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3 Questions on a Day in Athens

On a rating from 1 to 10. (10 being most recommended) is it recommended to have tour guide for the Acropolis and Parthenon?

We are staying at Hotel Grande Bretagne on Syntagma Square. Walk to Acropolis? 20 minutes walk supposedly but is it a good idea?

If there was one market area to go to would it be Monastiraki?

Posted by
3551 posts

No need for guides. Just read from a guide bk.
No info on market area.

Posted by
2455 posts

First, no guide is needed if you have a good explanation in a guidebook, although certainly having a good human guide could help bring the ruins to life and answer your questions. Enter early in the morning or very late in the afternoon, to beat the heat, beat the crowds, and see the ruins in the best light. Don't forget the still-new Acropolis Museum, below the Acropolis (separate ticket, nice restaurant on the terrace, looking up to the Parthenon).
Second, I would say that if you are simply trying to go from your hotel to the entry of the Acropolis, take a taxi. However, if you are interested in seeing things along the route, then walk but it will take you considerably longer. There are a couple of worthwhile walking routes with various sites along the way.
Third, Central Market on Athinas Street, and nearby area.

Posted by
23420 posts

On your scale, a 9. Why spend thousands of dollars to get there and then $30 by not hiring a guide. A guide can provide a hundred times more information than a printed guide book and, most importantly, you can ask questions. That is the biggest advantage to a live person.

Walking is fine. I don't remember the market we were in.

Posted by
15643 posts

I visited on my own with Rick's audio guide and then a couple days later as part of a group tour. Though the group guide was good, I didn't feel she added much to the experience. To be fair it wasn't a private guide; she gave lots of info for about an hour in and around the entrance, then we were free to explore the rest of the sight on our own.

Posted by
1379 posts

I have to admit that I am biased against tour guides. Having said that on one visit to the Acropolis we arrived right at opening. We passed a tour group just outside the entrance. We spent an hour with very few other people until the site started filling up from all the tour buses. We then left and passed that same tour group which had moved 30 meters from where they were when we arrived. Everyone looked bored to death except the tour guide who appeared to be very content with all the stuff she knows.

Unless you are a scholar or a student just get a guide book or an audio guide and DIY.

Your hotel is an easy walk to the Acropolis. There is no danger (except perhaps crossing the busy road around Syntagma Square) The walk to the acropolis helps you build expectation as you get closer. Definitely do it early morning or late afternoon early evening.

Markets. Monestraki is interesting but the Central market is amazing. It covers a whole city block and has an area for veg, meat, fish, nuts and grains. It is a tourist destination on its own. Its about a half a kilometer up Athinas street from the Monestraki metro station.

Posted by
1172 posts

I'm another that doesn't recommend a guide. Nothing wrong with one but the Acropolis is easy to do on your own with a good guide book or info from the web.

I would recommend getting there when it opens, 8 a.m. to avoid crowds and lots of tour groups. At 8 a.m. it's quiet, peaceful and almost like being there 2,500 years ago (almost). Tours/tourists start around 9 a.m. and it just gets more crowded as the day goes on and becomes less enjoyable with pushing and shoving tourists wanting to get up close, the best photos and sometimes just obnoxious.

I would also recommend the Central Markets on Athinas St. just a short walk from Monistiraki Square. It's wild, crazy and quite an experience. Early morning is crowded with locals and taverna owners doing their shopping for the day but later quiets down but still stays busy.

The Meat/Seafood is on one side of the street under roof while the produce section is across the street in the open air.

Lots of street vendors also and many side streets with all kinds of small, locally-owned specialty shops in the area making it worth the time to visit the entire area.

Posted by
396 posts

A great experience with a guide can make a site come alive; a bad guide is a buzz kill and a time waster. If you read through the forum threads and trip reports you'll find recommendations for individual guides. Rick also supplies recommendations in his guide books. Guides seem best for either: (1) you're a big fan and want an in-depth experience, or (2) you can't appreciate what you're looking at without a lot of extra help, e.g. the main forum in Rome.