Oh Athens. I can't really tell how i feel about Athens. We originally planned to arrive in Athens in the mid-afternoon and just spend one night there on the way to the Amalfi Coast. Our flight from Santorini was changed and we ended up flying from Santorini to Athens at 7AM.
Things were weird with the flat we were staying in, we were exhausted, and really just wanted a place to refresh before going out again. I know scams are in every city you go to, but the aggression we saw around the base of the Acropolis was insane. There are between 4 - 6 women that just wander the street with dozens of roses basically walking up and PLACING them in women's hands. You think it is just a nice gesture, but NO. They demand some Euros from you. I was shocked at the amount of girls I saw that were suckered into this. Just be aware, know it is coming and say no as they are walking up to you. Don't even let them have a conversation with you.
I think because of all those factors we started out on the wrong foot with Athens. Of course, I didn't do a whole lot of planning so we found ourselves wandering around. We managed to make the best of it, so here are the things to do with just 12 hours in Athens.
Maybe we were naive to think that gyros would be all over any Grecian city we went to, but we really didn't find any in Santorini. We made sure our brunch included gyros, so we found the SMILE Restaurant. It is a mom and pop type restaurant and has huge gyro plates. We were thoroughly satisfied after eating here.
If you go between May and September, you are going during the warm months in Athens. I highly recommend hopping on the coffee + gelato train! There are a ton of walk up places where you can get this, but I found a place at the base of the Acropolis Hill called Ice Queen Gelato. They basically make a coffee drink and then choose what flavor gelato you want to add! It is the perfect cold treat while giving you some energy!
Save some room for falaffels. I read a few articles that said we had to try Falafellas. We took a 18 minute walk from our apartment to this place. It is a small restaurant. We ordered at the outside counter and ate outside. We decided to just get two items and share so we didn't ruin our dinner. We tried the falaffel and the meatball falaffel. Both were super delicious!
For your dinner (with a view), make a reservation in advance at 360 Cocktail Bar. I believe I added a note in my reservation that I wanted a view of the Acropolis. We arrived about 20 minutes early, but our table was already ready for us! We made sure to make our reservation about 45 minutes before sunset, which ended up working out for us. We weren't the closest table to the railing, but because we were there ahead of sunset, there was no one at the table for awhile. Take advantage and take some photos. If you are a cocktail drinker, this is the place to try some interesting cocktails. We also opted to share a bunch of appetizers because our Falafellas appetizers ended up filling us up more than we though. The food at 360 Cocktail Bar was actually amazing and the atmosphere made it even better. It was cool to see the Acropolis as the sun set and the lights were turned on to illuminate it.
Things to Do
The main attraction in Athens is the Parthenon and the Acropolis. I wish we would have known, but in May, we didn't really need to buy skip the line tickets as there was no line. We also ended up missing the meet up time for our tickets so we had to buy entrance tickets anyway. I would expect that the skip the line tickets would come in handy in the summer when it gets a lot busier. You can purchase the tickets we got here. Give yourself about an hour or two to wander around. There is an initial walk up a hill and some stairs to get to the top. It is pretty amazing to be able to see the Parthenon and Acropolis up close! Be sure to take in the views from the hill of all of Athens.
Take a walk through Vyronos Street. I know if we would have been in Athens for one more day, we would have come and hung out on this street. There are a TON of souvenir shops and really cute restaurants on the side streets.
Walk through the Monastiraki Flea Market. Just like Vyronos Street, there are a ton of souvenir shops as well as stalls to purchase produce and other foods. This flea market is right next to the 360 Cocktail Bar, so it is convenient to check it out before or after eating there.
Are there any other places you recommend checking out in Athens with only 12 hours? Leave it in the comments!