Working for a Greek Cypriot company, and being an avid fan of Disney’s Hercules a trip to Athens has always been on the bucket list! With family over from Australia who also wanted a history kick we decided to combine a few days in the city, and the hop over to one of the islands (Corfu) for a few days relaxation at the end.
We arrived on a Wednesday afternoon and headed by taxi to our accommodation located in Omonoia. We booked an AirBnB apartment due to our travel group, the 4 bedroom apartment hosted by Philippos was great! Spacious and clean and in a great location to walk to the historic sights (and only a few minutes from the metro).
After dropping of our bags we headed out for an afternoon walk to Monastiraki, the flea market part of town with many shops selling souvenirs and restaurants to grab a bite to eat.
The next morning we headed of early, with a stop at the Greek bakery on the corner near our apartment for breakfast and snacks (they sell the pastries by weight and they are cheap and amazing!! The coffee was great to!).
We walked from Omonoia to the Acropolis of Athens, from a distance it looks very uphill but actually only took about ½ an hour from the apartment. You can buy a combination ticket if you plan on visiting other sights around Athens (we did) for €30 and you get entry into the Acropolis and six of the other archaeological sites including the Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Library and the Roman Agora. It was a good plan to get here early, by the time we finished (around 11am) the places was swarming with people.
From the Acropolis we headed down to the Ancient Agora (about a 10 minute walk), and had a nice wander around the grounds – don’t miss the Hephaisteion or the Stoa of Atallos, both impressive to see today and also to give an indication of the grandness that the place must have had back in history! In the evening we head to Pireas on the metro for dinner by the sea, numerous sea food restaurants line the shore.
The next morning we headed off to our first stop of the day (after our obligatory bakery visit), to Syntagma Square, an important place for Greek history and also the location of the parliament building (formerly the Kings Palace). Here you can see the Evzones (elite soldiers) guarding the tomb of the unknown soldiers. From here we walked to the Panathenaic Stadium, the worlds only stadium made of marble, and the home of the first modern Olympics in 1896. We didn’t go inside as you can get a great view of the stadium from the front.
Just next to the stadium is Temple of Olympia Zeus, and although there is not much left of the ruins (15 columns remain standing of the 104 which were once there) it was still worth a visit! Nearby is also the Arch of Hadrian, erected in 132AD as a gate between the Roman city of Athens and the ancient city. We ended the afternoon at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (not included in the pass mentioned earlier).
Overall I enjoyed the historic and tourist sights of Athens and am definitely glad I got the see it, two full days and a half day was enough to cover all the big sights. The bits in-between the tourist areas in city are quite run down (and dirty in places), you can see the effect recent troubles have had, so although for the history I would say everyone should go once, as a city it wouldn’t be my first pick in Europe to return to again.
Saturday morning we headed to the airport and caught the 1hr flight over to the island of Corfu. Second largest of the Ionian island group, defined by rugged mountains with lush greenery. We stayed in the resort of Agios Ioannis (about ½ transfer from the airport), and stayed at the Primasol Louis Ionian Sun. Mostly German clientele the hotels itself was a good standard, with great food on the All Inclusive option. We choose this hotel because of travelling with a family, it had the rooms, food plan and entertainment all in one, but if I were to return I would stay somewhere a little closer to Corfu Town as any day trips we wanted to take meant waiting for the one bus to come (which was sometimes full by the time it got to our stop) or an expensive taxi ride. As these last few days of the trip was meant for relaxing, we only got out to visit the water park (which was fantastic) and a trip to the picturesque Corfu Town which is also not to be missed! I’ll definitely return one day to explore the island a bit more!