Hi, we will join our tour on a Monday evening, but will arrive before, on the Sunday in the am. Some suggestions to keep awake, places to visit Sunday and Monday, prior to meeting our tour. I should add, it is the R# Greece tour, so ofcourse I would welcome some ideas of things to do, not included in our tour. Thanks everyone.
You'll want to wander around outside on your arrival day (Sunday) to help vanquish the jetlag.
I enjoyed the Cycladic Art Museum a lot; so old, but like looking at contemporary art. I haven't verified that it's open on Monday, though.
I agree, plan outdoor activities on Sunday to help you adjust. Your tour materials will likely mention some sights/activities not included in the tour that are worth visiting during your pre-tour time. Sunday might be a good day to visit the Agora, and there's the nearby and interesting Monastiraki Flea Market area where you can wonder and grab a bite to eat. I had a really great dinner there at a restaurant a Greek woman on my flight recommended. I'll see if I can find the name.
On one of our trips to Athens, we took a food walking tour with local Kostas who owns Athens Walks. He is a former Evzone, Parliament guard.I also agree that the small and very iconic Cycladic Museum would be a good choice. It is not far from Syntagma Square.
If you haven't bought your flights, I would arrive two days ahead, not one. There is so much to see and do and that would insure that you are fully recovered from jet lag.
You'll be in Athens so there's plenty to keep you busy. You'll be surprised how much adrenaline you'll have regardless of jet lag.
The best thing is to keep moving. Once you check in head out. Not sure where you are staying but there'll be lots to do on a Sunday. Sundays seems to be a day when locals are out en masse. Most tavernas will be busy, people will be walking around, there'll be shops, markets and other businesses open, especially in the tourist areas like Monistiraki, Plaka and Syntagma zones.
Just wandering around will keep you occupied, maybe stop for lunch or a quick Gyro to keep you going.
Monday everything will be open. You can check out the Central Markets on Athinas St. with all kinds of meats, seafood and produce you may not find or even know about back home. If you are squeamish you may want to omit the meat market but if you haven't seen one before you should check it out. Warning: don't wear sandals!
If you need more ideas for Athens check out this website:
OR you could do what I should have done this week and just give in to the jet lag rather than fighting it -- one day of rest to make the tour days better. Sit in the sun in Athens and watch the people go by.
I did this tour a few years ago. Unless you love museums, I would not visit one on your free day prior to the tour as you will be visiting many of them on the tour itself. I would stay outside as much as possible visiting those suggested by above poster Tommy. Have an early dinner and early to bed.
Thanks for the tips everyone. We are seasoned European travelers, quite aware of the need to be outside and moving on arrival day. We prefer to do that, so probably a museum is not the best choice the first day. I will research all the areas and markets mentioned.
Frank- find the name of the Resturant you mentioned?
Tommyk5 - I booked marked your link, great site!
Outdoor recommendations in Athens would be walking along Dionysiou Areopagitou past the Acropolis and climb the stairs to Mars Hill where the Apostle Paul preached. Mars Hill (Areopagus Hill) has great views of the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and Lykavittos Hill. Also walk in the Anafiotika and Plaka areas. When we first arrived we stopped for a snack at the rooftop outdoor terrace at the New Acropolis Museum where you can sit outside and enjoy the view. The ticket desk gave us a free ticket to the 2nd floor restaurant. Any walking tour with Kostas from Athens Walking Tours would be well worth it. Kostas does an outstanding job.
It looks like you'll be visiting the Acropolis and museum on day one of the tour, so I would get lost inside the Plaka neighborhood the day of arrival. On day two I would visit the Ancient Agora followed by the National Archaeological Museum. Enjoy your trip.
Download the RS audio guide, bring your headset and do the Athens city walk. That is what we did prior to the start of our tour and we enjoyed it immensely. You will see plenty of museums on the tour. Every ancient site has one.
You don’t mention how early you arrive on Sunday, but the official changing of the guard In Syntagma Square is at 11 a.m. They have the guard changes every day, but the big one is on Sunday. We are fans of the Olympics, so we enjoyed touring the arena. We walked from Syntagma Square, through the gardens and over to the Olympic arena. We also enjoyed wandering through Anaflotika.
If you can, do arrive on Saturday. One more day to adjust to the time difference and one more day to see some of Athen's sights. You will probably be staying at either the Hera or Acropolis Select Hotel. Those are the two that RS has used. They are about one long block apart, and the Mani Mani restaurant is between them. That's where my RS tour had its final dinner. I was back in Athens a couple months ago and had an excellent, reasonably priced dinner there on my own. You do need a reservation, as your hotel to make it for you.
You could do the RS city walk - and maybe split it up into 2 or 3 parts. Don't be tempted to do any shopping, though. You'll see better quality and lower prices on the tour. Spend a couple hours at the Ancient Agora. It was my favorite archaeology site.
If you want to see the changing of the guard on Sunday morning, the ceremony starts about 10.45. Get there by 10.30 to find a place to watch from. If you miss that, there is a much simpler ceremony every hour on the hour.
Has anyone done the Hop On Hop Off bus in Athens? In many places, they provide a good orientation to the City; in others (e.g. London), they barely move due to traffic. Any thoughts?
HOp-on is a Bad choice in Athens -- it's not that they don't try but it's not a city where it works. In London, it's an efficient way to get to widely separated sights (Buck Palace - Tower of London). In Athens all the main sites are clustered close together, within a mile really, and many of the streets are no-car zones, so busses can't get close anyway. You end up stuck in traffic in major avenues staring up at office buildings.
A great & fun hop on/off tour to get an overview, nonstop takes only 40 minutes (but u can take all day if you want), costs only €5, is The Happy Train! http://www.athenshappytrain.com/ - sorta like those boardwalk thingies... a jeep-chassis "choo-choo" with 3 little open "cars" that can go on the no-cars lanes. U can get off at a stop that interests you, & anothere choo-choo comes by in about 40 minutes. 9 am to 6 (or 9pm in midsummer). Starts at Syntagma Square; I think that's the only place where u can buy the ticket. However, you might be able to buy a ticket in advance (online??) and then you could just hop ON at the stop nearest to your hotel. I suggest you e-mail a query to the website; i hear they 're very customer-friendly.