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24 Essential Tips to Know Before Visit Athens

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Finally, you are planning your trip to Greece, but mostly, you will visit the marvelous ancient capital, Athens. You are not going to get disappointed.


The food is delicious and very cheap.

Unless you go to a Michelin stars restaurant, you will not pay more than 20 euros for a complete meal in a Greek taverna.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

The city is full of ancient ruins all around, waiting for you to see them. People are so hospitable that you will wish to have more days to enjoy everything that Athens has to offer.


Travel Tips: As soon as you book your next adventure, make sure to buy good travel insurance in case you need to “unfortunately” delay, extend or cancel your trip. I recommend VisitorsCoverage for trips up to 1 month and SafetyWing for longer trips.


*Disclosure: This article contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you I guarantee, if you make a purchase through my links. See it as a way to thank me for all the information I provide.


Read 24 Essential Tips to Know Before Visit Athens Below

Enjoy!


If you will like this article, feel free to leave a comment below and share it with your friends, maybe someone you know is planning to visit Athens.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

1. Plan to spend more than one day in Athens:


If there is also a visit to Athens in your Greece itinerary, please keep in mind that the capital of Greece was also the heart of Ancient Greece, a very famous empire.


Therefore you should give yourself more time to explore it because there are plenty of things to do in Athens. It is a beautiful city, full of history, charm, and unique places to see.


24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

Many tourists plan only to visit the Acropolis, which stands on a hilltop right in the middle of the city, and trust me that it is worth it, but Athens is not only the Acropolis.


There are many fascinating museums in Athens, ancient ruins, and neighborhoods to lose yourself exploring every little street.


Also, restaurants in Athens offer fantastic typical food you cannot miss trying.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

2. Be aware that Athens and the most famous islands are extremely busy and crowded during the high season (July-August):


I went to Athens, Santorini, Paros, Ios, and Mykonos in the middle of September. They weren't crazy busy, but still, I could not walk freely and take pictures in the evening in the main street cause there were too many people passing by.


I visited the Acropolis with the Pantheon right at the opening time. I was there before it opened and it was so lovely, there weren't so many people at the beginning, but it got crowded very soon so if you fancy some pictures where there is only you around, get there when it opens as I did.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

3. The Metro works very well:


Athens metro is very simple, so you cannot get lost. It is very cheap and takes you to the central touristic locations.


You will admire some old artifacts in some metro stations, like in a museum; not bad for a metro, right?


If you wish to plan your trip to Athens in the best way, don't miss to read my complete guide on how to plan a trip to Athens.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

4. Make sure to book accommodation in a safe area:


Unfortunately, it is not enough for you to book accommodation in Athens in a central area to be safe.

Some neighborhoods are unfortunately not so friendly to walk in the evening.


I learned it by booking in one of them.


I honestly believed that all the areas were ok by staying in the city center, but it is far from the truth.

Monastiraki, Plaka, Koukaki, Psirri, Kolonaki, and Syntagma are safer areas.


The areas to avoid are Omonia (where I booked my hotel, silly me), Exarcheia, Kolokotroni Square, and Vathi.


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Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

5. Taxis are very cheap:


Even in the middle of the night, you will be surprised by how cheap taxis are in Athens (compared to other big capitals).


You can find them in the central streets or use the app "Beat" as I did.

It allows you to book the driver you want (you can choose an English speaker) and choose the payment method, which is not bad at all!


Travel Tip: I highly recommend exploring the city by walking and using public transport, a good way to visit Athens on a budget. But if you plan to stay out late, the taxi could be a very fast and safe way to get back to your accommodations.

Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

6. Make sure to learn some essential words:


I know the Greek language might be intimidating for some of us. Still, you have no idea how hospitable Greeks are.


Locals will appreciate the effort, so learn some essential words on Duolingo (a great free app to learn new languages I use), like good morning, good evening, thank you, etc.


You might become friends with some locals just because you show them how much you like their country and culture just by saying a few Greek words.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

7. Always apply good sunscreen:


Sun can be very hot and damage your skin during the Greeks summers, so be smart and buy a mineral sunscreen or an excellent natural and reef-safe aloe vera sunscreen, and please do not forget to apply it more times a day.


It is essential to avoid looking like a lobster and spend the rest of your holiday indoors and in pain.


Also, never forget to apply an aloe vera aftersun lotion to give your skin all the nutrients it needs after a day at the beach.




8. Bring your sunscreen from home or buy it at the airport before you leave:


You have no idea how expensive sunscreen can be in Greece, mainly on the most popular islands. Maybe you can find it cheaper in Athens, but why risk it?


A regular sunscreen that you might pay 5/8 euros/pounds at home in Greece can cost you even twice the price, so plan and save money and avoid one of the biggest mistakes to avoid in Greece.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

9. If traveling with friends, please share your meal:


And by saying this, I mean there are so many delicious foods in Greece; you cannot just order a starter and a main course for yourself and try only two things a restaurant in Athens offers.


Unless you are traveling alone, share all the food with your travel mates, order different dishes, and share everything.


In this way, you are going to try most of the options on the menu, still feeling satisfied but not fully ready to explode (or maybe yes. Greek food is so good you won't be able to stop eating everything), and you will try most of the delicious food Greece has to offer.



Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

10. Eat local:


Greek food in Greece is much different from what you might have eaten in your own country at a Greek restaurant. And don't make me start talking about the unmissable sweets to try in Greece, delicious!


My advice is always to research the local cuisine, and when you get to a restaurant, ask your waiter what the local dishes are.


Every region has different local delicious food, not only gyros, greek salad, and moussaka (absolutely delicious), but trust me, there is much more to try while exploring Greece.


If you want to live the Greek experience fully, look at some amazing Athens Food Tour available here. Where you will try all the most famous Greek dishes.



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Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

11. Avoid Athens tourists traps:


Athens is a very famous capital that attracts tourists during the high season.


There are different types of tourist traps and mistakes to avoid in Athens. It can be souvenirs shops where they will sell you "made in China" items telling you that "it's made in Greece," or they can be restaurants where the prices are high, and the food standard is low (because they know you are not going to go back there anyway).


Unfortunately, some of these "tourist traps" have great reviews on Google or Tripadvisor, but it is just because the people who dined there had no idea how to recognize real Greek food.


So, do your research and don't follow the crowd. When in doubt, ask at your accommodation or pop into a shop and ask the people working there where they eat with their friends.


Locals always know the best spots. Check out my article


12. Buy local products as souvenirs:


I think the best way to bring your holiday back home with you and give it to your family and friends (if you used to bring back some souvenirs for them) is by buying local products.


There are many things to do in Athens, including shopping. In Athens, you can find delicious infused olive oils, olives of every kind and color, dry herbs, infused honey (I bought delicious Thyme honey on Ios island, for example), almond cookies, and much more.


But there is not only food to buy; for example, I also bought many handmade soaps with olive oil, lava sand, or propolis (perfect for my oily skin face), aloe vera body creams, and many face creams (some of them with donkey milk) perfect to have a little bit of Greece even when you will be back home.



Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

13. Take your time while eating at a restaurant:


While in Athens, take your time to enjoy your holiday, do not rush running up and down, eating fast, and pretending that your waiter will give you the bill even before you have finished your meal.


Enjoy an excellent cold espresso and maybe a glass of Ouzo or one of the other typical drinks after your meal (in some restaurants, they will give you a complimentary drink with your bill, so please leave a tip).


Greece is a place to relax, so enjoy every little detail of your holiday.



Need a Hotel in Athens?

Looking for the perfect accommodation for your holiday in Athens? There are plenty of hotels available for every budget.


From a cheap but clean hotel in Athens to something more expensive like a charming boutique hotel. If you wish to visit Athens in style and don't want to spare the expense, a luxury hotel in Athens is what you are looking for!



Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

14. People are allowed to smoke inside restaurants and bars:


In Greece, most people smoke, and local owners let them do it inside their bars and restaurants.

So if you cannot eat where people are smoking at the table next to you (I honestly hate it too), I highly recommend you choose a location with a garden or a terrace.


Also, check if the people at the table next to you are smoking or have an ashtray at their table. In that case, you can still ask to be seated somewhere else (if they hopefully still have a free table).


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

15. Be aware of pickpockets and thieves:


Unfortunately, they are everywhere, wherever there are tourists.


So please be careful, do not leave your bag open, don't keep your wallet inside your back pocket (choose the front one instead) and get a good handbag or backpack with a deep internal pocket to keep it safe.


Travel Tip: I highly recommend you buy an anti-theft bag or an anti-theft backpack if traveling in a big city.

 

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Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

16. Leave a tip at the restaurant:


If you eat and like the food and the service, please leave at least a 10% tip.

It is essential to show appreciation (it is also part of their salary because hospitality salaries are relatively low).


Even if many travel bloggers keep saying you don't have to leave a tip in Europe, please don't be rude.


Hospitality jobs are not easy, and the best way to make them feel appreciated is by leaving them a tip.

Most of the restaurants on the Greek islands and some in Athens work mainly during the summer season, and they also work very hard thanks to the affluence of tourists, so let them know you appreciate their work and service by leaving a tip.


You might also get a complimentary glass of Ouzo as thank you, so why not?


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

17. Gyros can be incredibly cheap:


In case you are on a budget, or even not, you will be surprised about how cheap Gyros can be. And they are also delicious.


I ate them a lot while traveling around Greece. They are fast to get. You can eat them everywhere to save time while traveling.


You will find different kinds of Gyros, with varying types of meat, and vegetarians, with delicious falafel inside.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

18. Always bring cash with you:


In many small bars, tavernas, and shops, still do not accept card payments, so keep that in mind and always have some cash with you.


Also, if you are not sure, ask the waiter before ordering if they accept card payments so you can withdraw some money before enjoying your meal.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

19. Cash machines are everywhere:


And I mean it, everywhere and they are very well signposted, but if you don't see any, don't be shy and enter a shop and ask where you can find one.


It doesn't matter if you don't speak Greek; in tourist places, most locals who work with tourists understand a bit of English (otherwise, always have it with you in your phone Google translator, it can save your life while traveling abroad).


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens
Academia Hotel, Autograph Collection

20. Book your accommodation a lot in advance:


Athens is a top-rated summer destination, so if you want to get the best deal for the best accommodation that suits all your needs, book as soon as possible.


Athens accommodation can get fully booked very soon, so keep that in mind.

Use the Agoda Widget below to check out fantastic hotel deals for your Greek vacation.



 

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Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

21. Check also some Hostels, even if you are looking for a hotel:


Are you traveling with some friends and want to save money? Why not look for a room to share with them in Athens?


Hostels also have small rooms for 4 people, so if you are planning to travel with three friends, why not get a room for all of you to stay together and save money?

Of course, looking for suitable accommodation in Athens and saving money at the same time will take some time but I think it is worth it cause you are going to have more money to spend during your stay.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

22. Bring with you an international driver's license:


If you are planning to visit only Athens, you will not need to rent a car, you can walk around and use public transport and taxis, but if you are planning to also move outside the significant capital, don't forget to bring it with you.


Otherwise, you might end up without the chance to rent a car without an international driver's license, so check how to do it in your own country (it is basically just a translation of your driver's license, which is usually valid for one year).


If you are from Europe, you won't have any problems but plan if you come from a country outside the EU. To rent a car in Greece, I highly recommend Localrent and Discovercars, the best websites t look for a rental car in Greece.


Valentina's Travel Guide, 24 Essential Tips to Know before Visit Athens

23. Strikes happen everywhere, so be prepared to plan more time than you need to leave the country:


It can be a train or a ferry strike, so imagine you have to leave Athens by ferry to get to Mikonos. If there is a ferry strike, you will be in trouble.


So plan to have plenty of time; plan one or two days extra, if you can, to make sure to have enough time to explore and enjoy your holiday.


To check out Ferry prices and routes, check out Ferryhopper, Greece's most famous ferry website.



24. Parties start quite late:


Check when your party starts because people usually arrive after midnight, not earlier.


After all, you are on holiday, so you can plan to spend all night out having fun.

Just make sure to plan enough days so you won't miss anything.




Did you enjoy my article?

I have plenty like this one about Athens here.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share this article with your friends, maybe someone you know is planning to visit Athens.


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About me

Hi! I'm Valentina,

but you can call me Vale.

I'm an Italian with a passion for well-planned travels and food.

In my Travel Guide, you will find everything you need to plan your perfect travel around the world.

Valentina

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