Whenever you search online for opinions on visiting Athens, you’ll find many contrasting ones.
Apparently, it seems you can’t have a middling opinion about this city.
It seems that tourists either love this city or are frustrated with it.
So, is Athens worth visiting? This article will help you to decide.
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Why are there strong opinions about Athens?
Well, this lies in the core of Athens itself.
Athens is a historical city where the modern world blends in seamlessly.
You’ll see Greek history encapsuled in this city: science, art, hardships, disasters, better days, and beauty all rolled into one.
For visitors to appreciate Athens, you need to appreciate everything this city has been through.
It’s not just superficial tourism here, though there’s plenty of this too if this is what you want.
So, the ultimate question, is Athens worth visiting?
It’s a resounding yes! The Greeks have done wonders for modern society as we know it. They advanced science, education, philosophy, and much more besides.
Thanks to its innovations Ancient Athens was once of the most followed societies in the world and as a result, influenced most cultures on our planet.
While many civilizations were engaging in battles or concentrating on farming, Athens was studying and innovating.
Reasons why you should visit Athens
There are so many reasons why a visit to Athens is worth it.
Here are some of them.
The history: archaeology
Even if you’re not all that into ancient history and archaeology, it’s hard not to get excited about some of the ancient sites in Athens.
As far as archaeological sites go, the Acropolis and Parthenon are the jewel in the crown.
The ruins themselves are astounding but the view from up there is the cherry on the top.
These places were built around 2,500 years ago, which is impressive when you consider they didn’t have all of the tools and technology we have in construction today.
Keep In Mind – If you are going to Athens to visit the historical sites, it’s best to go at dawn or dusk (or just before/after) as the sun is much more forgiving.
It will also be considerably less busy at these times too!
The history: museums
If you’re a history buff, you’ll probably want to visit some museums.
The Acropolis Museum is a must-do for a trip to Athens.
It’s also a great location for scorching days or when you want to cool down a while.
The museum has lots of information and insights on the city as well as art.
As well as the Acropolis Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Athens has some excellent artifacts.
These include bronze statues of Poseidon and Zeus, the mask of Agamemnon and the Antikythera Mechanism to name a few.
Other museums to take a look at include:
- the Benaki Museum of Hellenic Culture
- the War Museum
- the Museum of Ancient Technology
- the National Gallery of Art
- the Criminology Museum
- and much more!
Ancient sites aside, the city of Athens has lots of beautiful architecture.
As you walk around the city, you’ll be amazed by the iconic and beautiful buildings you come across.
Start in the heart of the city, its historical center, and walk through Plaka.
Here, you’ll see some traditional buildings that date back to the 1800s. This includes the 17th-century original Athens university building.
The center of Athens is awash with neoclassical architecture.
Head to the Exarchia and Koukai neighborhoods if you want to see Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings blending in among the 1930s apartment blocks.
You’ll also see lots of Byzantine architecture, including churches that date before the Neo Hellenic state.
What’s More – There are also remnants of the Ottoman Empire with mosques and the Bathhouse of the Winds.
Concrete and Graffiti
In the 60s and 70s, Athens exploded in size.
Lots of this happened with concrete and tower blocks in narrow streets. Generally, you’ll see a lot of concrete and gray around the city.
The graffiti showed up in abundance when turmoil and hardship hit. You’ll see images as well as call to actions and political messages.
There are actually programs dedicated to maintaining and preserving the best examples of this street art!
While you can, of course, admire some of this street art, it’s obvious that many people who visit this city are put off by this aspect of it.
But, like any city in the world, this also tells a story and tells a part of its history – just like the Parthenon does.
You simply can’t beat Greek food.
Whether it’s the simple, humble street food like gyros wraps or a staple like spanakopita (spinach pie), no one goes hungry around Athens.
Street food aside, traditional cuisine in Greece is one of the healthiest and tastiest in the world.
You will be able to enjoy cold cuts, meat platters and many vegetarian and vegan delights too.
Eating in a taverna is an unforgettable experience, especially those with dancing and live music.
There are also many high-end restaurants if fine dining is your thing.
Greek coffee is a staple. You’ll find all sorts of coffee, including many cold varieties too.
Traditional Greek coffee is also a little different but certainly worth sampling.
Athens is awash with different sorts of cafes.
You’ll find traditional cafes, historically themed cafes, and modern cafes all over. You won’t be able to try them all!
If you enjoy going out, you’ll love Athens.
Like all metropolises, it really is a city that never sleeps. The nightlife in Athens is vibrant and diverse, and there is something for all tastes.
You’ll find you can party until dawn if you so wish!
The bars in Athens offer a wide range of beverages including local beer, wine, and cocktails.
You’ll also be able to find international brands of beer too.
There are many themed bars, including:
- high-tech bars
- art-themed bars
- and cinema bars
One bar that’s certainly worth a visit is Vrettos. This is the oldest and has been going more than a century.
Final thoughts on Athens
So, after all, is Athens worth visiting?
We certainly think so. Even for people who aren’t that into history, Athens is appealing since so much of modern life was developed and influenced by people who lived in this part of the world.
History aside, there is so much more to the city – the food and drink are certainly worth sampling too!
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