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Seven full days in Athens, where to go, see and stay

Hello! I've previously posted, have new questions now. Lucky us, scored a great deal on a direct flight to Athens. Will arrive 3 December late evening, departing early morning 11 December, giving us seven full days to enjoy Athens and surrounding areas. We realize it's not prime time in Athens, that's okay as we prefer off season traveling.
At first we had looked at staying at the Attalos hotel. Think I want to up the budget on the hotel a little bit but stay in the same area. Any ideas?
Would also like to take a few day trips outside the city to a Greek island easy to get to from Athens. Recommendations?
What other day trips would someone recommend that are relatively easy to get to from Athens for a couple that have never been to Greece before?
Thanks!

Posted by
5648 posts

We're just starting to plan for our trip next Easter, and Greece looks really exciting! Based on recommendations from Rick Steves and others, Hydra is an easy Island visit that will provide big travel rewards without taking up too much time. While it would be nice to visit more of the islands in the Agean and the Mediterranean Seas, it looks like that's another trip for when we have more time (and maybe at a different time of year??).

A side trip from Athens to Nafplio will be a must, as well as to Delphi. Congratulations on getting a deal on airfare! Looks like things are off to a promising start!

Posted by
974 posts

We always stay at the Attalos on Athinas St., a clean, safe and centrally located accommodation. Superb rooftop bar/garden with amazing views of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens.

However, since you'll be in Athens in December, way off season you'll have more options as far as prices go since the price for accommodations will be far less than High Season.

There are numerous accommodations for all budgets, needs and tastes, but the Attalos is our go-to accommodations.

I would base myself in Athens, since it's a real nice city with World-Class archeological sites and museums, the Plaka, Monistiraki & Sygtagma Squares, Anafiotika, the Central Markets, Psiri District, changing of the guards, and so much more.

You can do a day trip to the lovely island of Aegina, leaving early morning, see the sities and still get back to Athens late afternoon for a night out. Aegina has more options, things to do, archeological sites, pretty main town, waterfront open-air markets, one of the best preserved temples in Greece, seaside villages, ancient olive groves, abandoned Byzantine Village in the hills and lots more.

Hydra is one of Greece's most popular islands for day trippers, but has limited options as to what to do. The best thing about it is there are no vehicles allowed on the island . . . just donkeys for transportation.

Stay in Athens, do a day trip to Aegina and if you have the time a day trip to Nafplio, one of Greece's loveliest towns, beautiful Old Town, archeological/historic sites right in town and lots of shops, markets and tavernas to enjoy.

You really don't have to travel far afield from Athens to have a great Greek Experience, especially in December when many islands and even parts of the mainland shut down for the tourist season, but the options I mentioned will still be open, vibrant and with things to do.

Posted by
2950 posts

Use the filter system at www.booking.com to hunt for the hotels you can afford in the area you prefer. Use the map function to see which ones are in the same area as the Attalos (Monastiraki District and Metro Station).

For Athens and any other destination in Greece you will find a separate forum for it on www.tripadvisor.com and you can just click on "Things to do" at the top of each forum page to see what might appeal to your travel style.

Island daytrips from Athens are limited to Hydra, Spetses and Aegina. Anything further away would require an overnight.

For the best information about Greece get yourselves a good travel guidebook such as Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Frommers, or Fodor's.

Posted by
146 posts

We had tentative reservations at the Attalos, but have decided to up the budge a little. Any recommendations for hotels in the area of the Attalos. It would be nice to hear from those that have recommendations for other hotels than reading reviews on travel websites.
I've purchased several guide books for Athens. My questions regarding going to an island such as Hydra, Spetses and Aegina are; How does one get to these islands? A ferry I would assume. Where do we catch the ferry? How to get to the ferry from Athens? Do the ferries run in December or is it weather affected? Do we need advance reservations on the ferries or can we just show up on the spot? I'd hate to make a reservation only to find out that the day we want to go the weather will be horrible. Nafplio was recommended to go to as well. Nafplio is on Aegina? Once on Aegina how does one get to Nafplio? I've also heard about Delphi. Is it reachable by train from Athens?
Thank you

Posted by
80 posts

Do not think trains in Greece. Transportation is mainly car, bus, and ferry. There are busses to Delphi from Athens, you could rent a car, or there are probably tours. I don't know if you could or would want to go there and back in a day, but your guide books should have up to date info. Delphi is gorgeous and a major draw for visitors.

Most ferries leave from Piraeus, which is on the subway line. Aegina is an island very close to Athens, so an easy day trip, with pretty good public transportation on the island. Nafplio is a town on the Peloponnese, which is a peninsula, not an island. I have always driven or taken a bus to Nafplio and stayed overnight. The ferries always run on some sort of schedule, but can be delayed or cancelled due to bad weather. Aegina should be fine, but I had a rough crossing from Hydra to Athens in the winter.

Posted by
146 posts

Thanks for the reply. We won't rent a car, just too many variables to doing that for one day. We will look into a tour although we're not a big fan of taking a group tour as we're always on someone else's schedule. Definitely don't want to spend a night as we only have seven full days in Athens as is. Just wondering if we could wait until we're in Athens to plan a trip to an island as we certainly don't want to pre-book only to find the day we've booked is going to be bad weather.

Posted by
714 posts

Friends who live in Crete always stay at the Herodian Hotel. It is located just behind the Acropolis Museum and has views of the Acropolis. I have not yet stayed there myself but will do so in a few weeks.

Posted by
3651 posts

I might have missed it, but I don't think anyone has mentioned an often overlooked place in Athens itself. The Ancient Agora which has one of the best preserved temples in Greece is, in my opinion, a must see place in Athens. Google it and see what you think.

Posted by
2893 posts

I agree with Lesley about the Herodion -- or its "sister hotel," Phillipos. they represent a step up from Attalos but (more importantly from my perspective ) a more attractive side of the Acropolis. Attalos is very near Monastiraki Square, wonderful for its fresh-fruit carts, and a gathering-place for teens -- but also kinda grungy, lots of traffic & noise & motorcycles esp. at night, tons of graffiti. By contrast, the S. Side of Acropolis/Agora "campus" is completely flanked by a wide & beautiful pedestrian promenade. The 2 hotels named, plus the whole area, has lovely view of Parthenon turning Gold at Sunset. There is almost no traffic, just to get to the hotels near this lane. Just before dinner, the promenade walkway from early spring (and I assume even in winter on sunny days) is filled with GReek families making their volta (stroll) before heir evening meals. Ice cream carts, balloon men etc. Very enjoyable. The Acropolis museum is right on this walkway, as well as S. Entrance to Acropolis.

Posted by
974 posts

While the Herodion & Phillipos will be in a "better" area you'll also be spending a lot more on the accommodations. If you are OK with that then those recommendations will be great.

The Attalos on Athinas St. is more in the "locals" area, lots of shops, markets and tavernas where locals go (some tourists also) and is more than safe and clean enough to go to and just a couple blocks from Monistiraki Square the the start of the Plaka, Acropolis, Anafiotika and flea market area and not to far from Sygtagma Sq. for changing of the guards and more upscale shopping. The Attalos is just steps away from the Central Markets and the "every man" (or woman) heart of Athens.

However, do what fits your budget, needs and convenience.

Posted by
5262 posts

We also liked the Herodion and its neighborhood, but it's on the south side of the Acropolis while Monastiraki is on the north side. From our limited exposure to Monastiraki I'd agree with Janet that you'll find that area more lively, if that's what you're looking for.

I don't think you'll need to make any reservations for a trip to Aegina or Nafplio ahead since you'll be traveling in December. Janet has great pictures of her trip to Aegina and lots of practical advice, if she comes back to this thread.

Posted by
146 posts

We changed our reservations to stay at the Herodion Hotel. Even though it's not tourist season in Athens, we really don't want to deal with traffic noise, etc. Sounds like the Herodion will be a better fit for us. Shouldn't be that far of a walk to Monastiraki square, is it? Thanks.

Posted by
2893 posts

Thanks for the Plug, Dick -- But I can't take credit for that superb album of an Aegina Day Trip ... it came from another "regular." To save re-writing here's a cut & paste Portion of my previous Aegina advice:
"Instead of Hydra, much closer is island of Aegina. Take the Green Line Metro to Piraeus & buy a ticket at any window. Be sure to take the REGULAR ferrry not a hydrofoil. THe latter are closed-in, no deck or view, the former have big decks to sit & enjoy the whole seascape - giant freighters, tiny sailboats, ferries, cruise ships, waves, gulls - even dolphins if u are lucky! [NOTE: in Offseason, the REG ferries go at 8:30 and 12:15 -- so get up early! Green Line takes 35 mins from Monastiraki to Piraeus, then allow another 30 mins to locate ferry and buy tickets. If you get the sea view outbound u can take any vessel back -- only reg. ferry is at 18:15 (6:15pm).

When u arrive at AEgina, there's a temple ruin right by port for good photo shots w sea in background. Take a bus (or taxi or rental car) to mid-island for FAB ruined temple!! on hill; 360° view of Saronic bay. Back on the road, look for a hand-printed sign "Short cut" and scramble downhill to a beach town for lunch. Check the bus schedule, or taxi back to port town, wander its back streets, have a drink at harbor cafe, ferry at sunset & quick Metro to central athens. Here's a great photo album that gives u hour-by-hour vision of an Aegina daytrip in June -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/ ... December less warm than june but on a sunny day it can be lovely!

Posted by
2893 posts

AND if you want another Day trip, as Tommy says, Nafplio can be an unforgettable experience -- it's considered THE most beautiful Old Town in All of Greece ... on a peninsula, surrounded by water, gorgeous Golden Italianate architecture, tons of history -- and best of all, it's only 2.5 hours away on a modern intercity reserved-seat bus. Here's a fab NONcommercial website of its highlights -- http://www.visitnafplio.com and photo-genius Stanbr's pix: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094108982/

If u look at these and are intrigued, here's how: taxi (12€) to Kifissou St. KTEL Bus terminal; bus is by far exit door, buy tickets right there(€13). Request LH side seats for best view of the sea. 1st bus 8am, then 9:30, then hourly -- So rise early & have a long lovely day! Walk from station to marble-paved Central Square for a coffee under trees; check out small superb Museum there (just 1 floor, but has the ONLY Iliad-era suit of armor in the World!). You can take an elevator IN a cliff to get up to Acronafplia park, at the POINT of the peninsula, stunning views! ... And the walk around the base of the cliff is unforgettable! http://www.visitnafplio.com/volta.html Nafplio is vibrant all year long, as a favorite getaway for chic Athenians, so its Flagstoned no-cars lanes are lined with chic shops and inviting tavernas -- but best of all are its seafront outdoor marquee cafes with cushioned loveseats, -- even in winter, clear plastic sides and heaters are provided so you can enjoy sunsets in comfort all year! In December, the sun goes down at 5 pm, so you'd have plenty of time for a "sundowner" beverage, something delicious, and then stroll to the Athens bus at 18:30 (6:30pm) or 20:00 (last bus)

Posted by
5262 posts

Candi -- A little under a mile on foot between the Herodion and Monastiraki metro station. Mostly level, around the east end of the Acropolis. Some of it is on pedestrian streets. I looked this up on the very useful rome2rio website, which surprised me by including walking distances like this.

I agree with the previous poster about Nafplio, a beautiful small city full of interesting things to see, do, and eat. Also a good base for Mycenae and Epidavros, if you want to make it more than a day trip.

EDIT: Matt Barrett's website can help answer many questions about any aspect of travel anywhere in Greece.

Posted by
22 posts

I really liked staying in the Plaka district of Athens at the Acropolis Museum Boputique Hoelt. Easy walk to the Acropolis and Museun, hop on hop off bus, restaurants, and even a coin laundromat jusdt a couple blocks away.

Also, I liked flying to Santorini (only about 40 minutes) then ferry to Naxos (2.5 hours on the slow car ferry boat) and returned via another flight back to Athens (about 25 minutes).

Posted by
16 posts

My wife and I are taking our first trip to Greece this Saturday for 10 days! We too are staying at the Attalos Hotel, per many great reviews due to its safety and location. We wish we could have had time to see Hydra as well, but we allocated 2 days for Athens, 3 for Santorini and 3 for Naxos (w/ 1 final night in Athens before our flight).

I will post some thoughts/recommendations after we get back later this month!

Happy travels!