We have two and a half extra days in Athens before we join up with our tour. We’ll be coming after ten days in London so hopefully not too jet lagged. Our tour includes three days of historical sites so don’t need to see them on our own. Just some ideas to acclimate and relax and do laundry before the tour. We’ll be staying at the Pan Hotel in the square those nights. We’ll definitely do the walk in the RS guide but would appreciate any other suggestions.
The National Garden of Athens, right next to the parliament in Syntagma Square, is a charming place for a walk.
In the small street that runs along the east of the garden (Irodou Attikou street) you can also see the changing of the guard (the Efzones) every hour without the crowds of tourists on the parliament square.
By taxi or by bus you can go to Mount Lycabettus from where you will have a splendid 360° view of Athens and the surrounding area.
Closer to your hotel, a 5-minute walk away (leaving your hotel, turn left on mitropoleo street in the direction of car traffic) there is the Flea Market. The entrance is on Monastiraki square, it is indicated by a large sign above a small pedestrian street (to the right of the metro station)
If it’s not already on your schedule I’d recommend a walk up Philopappos, the hill directly across from the Acropolis. It has great views back to the Parthenon and down to the sea. At the foot of the hill is the Pnyx, the area where early democratic assemblies were held. It’s an easy walk from the Pan. A bit more detail here
You’re also close to the main shopping area of Athens. Ermou, with big international chains, is a block behind you but if you cut across it through pedestrian streets you’ll get to the meat and vegetable markets. A slice of modern Greece.
Great that you will be arriving a couple days ahead of the tour. We did the same. It was great to have the time to acclimate and visit sites not covered on the tour. This thread has some ideas: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/greece/post-rs-athens-best-of-greece-tour
Enjoy this exceptional tour!
Check out Anafitotika on the north side of the Acropolis. It's like being on a Greek Cyclades Island with its white washed houses and narrow lanes. You'd never know you are in a city of millions while wandering around.
The Central Markets on Athinas St. is quite unique. Filled with all kinds of sights & smells, meat, seafood and produce sections all have something for those who have never experienced this type of market.
Kerameikos Cemetery is an overlooked archeological site. It's the ancient burial grounds with statues, walls, foundations, monuments and other ruins in a very quiet but easily accessible part of Athens. The museum is worth it just for seeing some of the inscriptions from those who lost loved ones. Even though it's from BC Greece the touchy words are as fresh as a newly-lost family member from today.
Here's a great guide for Athens and what to do, see and experience: