10 Things to Do and See in Athens as a Solo Traveler
- 1 10 Things to Do and See in Athens as a Solo Traveler
- 2 Important Travel Tips for Athens
- 3 10 Things to Do and See in Athens as a Solo Traveler
This post was written by Stephanie from The Mediterranean Traveller
Athens is of the most established centers of tourism in Europe thanks to its classical legacy, but many visitors just pass through on their way to the islands.
By skipping town so quickly you miss out on the best of the city, truly one of Europe’s underrated gems at the moment.
The central area is small and walkable with plenty to discover beyond the archaeological sites. It’s a sociable city with a strong cafe and taverna culture, and the ongoing financial crisis has left its mark in the form of a resilient and exciting creative energy.
It’s a sociable city with a strong cafe and taverna culture, and the ongoing financial crisis has left its mark in the form of a resilient and exciting creative energy.
Greeks are known for their warmth and hospitality; it’s an easy place to make new friends. And it’s currently great value compared to other European capitals.
Important Travel Tips for Athens
Athens as a Solo Female Traveler
Athens is a city that really rewards a little time and exploration. All in all, it’s a perfect choice for the solo traveler but of course, all these activities are also recommendations for all other travelers to Athens.
Where to Stay in Athens
If you can afford to stay in the center then do.
Central hotels and apartments come at a slight premium – especially if there’s an Acropolis view attached – but it’s worth it to be within walking distance of the sights.
If you decide to look further afield for value, pick an area close to a metro station.
First-time visitors may wish to avoid staying in the Omonia area which has a bit of a seedy reputation.
Many areas of Athens look a bit run down but generally, it’s a very safe city, just keep a close eye on your bags on the metro and around Monastiraki Square which is notorious for pickpockets.
How to Get Around Athens
The metro is cheap, clean, efficient, and easy to navigate. At weekends it runs until 2 am. The main metro stations in the center are Syntagma, Monastiraki, Acropolis, and Thissio – it’s about 15 minutes walk between each.
If you enjoy sightseeing bus tours that allow you to hop off and hop on you should get your hop-on and hop-off ticket in Athens.
10 Things to Do and See in Athens as a Solo Traveler
#1 This is My Athens
Before you get to Athens make sure to check out the fantastic This is My Athens program.
Sponsored by the official Tourist Board, this community of volunteers provides free tours for visitors to get to know the real Athens.
Book via the website, pick one of the themes (culture, luxury, and foodie are a few examples) and you’ll be matched with a guide.
If only every city ran a scheme like this! It’s deservedly popular so don’t leave it until the last minute to book.
#2 Admire the AcropolisAthens Acropolis @shutterstock
One of the most famous historic landmarks in Europe, the Acropolis will undoubtedly be top of your to-do list.
Entrance to the archaeological site is 20€. Go early (before 10 am if possible) to miss the worst of the heat and crowds, and take water.
The excellent Acropolis Museum requires a separate €5 ticket but is well worth it, and has a fabulous restaurant.
You can also purchase a combined ticket which includes entrance to all of Athen’s major archaeological sites, but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you’re a serious history fan. Most sites can be admired from the streets.
# 3 Get Lost in Plaka
One of the great joys of a trip to Athens is wandering around Plaka, the oldest and most classically good-looking part of the city.
With its neoclassical houses, elegant balconies, and well-tended foliage, it’s unsurprisingly the most touristy part of town but there are plenty of charming backstreets to explore.
It’s situated between the Acropolis and Syntagma, the main commercial district where you’ll find banks, pharmacies, and high street stores.
Come here for photo ops, to search out the hidden village of Anafiotika, and stumble across intriguing ruins such as the Tower of the Winds.
#4 Souvenir Shopping
Monastiraki Square in Athens Monastiraki is knick-knack heaven, so make time to pick up some unique souvenirs and write your postcards.
In amongst the typical tourist tat, the streets are dotted with bric-a-brac, leather sandal sellers, local food specialties.
The goodies stretch all the way into the Psirri district, where you’ll find the Central Food Market, which is a great area to shop for picnic snacks to fuel your walks (although those of a delicate disposition be warned that the large indoors section houses the meat and fish).
On Sundays, a famous flea market takes over Monastiraki. Vintage records? Fez hats? Antique kitchenware? Musical instruments? It’s all here.
#5 Coffee with a View
Arguably Athens is best seen from above, and the best views of the Acropolis are from another hill or one of Athens’ many rooftop bars.
One of the easiest to find is the A is for Athens hotel; you can see the sign from Monastiraki Square, and entrance is via one of the side streets.
#6 Lunch to Go
The center of town is predictably filled with mediocre restaurants aimed at the passing tourist trade.
Skip the overpriced salads and keep on walking to Aiolou Street. This shady pedestrian street is home to a few of Athens’ most hipster joints and has some great cheap spots for lunch.
Join the locals in line for the city’s best falafel at Falafellas, Lebanese street food at Pera, and honey-drenched Greek doughnuts at Lukumades.
#7 Explore Psirri
Don’t miss the vibrant, arty area of Psirri, on the north side of Monastiraki Square.
It has a Bohemian vibe with its mix of cobblestones, wine bars, workshops, and cafes. It’s also home to some of Athens’ best street art – taking a street art walking tour is a great way to engage with a different side of the city.
#8 Eating out in Athens
Greek taverna meals are designed to be shared, which can make it difficult to find an economical meal if you’re eating solo unless you really enjoy Greek salads and huge mountains of tzatziki.
For a break from taverna food, Avocado is a popular vegetarian restaurant just off Syntagma Square. Wine bars are also a good bet for solo dining, they tend to serve bistro-style portions and you’re less likely to be asked by a curious waiter why you’re alone.
#9 Going out in Athens
Athens eat and socialize late in the evening – expect to eat at 10 pm, meet at a bar at midnight, and don’t even think about hitting a club before 2 am.
Solo travelers should talk their way up to the rooftop bar at Athensstyle hostel for cheap beers and incredible views of the Acropolis lit up at night.
#10 Allow Yourself Some Beach Time in Athens
Athens can be hectic and stressful, especially in the crushing heat of the summer, but visitors often forget that it has a beach.
If you haven’t been to Athen´s Riviera stretching south of the city then you’ve only seen half of Athens. Take the tram to one of the city’s swanky beach clubs (I recommend the Balux Project or Bolivar) which have lockers to stash your stuff while you swim.
Safe travels and a great time in Athens!
Steph Edwards spends all day dreaming about island-hopping in the Mediterranean, and writing about it on her blog The Mediterranean Traveller. She visited Athens at the start of a round-the-world trip and was still there 9 months later!
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