With all the chat about Greek’s financial woes, you’d almost expect Athens to be a city full of destitute people and burnt out buildings. And whilst sadly there are certainly an increased number of homeless, a lot of empty shops and the odd riot squad dotted around, travelers really need not worry.
Greece today is 99% as safe to backpack in as it was 10 years ago, if anything you’re likely to get a good deal on your hostel as people fight for your business. Athens proved to be a lot cheaper than I thought it would too, which is always great, and maintaining a $40 budget per day is definitely doable.
Make sure to check out the top 5 things to see in Athens, they’ll blow your mind:
1) The Parthenon in the Acropolis:
Just to clear up the confusion (read: my confusion), the Acropolis is the whole walled ‘town’ within which lies the Parthenon, the famous building with the columns.
This is one of those bucket-list sites that absolutely lives up to expectations. It really highlights the full glory of the Greek Empire. Get there early, around 8am, to beat the thousands of tourists and tour buses that crank in around 10am. There are a few other great sites to occupy you within the Acropolis (the Theatre of Herodes Aticus is particularly cool) but it’s the Parthenon which takes the cake, awe-inspiring.. ($15)
2) Temple of Olympic Zeus:
The name alone sounds pretty bloody cool, and it’s within walking distance of the Parthenon. The Temple of Olympic Zeus took 700 years to build and although not much of the temple is left, the sheer size of the columns that still stand is hugely impressive. ($included in Acropolis ticket)
3) Lykavittos Hill:
Not for the faint hearted this one, especially in summer, as it’s a scorching hike to the summit. From the top of Lykavittos hill you get an awesome view of the whole of Athens, you can see the Acropolis sitting proudly in the centre, the Mediterranean shining in the distance all amidst drops of sweat dropping from your forehead. Don’t go in the middle of the day, it’s a killer, trust me. ($0)
4) Panathenaic Stadium:
Any sports fan will love this one. The stadium was built in the 4th century for athletics but arguably more prominent is the fact that this was the stadium that hosted the first ever Olympic games, all the way back in 1896. Pretty damn cool. ($5)
5) Changing of the guard at Parliament:
Every hour the traditionally dressed guards switch it up in front of the Greek Parliament building in the city centre. It’s well worth a watch, even just for their ridiculous walking styles.
Athens has been awesome, I’ve seriously loved it, and there are so many great travel deals available. The only reason I’m not heart broken to be leaving is cos I’m off to Santorini next, can’t wait. Happy travels!