Our first vacation to Greece was a hit! What a cool and interesting adventure it was. We decided to travel to Greece in July. I would say it was very, very hot weather wise but it was absolutely worth it. I’m sure it would have been better to travel to Athens in April, May, June, September, October or November. However, our schedules worked best in July so we went with it and made the most of it. It did not disappoint.
Where to stay?
We were a group of 9 (4 adults and 5 children), so we explored options such as villas for our whole group but in the end, we opted for a hotel. I am sure all the options would have been a great experience. For us, however, the hotel we chose was fab! We only had a 3 days before heading to Santorini. It was centrally located so we could walk to most places. It was great!
Hotel Grande Bretagne: The hotel rooms were spacious. The service was efficient. The restaurant on one of the upper floors is the shining star of this hotel. You have a direct view of the Acropolis while you are enjoying a mean. At night it is especially beautiful because they light it up at night!
King George Hotel: This hotel is next door to the Hotel Grande Bretagne but well located and also offers views of the Acropolis.
As an added easy attraction, across the street from the above 2 hotels is the Presidential Mansion and Hellenic Parliament. This leads me to my next segment.
What to do?
Changing of the Guards: This happens every hour in Syntagma Square, however, the official ceremony is at 11am on Sundays and is a more grand experience then the hourly ones.
The Acropolis and Parthenon: This is the main attraction to see when you are visiting Athens for the first time. There is a short but steep walk up but a very nice view on top. It becomes a very tough walk in July when it is extremely hot so carrying lots of water and sun cover such as a hat and even a sun umbrella would be a good idea. You would be happy to have it when you are in the midst of the heat. There are long lines to get tickets and enter so I would strongly suggest that you buy your tickets online and either have the bar code open on your phone or a print out. That way you can go straight in and essentially bypass the long line. If you want to add to your experience you can hire a guide to walk you through and give you explanations on the history. I have to say that I was really proud of all the kids walking up to the top even though they were feeling extremely hot. It was challenging but fun!
The Acropolis Museum: We all enjoyed seeing this museum. You get a chance to see a lot of the parts of the Parthenon that was damaged and you get to learn about the history in more detail. This is a nicely constructed museum. It is small so it can be complete in a few hours.
Doctor Fish: If you are feeling adventurous then this is a very… lets say unique experience! It is a foot spa experience where you put your feet in water with small fish that remove the rough skin from your feet. Very, very odd but worth going to see at least. My 9 and 11-year-old did it. We probably would not do it again but it was an experience that they had fun with… i think! This place is located in Plaka so it is easy to get to if you are walking around the area and exploring.
What to eat?
Athens has a lot of quick and yummy options as grab and go when you are walking around the town. These places are fairly inexpensive as well. We had fun exploring all these small places and since children get hungry every few hours, we did a lot of these little stops.
Dionysos Zonar’s: This is a must restaurant if you are in Athens. The food and views were excellent.
Tzatziki: This was a kind of a chain but good quick food. The kids were tired and hungry so we stopped for a yummy quick dinner.
Where to Shop?
Plaka: This is a great area with lots of shops and restaurants. There are mostly local shops where you can purchase clothing, soaps, souvenirs, furs, etc.
Monastriraki: Another area with lots of shops and cafes and local vendors. You get a real local feel walking around this area. There are lots of jewelry pieces of varying prices and fun little trinkets to look at.
Furs are especially popular item in Athens. Yes, this is very unexpected, but there are a lot of fur shops with authentic furs such as fox or mink or many other varieties. If you are in the market for this kind of thing, this is a place to look. Make sure to negotiate as well as shop around.
On to the next adventure…