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A Day Route through Classical Athens

Spending a day in Athens is like going back in time. The Classical Age throws its charm, knowledge, and sophistication at you and leaves you feeling rather small and youthful in comparison. The capital of Greece is the birthplace of democracy, the beginning of philisophical teachings, and the rise of architectural styles. In this day route through the Classical Athens, you’ll explore the century old temples built for worshipping their gods and the old streets where the Greeks used to stroll through while coming up with bright ideas. Bring some water and start exploring!

Route Info

  • Route Name: Classical day route in Athens
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Best time to go: Spring and Autumn, as the summer months are really hot.
  • Best by walking
  • Highlights: the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, Ancient Agora the Exarchia neighborhood.

Start your day route at the Temple of Olympian Zeus, built in the 6th century B.C. This temple was originally built with 104 Corinthian columns, of which only 15 are still remaining today. Passing the Arch of Hadrian next to the temple, you’ll walk towards Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, where you’ll find the entrence of the world renowned Acropolis.

The literal translation of ‘high city,’ the Acropolis is located on top of a hill overviewing the complete city of Athens. To enter the Acropolis, you can buy a 48 hours ticket, also allowing you to visit all the sites. When you get in, visit the Theatre of Dionysus, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and finally the magnificent Pantheon. The main temple of the Acropolis is dedicated to goddess Athena Parthenoas (the Virgin). The Pantheon is the most important surviving building of Ancient Greece and example for Doric architecture.

Chances are that it will be very hot on top of the mountain, it’s time for some refreshing drinks! Walk down the slippery streets towards the Ancient Agora and the Roman Agora, to the large open-air courtyards and find a nearby bar. The Ancient Agora was the heart of Ancient Greece and a focus for political, judicial, commercial and social activities. It’s also at this Agora where the first democracy in the world was established in the 5th century B.C. Although this democracy is not as respresentative as we know it today, since only a small part of society was allowed to vote, the experiment performed back then is still in place today. While you’re strolling through the Agora, don’t miss out on the Stoa of Attalos, a old, reconstructed portico housing the Museum of the Agora.

After your long visit, treat yourself to a classic Greek dish at the Souvlaki Bar, before you head into one of the lesser known neighborhoods of the city- Exarchia. Even when tourists may be warned to steer clear of this part of town, this neighborhood offers a glimpse into the country's recent political turmoil and the counterculture side of the city, to see the differences between the past and the present. The area is not as dangerous as it is normally depicted, so go ahead and check out the hidden gems such as the awesome guitar shops, comic bookstores and eccentric examples of stunning graffiti. Find the coolest stuff in the small alleys around Exarchia Square.

End the day in the area of Exarchia, choosing from several rock clubs, pubs, and jazz cafés. Sellas on Methonis St. is a hidden bar in Exarchia, which gives a quiet and relaxing atmosphere, and far from all the fuss of the streets. The exterior area of the bar is in a small alley and it's full of colorful chairs.

This day route is one of the 4 walking routes in the travel guide Athens Travel Guide by Gabi Ancarola. Find the extensive version of this route and routes like ‘a Modern day route’, ‘Unexpected Athens’ and ‘A day trip to Hydra’ in the guide, available for €4,99.

Suggested reading:

Temple of Zeus

Ancient Agora

Celsus Library

Theatre of Dionysus


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