The 7 Best Meteora Tours From Athens – [2021 Reviews]

Sometimes you stumble across memorable images of beautiful buildings in unbelievable locations and wonder if they’re even real. Meteora is such a place.

Due to a series of unique geological processes, the area of Meteora features tall columns of sandstone and conglomerate that loom over lush green valleys.

And during the medieval period, monks built amazing monasteries upon those remote and difficult to reach peaks. Now you have the opportunity to visit these places that once would have taken several days of hiking and a dangerous climb to reach.

I’ve reviewed 7 of the top-rated Meteora tours from Athens. Some are combined with other activities. Some involve some challenging but fun hikes. Some are focused on visiting the most beautiful viewpoints. One of them will be perfect for you.

Best Meteora Tours From Athens

 Meteora Full-Day Trip From Athens By Train Athens: Meteora Independent Train Trip & Monastery Tour From Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip By Train
editors choice
Meteora Tours From AthensMeteora Independent Train TripFrom Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip By Train
Departure Point:Athens Railway StationKalambaka Train StationKalambaka Train Station
Departure Time:7:20 AM7:00 AM7:20 AM
Duration:14 hours14 hours1 day
Includes:English speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka Railway Station, air-conditioned transport to Meteora, visit 2 monasteries and the Badovas cavesEnglish speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka, transfer to Meteora, bottled water, Wi-Fi, and visits to 3 monasteriesEnglish speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka, tour of Meteora, Wi-Fi, tourist map, and tour inside 2 monasteries

Quick Answer: Best Meteora Tours From Athens – [2021 Reviews]

  1. Meteora Full-Day Trip From Athens By Train
  2. Athens: Meteora Independent Train Trip & Monastery Tour
  3. From Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip By Train
  4. Two Days Rail Tour To Meteora From Athens
  5. Meteora: 4-Hour Highlights Tour
  6. Meteora: Full-Day Private Trip From Athens Or Piraeus
  7. From Athens: Delphi & Meteora 2-Day Tour With Hotel

Best Meteora Tours From Athens Reviews


#1. Meteora Full-Day Trip From Athens By Train

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Meteora Tours From Athens

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Athens Railway Station
  • Departure Time: 7:20 AM
  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka Railway Station, air-conditioned transport to Meteora, visit 2 monasteries and the Badovas caves
This day trip is a great way to explore the hermit caves of Badovas and lofty monasteries atop the Meteora sandstone and conglomerate pillars. Archaeological excavation of caves in the Meteora area revealed human occupation dating back 50,000 years and the oldest known wall in the world, dated to c. 21,000 BCE.

Your train from Athens takes a stunning scenic route through the Greek countryside and through breathtaking mountain passes. Once you’ve reached Kalambaka, you’ll transfer to an air-conditioned bus to explore the Meteora area and the Badovas caves.

Through the geological process of erosion, tall pillars of sandstone and conglomerate were carved out of the sedimentary rock. These natural formations made perfect locations for early Christian monks to establish remote hermitages in caves and atop precarious clifftops. On your tour around the area, you’ll be amazed at the beauty of these once remote monasteries standing high above the lush green valley.

Your tour will take you inside 2 of the monasteries. In bygone days, visitors could only visit the monasteries by climbing up rickety ladders or ropes. Thankfully, now stone steps have been built up the cliffs to enable an easier and safer approach. Inside the monasteries, you’ll discover how the monks live today and learn about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2. Athens: Meteora Independent Train Trip & Monastery Tour

Meteora Independent Train Trip

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Kalambaka Train Station
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka, transfer to Meteora, bottled water, Wi-Fi, and visits to 3 monasteries
If you’re interested in Greek history and culture, you’ll love this affordable tour of the monasteries around Meteora. This excursion from Athens also introduces you to the biodiversity and unique local ecology around the Meteora rock formations.

Your train journey from Athens to Kalambaka will provide you with scenic views of the Greek countryside. After collection from Kalambaka Railway Station, you’ll enjoy a bus drive into the Meteora area. As you pass through the lush green valleys, you’ll be amazed at the high cliffs and pillars of sandstone and conglomerate that tower above you. Atop several of these cliffs and pillars stand ancient monuments built 700 years ago by Orthodox monks.

You’ll have numerous opportunities to take fantastic photographs of yourself and your loved ones atop high cliffs and overlooking stunning monasteries. The scenery around the area is breathtaking, and your visits to 3 monasteries will introduce you to a unique way of life that has changed little over the past millennium.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3. From Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip By Train

From Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip By Train

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Kalambaka Train Station
  • Departure Time: 7:20 AM
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Includes: English speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Kalambaka, tour of Meteora, Wi-Fi, tourist map, and tour inside 2 monasteries
This excursion from Athens is a great way to explore the famous monasteries of Meteora. During your intimate, small-group tour you’ll see all 6 extant monasteries in this area of outstanding natural beauty.

After your scenic train journey from Athens, your local guide will collect you from Kalambaka Railway Station and take you on a tour of the famous monastic sites around the Meteora area.

Mother Nature created stunning rock formations, including sheer cliffs, tall rock pillars, and natural caves. In ancient times, Christian hermits moved into those caves and eventually founded monasteries atop the pinnacles of the rock pillars. These holy shrines and their beautiful natural setting are together now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During your tour, you’ll be taken inside at least 2 of these amazing monasteries that were founded 700 years ago. At its most active, this region hosted 24 monasteries. Today, only 6 survive. But your local expert guide will be able to show you around inside 2 or more of these imposing religious structures and tell you all about their fascinating history.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4. Two Days Rail Tour To Meteora From Athens

Two Days Rail Tour To Meteora From Athens

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Kalampaka Train Station
  • Departure Time: 7:15 AM
  • Duration: 2 days
  • Includes: English speaking guide, train tickets from Athens to Meteora, hotel stay, Wi-Fi, and map
If you’re interested in Greek culture and religion, you’ll love this 2-day tour of Meteora from Athens. This trip also provides you with the freedom to choose between a hiking tour or being driven to see the sights.

The train from Athens to Kalambaka passes through some of the most stunning mountain scenery you’ll ever see. Upon arrival in Kalambaka, you’ll transfer to your hotel. That evening, you’ll experience a wonderful Meteora Sunset Tour. This excursion shows you the most beautiful landmarks of the Meteora region and enables you to experience a sunset over this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the second day, you can choose between a morning tour or a hiking tour, if you have the stamina. On a hiking tour, you can better imagine what life was like for the hermits who chose to live in the Meteora area back before there were modern roads and steps built up the slopes. But on the morning tour, you’ll see more of the area as you’re driven around from site to site.

Whichever option you choose, your English-speaking guide will tell you all about the history of the area. You’ll learn all about the early humans who lived in the Meteora caves 50,000 years ago, the hermits who came to live on the pillars of rock, and the building of the 24 monasteries that once stood in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5. Meteora: 4-Hour Highlights Tour

Meteora: 4-Hour Highlights Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Kalabaka Train Station
  • Departure Time: 11:30 AM
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide, tour around Meteora, visit the monasteries, Wi-Fi, and tourist map
This is a great way to explore the fascinating geological wonders of Meteora and learn about Greek history and culture. You’ll enjoy a trip around some of the most remote and difficult to access monasteries in Greece.

You’ll be collected from Kalabaka Railway Station by mini-bus and transported into the beautiful Meteora area. As you drive around the lush valleys, you’ll be amazed by the natural pillars of sandstone and conglomerate that loom overhead.

During the medieval period, Christian monks built remote monasteries atop many of these pillars and on surrounding plateaus. Originally, visitors to these holy shrines would have faced great danger climbing up the near-vertical sides of the pillars. Many of the monasteries could only be reached by rickety ladders or ropes and nets.

Fortunately, when you visit today, you’ll be able to use steps built in modern times to make access to the ancient monasteries safer and more convenient. Your tour will take you around the picturesque landscape of the region and enable you to see all 6 surviving monasteries. Your guide will also take you inside 2 or 3 of these monasteries so you can experience the spirituality and admire the architecture of these unique structures around this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#6. Meteora: Full-Day Private Trip From Athens Or Piraeus

Meteora: Full-Day Private Trip From Athens Or Piraeus

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Hotel pick-up
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM
  • Duration: 12 hours
  • Includes: English speaking guide and air-conditioned transportation to Meteora
If you’re interested in geology and architecture, you’ll love this tour from Athens. Meteora is famous for its unique geological formations with towering pillars of sandstone and conglomerate and historic caves.

At some point in geological history, the sedimentary rocks in this region were crisscrossed with fault lines. Erosion over the millennia carved away the rocks around the fault lines leaving behind tall pillars of sandstone and conglomerate that now loom over the surrounding valleys. As you tour the area in an air-conditioned bus, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of these natural towers and lush valleys.

These stunning geographical features have attracted much interest over the years. During the medieval period, Christian hermits came here to escape the temptation and problems of secular life. They found caves and crevasses to hide away from the world. When the Turks invaded the area, more hermits came for refuge.

Over the years, these gatherings of holy people turned into monasteries. At one point, 24 monasteries were built atop the pillars and plateaus of this region. Today, only 6 remain active, and you have a unique opportunity to visit 2 of these monasteries during your visit to this area. You’ll surely agree these surviving monasteries are stunning monuments to live outside of the mainstream.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#7. From Athens: Delphi & Meteora 2-Day Tour With Hotel

From Athens: Delphi & Meteora 2-Day Tour

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Leoforos Vasilis Amalias and Souri Street
  • Departure Time: 8:15 AM
  • Duration: 2 days
  • Includes: English speaking guide, air-conditioned transport to Meteora and Delphi, entry fees, hotel accommodation in a picturesque village, and meals
This is a wonderful, 2-day excursion for anyone who wishes to gain an in-depth understanding of Greek history and culture. You’ll learn much about the philosophy and culture of Ancient Greece as well as the more recent struggle between Christianity and Islam around the Mediterranean region.

Much like many events in Ancient Greek history and mythology, your tour begins with a visit to Delphi. In ancient times, the Oracle of Delphi was the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and the most important religious figure in Ancient Greece.

Important political figures would visit the Oracle of Delphi to seek advice. It was believed that the god Apollo granted her wisdom and prophecies.

During your visit, you’ll tour the ruins of the sanctuary of Pythia, including the famous Temple of Apollo. Due to the importance of the site during antiquity, the ruins there are especially impressive. Your tour guide will take you around the site and explain its key role in Ancient Greek politics and mythology.

This role still has an impact on society today through classical literature, such as the famous play Oedipus Rex written by Sophocles.

After your overnight stay in the picturesque village of Kalabaka, you’ll travel to Meteora where the unique rock formations leave many visitors breathless. Geological processes have created tall pillars of rock that stand out across the landscape.

Christian hermits sought refuge atop these rock formations during the medieval period, especially during Turkish incursions into the region. Over time, these hermitages grew into isolated monasteries.

You’ll visit some of the surviving 6 monasteries to learn about the life of the nuns and monks who choose to live in this inaccessible location far away from the stresses and temptations of modern life. There is much to admire in the architecture and art found in these religious structures.

During your return to Athens, you’ll stop off at the site of the famous Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans fought to hold off a much larger Persian invasion force. A famous memorial statue to King Leonidas I stands watch over the site.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:


Athens Travel Guide

The 7 Best Meteora Tours From Athens

 

Athens is the origin of much that we take for granted in everyday life. It’s the birthplace of democracy, classical architecture, philosophy, and the Olympic Games.More through good luck than planning, many stunning structures survive from Greece’s Golden Age, so visiting Athens becomes a journey to the very roots of Western Civilization.

There’s much more to see and do in Athens than I can squeeze into this brief travel guide, but I hope it will provide a good starting point as you plan your visit.

Airports & Entry

Athens International Airport is the busiest airport in Greece and the 27th busiest in Europe. It handles around 24 million passengers a year. Since the airport was only opened in 2001 and expanded in 2018, you’ll find the 2 terminals and all the facilities modern. An underground moving sidewalk connects the original main terminal to the new satellite terminal.

What’s unusual about Athens Airport is the presence of an art gallery and 3 museums. If you get bored waiting for your flight, they provide lots for you to see. The Art & Culture Exhibition Area is found on the Arrivals level. They host regular photography and painting exhibitions, book signings, and cultural events.

In the main terminal, the Acropolis Museum features classical Greek exhibits from the Acropolis. On the Departures level, the Eleftherios Venizelos Exhibition displays relics from Greek aviation history in the. In the same area, you’ll find the Exhibition of Archaeological Findings.

Getting back to the modern world, you’ll find mobile charging points around the airport, and free Wi-Fi on the “ATH Free Wi-Fi” network. The free Wi-Fi only lasts 45 minutes, but you can log-in again as often as you like.

If you’re traveling with kids aged 18 months to 7-years-old, you’ll find a children’s play area in the main terminal landside on the 2nd floor. It’s open from 9 am to 9 pm. There are baby rooms and diaper changing facilities throughout the airport on both landside and airside.

With 20 food outlets, you won’t have any problem finding something to eat. Many are open 24 hours. The airport also has a mini market on the Arrivals level, landside and duty-free shopping on the Departures level. Many of the stores in the airport operate 24 hours.

ATMs are located all around the airport on both Arrivals and Departures levels. There are also multiple currency exchange kiosks operated by ONExchange. You’ll find full banking services at the Alpha Bank on the Arrivals level landside, open from 8 am to 6 pm weekdays and 9 am to 4 pm on weekends and bank holidays.

If you have a medical problem, there’s a pharmacy on the Arrivals level, landside, open from 6 am to midnight. Urgent emergency care is available at the airport first aid station provided by qualified members of the National Center for Emergency Care.

The easiest way to get into Athens from the airport is on the Metro. The airport train station is connected to the city via Metro Line 3. The journey takes 40 minutes and there’s a service every ½ hour. There are also services to other cities and archaeological sites provided by the Athens Suburban Railway.

The city bus company, Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA), provides even more frequent services into the city. 4 bus services (X93, X95, X96, and X97) operate from the Arrivals level between Exits 4 and 5. The buses run 24/7 and the X95 to Syntagma (Athens City Center) takes around 40 minutes and departs every 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively, the major vehicle rental companies (Hertz, National, Europcar, Budget, Avis, Sixt, and Alamo) have desks on the Arrivals level.

And there’s always the taxi stand, found on the Arrivals level, Exit 3. During the day, the fare into the city center is around €48 but increases to €54 after midnight until 5 am.

Planning Tips

Athens is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay. Just to ensure you do, here are 5 tips to help you plan your visit.

Tip #1: Watch your purse and your pockets

Pickpockets and purse-snatchers love Athens. The crowds of oblivious tourists admiring stunning architecture provide great prospects for any unscrupulous thief to get rich quick. Watch out for thieves everywhere, especially in the Metro system, around all the tourist attractions, and Omonia Square.

Tip #2: Book tickets in advance, especially during summer

Athens is a popular destination, so tours frequently sell out. Consider booking in advance so that you are assured of the excursions you want to take. Most reputable tour operators offer full refunds for trips canceled with reasonable notice. Just check the refund policy when you book any tours.

Tip #3: Go during spring or fall

Many of the most important attractions in Athens are outdoor, so you’re exposed to the sun. Because Athens is the second hottest capital city in Europe, the summer heat can become unbearable. If you’re traveling with young kids or elderly relatives, you certainly shouldn’t take them during summer.

Personally, I would prefer not to visit Athens in the summer. Not only is it too hot to appreciate the beauty of the city in the middle of the day, but it’s also when the city and its many attractions are most crowded. If you want warm rather than hot weather, go in spring or fall.

Tip #4: Buy unique souvenirs

Pop over to the Plaka neighborhood for some unique souvenirs. Spoons and ladles carved from olivewood, unique Greek products, as well as the usual range of T-shirts and less cultural souvenirs are found in the many gift shops in its labyrinth of old-world alleyways.

There are also many specialist jewelry shops in the Plaka neighborhood, where you can purchase custom-designed and unique items. Many of these stores are owned by artists, like the popular jewelers, Byzantino.

Tip #5: Cash is king

Greece is not a cashless society. You may be used to sticking all your restaurant and transport bills on a credit card, but this probably won’t work so well in Athens. A surprising number of busy restaurants and large stores don’t accept electronic payment methods, so you must be prepared to carry cash.

Because of the pickpockets mentioned above, consider methods to protect your cash. A fanny pack may look unattractive, but it beats getting your restaurant bill and discovering your wallet isn’t where it should be.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Because Athens is a Mediterranean port city, the local food is typically Mediterranean, with frequent use of fish and olives. In fact, a founding myth about the city claims that when competing to become the patron god of the city, the god Poseidon gave them a saltwater spring and the goddess Athena gave them their first olive tree.

Breakfasts typically consist of pastries from one of the many bakeries and a cup of coffee. Common breakfast pastries include the savory feta or spinach pastry, a flaky phyllo pastry, or the sweet Bougatsa custard pastry. Although it is not a traditional Athenian breakfast food, some cafés also sell Greek yoghurt due to tourist demand.

Athens’ streets are riddled with tavernas and cafés. Lunches are long and leisurely. Like in Spain, dinner is typically eaten late. Restaurants usually get busy at around 10 pm. Food is ordered for the table (the group of people sitting together) rather than the individual. This means that portions are often large because they are designed to be shared rather than eaten by one.

The tavernas offer a variety of hors d’oeuvre called a mezedes, which is a small dish of hot or cold food with dips. Mezedes are often eaten while drinking ouzo, a strong anise liquor. My favorite mezedes is saganaki, which is great for any cheese lover. It’s a hard cheese fried to create a crunchy crust and sprinkled with lemon juice. Tomatokeftedes (tomato balls) are another popular appetizer, sweet, soft, and full of herbs and tomato. Mezedes are typically served with a yoghurt dip.

Alongside mezedes, Athenians eat salad. Horiatiki salata (Greek salad) is tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, spicy shallots, and olives, all splashed with virgin olive oil and topped with feta cheese. Because the salad portion is designed to be shared, one person can make a filling meal out of a single serving of salad and some crusty bread.

Perhaps the most famous main dish in Athens is moussaka. This is an oven-baked dish consisting of mincemeat layered with either potatoes or eggplant and topped with bechamel. It’s not an exclusively Greek dish, but the currently popular version originated in Greece. Moussaka tastes best when seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon.

A common variant of moussaka is pastitsio. This is another oven-baked dish with mincemeat and topped with bechamel, but this time layered with pasta and tomato sauce.

Being next to the sea, fish soup is popular in Athens. Different kinds of fish appear in the soup depending upon the season. It’s usually a rich broth with lots of fish, vegetables, and flavored with lemon.

But my favorite main dish is pastitsiopanakopita. This spinach and cheese pie is baked in a filo pastry and heavily seasoned. Unfortunately for me, it’s a messy dish. The filo pastry is crumbly and goes everywhere!

When it comes to desserts, Athenians get messy. Their sweet dessert pastries are drenched in honey or syrup. But these sticky treats are delicious when freshly baked. The most popular variety is baklava, which is layers of filo dough stuffed with chopped nuts, usually almonds or pistachios. Another common variety is kataifi, which looks like Shredded Wheat but is fine strands of pastry wrapped around a chopped nut center, usually almonds or walnuts.

Nightlife & Entertainment

While Athens may not have the reputation for wild nightlife found in other parts of the Mediterranean, like the Balearic Islands, you can still find vibrant nightclubs and lively bars. The different areas of the city tend to attract different crowds, so let’s run through them.

If you’re into clubbing, Kerranmeikos is the place to go. This is where you’ll find the new super-club opened by Lindsay Lohan, simply called LOHAN. With Hollywood financing and Greek knowhow, this club features internationally renowned DJs using the highest quality sound and light equipment. It’s a club dedicated to dance parties. In the same area, you’ll find a selection of popular bars, such as The Blue Parrot and Bios.

The neighboring Gazi area is the place to go for live Rebetiko venues, which is a kind of Greek urban blues music. So, if you want to try something uniquely Greek, then you could skip the super-club and head straight for a Rebetiko bar and spend the night listening to Greek blues and drinking ouzo.

If you’re looking for lively bars, Exarchia is the area favored by young Athenians. There are many popular bars along Emmanouil Benaki Street. But Exarchia is also an area known for graffiti and anarchy. In 2008/9, riots brought conflict between youths and police on these narrow streets. However, that’s only a footnote in modern history. Sandwiched between the University of Athens and the polytechnic, the area is filled with trendy cafés and bars aimed at Bohemian youths.

But if you prefer more sophisticated cocktail bars and hipster hangouts, the two areas to go are Psyrri and Koukaki. Psyrri is a high-class area with lots of bars and a small but lively nightclub called Cantina Social. The most interesting bar to check out is Six d.o.g.s, which is a unique bar with DJs, live music, club nights, and art exhibitions! And if you’re into wine, Materia Prima Wine Bar in Psyrri has a fantastic reputation.

Getting Around

In central Athens, many of the attractions are close together, so walking is a viable option. However, to really see the city, public transport is the best option. You can use the Metro, buses, or trams. To use public transport, you’ll need an ATH.ENA Card.

The Metro is the easiest and quickest way to travel around Athens. The signs and maps can be confusing since some are only in Greek, but the network is simple. There are only 3 lines, and once you get a feel for the system, it becomes easy.

The main Metro station in the center of Athens is Syntagma. This is in the same area as the Greek parliament building and the main city square. Much like the airport, this station also holds a museum. In this case, the museum displays the archaeological treasures unearthed when the station was built.

The buses in Athens are not as comfortable or as quick as the Metro. Also, the bus times tend to be unpredictable and the routes confusing. Bus stops are often difficult to find, and you might need to ask a local for directions. Some of the buses are “trolleys”, which are the same as regular buses except that they run on electricity.

The trams are modern and environmentally friendly. There are only 3 tram services, and they all connect Syntagma Station with coastal resorts and beaches.

Taxis are always an option, but you’ll find them expensive compared to public transport and not as quick as the Metro.

Accommodations

Athens is an extremely popular destination for anybody interested in classical history, Greek language and culture, or simply sunny beaches. Because so many visitors crowd the city every year, you’ll find a broad range of hotels suitable for every budget and taste.

If you’re interested in history, the best areas to stay are around the city center near the Acropolis, like Makrianni, Monastiraki, Plaka, Syntagma, and Thission. The Plaka area is arguably the most desirable location because it’s nestled between the Acropolis and Syntagma Square (main square and central Metro station). Plaka is the quietest and most peaceful area of Athens.

Because of the problem of pick-pockets in Athens, you’ll want to make sure your hotel room has a safe. Whenever you go out, leave anything you won’t need in your safe. Any important documents, credit cards you won’t need that day, and spare cash should be left safely behind.

There are a few very seedy hotels in Athens that you’ll want to avoid. My advice is to check reviews on more than one hotel-reviewing site before booking. You’ll find some cheap hostels and basic hotels around Omonia Square, but the area is renowned for purse snatchers and seediness, as well as legal brothels.

A friend booked a night at the Athens House Hotel on booking.com because the reviews there looked positive, and she wanted to stay somewhere cheap and basic. When she arrived, the hotel’s hygiene standards were abysmal. When she later looked on TripAdvisor, she found the same hotel had a rating of 2 out of 5 stars and featured some extremely alarming reviews!

But, to be fair, the Athens House Hotel is great for economy backpackers. With last minute rooms at $10 or $20 a night, you can put up with bad service and a bit of grime!

If you’re made of money and want to sample the high life, check out the Hotel Grande Bretagne (GB) . A basic suite in the GB will cost around $300 a night, but you get what you pay for. This luxury hotel overlooks Syntagma Square, and you can even watch the changing of the guards in front of the Greek parliament building from your balcony.

The GB has one pool in the basement and another on the roof. There’s also a fully-equipped spa in the basement. The exclusive Alexander’s Bar inside the GB was voted Best Hotel Bar in the World by Forbes magazine, and the GB Roof Garden Restaurant & Bar provides the best views of the Acropolis you’ll find in the city.

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, check out the Hotel Attalos. It’s not quite so central as the GB, but it also has a roof garden café with fantastic views of the Acropolis for around $125 a night.

The Hotel Attalos is a 15-minute walk to the Acropolis and the same to central Syntagma Square. It’s only a short walk to the Monastiraki Metro Station, so it’s convenient for rapid public transport to all the main attractions. It gets fantastic reviews and ratings on both TripAdvisor and Booking.com.

But when I take my family to Athens, I avoid the crowds and pollution in the city center altogether. Not far from the city, there are dozens of clean and modern hotels along the coastline of the Athenian Riviera. With the great tram connections to Syntagma Square Station, they’re only a short ride away from all the main attractions.

Most coastal hotels are walking distance to the beach, and sometimes their buildings even segue into the sand. They typically offer more spacious and better-equipped rooms for a fraction of the price of city center hotels.

For example, consider Maison 66 in Alimos. This modern hotel is 6 miles from Syntagma Square, which means 25 minutes in a car or 45 minutes on a tram. That might sound like a lot of traveling, but Maison 66 offers a beautifully decorated room with a sea view, furnished balcony, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, en-suite bathrooms with shower cabins, and free Wi-FI for only $80 per night.

Maison 66 is rated 9.1/10 on Booking.com and 5/5 on TripAdvisor! If your family wants to split their time between the beach and the cultural attractions, this hotel or others like it in coastal beach resorts offer you spacious, clean and modern accommodation for a fraction of equivalent hotels in the center of Athens.

Weather

Athens is the second hottest capital city in Europe. It experiences mild winters and long, dry, and hot summers. July and August are extremely dry, and most rainfall occurs between October and April.

Because the weather is relatively fine all year long, you can visit Athens at any time. However, I’d recommend you visit Athens in spring (late March through early June) or fall (late September through early November) if possible.

Spring and fall are when the weather isn’t too hot but still warm enough to enjoy the sun. Winter can be chilly and wet, and summer is just too hot for me. Most tourists visit during summer, which means the streets, attractions, and public transport are all crowded.

In summer, it grows too hot in the middle of the day for comfortable sightseeing. If you plan to visit the Acropolis, the best time of day is the early morning before the midday heat bakes the ground. Alternatively, visit in the last two hours of the site’s opening times. In August, average temperatures range from 730F to 890F.

It’s still pleasant and sunny in the fall, so this is a great time to wander around the Panathenaic Stadium. However, there’s more rain than during summer, especially in November. In November, average temperatures range from 540F to 660F.

Athenian winters are mild, but December sees the most rain. Despite warm average temperatures, snow isn’t uncommon, and it can get chilly on occasions. January’s average temperatures range from 450F to 570F.

Rainfall rapidly decreases between April and June, and the days become warmer. The average temperatures in April range from 530F to 670F.

Attractions

99.9% of visitors to Athens have the Acropolis at the top of their “must-see” list, but there’s more to Athens than its citadel. It’s the capital of a modern nation and the center of Greek culture. But, I’m not going to swim against the crowd right now. The Acropolis is top of my list, too!

The Acropolis looms over Athens and is the most famous attraction in Greece. Archaeological evidence shows the hill has been settled since as early as 4,000 BCE, and the Acropolis as we know it began to take shape in the 13th-century BCE when it was fortified with a wall that still forms part of today’s complex monument.

Most of the structures we see on the old citadel date from the 5th-century BCE. That’s because a helpful group of Persian invaders leveled many of the pre-existing buildings in 480 BCE during the Greco-Persian Wars.

There are many ancient temples atop the hill, including the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Brauronion. But none is more famous or iconic than the Parthenon. Built in 438 BCE and dedicated to Athena Parthenos, this is the most awesome example of Ancient Greek architecture in existence.

Also inside the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum. This incongruous, modern structure stands 3-stores-high, right beside the Parthenon. However, it does effectively display the artifacts recovered by archaeologists from excavations atop the hill. The highlight is the Parthenon Marbles exhibition on the top floor.

Don’t miss the Theatre of Dionysus. Situated at the foot of the Acropolis and carved into the southern cliff, this is believed to be the oldest surviving theater in the world. The site has been a theater since the 6th-century BCE, but the present structure is 4th-century BCE. If you ever had to read Greek tragedies in school written by Euripides or Sophocles, this is where those famous plays premiered!

The last ancient monument in the city I’ll specifically recommend is the Panathenaic Stadium. Not only is this the only athletic stadium in the world constructed in marble, but it’s also the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games.

The stadium began life in antiquity as a racecourse and was transformed into a stadium in 330 BCE. The current marble structure dates to 144 CE and was designed to seat 50,000 spectators. The first modern Olympic Games were held here in 1896.

But Athens isn’t all about ancient antiquity. The heart of the modern city isn’t atop the Acropolis. It’s Syntagma Square. Not only is this where you’ll find the main Metro station, but it’s the central square and location of the Greek Parliament building.

The Parliament building is guarded by Evzones, who are parliamentary guards. Evzones wear special handmade shoes and uniforms and perform an hourly changing of the guards. There is an especially elaborate changing ceremony at 11 am every Sunday.

Pop over to the Plaka neighborhood to see charming houses decked with flower baskets and colorful cafés with outdoor seating. You’ll definitely need your camera as you explore this picturesque area.

The Plaka neighborhood is a great place to sample traditional Greek food and buy unique souvenirs. And if you’ve always wanted to try a traditional Turkish Bath, you can enjoy a steam bath and a relaxing massage at Al Hammam.

And if you want to see where the Athenians shop, check out the Varvakeios Central Food Market. This is where you can get a feeling for the heartbeat of Athens. This market is a great place to sample authentic Greek fresh foods and drinks. Why not try some strong Greek coffee made just how Athenians like it? But note that this market, like many grocery businesses in Greece, is closed on Sundays.

Getting out of the center, consider ascending Lycabettus Hill. This is the highest point in Athens. Sunset is a great time to visit for spectacular views across the city lit by the dying sun. At the top, you’ll find St. George’s Church and Orizontes Restaurant. The restaurant’s rooftop terrace provides stunning views.

You can spend a month in Athens and not see everything, but some people like to explore the wider context and travel to other parts of Greece. Also, in summer, getting out of the capital city helps you escape the relentless heat.

If you want to visit more of Greece, Athens makes a great base. Various Mediterranean islands, such as Aegina, Moni, Agistri, and Santorini, are popular destinations for longer day trips. Or you can enjoy a simple cruise along the Athenian Riviera and enjoy fantastic views of the Greek coast.

Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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