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.

The Parthenon,   Greece

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)

  Acropolis Greece

Greeking Food tour
Greeking Food tour
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)  

Temple of Olympic Zeus Athens

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)

view from Lykavittos Hill

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)

  Panathenaic olympic Stadium

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.

Changing of the guard in Athens Greece

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!

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8 thoughts on “Backpacking in Athens, Greece; 5 Things to See in Athens

  1. Johnny, I’ve been to Athens twice in my life, and you are spot on about these recommendations. Honorable mention goes to spending a night out in Plaka, the vibrant little hub of cobble stoned streets and open patio restaurants just below the Acropolis. Did you get a chance to check it out while you were in Athens?

  2. Yep we spent 3 days in the Peloponnese. We rented a car and drove from Athens to the Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth, Acrocorinth, Mycenae, Argos and spent the night in Nafplio. Day 2 of driving we went to Sparta, Mystras and spent the night in Areopoli. Our last day we drove to the Diros Caves, Kardamyli and Messene and then back to Athens. When I look back on it now it seems like we did a ton in those 3 days but I think we were energized with pure adrenaline and were able to see so much and enjoy every minute of it! Renting the car was a bit expensive especially considering we don’t drive manual so had to get an automatic which really limits your choices at the European car rentals. Overall I think we fit in as much as possible into our 8 day trip to Greece and would happily go back there again!

  3. We went to Greece last year for 8 days and absolutely loved it! We spend 2 days in Athens, running around like crazy to see all the historic sights but also got to relax on the beaches of Santorini for the next 3 days so I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time there too! If you haven’t been to the Peloponnese region it’s gorgeous – Nafplio is a cute historic beach town, Mystras, Acrocorinth and Messene are awesome anicnet sites.

    1. hey vicky, i had a similar itinerary to you actually – loved it, so amazing. I didn’t make it to the Peloponnese though 🙁 i’ve heard it’s amazing, did u spend any time there?

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