Sometimes I get lucky when I travel. This morning, for instance. I’m walking down the street in Athens and I suddenly find myself entering the famous Syntagma Square just as the weekly changing of the guard ceremony begins. Suddenly the quiet space fills with the sounds of the marching band and the colors of traditional Greek military uniforms. It’s a good thing I’ve found myself here, because with only 24 hours in Athens the probability wasn’t high.

Changing of the Guard, Athens

24 Hours in Athens

After watching the changing of the guard ceremony in Athens, I head deeper into the city center to see more of the sights. I haven’t been here since I was 14, so the Greek capital might as well be new to me.

View from the Acropolis, Athens

Thankfully I’m here with a friend who has traveled here more recently, and she leads me to the Plaka, a maze of markets and shops in narrow streets that line the ancient ruins dotted throughout the city.

Plaka, Athens

We let our senses be dazzled by the sights of blue Greek eyes and scents of fresh soaps and olive oils, ducking into chic shops like Forget Me Not to browse the design-led souvenirs that rise above the tourist tat.

Market, Athens

When sensory overload takes its toll, we stop for a tea break at Off White, a cafe near the ancient Agora. Its funky furniture and range of loose-leaf teas served in Japanese pots make for a great atmosphere to relax in. By the time we’re done sipping our infusions and taking advantage of the WiFi, we’re ready to explore some more.

Off White Cafe, Athens

We walk over to the Acropolis Museum, which opened in 2009 and replaced the rather tired old museum I visited as a teenager.

Acropolis Museum, Athens

The new museum is sleek and state-of-the-art, with beautiful open spaces displaying the antiquities of the Acropolis (or copies of the originals that sit back home in the British Museum—awkward). I love the design almost as much as the sculptures and statues, and I adore the fact that the outdoor cafe on the terrace has views of the Acropolis above.

View of Athens from the Acropolis Museum

After visiting the museum we head down the street for lunch at one of the many restaurants in the area. Cafe Eris has an outdoor table with our name on it, and we settle in for a lunch of moussaka and Greek salad as the flag on the Acropolis waves its white and blue stripes above us. It’s a decently good meal for such a touristy area, and gives us energy to take further advantage of our 24 hours in Athens.

Moussaka

We walk over to admire Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus, then escape into nature in the National Gardens. Lush and green, their big leaves form canopies over the earthen paths and pretty ponds.

National Gardens, Athens

Soon an avenue lined with the most beautiful purple flowering trees leads us to the pretty Zappeion exhibition center and up to Kolonaki, one of the most chi chi neighborhoods in Athens.

Zappeion, Athens

We walk through the narrow tree-lined streets, window shopping at the many florists and wine shops, and making a mental note of the sweet cafes and chic restaurants on Karneadou Street.

National Gardens, Athens

At the end of day we make the mandatory pilgrimage to the Acropolis. It’s the main event in Athens, and no trip to the city would be complete without visiting.

Acropolis, Athens

We follow the path up to the top of the hill, the ruins of the Parthenon looming ever larger as we approach.

Acropolis, Athens

Once there, we climb the steps and take in the ruins, marveling at the history and the expansive views of the city below.

Acropolis, Athens

Next to the Parthenon, which is under scaffolding, the Erechtheum steals the show with its beautiful caryatids, the originals of which we saw up close in the museum earlier (apart from the one in the British Museum—again, awkward).

Erechtheum, Athens

It’s magical here, and we’re glad we’ve come late in the day when the crowds are thin and the light nice for photography.

Acropolis, Athens

I’m happy to have ended my day in the Greek capital on a high note—both literally and figuratively. There’s a lot more to do and see here than I’ve had time for in just a day, but 24 hours in Athens have given me a chance to see the city’s main attractions and—luckily—some of its special highlights.

Have you been to Athens? What were your favorite parts of the city?

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24 Hours in Athens

12 Comments on Lady’s 24 Hours in Athens

  1. The slow pace
    May 26, 2016 at 9:05 am (9 months ago)

    Athens is one of my favoruite cities! It’s a tad chaotic but so wonderful and full of history! One of my favourite parts is Plaka. I know that’s sometimes a tourist trap, but I can’t help but loving the samll restaurants, lovely chairs outisde to drink frappés and gorgeous views of the Parthenon every time you look up!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      May 27, 2016 at 9:39 am (9 months ago)

      Yeah! I think it’s an underrated city. I enjoyed the Plaka, too. It’s so lively and colorful!

      Reply
  2. Suze - Luxury Columnist
    May 28, 2016 at 9:47 pm (9 months ago)

    I haven’t yet visited Athens though I’ve been to Greece, but the Acropolis and the Erechtheum in particular look stunning

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      May 29, 2016 at 9:43 am (9 months ago)

      Yeah! They’re lovely. Athens is definitely worth a trip. The history there is amazing.

      Reply
  3. Sally - Mycustardpie
    May 29, 2016 at 10:02 am (9 months ago)

    That’s the magic of walking round a city without a rigid itinerary. You happen upon things and get a sense of the place rather than ticking things off a list. I’d love to stand on that point with a birds eye view of the city. Breath taking.

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 5, 2016 at 10:52 am (9 months ago)

      True! I love having time to explore a city without the pressure of a fixed itinerary.

      Reply
  4. Sunny D
    May 29, 2016 at 7:19 pm (9 months ago)

    What an amazing place Athens is! Zeus would be proud if he could see it now…which he probably can!

    Reply
    • A Lady in London
      June 5, 2016 at 10:53 am (9 months ago)

      Nice! I would love to have had a week to explore. I bet you saw a lot of places most people don’t get a chance to see.

      Reply
  5. sarah
    June 1, 2016 at 11:08 am (9 months ago)

    On the bucket list! 🙂

    Reply

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