24 Hours in Athens — The City of the Gods
“The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it.” - Epicurus
According to Greek mythology, the gods chose places that would serve as the best places for admirers to pledge their worship to them. And rightfully so, Athens has everything you’d want in a city: some of the most iconic architecture in the world resides here, as well as some of the best places to eat in all of Europe.
Athens was named after the Greek god Athena who fought Poseidon in a great battle centuries ago. Now the capital of Greece serves as the battleground against man’s greatest foe, time, as we aim to answer the question of traveling questions. Just how much can you do in a day? The answer is infinite.
Arriving in the city of gods can be a big step for just a mortal man, so what better way to begin your trip than to take a walk into the past. Even for those who are not interested in history or mythology, in Athens it is impossible to skip the most important buildings of antiquity.
The Acropolis always comes out at the top of the list of things to see in Athens. The most famous of the Western world's ancient sights continues to impress even the most cynical of tourists as they begin their ascent up the marble steps toward the graceful Parthenon. Views from up here are astounding, with the city sprawling as far as the eye can see. Visiting early in the morning beats the heat and the tour buses.
Plaka is the city's oldest neighbourhood, resting on the slopes of the Acropolis. This is the old Ottoman quarter, oozing with atmosphere and overflowing with cafes, boutiques and fascinating architecture. Its maze of cobbled streets is perfect for getting lost in, giving wanderers the chance to discover cafes and bars where they can indulge in strong freshly-brewed coffee, or even stronger ouzo (anise flavoured alcohol), among locals. Plaka is at its best in the early evening and is also home to some of the city's most evocative hotels.
Additionally, one must go to Syntagma Square, an important place for residents since it’s here that all of the most important cultural and political events take place — below ground level of the square is one of the largest transport junctions in Athens. The main attraction of the square is the parliament building within the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the sentries of the presidential guard.
Let us not forget that for most of the year, temperatures in Greece are very high and the sun shines very intensely. Which is why after visiting the city it is a good idea to rest under the tall trees behind Syntagma Square. These are national gardens, planted when the parliament building was simply a royal palace centuries ago. This area is open from dusk till dawn, offering incredible views of the 15 acres of land. There are fleeting moments here that transport you to a completely different setting well before our own time. Once déjà vu has settled, it might be best to move on as time is of the essence.
As the sun begins to set, you are probably getting hungry. The Greek dishes known throughout the world always taste the best here because they are made the way they were intended – using a combination of home-grown ingredients and a personal touch. If you find yourself wanting to visit one of Athens restaurants during your 24 hours, then we suggest you try the specialties. Dolmades are delicious, the only way to describe them is to liken the dish to cabbage rolls — the fillings of this dish contain mostly onions and garlic with a pinch of pine nuts, perfect for vegetarians.
If we were to pick one restaurant for you to visit, it would have to be the Dyosmos Restaurant at Freattydos 42A. A visit here is not just an adventure within the flavours of Athens, but also a voyage around Greece — as the views here are unparalleled to anything else seen in the city.
Athenian nights are filled with music, dancing and dining. Rustic and authentic, Perivoli Tou Ouranou is a rembetika club with almost palpable atmosphere. Filled with the sounds of violins, mandolins and guitars pelting out traditional blues-like music. Athens more mainstream club and bar scene is spirited to say the least. Hedonists however, flock to Venue, one of the more popular locations for some of the world's biggest parties.
Summertime film screenings are extremely popular among both residents and tourists. The cinemas screen films from Greece, as well as the rest of Europe and the US. The cinemas are mostly located in the Glyfada district on the outskirts of Athens, but there are many other open-air cinemas close to the city centre. It's a wonderful way to spend an evening and the perfect end to your final hours, below the stars among those who live this everyday.