Greece

Editor's Trip: 24 Hours in Athens

I was experiencing full-on rocking vertigo. Back and forth. Up and down. This continuous boat-like rocking sensation would last for a few hours until I got my “land legs” back. After spending a week sailing around the Saronic Islands, I, like many people, found myself with a brief stopover in Athens awaiting the long journey home.

As first-timers, my group mostly stuck to Plaka, the oldest neighborhood – and arguably the most beautiful – in central Athens. The area is known for its labyrinth of streets (mostly closed to traffic) and whitewashed Neoclassical architecture (not dissimilar to the islands). Our day was spent strolling along the narrow, cobbled streets visiting historic monuments sandwiched between sidewalk cafes and kitschy souvenir shops -- and punctuated by breathtaking views of the ever-present Acropolis perched above the city.

Of course, Europe’s oldest city has a myriad of unique things to do and neighborhoods to explore that aren’t easily covered in a day or 2, but with a little planning you can still see some of Athens’ best sights even on a time crunch. Here’s the perfect day in Athens to get your bearings.

Plaka Hotel Athens

Plaka Hotel

When you’re just passing briefly through a city, you want a hotel with 2 important features – comfort and convenience. You’ll find this affordable 3-star hotel more than fits the bill; it also boasts panoramic views of the city from its top-floor rooms and rooftop terrace. Though not in Plaka per se, it is centrally located near Syntagma Square and a short walk from Monastiraki metro station and flea market as well as the Ermou shopping district, where you can pick up some trinkets to take home if your luggage isn’t already overflowing.
Plaka Hotel

Kapnikareas 7, Athina 105 56, Greece

Call

Phone: +30 21 0322 2706

Fresko Yogurt Bar

Fresko Yogurt Bar

If you choose to skip the complimentary Greek and American breakfast at Plaka Hotel, treat yourself to classic Greek yogurt from Fresko Yogurt Bar – a popular spot with locals and tourists alike. Near the Acropolis, this café makes for a great stop on your way to or from a day of sightseeing. You'll choose from 5 types of thick, creamy and not-too-sweet yogurts (including traditional Greek, sheep and goat), served with locally sourced toppings like fresh strawberries, quince (similar to pear) preserves, walnuts and honey.
Fresko Yogurt Bar

Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athina 117 42, Greece

Call

Phone: +30 21 0923 3760

Moment Open / Getty Images

Acropolis

Yes, you’ll pass only tourists on the slow, steep and -- in the middle of the summer -- hot ascent up the Acropolis, but it is the most important ancient site in the Western world and must-see in Athens. As you wind up the dusty path, remember to pause at one of the Acropolis’ many lookout points to catch your breath, have a sip of water and take advantage of its unique vantage point of the city – a view equally breathtaking as the majestic marble Parthenon, the Propylaia gateway and Temple of Athena Nike that await you at the top. Continue your historic tour with a visit to Panathenaic Stadium, the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the starting point of the Olympic Torch Relay to this day. Now that it's open to the public, for a few euros you can find out what it feels like to run around the track in the center of 60,000-marbe seats, or if you’re short on time like we were, settle for a selfie taken from just outside the gates.
Acropolis

The Acropolis, Athens 10555, Greece

Call

Phone: +30 21 0321 4172

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