with you on that!
Part of what gets me so excited about Athens is that you can be walking down a modern street, with modern buildings, only to turn a corner and catch a glimpse of the Parthenon. How can anyone not find it cool to have ancient ruins mixed in with the normal daily life of a big city?!
So far during my morning exploration, I’d been just as impressed by Athens’ sights as before. But now I was on track to hit the Acropolis just before midday, which any guidebook will tell you is prime tourist hoards time. My good opinion of Athens was about to be put to the test.
Info: The Panathenaic Stadium costs €3 to enter. Entry includes an audio guide and the option to run on the track, but unless you’re really into sports and/or want to live out your track and field fantasies, I’d skip it.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus costs €2 by itself, but it makes sense to skip that in favor of the €12 ticket that also gets you into the Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Ancient Agora, Theater of Dionysus, Kerameikos and Roman Agora. It has fab columns and is totally worth the short walk from the Acropolis.