Tourism in Greece has been on the rise, or so it seems based on the iconic Instagram photos on its islands. However, its capital Athens has a distinctive aura of its own. This guide illustrates some tips for exploring Athens like a local.
Athens’s delicate balancing of the old and new surfaces from its most crowded ancient ruins, monuments and museums. The city is dotted with standard points of historical interest amongst eclectic neighborhoods. Right next to the renown Acropolis and its ancient ruins is Plaka, a marketplace and lively district packed with eateries. For less crowds but almost as much value, the ancient Agora near the Monastiraki district is another worthy visit.
For a breath of fresh air, Lycabettus or Parnitha National Park are vantage points worth hiking up to. The former can also be reached via cable car, while the latter requires a bigger time frame to explore. Both afford incredible views.
Though Plaka is a nice neighborhood to look around, many of its restaurants are overpriced, catering to tourists. Though its own marketplace carries more material goods, you won’t fall short of authentic eateries in Greece as long as you know where to look. From Central Market to Monastiraki flea market, cheap but worthwhile indulgences abound. Not particularly for food, but another neighborhood that must be mentioned when it comes to shopping is Ermou St.
Despite its fame for Athenian ancient ruins, hip spots too are sprinkled throughout the city. Exarcheia will fascinate so-called ‘anarchists’, or any politics buff; Kolonaki will satiate the tastes of any luxurious dweller; an abundance of urban-chic bars and cafés stand between Syntagma and Monastiraki.
Nuggets of localised facts are not only hard to come by, but nearly impossible even for the most eager traveller to land upon. Without intensive time and research, tourists rarely unearth the unfiltered, genuine knowledge of the people that hasn’t been tampered by tourism or government agencies’ PR speak. Talk Travel App was borne of a wish to resolve this gap between what travellers want and what they’re likely to get. Get started from your Android or iOS device.
Expectations vs. Realities
Some are surprised by how many locals speak English; some may be underwhelmed by the amount of English. That said, it’s a tentative 50-50. There isn’t much of a barrier per se, culturally or linguistically, as it’s been a long-established tourist hub; however, not everything is necessarily all laid-out in an English-friendly manner.
Athens is very pedestrian-friendly. Though most other historic monuments can easily be reached by foot and more often, clustered in walkable distances, a representative instance is the Archaeological Promenade. It’s a 2.5-mile long tree-lined walkway starting at the Acropolis to continue onto all of Athens’ major archaeological sites.
For more efficiency, the subway/metro system runs to most places. A 24-hour ticket for unlimited travel at ~$5 may be a suitable option for short-term visitors, while a single ticket costs ~$2 and multi-day tourist ticket~$22. Additionally, a tourist ticket grants you an airport round-trip, is good on all public transportation for 3 days.
Extra concerns – Traveling as a woman, or with a child
Especially as a tourist central, petty crimes are rife. Most of them are pickpockets you can ward off with basic precautionary measures and vigilance. The same logic applies for traveling as a woman. Just like you now to be especially on your guard in Athens, simply be extra aware and careful as a woman – no particulars outside the commonsensical steps of prevention. If you feel overwhelmed at all to be noted as a traveller at constant risk of being ripped off, just think of it this way: when the city is laden with potential targets (i.e. tourists), it doesn’t take much to get criminals off your back (i.e. they’ll give up on you easily, at slight hints of your defense-ready state). As for children – since they naturally are unlikely targets of petty crimes, there’s no need to worry. Besides, Athens is an all-around family-friendly destination.
Oftentimes, researching doesn’t suffice to relieve us of the emotional discomfort in advance to visiting foreign places. That’s where Talk Travel App comes to your rescue. By connecting a pool of travel experts to be at your service, we unlock greater potential for you to learn from your travels.