So you’re traveling through Europe or to a destination in Europe and find yourself in Athens, Greece, but only for a day. That’s it – only TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Since you’re in Athens, the Capital of Greece, and this may be once in a lifetime, you have to maximize that 24 hours, but how.. where do you go? what do you see? what parts of town are easy to navigate? This happened to me and a friend and after experiencing it, I think I’ve got the answers (or at least most of them), to help you out if you’re ever in the same situation. Keep reading for my Athens, Greece 24 hour travel itinerary..
Where To Stay
You should know prior to arriving in Athens that you’ll have a whole day/24 hours there, which means you’ll need accommodations for at least one night. Plan this ahead of time and book a spot in Plaka which is the oldest section of Athens and home to the Acropolis and Parthenon. Plaka also houses the best sites, food, and more so, maximize your 24 hours and get an airbnb right in the thick of it if you can. This airbnb will also be handy to have upon arrival as you’ll want to wash off all the airplane/airport germs… ew. When my friend and I were there, our airbnb host was even nice enough to give us a quick tour of the surrounding areas, which came in handy when planning out the rest of the day. It’s worth a shot to see if your airbnb host will do the same!
After checking into your beautiful airbnb, or hotel if you go that route, hit the Plaka streets for some gelato. There will be gelato places everywhere and I’m almost 100% sure all of them are delicious, so just take your pick and indulge. When I was doing my 24 hour stint in Athens, starting with this sweet taste of gelato was a great start to the rest of my day. It’s a pick me up and energy booster – sort of like coffee, but in a different way.
Dinner + Wine
When my friend and I were in Athens for a day, we arrived in the afternoon so after checking into our accommodations and grabbing gelato while taking in the beauty of Plaka, it was time for dinner and wine. We opted for a place that served olives and saganaki, aka fried cheese, which was on our bucketlist. I know, I know.. my friend and I are crazy for having trying certain food on our bucketlists, but you’d understand if you had a taste of this delicious saganaki.
While night fell, we enjoyed our dinner (don’t forget the saganaki) and wine over meaningful conversations. Once we were all talked and laughed out, we hit the Plaka streets again…
Acropolis & Parthenon at Night
Like I mentioned above, Plaka is home to the Acropolis and Parthenon, and at night they are both quite lively. The area is literally LIT at night and full of life. There’s entertainment galore. Whether you’re in the mood for a concert, street entertainment, vendors, more yummy restaurants – the area around the Acropolis has it all. If you have room to make the trek up there in the evening, I’d do some research beforehand to see what concerts are going on. After a fun night out exploring the wonders of Athens, get some good rest for a jam packed day before your 24 hours is up.
But First, Coffee
Here we go – these are your last 12 or so hours in Athens and you have to make the most of ’em! Start with coffee. Greek coffee any way you can get it, just make sure you get it. When I was waking up in Athens during my day trip there, it was my birthday so the coffee was a must. Gotta get that energy and for the rest of my itinerary, you’ll need it.
Side note: did you know Greek coffee is basically the same as Turkish coffee and requires a specific style of coffee pot, called a briki, and a fine grind of coffee beans?
Explore, Explore, Explore
Walking around Plaka and seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon the night before just simply wasn’t enough. That being said, I suggest spending more time just exploring the surrounding areas without any real plan. You can spend hours staring at the beauty of the Acropolis as well as taking in everything else the city has to offer. Just bounce from location to location and let the day take you where it takes you. There’s so much you’re able to see by foot, so take advantage of that and truly wander.
My friend and I spent most of our day exploring the surroundings of the Acropolis and totally geeking out over the history that was right before our eyes. We turned into slight Greek historians for the day. You can’t go wrong doing the same. You get a real taste for the pride in their history and culture which is so beautiful and abundant. I also suggest eating lunch at one of the restaurants at the base of the Acropolis. All are delicious, all will be satisfying.
Dinner, Dancing & Plate Smashing
My bestie and I were pretty tired after spending the day on our feet exploring, but did I mention it was my birthday? Which means, the celebrations began at night and a tiring day wasn’t keeping us down! First stop was an ouzo bar, Brettos Plaka, to taste one of their many selections then we went off to dinner. Ouzo is a dry anise-flavoured aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus. You’ll find plenty of bars with ouzo drinks and I highly recommend giving it a try.
Our dinner was delectable, of course, but the most exciting part of the night was the dancing and plate smashing….opa! Both dancing and plate smashing are Greek traditions and “must dos” if you ever find yourself in Athens. Plate smashing signifies that friendship is everything, which proves that the whole culture and vibe is welcoming. Once night falls, you can find many restaurants taking part in both of these traditions, so just walk in, grab a drink and join in on the fun. I didn’t think I’d be into plate smashing beforehand, but gosh was it a blast. It felt good to break things in the name of friendship… sort of like therapy.
and THAT is how I spent my 24 hours in Athens, Greece with one of my besties. Lots of food, lots of sites, lots of exploring, and lots of lively fun. The key was that we didn’t stop – we let the energy of being in this historical, beautiful location fuel our fire (with a little help from coffee) and kept on the move, literally only stopping to sleep at night. With all we were able to experience and see, it felt longer than a day and I’m so happy we were able to maximize the time the way we did. I hope this helps you if you ever find yourself in Athens for a short period of time!
Scroll through more pics below and let me know what your favorite spots in Athens are… maybe I’ll add them to the list for my next trip 🙂