One Day in Athens, Greece
Traveling to a new place is always a gamble. You never know if you’ll like it – the culture, food, people, city as a whole. Sadly, one place neither my husband nor myself was impressed by is Athens, Greece.
It wasn’t that it was a horrible city, it might have been because we visited too many places that were just incredible and Athens couldn’t compare. But compared to the other ports on our European cruise, Athens most definitely wasn’t our favorite port. In the photo below you can see one of the old sites in Athens, with the giant city surrounding it.
But, our 8-hour excursion in Athens took us to some cool places, and I want to talk about those in this post! So continue reading to learn more about Poseidon’s Temple, the Acropolis, and more!
Visiting the Temple of Poseidon
On a cliff overlooking Cape Sounion stands the Temple of Poseidon. The temple wa built during 444–440 BC, and is recognized as one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. Seeing it is sort of shocking – just staring at this gorgeous, still standing temple, so old and yet right in front of you. It was really, really cool.
Below are some of the photos I took while walking around the temple.
Getting there took about an hour from the Athens cruise port in Piraeus. The drive takes you down the coast on the 91. It truly is a gorgeous drive so you won’t be wasting your time on the commute to the temple. During our drive we saw many people swimming so there are definitely stops to enjoy the beaches and water.
We went during the off-season in November, so many of the costal towns were empty. But we were assured during the summer time travelers and locals from Athens visit this area to enjoy the water.
Visiting the Acropolis in Athens
The Acropolis of Athens was of course high on our list to visit. Being one of the most ancient and preserved citadels in Europe, we knew Dylan’s love of old buildings we knew we’d love it. The Acropolis remains one of the greatest architectural and historical areas in the world.
History lesson real quick… There’s evidence that the Acropolis was used and inhabited as far back as the fourth millennium BC. But, the famous and well known buildings including the Parthenon, the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike, were coordinated in 495 – 429 BC by Pericles.
The perk of visiting the Acropolis is you can still see these famous buildings. But it was during our visit that we learned most of what you are looking at is actually replicas. Most of the famous statues, columns, and artifacts have been moved to the Acropolis Museum. So while you’re looking at really good replicas, you’re not really looking at the real deal.
Lunch in Athens
I will say, everywhere we went in Greece, including Athens, had really good food. Our meal in Athens was at a small restaurant where everything was served family style. Our meal came out in courses – wine, Greek salad, feta cheese and bread, vegetables, chicken, pork, and some sort of beef – and of course a large bowl of tzatziki sauce that I used on everything.
There was so much food, it just came and came and came. But we tried everything. Even though Dylan was nervous for eating in Athens, he loved the meal. I mean, you can’t go wrong with meat!
Reasons We Didn’t Love Athens
Now I was going to point out a few things that just turned us off about Athens. Given, we were only there for one day so we did not have time to get to know locals, walk around the city, or truly immerse ourselves. But, the time we spent made us realize it’s definitely not a place we need to revisit in the future.
First was the extreme number of abandoned buildings we saw along the coast and in the city. The Greece economic crisis that started in 2009 and is still going on caused the halt of construction. Many buildings along the coast that were slated to be resorts and beach homes now stand empty and half built. And on top of that, a law passed making it illegal to build within 500 feet (or something similar) of the water, so construction can’t even restart on these buildings.
Unemployment in Greece remains at 19%, even though this has significantly gone down in the last decade.
Driving through Athens and the surrounding areas really isn’t that pleasant to be honest. Buildings on top of buildings block the views. And everything truly just looks dated. We haven’t been to many places outside the USA, but truly, it just wasn’t impressive. Everything just seemed dirty.
Although we didn’t love Athens, visiting Santorini was one of the best moments of our European vacation. And for most, the only way to get to Santorini is through Athens, so if you ever visit, there are definite things to see. But it’s definitely not a place you would need more than a day in.