I’m almost done wrapping up my trip report from my family’s 2023 European adventure. In case you missed any posts:
- Back from 2-week European Adventure
- Everything that went wrong on our European trip
- Air France: Our business class flights and CDG lounge experience
- Review: Hyatt Centric Murano Venice
- Review: Big House Colosseum Apartment in Rome
- Roaming around Rome with teens
- Odyssey of the Seas: Hits and Misses from our European Cruise
- My biggest pet peeve from recent European Trip
- Visiting Santorini: A dream come true
- Mykonos: Better than Santorini?
- Tips for visiting ancient Ephesus, Turkey
- My recent visit to the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii
- Location, location, location: Hilton Rome Airport Hotel
- Review: Acropolis Hotel, Athens, Greece
- Why we fell in love with Athens, Greece (this post)
My family’s summer European cruise did not include a stop at Athens, Greece. Since the cruise ended in Rome, and I’d always wanted to visit Athens, I decided I would make it happen at the end of our trip. My husband and boys opted to fly home while my daughter and I extended our trip with a short flight to Athens.
My primary reason for visiting Athens was to see the Acropolis. I’ve always thought it looked magnificent, and I love strolling through outdoor ancient ruins. But, my daughter and I ended up loving Athens for more than just the Acropolis. Visiting Athens turned out to be the icing on the cake of our 2023 European vacation.
Our impressions of Athens
My daughter and I noticed a few major differences between Rome and Athens. First of all, the city is much quieter. There is no car honking! I asked a tour guide about that, and he said it’s rude to honk.
We also noticed that the city is very clean. There is no trash littering the streets. Most buildings are white or light-colored. Looking at the city from a viewpoint, it’s a sea of white.
Cats are important in Greek culture. There are cats wandering everywhere. Some like to be pet, some don’t. Businesses sponsor cats and provide them with food and water. Souvenir shops are filled with cat-related items. My daughter LOVED this because we can’t have a cat in our house due to allergies.
Athens has a beautiful waterfront area that’s not too far from the Acropolis.
In addition, compared to Italy, Athens was less expensive. Bottled water was just 1 Euro a bottle, even at the airport! Our hotel was inexpensive, as were the prices in restaurants (compared to Italy). The food was delicious!
Here are the main things we saw during our short stay in Athens.
The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is a separate building/entrance from The Acropolis.
It’s filled to the brim with statues and other treasures excavated from the Acropolis area.
We walked below the museum to see the excavating that is still happening underneath the museum:
My 12-year-old daughter did not love this museum, and this was her least favorite thing we did in Athens. But I thought it was fascinating.
This is the city’s main attraction. It’s really magnificent. Getting to the top wasn’t too horrible with alternating stairs and gravel paths. We didn’t do a tour but instead listened to Rick Steeve’s free audio tour.
There’s more than just the Parthenon building pictured here. There are some smaller temples and an amphitheater (where Yanni performed). We walked around the Parthenon a few times to soak it all in.
I definitely recommend visiting the Acropolis in the morning if you’re there during the summer. As you can see, there is no shade. In addition, be very careful walking around. As with many ancient ruins, it’s made of slippery marble. Some staircases warn you to be very careful.
My daughter and I spent one evening at Lycabettus Hill.
We took the funicular to the top. There is a hiking trail to the top that I thought would be difficult, but it actually didn’t look too bad. Next time, we may just hike it up.
At the top, there is a small church, a few restaurants, and spectacular views of Athens.
We spent some time admiring the view before eating dinner at one of the restaurants.
The top does get more crowded the closer it gets to sunset. But still, it wasn’t too crowded compared to other places we visited on our trip.
It was so cool to see the landscape transform as the sun went down.
As it turned into night, the crowds got thinner. However, the cable car and restaurants are open until 2:30 a.m.!
Our evening at Lycabettus Hill was one of our most memorable nights of all our travels.
Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion
My daughter and I took a private tour to visit the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. There isn’t a great way to get here by public transportation, so you have to either rent a car or take a tour.
Since we were on a private tour, we had some options of places to visit before timing our arrival to the Temple of Poseidon at sunset. We stopped at a few places along the way for the views:
We also spent some time at a beach. The water was freezing, but it was beautiful and peaceful.
We arrived at the Temple of Poseidon shortly before sunset. It was not crowded at all. Viewing the temple and the surrounding area at sunset was absolutely stunning.
Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped at the Panathenaic Stadium, the home of the first modern Olympic Games.
On our last morning in Athens, we walked around the Plaka neighborhood. It felt like we were back on Mykonos.
We did not have enough time to fully explore this old section of Athens.
The city of Athens exceeded my expectations. The food, the views, the ruins, the cats…all of it. I wished my husband was there to experience it with me. We decided that we need to return to Greece on a future trip to spend time in Athens in addition to one of the Greek Isles.