Before my study abroad trip in Cyprus, a friend of mine and I decided to spend a few days in Athens, Greece. It is one of the most unique cities that I have ever been to. Many say that Athens is beautiful in a really “dirty” way, and I absolutely agree. Its filled with ancient charm, narrow european-esque cobblestone street ways, graffiti across the walls of unique stone and marble lining the streets, vibrant and home-y people, music, amazing cuisine, and a really specific smell that I happened to love. In Athens you can sense the one-of-a-kind culture/history luring in the streets and in the air. It was beautiful, and I would return in a heart beat.
One of the best thing about traveling in Athens is that it was extremely affordable. We decided to try and walk everywhere we could and use maps, or the metro if we needed to. The metro was free! The Greek economy was in poor shape at this point and you could feel it here. It was really interesting to experience this first hand. No one was checking metro tickets because the government couldn’t pay workers to do that, but the trains were still running. All our meals came down to less than $10 a person (including drinks) and were absolutely delicious. Sights are also very cheap to see. Six euros got us a ticket to all the archeological sights in Athens. AMAZING.
Accommodations: Hostel. Guys, when you travel in your 20’s, especially in Europe, I would 100% recommend staying in a hostel. It is so affordable, and super fun. You get to meet people from all over the world who are also traveling and they usually have fun activities as well like happy hours and breakfasts. If you’re worried about safety, just check reviews online! Make sure you’re in a safe part of town as well, in general, where ever you decide to stay. As for girls, you can also look for female-only hostels if thats what you prefer. I was with one of my male friends and therefore felt extremely safe. This hostel we stayed at was great. It was in the most central part of Athens (Monastiraki) and was super close to sights, restaurants, and shops. It had safety lockers in the rooms for our things, and free breakfast and happy hour. The staff was extremely helpful and friendly, and it was very, very clean. Here is the link:
Here are a few highlights of our trip:
Mt. Lycabettus – the highest point to hike up in Athens; this highly overlooked tourist site has a quiet restaurant and church on top of the mountain. You have to pay to see the view, or you can sneak into the backyard of the restaurant, hide behind their plants and bushes, and enjoy the sunset. We were both wearing green, and an old lady actually came out and started watering us because she thought we were bushes! It was hilarious and 100% worth it!
One of my favorite things to do is visit different neighborhoods in a city, away from the touristy areas; all kinds of authentic vibes, people, and local charm is something to really marvel. Here, we have a restaurant in Plaka, a quiet neighborhood filled with the most beautiful homes, lively locals, music, colors, flowers, and the warmest relaxed atmosphere. We spent hours eating and drinking frappe in one meal here on a terrace, simply because we did not want to leave.
While lost in a residential area below the Parthenon, we came across this Greek home in neighborhood of Plaka. They built a beautiful glass floor over the ancient greek ruins that the house was built on.
Glyfada- the suburb 20 minutes outside of Athens where a beach is located. Here’s the story: one of the days that we were in Athens, absolutely everything was shut down because of a strike. So then we decided to just see where the wind takes us! We went to the Parliament building first too see the strike first hand- lots of angry people and lots of signs. The streets were completely shut down but we weren’t sure if this was because they had closed them specifically for the strike or if so many people were crowding them that they just had to. After this, we saw a bunch of kids in swim trunks getting onto the metro and we made a spontaneous decision to secretly follow them. Literally, we stalked them to the beach haha. But they ended up (unknowingly) taking us all the way outside of Athens to the coast! And we spent the day on an amazing beach. Moral of the story: life can surprise you in the most amazing ways if you loosen up and let go of your expectations. A day that seemed like it was going to be a waste, turned out beautifully.
The Glyfada Beach.
Another picture of a street in the neighborhood: Plaka. Look how lively and vibrant it is!
Parthenon/Acropolis sight seeing.
An image of people dispersing the strike. In the back, the Parliament building.
A random street on the hundreds of walk we did to nowhere and anywhere. We made so many memories just walking along the streets, admiring, uncovering hidden gems, conversing, and attempting to read greek signs along the way. I wouldn’t trade this for the world. Travel tip: if you can walk somewhere, WALK!