A friend from Los Angeles wrote to me asking for some advice and sharing a piece of news I loved:
“Hey Pilar, I read your blog. Congratulations! Interestingly, a couple of weeks ago I was checking out your Greek photos and got really inspired by them. I have an unexpected trip to Europe coming up and decided to use some miles to go to Greece! I haven´t planned anything and it´s a complete adventure!
My question is: I´ll be in Greece for 7 days at the end of November. Where should I go? What do I do in Athens? What were your favorite activities? Hotels vs Hostels? Economy vs Confort…or if you are too busy to answer, where do I find out?
Thanks a bunch!
I love the fact that my blog and my pictures inspired someone to take a Greek trip. I think it rocks! I am certainly not a Greece expert but I can share what I saw and what I experienced. I hope my ideas help you and others if they find themselves headed to Greece at some point in the future.
Because you have only one week, I wouldn´t go too far away from Athens, but stay in and around the city and if you want to take a day trip to a nearby Island, you can go to the island of Hydra, which is close by ferry (only an hour and a haf) and spend the day or stay overnight. All the other islands are way too far for a short stay, unless you fly. Check out the weather in the area, end of November is almost winter and the islands are supposed to be windy and chilly, but you never know, Greek weather is similar to California, or so they say.
In terms of accommodations I recommend you look up AIRBNB , there are a great number of options, including whole apartments, rooms in people´s homes and even rooms in hostels. When I made my decision about where to stay my initial impulse was to find an apartment for myself but as I was traveling alone I decided to stay in a private room in a hostel. This is the place that I will recommend for you because I love the place, it´s centrally located and the people that run it are the best: friendly, helpful and honest. If you are alone, there´s nothing better than to stay in a place with other travelers, so you can exchange tips and make friends, and to have people to advise you on where to go, how to get around and provide you maps and a nice cup of tea or coffee if you want one. Please say hi to Simela, Stavroula and Eva if you meet them. Love the girls. The beautiful house is walking distance to Metro, in a bohemian part of town that I´m sure you will enjoy being an artistic spirit. It´s also close to the Arqueological Museum, and incredible place you must visit.
If you want other alternatives, or want more privacy, just do a search on Airbnb or Booking.com and get yourself a whole apartment or a hotel room. Greece is not expensive, you can get a place for a reasonable amount of money. Stay near Syntagma Square or near the very practical Athens Metro with 3 lines that take you pretty much everywhere you need. Check out my post about Transportation and take advantage of the buses that take you straight from the airport to Syntagma Square, the main quare of Athens. You can also take Metro or a Taxi, but that will set you back 35 Euros (fixed price).
In Athens I recommend visiting:
Syntagma Square and the neighborhood of PLAKA (the oldest neighborhood of Athens, quaint, adorable, walkable, touristy). If you eat here, make sure you don´t go to the most obvious places where there´s a guy outside pulling you in. Those are expensive and probably not as good as the prices.
The Acropolis and Anafiótika. See here. If you can, download Rick Steves Audio Europe App on your phone and download the audio guides for guided walks around Athens, I used them and found them incredibly valuable to walk around town and appreciate the monuments, ruins and corners of the city.
For the same ticket you use to visit the Acropolis (12 euros) you can visit several other historical places in Athens. Don´t miss the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of my favorites but there´s plenty of other places to visit, all with the same ticket . Look here .
The Ancient Agora. The ancient “center of Athens”.
As stated above, you must check out the Archaeological museum and walk the streets of the Exarcheia neighborhood, close to the Hostel where I stayed. Check out Strefi Hill and eat around the area. This is a center for youth, anarchists and political activism, a very charming and interesting area.
If you are there on a Sunday be sure to check out the Monastiraki Flea Market and maybe eat in one of the restaurants for the locals who get together to sing old Greek songs and eat traditional food and ouzo on the rocks. If it´s not Sunday, you can still shop around this area for souvenirs, jewelry or beautiful alabaster figurines of Athena, the patroness of the city.
I hope you have a wonderful time. I recommend checking out this website for more information.
Enjoy the people of Athens and don´t forget to eat frozen greek yogurt or just plain yogurt with honey, fruits and nuts. It´s to die for.
Say hi to Greece for me and tell her I will be coming back next year.