Athens, Greece is a beloved tourist hot spot — and for good reason. Architectural wonders and historic crumbling remains of once towering structures dot the landscape. The trip requires some planning and research. Here are some pros and cons to get you started.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — One of the most wonderful places you will ever visit — if only for the temples and nothing else — is Athens.
I have always wanted to go, since I was little, for many reasons. The Olympic Games were held there. Plus, I am a little bit obsessed with the Greek mythology and history. When the opportunity to visit Athens presented itself — along with a ride on a Mediterranean Cruise — I jumped on it.
Now, it’s not perfect. There might be things that you don’t enjoy. But, overall, it was a great visit and definitely a good story to tell home.
To be able to visit the Parthenon and all the other magnificent ruins and paths around it was an incredible adventure. For me, the fact that some of them have lasted so long, despite climate changes and the tremors that shake this area of the world, is beyond incredible — real proof they don’t build like that anymore.
Now for the pros and cons.
- You get to visit an amazing city and its landmarks.
- The views from the Acropolis cannot be summarized with words. You can see the whole city all from different angles.
TIP: Here is where a good camera and zoom lens comes in handy.
- The city has wonderful food, and it’s indigenous to that part of the country.
TIP: Go for the vegetarian gyro.
- Almost everything is within walking distance from the hotel or port.
TIP: Use shoes that provide traction, especially for going up the steps to the Acropolis. Those stones have been polished smooth by the thousands of shoes that walk every day, and they can be very slippery in some places. If you don’t have shoes like that, just hold on to the banister. Trust me: it will save you a scare — and your bottom from slamming into the stones. Ouch.
- Use the Hop On, Hop Off buses. Not only do you get to see the whole city, landmarks you maybe didn’t know were there and small city markets, you also get professional commentary and have the ability to get off in places that that interest you. Once you are finished, grab another bus at the same stop and continue where you left off.
TIP: The buses have free WiFi on board. This comes in handy if you don’t want to pay for the overpriced WiFi on cruises or slow internet services in hotels.
- Athens is very expensive. Of all the Mediterranean cities we visited (10 in total), this and Portofino, Italy were the most expensive ones. You really get the least for your money here — especially if you’re traveling with your significant other. All the prices shown below double, and that’s just for entrance costs.
- You might think it’s overrated. This was not my case personally, but it depends on how much you built up this place in your mind. Adjust your expectations. Think of ruins, and use your imagination. It’s better to be surprised by something you didn’t overthink than to be disappointed.
- Avoid going on a rainy day. A trip might be spoiled in rainy weather, because everything is in the open air. I advise looking into the regular weather patterns prior to traveling, or, if possible, when planning your vacation.
- You will be on a time crunch. If you arrive by cruise, know that the trip from port to the city center is about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. Depending on how many hours the cruise has to stay on port and the time you were able to actually get down from the ship, you will most likely have to rush. Cruises will leave without you.
- It is a little crowded. If crowds bothers you, you may want to bypass a trip completely. It’s the most crowded place I’ve ever seen in my life.
These are the places we — that is, my husband, kids and I — visited. I recommend following this order to see the evolution of the temples, from the most dilapidated to the best preserved.
Temple of Hercules: €8 per person
Acropolis: €20 per person
Temple of Hephaestus (except museum): €8 per person
Acropolis Museum: €5 per person
Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus: €17 per person
One final tip:
Mediterranean cities are very hot and humid in the summer months. You will need to bring water, sunscreen and a cap or sunglasses with you. Everything is uphill, too, so you you’ll want to protect yourself from UVV and UVA rays as much as possible. Don’t forget to re-apply sunscreen every couple of hours to keep it working as it should.
Now, with all the pros and cons listed above, I can tell you that my family and I had a great time. Our baby enjoyed the whole trip, as well. We had a baby backpack and a camel pack to bring water for the three of us, and it all worked out great. Doing this trip with children is actually not bad, and it should not dissuade you from traveling anywhere you want.
I hope you enjoyed the information I collected from my trip and found it useful. If you needed a recommendation to go to Athens, wait no more. It’s beautiful, and I recommend it.