Heading to Athens for the first time? Oh, you’re in for a treat! Athens is a city where ancient history and modern vibes meet. It’s a place where every corner tells a story, waiting for you to discover it. It is not just a trip; it’s an experience that will stick with you.

But going somewhere new can feel a bit scary, too. Don’t worry. With a few simple tips, you can make your Athens adventure not just good but great. It’s all about knowing a little bit before you go so you can dive right into the fun without missing a beat. 

Here are some tips to make the best of your trip!

Visit the Acropolis Early

Visiting the Acropolis early is a smart move for any traveler to Athens. This ancient citadel, home to iconic structures like the Parthenon, draws visitors from around the world. By arriving right when it opens, usually at 8 a.m., you beat the large crowds and the midday heat, especially during the summer months when temperatures soar. The morning light offers a softer, more golden hue, perfect for photos, and the cooler air makes climbing up to the site more comfortable.

An early visit also allows you to truly appreciate the beauty and historical significance of the Acropolis, including the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike, in a more peaceful setting. Plus, starting your day at such an inspiring place sets a positive tone for the rest of your adventures in Athens.

To make the most of your visit, consider purchasing an acropolis combo ticket online in advance to avoid waiting in line. This way, you’re one of the first to enter, ensuring a serene and enriching experience at one of the world’s most magnificent ancient treasures. However, there’s something important to keep in mind: your ticket lets you visit each listed site only once, and you have to use it within five days from the first time you use it. This means you must plan your visits carefully to ensure you get all the benefits.

Wear Comfy Shoes

Wearing comfortable shoes is a must when you’re exploring Athens, especially if you’re planning to visit the Acropolis and other historic sites. Athens is a city of uneven paths, steep steps, and lots of walking. Comfy shoes will be your best friend as you navigate through the cobblestone streets of Plaka, climb up to the Acropolis, or stroll around the Ancient Agora.

Choosing the right footwear enhances your walking experience, ensuring you can explore for hours without discomfort. It’s not just about comfort; it’s also about safety. Many ancient spots have surfaces that could be slick, so shoes with a good grip are essential. They help prevent slips and falls, allowing you to navigate these historic areas confidently.

So, before you pack your bags for Athens, make sure to include a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes. 

Try Greek Street Food

Trying Greek street food is a must-do for anyone visiting Athens. Greek cuisine is famous worldwide for its delicious flavors and fresh ingredients. Street food offers a quick, tasty, and affordable way to experience a wide variety of Greek delicacies. Imagine biting into a warm pita filled with juicy souvlaki or gyro, complemented by crisp vegetables and a dollop of tzatziki sauce. It’s not just a meal; it’s a burst of flavor in every bite.

Don’t miss out on other street food favorites like spanakopita (spinach pie), tiropita (cheese pie), and loukoumades (honey-soaked doughnuts). Each of these offers a glimpse into the rich culinary traditions of Greece. Eating street food also gives you the chance to mingle with locals and experience the vibrant Athenian culture up close.

Use Public Transport

Using public transport in Athens is a smart and cost-effective way to explore the city. The Athens public transport network includes buses, trams, and the metro, which can efficiently take you to almost all the major sights and neighborhoods. The metro, in particular, is known for its reliability and covers many tourist attractions, including the Acropolis, Syntagma Square, and the Plaka district.

To use public transport, consider buying a travel card or tickets that suit your stay, such as a 24-hour or multi-day pass. These options can save you money and the hassle of buying tickets for each ride. Remember to validate your ticket before you start your journey to avoid fines.

When using public transport, it’s essential to keep yourself safe. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you, especially in crowded places. 

Watch the Sunset at Cape Sounion

Located at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, Cape Sounion is famous for its breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and the ancient Temple of Poseidon. This historic site provides a stunning backdrop for one of nature’s most beautiful displays: the sunset.

To fully enjoy this magical moment, plan to arrive at Cape Sounion in the late afternoon. This gives you enough time to explore the Temple of Poseidon, built in the 5th century BC in honor of the god of the sea. Walking among the ancient ruins, you can feel the history and mythology that permeate this place.

As the sun begins to dip towards the horizon, find a comfortable spot to sit and watch the sky transform. The sun setting over the Aegean Sea paints the sky in vibrant shades of orange, pink, and purple, with the silhouetted temple creating a stunning contrast.

Bringing a camera is a must to capture the awe-inspiring scene. Also, consider bringing a light jacket, as it can get breezy by the sea in the evening.

Learn a Few Greek Phrases

Learning a few Greek phrases can truly enrich your trip to Athens, making your experiences more authentic and engaging. Simple greetings like “Hello” (Γειά σου – Ya sou for one person or Γειά σας – Ya sas for a group), “Thank you” (Ευχαριστώ – Efharisto), and “Goodbye” (Αντίο – Antio) can go a long way in showing respect and appreciation for the local culture. Ordering food and drinks with a “Please” (Παρακαλώ – Parakalo) or asking for the bill with “Can I have the bill, please?” (Μπορώ να έχω τον λογαριασμό, παρακαλώ? – Mporo na echo ton logariasmo, parakalo?) also becomes smoother with a bit of Greek. Even if your pronunciation isn’t perfect, locals will appreciate the effort, often responding with warmth and helpfulness. 

Wrapping Up 

Remember, the essence of Athens isn’t just in its monuments but in the rhythm of daily life and the warmth of its people. These tips aren’t just about seeing a city; they’re about experiencing it. So, go ahead, embrace every moment, and let Athens reveal its wonders to you. Your first time in Athens is just the beginning of what could be a lifelong adventure. Safe travels, and enjoy every minute of your journey!