I crammed as much as I could into this Athens Mini Guide, and I’ve probably only scratched the surface.
See, Greece will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first destination I ventured to without the protection of my family or the guidance of a travel agent. My cousin and I explored the beautiful islands of Greece for 10 whole days, falling in love with this country we knew so little about.
It was really our first experience truly traveling. Of course, we had visited places like the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, but that was “vacationing” rather than traveling. Greece taught us there was a distinct difference between the two.
We learned a lot throughout those 10 days. From what we would do different next time (less luggage, more comfort) and what we would encourage others to do if given the chance to go to Greece. Despite barriers like their economic instability or the language, Greece is a place you will fall in love with.
You’ll have to fly into Athens, so you should give yourself a few days to explore the ancient city that is rich in history and culture.
Definitely do some shopping in Plaka, the town center right below the Acropolis. Grab a Café Freddo (iced coffee) from one of the local coffee shops and wander the streets. We aimlessly roamed the alleys and roads like a maze, having no agenda or schedule to follow. If you get a little lost you just might stumble upon a great hole-in-the-wall shop.
Visit the historical Acropolis of Athens, with ancient buildings, landmarks and beautiful photo ops. You can snag a cheap tour guide through TripAdvisor, or climb to the top on your own. Either way, once at the top you’ll get gorgeous views of the city that will take your breath away.
Many backpackers and travelers come in and out of the city every day. Check out some of the local bars, especially the section of Gazi for nightlife. The Athens Backpackers Rooftop Bar (also a convenient hostel) is full of travelers from all over the world! Get a drink at the bar and listen to people’s stories of where they’re from and where they’re going.
When it came to food, we knew very little when we started planning this trip. A few visits to our local Greek restaurant got us acquainted with some of the traditional foods that would soon become staples in our diets… Pork souvlaki, spanakopita (spinach pie), traditional Greek salads, hummus and pita, feta cheese and chicken gyros. Many of the restaurants in Greece will offer these staples, and they are out of this world.
Be sure to grab a gyro from a local street vendor and eat it like a native, right from the wrapper!
Our first meal in Greece was at a little restaurant in Athens, a few feet from our hostel near Plaka. We sipped homemade wine, ate our first spanakopita and realized we were about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. Ten days later, when our adventures were coming to an end, we came back to the same restaurant and ordered the exact same meal. Started and ended on the same high note.
Greece has over 6,000 islands and inlets… Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Corfu and Paros being some of the most well known.
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