What Not to do in Athens – 17 Mistakes Every Traveler Makes

What Not to do in Athens – 17 Mistakes Every Traveler Makes

This post is all about what not to do in Athens, Greece.

Athens is a city that’s on everyone’s bucket list.

With all the ruins, historical landmarks, tasty food, and jaw-dropping landscapes – it’s easy to see why everyone is flocking to see the wondrous Athens.

Planning a trip to one of the most known cities in the world is overwhelming, It can be so easy to make a few simple mistakes.

Here’s a complete list of what NOT to do in Athens. These are 17 common mistakes most travelers make in Athens, Greece.

what not to do in Athens

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

Before you read about all the things you should NOT do in Athens, here’s a free printable checklist of all the things you SHOULD do!

things to do in Athens

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What Not to do in Athens – 17 Common Mistakes Most Travelers Make.

1. Not Staying Long Enough

what not to do in Athens

Athens shouldn’t be a city to explore conveniently just because of your flight plans. Yes, 1-day Athens planners, I’m looking at you!

This city is the oldest capital in Europe. It’s also massive and there is so much to do.

So, how many days should you spend in Athens?

I would recommend spending a minimum of 3 full days in Athens. However, 5 days would be ideal.

To consolidate your plans, check out my list of 21 things to do in Athens.

2. Booking Accommodation Far Outside the City

Whenever I hear someone say they didn’t enjoy their trip to Athens, my first question is always “Where did you stay?”

Just like most major cities around the world, staying in an Airbnb an hour away from the city center can certainly make or break a trip. In Athens especially, it’s easy to end up somewhere not ideal for tourists.

Stick to staying in the neighborhoods of Psiri, Monastiraki, or Plaka.

All the neighborhoods I mentioned above are touristy, but within walking distance of most attractions and good restaurants.

If you are wanting to stay in a neighborhood more authentic, but still near the tourist hotspots, check out Exarcheia.

This is where a lot of young professionals live. It’s also a big artistic community where you’ll see punk rock-themed bars and graffiti everywhere. There are loads of good restaurants and bars in this area.

3. Eating at Tourist Trap Restaurants

what not to do in Athens

Most of the time, when waiters are standing outside a restaurant heckling people to come inside, the food is not good.

There are parts of Athens that are touristy and have good restaurants, and other parts that are touristy that have bad restaurants. Plaka is one of those neighborhoods that is beautiful and has lovely shops but is notorious for its bad food.

Of course, the best food in Athens can be found in the residential outskirts of Athens where you likely won’t be. However! As mentioned; Psiri, Monastiraki, and Exarcheia all have wonderful dining options and are near the city center.

A few of my favorite restaurants are Bandiera, Oineas, and Avli.

4. Thinking It’s Warm Year-Round

Believe it or not, Greece can get cold. When I volunteered at a hostel in Athens during the month of November, travelers would check in all the time shocked that it was freezing. In fact, at times it can even snow (though this is rare).

While Athens is warm most of the year, it’s going to be chilly from November – March.

5. Just There For the Ruins

what not to do in Athens

Athens is packed with all kinds of ancient monuments worth seeing. The Parthenon, the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Panathenaic Stadium, the list goes on!

Oftentimes, travelers jam-pack their 2-3 day itinerary full of these tours and rarely leave room for the other parts of Athens that make it so great. This can lead a traveler to feel as if their trip is a history lesson rather than an enjoyable experience. It can totally be both!

Be sure to save time in your itinerary for eating at tavernas, the national gardens, or having a cocktail at Clumsies (one of the best cocktails in the world!)

Nobody likes a trip planned so tight, that it makes your brain hurt. So prioritize your list of monuments you’d love to see, but don’t overdo it.

6. Not Having Enough Cash

While cards will get you through most places in Athens, you’ll always want to have a few euros with you. There may be occasions where you need to tip a tour guide or pay for your meal in a cash-only taverna.

7. Ordering the Wrong Food

Greek food is some of the best cuisine in the world. Be sure to do just a little research on what to order, and what to expect.

Here is a quick cheat sheet to help you:

Authentic greek salads don’t have lettuce. Typically, they consist of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, green bell pepper, red onion, olives, and feta cheese.

In Greece, gyros & souvlaki are the traditional meat dishes, not kebabs. Souvlaki is meat skewers with pork or chicken. Gyros consist of your choice of shaved meat wrapped in pita with toppings. Of course, you will find kebabs in Greece, but souvlaki and gyros are the traditional dishes.

Most restaurants serve ouzo and a small house dessert after every meal.

Fresh orange juice is a must You’ll find it at any coffee shop or bakery.

Saganaki Cheese is a delicious appetizer.

While there are many well-known Greek desserts, Loukoumades are famous in Athens. These Greek donuts are a scrumptious treat for any foodie.

8. Skipping the Nightlife

what not to do in Athens

Athens has some truly amazing nightlife. Don’t skip out on it! Some even declare Athens as “the new Berlin”.

Whether you’re looking for techno clubs, bougie cocktails, or dive bars – Athens really has it all.

Here are a few of my favorite nightlife spots in Athens:

-Techno: S.I.X dogs (weekends or special events only), BLAST Athens, or anywhere in the Gazi neighborhood.

-Cocktails: Barrett, The Clumsies, Juan Rodriguez

-Dive Bars: Handlebar, Bad Tooth

9. Not Watching Your Stuff

Just like in any major city, travelers will need to keep an eye on their belongings. Before you leave for your trip, make sure to get anti-theft purses or day bags.

Also, be sure to have your valuables locked up, even when you leave your room or Airbnb.

Hotels and hostels that have 24-hour security will greatly reduce the risk of your belongings getting stolen.

10. Staying at an Airbnb

Athens Hub Hostel

Airbnb (in my opinion) is NOT the move in Athens.

There are times and places when I prefer Airbnb over hotels & hostels, but Athens is not one of them.

Athens is so big, you can easily catch yourself in a neighborhood that is still in Athens but is nearly 2 hours outside the city center.

The hotels & hostels in Athens are generally better located and are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Check out my favorite hostel in Athens here.

11. Thinking You’re Getting Freebies at Meals

During my first week in Athens, I couldn’t understand how I kept getting mealtime “freebies”.

In most authentic greek tavernas, you will always be served some type of bread, a small dessert, and ouzo with your meal.

Of course, there are variations of this tradition depending on where you dine. If you don’t receive any of these traditional dishes, you are probably dining at a tourist hot spot.

12. Eating too Early

what not to do in Athens

Mealtimes tend to be later in the day in Greece.

Lunch is typically served 2-3 pm and dinner around 9 pm.

13. Not Taking Metered Taxis

Not only should this rule just apply in Athens. but in every big city!

For transportation, you can take the subway, taxis, or Uber.

If you’re taking a taxi, just double-check BEFORE you get in the vehicle that you can see a meter. Or haggle with the taxi driver on a flat rate beforehand.

14. Forgetting to Cover Up in Churches & Monasteries

what not to do in Athens

Stunning and historic churches are all over Athens. It’s expected to cover up and dress a little modestly to enter.

15. Thinking Tap Water is Dangerous

While water on the greek islands is not safe to drink, in Athens it’s perfectly fine.

Although safe to drink, there’s always a chance that your body isn’t used to drinking water in other countries. Check out life straw water bottles so your water is always filtered.

16. Buying Weird Souvenirs

what not to do in Athens

Don’t get me wrong, weird souvenirs are a special type of awesome sometimes. In Athens. you will notice many of the souvenir shops all sell the same items. Most of the time, these “greek souvenirs” are not even made in Greece.

Here are ideas for traditional souvenirs to buy in Athens that you will love:

-olive oil

-custom leather sandals

-greek honey

-gold jewelry

17. Not Knowing a Few Greek Words

Most Athenians speak English, but it’s still important you learn a few Greek terms just so you can be more aware of your experience and surroundings.

Kalimera – good morning

Kalispera – good evening

Kalinichta – goodnight

Yasou – hello or goodbye

Parakalo – please/you’re welcome/ (also used when answering the phone)

Efcharistรณ – thank you

Tikanis – how are you?

Nai – yes

Thelo – I want

What Not to do in Athens

Overall, this list should be taken with a grain of salt! There simply is no right or wrong way to travel when you’re on vacation. I hope this post provided you with some tips for traveling in Athens.

Book Trusted Athens Tours Below

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21 Important Things to do in Athens You Can’t Leave Greece Without Doing

21 Important Things to do in Athens You Can’t Leave Greece Without Doing

This post is all about things to do in Athens Greece.

It’s no secret that Athens is one of the most exciting cities in the world – and has been for thousands of years.

This ancient city happens to be the oldest capital in all of Europe (even older than Rome!)

 things to do in Athens

This post may contain affiliate links, which means Iโ€™ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.

In the months I’ve spent in Athens, I’ve often found travelers’ most common mistake is only booking 1-2 days.

Athens is big, and it feels like every corner you turn you’re greeted with a historical landmark.

Here are 21 things to do in Athens Greece.

Don’t forget to print your FREE Athens Checklist Printable.

 things to do in Athens

My Athens Essentials

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Top Things to do in Athens Greece


1. Acropolis

One of the most fascinating landmarks of Athens is, of course, the Acropolis.

The Acropolis of Athens is a rocky complex consisting of several buildings of great historical significance. The most complete building still standing today is the famous Parthenon.

This structure sits high in the middle of Athens, dominating the city and illuminating the night.

Be sure to make a visit to the Acropolis your top priority in Athens. Check out this Skip the Line Acropolis tour with a licensed archaeologist.

Acropolis

2. Tour the Ancient Agora of Athens

There are two Agoras of Athens – the Ancient and the Roman.

Once a thriving marketplace for Athenians, the Ancient Agora is a predominant piece of Athens history.

This complex includes the monumental Temple of Hephaestus, Stoa of Attalos, and a small museum.

Read my in-depth post on the Ancient Agora here

agora-of-athens

3. Panathenaic Stadium

Did you know the only stadium in the world built completely of marble resides in Athens? Only representing the most majestic theatrical experience for Athenians, this stadium is one of a kind.

Panathenaic Stadium

4. Watch the Sunset on Lycabettus Hill

Lycabettus hill offers one of the best views in the city.

To get to the top of Lycabettus, you can either climb the 200 steps to the top or take the cable car.

Lycabettus Hill

5. Take a Day trip to the Temple of Poseidon

Visit the temple dedicated to the “Master of the Sea”. Located on Cape Sounion, it’s just an hour from the center of Athens. This sunset tour includes full roundtrip transportation from the city.

6. See the Roman Agora

Constructed in the 1st century BC, the Roman Agora is another fascinating historical compound to see in Athens. Admire the gate of Athena from afar or pay 2 euros to take a stroll through the agora.

7. Acropolis Museum

After seeing the Acropolis, learn more about the history of the impressive structure at the Acropolis Museum.

Entrance to the museum is 5-10 euros. Additionally, it’s included in many Athens packages and tours like this guided tour here.

things to do in Athens

8. Anafiotika

Anafiotika is the charming neighborhood in Plaka that shows off its island-like architecture. With its white-washed buildings, clay pots, and bright colors, it’s one of the most colorful neighborhoods in Athens.

This neighborhood also offers one of the best viewpoints of the city.

9. Walk around Psiri & Monastiraki

Psiri & Monastiraki district is one of the trendiest areas of Athens. Streets are lined with cute cafes, fun nightlife spots, and stunning rooftop bars.

things to do in Athens

10. Eat chocolate cake at Nancy’s Sweet Home

Since you’ll be in Monastiraki, head to Nancy’s Sweet Home and get in line for one of their famous chocolate cakes.

11. Take a Free Walking Tour

Free walking tours are the best way to get to a new city without spending a fortune. Plus, it’s a great way to meet fellow travelers!

Click here to see the free walking tour I took.

things to do in Athens

12. Have a Cocktail at Clumsies

Rated one of the top 50 best bars in the world, The Clumsies is somewhere you must stop to have a drink.

I ordered a seasonal summer drink that came with a strip of sunscreen! Clumsies isn’t just any ordinary bar, it’s an experience.

things to do in Athens

13. Walk around Plaka

Plaka feels like a secret village in the center of Athens. Being the oldest neighborhood in the capital, a walk through the creaky whimsical streets beneath the Acropolis is a magical to experience.

14. Zappeion

The Zappeion is of the city center’s most well-known landmarks. Once used as the main fencing hall for the 1896 Olympics, the building is now repurposed for important meetings and ceremonies.

things to do in Athens

15. Stroll Through the Little Kook

Step into a fairy tale on one of the most unique streets in Athens! Little Kook is a completely themed street that changes themes every month. Not only is the street just decorated, but all the shops, cafes, and restaurants are too.

Some of my favorite themes have been Halloween, Christmas, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland.

things to do in Athens

16. Visit the Archaeological Museum

Showcasing extensive artifacts from Roman, Egyptian, and Greek history, the Archaeological Museum is yet another museum in Athens that is considered one of the best in the world.

17. See Syntagma Square

Syntagma square is often considered the heart of Athens. It’s one of the most popular spots in the city for shopping, protests, and other public meetings.

things to do in Athens

18. Walk Through the National Gardens

After you’ve seen Syntagma, head over to the beautiful National Gardens. The entrance is free, and it’s a stunning oasis in the center of Athens.

National Gardens Athens

19. Take Advantage of Athen’s Nightlife

What most people don’t know is Athens has a seriously amazing night scene.

S.I.X dogs is one of the most popular bars/clubs in the city. The venue transforms from bar to club depending on the day so be sure to check their schedule.

Other great bars are Juan Rodriguez, Barrett, and Handlebar.

things to do in Athens

20. Go to a Rooftop Bar

Athens is full of rooftop bars with a jaw-dropping view of the Acropolis.

Some of the best rooftop bars are A for Athens, 360 Cocktail Bar, and Couleur Locale.

rooftop bars in Athens Greece

21. Eat Traditional Greek Food

While Greece is full of beauty and history, I must say the best part of this country is the cuisine. Traditional Greek dishes are some of the tastiest in the world.

Don’t forget to try souvlaki, saganaki, a Greek salad, and wash it all down with Ouzo.

A few of my favorite restaurants are Bandiera, Oineas, and Avli.

Have a great trip to Athens and be sure to save this post for your future trip to Greece!

Planning your wardrobe for Athens? Check out my post on the best outfits for Greece.

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A Complete Traveler’s Guide to the Ancient Agora of Athens

A Complete Traveler’s Guide to the Ancient Agora of Athens

Visiting the Ancient Agora of Athens? Here’s everything you need to know.

athens agora

Aside from the Acropolis, I would consider the Ancient Agora of Athens to be one of the coolest historical sights to see in Athens.

Did you know there are two main Agoras in Athens?

There is the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora. In this post, we will be covering the Ancient Agora of Athens, which is arguably the most popular of the two.

What is an Agora?

An agora is simply a designated public spot for Greeks to meet; specifically for political, religious, artistic, and communal gatherings. The word Agora translates to “gathering place”.

The Ancient Agora of Athens

The Ancient Agora of Athens was founded in the 6th century BCE. It initially was used for military duty or to communicate statements from rulers. Over time, it evolved and served as a marketplace where Athenians would sell their goods and meet for cultural and religious events.

Spiritually, the Agora was considered a sacred place. Even the layout was designed to worship the holy road that ran through the middle, Panathenaic Way. This special road led to the traditional festival to worship the goddess, Athena.

monastiraki athens

Where to Find the Agora

You can see the remains of the Agora all throughout the grassy areas between the Acropolis and Monastiraki.

The Agora is not a building or a designated confined area, but rather a mass amount of land taking up a large area. You can even spot the metro tracks running along the outskirts of the complex.

The exact location of the entrance to the Agora and museum is: Adrianou 24, Athina 105 55

Ticket Prices

During high season, tickets are 20 euros.

Low season, tickets are 10 euros.

For European citizens under the age of 25, entrance is free.

The Athens pass or Combo ticket is 30 euros and includes entrance to many of the famous historical sights of Athens over the course of 5 days. This is a great value for tourists, especially if it’s your first time in Athens.

Where to get Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on location, this includes both a single entrance to the Agora and the Athens combo pass.

You can also get tickets on their official website here (however their website is glitchy sometimes!)

You can also purchase different combo packages on Viator or GetYourGuide.

Temple of Hephaestus

Located on the northwest side of the Agora on top of Agoraios Kolonos hill sits the Temple of Hephaestus.

This temple is well preserved due to its various uses and conversion into a Christian church. The Temple of Hephaestus has not been re-constructed and is considered the best ancient preserved temple in Greece.

Who was Hephaestus?

Hephaestus was the Greek God of Fire and Metalworking.

Worshipped by craftsmen, and frowned upon by others for being ugly and walking with a limp. Hephaestus was the son of Zeus and Hera, though Hera rejected him and cast him off Mount Olympus due to his disabilities.

Later, he gained revenge by returning and making her a magical throne, which did not allow her to get up once she sat down. How ironic!

It only seems fitting that one of the best-preserved ancient temples in Greece was dedicated to a craftsman.

agora of athens

Stoa of Attalos

Traditionally, a stoa is a covered walkway where stoics would gather and discuss philosophy.

It’s hard to ignore this massive structure as you walk through Monastiraki. Initially constructed in 159 BC, it served as a shopping center for Athenians.

Stoa of Attalos

Unfortunately, the building you see now is a reconstructed model to honor the original structure. The stoa was destroyed in 267 AD and reconstructed in 1956 with the financial support of American John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Inside the stoa is also the Agora Museum, where you can view ancient tools, furniture, and statues.

agora of athens

The Best Photo Spots at the Ancient Athens Agora

It’s hard to not want to take a selfie or two at some of the most iconic archaeological sights in the world. These are truly fascinating moments you’ll want to remember forever!

Front of the Stoa of Attalos

The massive columns lining the front of the stoa make for a memorable photo of your Agora experience.

agora of athens

The Backside of the Temple of Hephaestus

After climbing the stairs to Agoraios Kolonos hill, head to the back of the temple for a wider view. You can’t get a photo like this in the front, because the entrance is too close to the cliff facing the Acropolis.

Generally, there aren’t as many people lingering around in the back.

Athens photo spots

Front of Temple of Hephaestus

Okay, I know I just told you to skip the front of the temple for photos. While you won’t get the best photo of the temple on the front side, you will get a beautiful view of the Acropolis.

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Best Time to Visit the Ancient Agora of Athens

Famous archeological sights like the Acropolis and the Agora can get really crowded.

The best time to visit would be during the off-season months, October – March.

If you are traveling during the summer (peak season) try to visit first thing in the morning on a weekday.

ancient greece

How Long to Plan

Don’t underestimate the agora! Be sure to save two hours of your day to explore this fascinating complex.

Ancient Agora of Athens Hours

8am-5pm. The last entrance is at 4:30 pm.

Days for Free Entrance to Archaeological Sights

On special days of the year, some of the historical sights in Athens are free to visit:

  • March 6 – Melina Mercouri Day
  • April 18 – International Day of Monuments
  • May 18 – International Day of Museums
  • Last weekend in September – European Heritage Days
  • October 28 – Oxi Day
  • First Sunday of each month between November 1- March 31

Now you’ll be fully prepared to visit one of the most significant archeological sights in Athens, Greece!

This post was all about the Ancient Athens Agora.

Planning your trip to Greece? Check out my Ios Greece Island travel guide.

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