As the cradle of Western Civilization, Athens offers endless opportunities to uncover ancient history. The Parthenon and the hilltop Acropolis might be Athens’ starring attractions, but the Greek capital is also famed for its buzzing nightlife and Mediterranean cuisine. While visitors could spend a week exploring the city’s ruins and alley cafes, many make it a quick stopover—guided tours help cover top highlights by cutting down on time spent purchasing tickets, waiting in lines, and finding transportation. For those with more time, the city provides a starting point for trips into the Greek Islands, and for day trips and multi-day tours that go further into mainland Greece, where favorite destinations include the cliff-top monasteries of Meteora and the ruined city of Delphi.
Obviously, the Acropolis made it to the top of our Athens travel guide. A hilltop ruin that’s a city icon, the Acropolis is an essential stop for all Athens visitors. Lines to purchase tickets can reach up to two hours in peak season, but some guided tours—many of which combine the Acropolis with other city highlights—secure tickets in advance. Athens’ compact historic center means Acropolis walking tours typically also feature the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike, while driving tours can go farther afield to visit New Acropolis Museum and the Temple of Poseidon.
Temple of Poseidon
Set on Cape Sounion’s dramatic coastal cliffs, the Temple of Poseidon has enchanted visitors for millennia. Early morning trips to the ruins mean cooler temperatures and fewer visitors, but for iconic photos of the ruins at sunset, brave the crowds on an evening tour. While it’s possible to reach the Temple of Poseidon on a quick excursion from the city, consider a private tour to give clients time to swim at the nearby beach and visit the picturesque towns along the route.
This basic Temple of Poseidon tour includes hotel transfers and an afternoon departure time, making it easy to coordinate with morning activities.
A personalized option that offers more flexibility than group activities, this tour takes your clients directly to the site; that means more time sightseeing and less time on the road.[/ta-obfuscator-content]
Cruising from Athens to the Temple of Poseidon trades time in traffic for a gorgeous boat ride that includes stops at some of the uninhabited Aegean islands along the coast.
The Temple of Poseidon is especially stunning in evening light, and this tour includes a sunset toast with sparkling Greek wine for a celebratory start to the evening.
Delphi, with its remarkably preserved ruins dotted along the southern slopes of Mt. Parnassus, is one of Greece’s most famous archaeological sites. Many visitors arrive on a day trip from Athens, but a multi-day trip means a more relaxing day of sightseeing, and the option to add a nearby destination such as the mountain village of Arachova or Meteora’s monasteries. Many of the experiences included in our Athens travel guide are day trips. The footpaths that access the open-air ruins can be steep and uneven, so it’s worth considering a private tour to allow groups with limited mobility to set their own pace.
The Byzantine monasteries set high on Meteora’s soaring rock formations are among the most dramatic sights in Greece. Each of the monasteries have different opening days and hours, but guided tours included in our Athens travel guide take care of the complicated logistics, ensuring that clients can visit up to three monasteries in a single day.
A private driver greets clients as soon as they step off the train from Athens, and personal service throughout the day ensures a tailor-made experience from beginning to end.
Athens Travel Guide: Things to Know
When to Visit
Summer months bring crowds along with fabulous weather on Greek Island beaches, but Athens can be stifling in July and August—consider spring and fall for milder temperatures and fewer tourists.
The metro, trolley, train, buses, and tram take visitors beyond the compact historic center. Multi-day passes are great for unlimited access, but for travelers headed straight for the sights, hop-on hop-off buses cut time in transit.
Things to Bring
Though daytime wear should be casual and comfortable, Athenians love to dress up, so bringing a chic outfit makes it easy to blend in when going out at night.
Advise clients to pack clothing that covers knees and shoulders when visiting churches and monasteries. Visitors should also pay careful attention when crossing roads, as Athens drivers are notoriously speedy.
What the Locals Know
Exploring the Acropolis up close is a must, but some of the best nighttime views can be found from one of central Athens’ many rooftop bars.
Top Selling Destination Guide: Istanbul
In Istanbul, East meets West. Bisected by the Bosphorus, the city is one of only a few in the world that straddles two continents. As Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe, guided tours help make logistics and navigation manageable.
Top Selling Destination Guide: Sofia
A jumble of Soviet landmarks, mosques, and churches testify to Sofia’s colorful past, and draw travelers interested in the history of a less-visited European country. Many of the notable landmarks are located in Sofia’s center, while the local markets beckon with treats from regional producers.
Top Selling Destination Guide: Rome
People come from across the globe to view the heavy hitters—the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon—but also to see some of the world’s most recognizable art and to taste Italy’s famed cuisine.