Ahh, Athens! One of the venerable cradles of civilization. We know all about its role in the whole history of the world, but for many its tourist spots may go underappreciated. If you think this city on the hill is all about dry old marble (Parthenon, Agora, the usual), then think again!
Of course the good old sights cannot be missed, if only to marvel at the wisdom and talents of a civilization long gone. Worth a visit are the various museums as well, including the National Archeology Museum and the Byzantine Museum. There are also various churches (including Agora’s famous Church of the Holy Apostles) that are must-sees.
For a wonderful cross between the past and the present (and even the future!), check out the Panathenaic Stadium — the city’s largest building and a replica of the original stadium created in 335 BC. As the name suggests, this was created in commemoration of the 1896 Olympic Games!
If you want a more casual walk around town, drop by Anafiotika and Plaka, two of the more picturesque neighborhoods in the city. They’re notable both for showcasing the beauty of everyday Athenian life, while also hiding great treasures of the city’s history for those who care to explore. There are also charming little markets that serve as the hub of everyday living, which you shouldn’t miss.
For a little spectacle, you might also want to hang around Syntagma Square to watch out for the changing of the guards! These Presidential soldiers stand guard in traditional costumes 24/7, and at 11AM daily they stand in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to perform their ritualistic change ceremony.
Athens is a very multifaceted city, perfectly straddling the new and the old while giving each its due. Being one of the world’s oldest cities, there’s adventure in every turn, no matter what your idea of a grand time is!