After booking the Acropolis Museum for a 12 – 2pm entry (to minimise time in the midday sun), we needed something to see beforehand. No time for lazy mornings here!
The perfect solution was the Panathenaic Stadium, just a 2km walk away (via our quickly found favourite coffee shop, of course).
This stadium was pretty impressive; home of the first modern Olympics in 1896 (thanks to campaigning by a Frenchman named Pierre de Coubertin), and built entirely of marble. It can hold 80,000 spectators, and did so not too long ago, breaking the world record for attendance at a basketball game.
Entry was only 5€, which included an audio guide and entry to the museum. The museum was enjoyable, it houses all of the Olympic torches, as well as a history of the Olympics and the official posters for each year.
The end of the stadium tour timed nicely for our museum entry time slot, and after another 15min walk we were at the museum. Most of the main archeological finds of the Acropolis found their way to this museum – or London/Paris (but don’t bring that up here, bit of a sore subject as they want them back!). Lots got ruined by the Venetians too when they arrived and stripped the Parthenon, planning to send it home. Instead, they basically smashed it all when trying to get it down, d’oh!
Great views of the Acropolis from the top floor of the museum (it was designed with this in mind), and a lot to see in there.
Even underneath the museum, the newest addition that opened this year is a section of the original city they found, pretty impressive. Also, a welcome shelter to what was a 33 degree hair-dryer wind!
After a bite to eat we put on our headphones and let our good friend Rick Steves guide us through the city centre. This took about 2hrs, and much of it we’d stumbled across the day before, but it was good to know what we were looking at.
He also guided us to a neighbourhood there was no way we were going to find, Anafiotika. What a hidden gem!
The laneways are so narrow they actually look like private paths. It’s known as ‘little Anafi’, due to being built by residents of the tiny Cycladic island of Anafi who came over looking for work when Greece claimed its independence in the 19th Century.
You could easily forget you’re in the middle of a massive, polluted, graffiti-ridden city; it’s like being transported to a remote Greek Island (temporarily, it’s only small!).
With our walking tour complete, we headed for Lycabettus Hill – the highest point in the city.
Despite being half the height, the Acropolis was crowned ‘the highest point in Athens’ when it was built – this hill was outside the city boundaries and therefore didn’t count.
Incredible panoramic views at the top of the hill, after a slightly odd cable car to get us up there; it cut through a small tunnel in the hill and had advertising projected on to the walls, it felt more like a very poor fairground ride!
At 7.50€ each return we couldn’t complain, we were not up for walking that hill in this heat!
After a refreshing beer at the top, we headed back down to the metro station and headed home.
A very early morning to catch our flight to Milos awaits!
- If you have an audio guide, do the acropolis first and the museum after. It’s better to understand where everything comes from.
- Mea Culpa: definitely purchase skip the line tickets for the Acropolis. It was a lot busier today and worth a skip the line ticket.
- Head to Lycabettus Hill for the best view of the city, preferably at sunset. Worth stopping at the bar below for a nice drink with a view.
Fun fact – if rich people want to drive into the centre of the city then they own two cars, one with an odd letter ending number plate, and one with an even letter. Legislation requires cars alternate each day in order to reduce omissions, so it’s the only way if you need to drive in every day!
Distance walked: 19,807 steps – 12.55km