We are two couples, one with mobility issues, heading to Athens for three days pre-cruise. Any advice on areas to stay in and things to do for three days would be appreciated.
Under "Explore Europe" above you can find our host's recommendations about Athens sightseeing. The Acropolis is obviously the big draw but can be difficult for someone who doesn't walk or handle stairs well. The main approach is a gradual climb on a paved surface with periodic steps. There's an elevator, I believe on the north side, for disabled visitors. I believe it's limited to people in wheelchairs or with similar extreme mobility challenges. My wife, who walks OK but has pain with more than a few stairsteps, found the climb easier than she expected, and of course she was very motivated to get up there. I suggest consulting a guidebook about getting up the Acropolis.
Athens has two "really" major museums and quite a few others. The biggies, at least for many people, are the Acropolis Museum at the foot of the Acropolis, and the National Archeological Museum in a neighborhood to the north best reached by taxi. The Acropolis Museum houses the sculptures taken from the Acropolis itself (other than those now elsewhere in Europe), plus a sampling of others. It's modern and has elevators, very well designed. The NAM is older but probably accessible, check a guidebook. Other museums include the Benaki and Cycladic Art museums, which I'd leave out of a three-day itinerary unless you have a particular interest. The Ancient Agora, on the opposite side of the Acropolis from the museum, is very historic and interesting, with its own museum, on a pretty level but not barrier-free site with, as I recall, gravel paths and a step or two here and there.
I'd suggest staying near the Acropolis in either the Plaka or Monastiraki neighborhoods. There are many hotel choices. We stayed at the Herodion, one of many with a rooftop bar/restaurant facing the Acropolis. If one or two of you can't manage the Acropolis itself, a rooftop view is a good second choice.
EDIT -- Just saw your other post mentioning the walker. That probably means the elevator, if anything, to ascend the Acropolis. There's a very nice cafe facing the park in front of the National Archeological Museum, and there are many near the Acropolis.
This is incredibly helpful. I can't thank you enough. We are thinking, at another writer's input, of hiring a private car for one of the days and then our friend would be able to see all the sites and be on the hills and then he can take it slower the next two days. It's great to know there is an elevator and your input is extremely helpful. I think there will be a lot of cafes in the visit there and perhaps that can become his expertise!
We stayed in a hotel only 2 blocks from the Acropolis called AthensWas at 5 Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. It has an elevator and also a rooftop restaurant with a view of the Acropolis. It is on a lovely shaded pedestrian street in Makrigianni with shops and restaurants nearby. It is only one block to the New Acropolis Museum which also has a ground floor cafe and a rooftop restaurant with views of the Acropolis. Ask at the ticket desk for a free ticket to go to the 2nd floor restaurant. On Makrigianni Street we had excellent meals at the Arcadia Restaurant and as well as at the Yard Restaurant. Both are only 2 blocks from the hotel. We were able to see the sunset over the Acropolis and see the Acropolis lit up at night by walking only a few blocks from the hotel. We used Welcome Pickups for our transportation and were very pleased.
Thank you organizer. We are going to stay in an Airbnb near the Acropolis but your information is so helpful. We are getting very excited!
Are you in Athens three days thus four nights? Or three nights equaling two days?
Take a taxi up Lycabettus Hill and then take the funicular up for incredible views over Athens to the sea beyond. There is a restaurant up there too.
You will drive through Kolonaki, Athens’ upscale area. This would be easy for your mobility challenged friend.
Museums: Acropolis, National Archeological Museum. These first two are must sees. If you have time: Cycladic Museum, Benaki Museum.
We will have 2 full days in Athens. Everyone seems to be in agreement of what to see and what to do and I am so grateful.
There are two areas that I go to every time in Athens: Anafifotika on the north side of the Acropolis which is reminiscent of a Greek Village on a Cyclades Island. It has the typical white-washed houses, colorful trim and narrow lanes. A bit steep and "tight" in places but worth the effort.
Another favorite are the Central Markets on Athinas St. filled with meat, seafood and produce that you may not see anywhere else. It's wild, crazy and entertaining. It's crowded but easy and flat walking.
TOmmy, Anifotika is charming, but not the best recommendation for people with mobility issues...either using canes or walkers; the suggestion will just make them feel wistful.
I agree Anafiotika can be difficult for someone with mobility issues but there are areas just before entering the "heart" of it that may easier to get around.
Unfortunately most of Athens, especially the older part (Plaka) and the Acropolis area can be a challenge for people with mobility problems.
On the other hand most of the villages/towns in Greece were built on hills or in the mountains for defensive purposes with mazes and tight narrow lanes and turns to make it difficult for invaders/pirates and apparently for tourists to move about!
Thanks Tommy and Janet. We will certainly want to go to the Central Market! I didn't know it would be that hard to get around but he will do what he can and at least be there. Thanks you for your great advice.
There are still many areas of Athens that are relatively flat especially if you go toward Syntagma Square. Slight incline but nothing to worry about. Lots of side streets filled with shops, markets and tavernas.
The area around Monistoraki Square with all the side lanes off of it are fairly flat and should be fine to wander about.
Bear in mind it may be very crowded depending on time of year and/or time of day.
I find getting out early to mid-morning will have less people about giving you a bit more "breathing" room to walk.
The Central Markets will be crowded early morning as locals and taverna owners are out shopping. Later in the afternoon will find less people.
Watch an Ancient drama performance of a script from Sophocles 2500 years old. A unique experience for travelers that want to meet the culture and not just monuments of Greece. Oedipus Rex at Athinais theater by Fimonoi team is a good performance with English overtitles. Also accessible by people with mobility issues.
Stay in the city center avoid Omonoia and eat at Mani Mani restaurant at Koukaki area near Acropolis. The bus to Athens riviera is also interesting and you can also eat at Vouliagmenis lake..... Marvelous area
Thank you Lekka et al.. This is great advice. Do you recommend staying in the Plaka area or is somewhere close by better?
lekka probably won't be back ... shows up on forums to plug a theatre group, and adds some other advice in order not to get kicked off forums as a spammer. Besides, you said you were staying in an AirBnB ... are you booked, or are you still dithering? Don't keep us guessing! If you have changed your mind, the 2 hotels, Herodion and Athenswas, are excellent for the limited mobility issue. As for the Acropolis for someone with a walker or wheelchair -- Here is a Trip Advisor thread on obtaining elevator use for Acropolis - https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g189400-i194-k3129719-Wheelchair_access_at_the_acropolis-Athens_Attica.html it was posted 9 years ago, but advice applies including advance pllanning, AND calling the day before, AND the day of. I don't know whether just achey-knees are enough to get access. Good luck!
As for an easy way to get around without walking, avoid hop-on hop-off busses... they're limited to bigger streets, you end up stuck in traffic, staring up at office buildings. As you know from a map (it's surprising how many people embark on a trip without even looking at a map!!), all the major landmarks are clustered together, many on pedestrianized lanes, so the busses can't get close. However, there's a wonderful FUN answer: the "HAPPY TRAIN". http://www.athenshappytrain.com It's like those little things that go on boardwalks... a "locomotive" (on a jeep chassis?) with open cars. It's allowed on the no-car lanes as well as on regular streets. It chugs along to all the major landmarks (including Olympic stadium), in about 45 minutes, about €6. AND it is hop-on hop-off; you can get off & another comes along in 40-45 minutes. Starts at Syntagma Square, but you can start it yourself at whatever stop is most convenient from your hotel. It's a great quick once-over; I recommend it to young & old.
Holy cow! Thank you for the information about the Happy Train. This sounds amazing!! I can't thank you enough!