Athens is a vibrant city full of young and creative people. Despite the fact that the city is still battling with some financial issues, it’s one of the top destinations for backpackers.
This is because travelers can feed, book for accommodation and stay entertained on a shoestring budget. Without wasting time, here are the 10 things you should know before heading to Athens.
Tips You Should Know Before Visiting Athens, Greece
1] Expand your knowledge base
According to history, Athens is the origin of the Olympics, western civilization, democracy, and philosophy to name a few. Athens has a rich history with lots of historical sites.
Learning about its culture will help you to plan your itinerary. It’s advisable to learn the common Greek phrases for better communication with the locals.
Millions of tourists visit the Acropolis Museum every year. You can access it via a secret back door so that you won’t spend hours waiting in the scorching sun.
2] Travel at the right time
Make sure that you travel at the right time which is often from October to April. The weather is usually pleasant around this period. Asides that, the number of tourists will be lower unlike during the summer season. Nevertheless, you can also travel during the summer.
There are lots of exhilarating experiences that await you in the city. Book day trips to the islands as a means of escape from the sweltering summer heat.
3] Pay with cash
Try your best to contribute to the Greek economy by buying local products such as leather, sandals, drapery clothes and olive oil. You can even get safe beauty products and quality herbs in the city. Most of the vendors with small stores prefer cash to credit or debit cards. This is a smart way to reduce tax for both parties.
Visit the Eleonas Flea Markets to get plaster busts and marble ashtrays. ATMs are easily accessible so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash around. Tips are not obligatory, but you can decide to give around 10-15% extra for exceptional service.
4] Get ready for heavy smoke
Greece has a high rate of cigarette consumption worldwide. The smoking ban that was passed in 2008 is not effective in any way. Many locals are heavy smokers despite the fact that some have quitted smoking. Indoor smoking in public places is the norm, so stay calm whenever you see a thick cloud of smoke all around.
5] Explore the mainlands
Ensure that you take a break from the city and experience the park life. Diomidous Botanical Gardens and Filoupappou Hill are among the favorite tourist attractions.
The latter is the perfect location for picnics and will reconnect you with nature. Visit Hydra or any other beautiful island to unwind. It should be noted that some areas like the Pedion tou Areos and Victoria Squares are out of bounds. Tourists should avoid venturing into them because of the high crime rate and police rarely visit such areas.
6] Eat and drink to your satisfaction
You can eat healthy and delicious meals in Athens without breaking the bank. The city has something to offer to everyone regardless of their needs and preferences. Eat gyros, twisted chips, pita, Bifteki and salads to your heart content. This is crucial if you want to enjoy Athens like a local.
In case you have access to a kitchen in your hotel and don’t mind cooking, consider buying groceries at the local market. You will be able to get fresh mushrooms, fish, pomegranates, seafood, wild greens, and fruits depending on the season. Several big shopping centers don’t open on Sundays. This is because the day is a public holiday in Athens.
Athens is the hub for classy cafes where the best coffees are served. They can be found nearly everywhere. Have a taste of the Greek frappe which is the nation’s signature drink.
Enlist the help of bartenders when choosing Greek wines. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration as you wander around the city.
7] Show some kindness
Ensure that you’re kind to everyone you come in contact with in Athens. You never know how far an act of kindness can go. There are several refugees in Athens living in deplorable conditions with nowhere to go.
Although some non-profit organizations cater to their needs, they are open to volunteers too. You can donate clothes or money to them before leaving the city.
8] Use public transport
Renting a car in Athens is associated with many risks so it’s better to avoid them. The metro system is the cheapest means of transportation while taxis are more expensive. Look for another option if a taxi driver gives you a vague estimate of the price.
It goes without saying that the metros are easy to navigate. They are even adorned with historic artifacts. Take a walk each time you have the opportunity, especially when you’re not traveling with young children. This will enable you to view the city in all its glory.
9] Be wary of pickpockets
Pickpockets exist in Athens, especially near the metros. This issue is common to many tourist attractions around the world. The pickpockets are daring and every tourist is expected to be alert and security conscious.
Protect your belongings in public places. It’s risky to leave your phone, bag or wallet carelessly on the table. Apart from that, Athens is considered as a safe city and tourists can even walk freely at night. Avoid visiting the city during protests as they are common.
10] Anticipate the nightlife
Athens nightlife often starts from midnight and ends early in the morning. Public places will keep bustling with activities. Visit any of the bars at the city center where you can club and dance all night.
Some universities in Athens organize underground parties which will give tourists the opportunity to meet new people.
There are endless entertainment options in the city and it’s easy to get drinks that suit your taste. Several tourists prefer visiting rooftop bars that will allow them to view the city as they sip drinks in a relaxing atmosphere.