1) Acropolis “Top Things to Do in Athens”
In Greece, this word simply means the “highest point in the city”. The Acropolis is an ancient tower on a high rocky enlargement area above the city of Athens. The remnants of several prehistoric buildings of great architectural and historic significance are found there.
Imagine putting together the best of science, art, philosophy, into a precedent conceptual design which embodied architectural excellence in one creation. You have the greatest monument of human civilization!UNESCO calls it the symbol of World Heritage. We know it as one of the world`s most outstanding monuments.
The history of the Acropolis of Athens is an epic one, where over brief time period democracy, philosophy and art flourished, leading to its creation. Then there were bleak times when pieces of the monuments were taken apart and taken away from the city, separating the monument in two. Today, the international community wants to reassemble all the Acropolis sculptures in Athens and reinstate both its physicality and meaning in its rightful place.
Commanding a supreme place perching atop the Acropolis; overlooking Athens is probably the most famous and most visited complex of temples in the World. It is the identity of Athens and its one of the most grandiose and massive monument landmarks in Greece and in top things to do in Athens number.1.
It symbolizes the beginning of the Western civilization and an icon of European culture. Every year, thousands of visitors near and far come to admire this landmark. Back in the Mycenaean times, the Acropolis was always a sacred place for ancient Athenians. They worshiped their gods in the temples, carried out their festivals and they barricaded themselves there to protect the place when the enemies reach the city of Athens.
With the construction of the site other important buildings were constructed in an around it. The Parthenon, thePropylaia, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike were the prominent ones.
Acropolis was under attack during the Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman period. In the Byzantine period, the Parthenon was turned into a church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During the Ottoman period, the dominant feature was a mosque inside the Parthenon, complete with a minaret. Also, during the control of others invaders, Acropolis suffered damages and underwent changes and additions were added to the area. After the Greek War of Independence, most of the features that were added from the Byzantine, Frankish and Ottoman period were removed from the site. Efforts were carried out to place the artifacts in their correct places and to restore the monument to its original form.
A festival called the Panathenaea were held by the Athenian every four years. This event is an equal and a rival of the present time Olympic Games. During the festival, a procession (believed to portray the Parthenon pageantry) traveled through the city via the Panathenaic Way and end up on the Acropolis.
In view of the size of the Athens, take advantage of a private tour where you will get to maximize your time and see all the interesting things there.
2) The Parthenon
Ask any Athenians what visitors to Athens must see when they are in Athens. The answer would definitely be the Parthenon. Check out our private tours and you will see the same result.
On the sacred rock of Acropolis, there are several monuments from the Greek antiquity. One of them is the Parthenon. It has attracted many people to come to Athens just to visit. The Parthenon was dedicated to thegoddess Athena who is also the goddess of wisdom and the protector of the ancient city of Athens.
It is still ranking strongly at No.1 among the top places to see in Athens. There is no doubt the Parthenon is impressive and you simply can’t come to Athens and not visit it. At first sight, you will be taken aback by the huge size of this complex and the detailed in the construction and layout of the place in top things to do in Athens number.2.
The area is hot and jam packed during the peak tourist season and it’s not as well conserved as some of the other ancient temples in Athens. Preservation work on the wear and tear of the place is ongoing but hindered by the huge influx of visitors.
The Finest Doric Style
The private tour guide will take you to see the structure which was made by Phidias one of the most famous sculptors of that time. The most amazing architectural achievement of the Parthenon is the unity of this massive building with the Attica landscape. The philosophy of the architectural design of the Parthenon was so well-integrated. The outcome so breathtaking even in its present ruinous state. It had striven a balance of beauty and perfection at the same time.
Standing back and looking at the Doric columns, you will see that they are massive and project a fullness of life in the way that they curve in the middle as if they are supporting the weight of the roof. Planned or not, the external pillars of Parthenon are not exactly straight but slightly bent. This gives them an optical illusion making them look straight from every angle you look at them.
The Parthenon’s main attraction was a huge statue of Athena that was made of elephant ivory and gold. It depicted Athena standing and holding a Nike (victory) in her extended right hand as an offering of the Nike to the people of Athens. On her left hand, she held her shield which sheltered a snake as it rested on the ground.
Through Thick and Thin
The Parthenon and the other buildings were seriously damaged during the siege by the Venetians in the Morean War when the Parthenon was being used for gunpowder storage and was hit by a cannonball standing in front of the Parthenon without all its glorious ornaments, its discolored marbles, chips facade, and tear, it still managed to project its grace effortless. One can’t help but imagine how grand it must be in its glorious days in all its splendid. It must definitely be a sight to behold. With a guided private tour, your visit will be up to your expectations and you will come away feeling amazed of such a well-built structure.
3) Cape Sounion
Situated at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula, where the horizon meets the Aegean Sea is Cape Sounion. Best known as the site of the ruins of the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon, the ancient god of the sea in Greek mythology.
The remains are set atop of the peak and jagged rocks of Cape Sounion. The temple is engulfed in myth and historic facts dated from ancient times until the present times. It is surrounded on three sides by the sea in top things to do in Athens number.3.
The ruins also bear the engraved name of the English romantic poet Lord Byron. The site is a popular day-excursion for tourists from Greece and abroad, with the sunset over the Aegean Sea as the main attraction. Catch the views of sunset with someone special and see it through the temple’s ruins which are regarded as one of themost celebrated sights in Greece. You couldn’t ask for a more breathtaking view of the sunset! The view is incredible and on a clear day, you can see the islands in the opposite direction and ships and fishing boats passing by.
Greek legend had it that King Aegeus of Athens upon seeing the black sail on his son Theseus’s ship believed that his son had been killed in his contest with a monster that was half man and half bull (Minotaur). Theseus had volunteered to go and attempt to slain the beast, Minotaur. He had agreed with his father that if he survived, he would hoist a white sail on his return. Theseus had successfully slain the beast but he had forgotten about the white sail. Too despaired, the king leaps to his death off the cliff and drowned himself on the spot in the Aegean Sea which was named after him.
It was believed that the unknown architect who built the temple of Poseidon was probably the same one who built Theseion in the Ancient Agora of Athens. For the temple of Poseidon, he decorated it with sculptures made of Parian white marble from Paros Island. The design is a typical hexastyle with a front portico and with six columns. Only some columns of the temple stand today. When you are there, take note of the majesty Doric columns and count their flutes.
What to do there?
Make the most of your trip by indulging in a refreshing swim in the small beach by the foot of the temple of Poseidon or in any one of the nearby beaches in Legrena or Lavrio! Hungry after all the sightseeing? Satisfy your palate with some fresh fish and seafood dishes in the local tavernas. Where can you find a better place than this in Attica which has the ancient temple as a backdrop and facing the deep blue sea!
Apart from being a world-renowned archaeological site, Sounion is an affluent city where it is an ideal summer home location for the Athenians. With house value exceeding above 20 million euros, it is one of the most expensive areas in Greece.
You may think that if you have seen an archaeological site, you have seen them all. There is a little truth in this as every one of them has its uniqueness and purpose.
Standing tall and magnificent and second to the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi is considered Greece’s most popular archaeological site. Located about two and half hours from Athens along the slopes of the remarkable Mount Parnassus, Delphi was once cherished by the ancient Greeks as the center of the earth. Anointed to the god, Apollo, Delphi was an influential oracle that was consulted on important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. In ancient times, people would come to this sacred spot to ask the priestess for advice on a wide range of matters from farming to relationships, religion, and politics.
It occupies an impressive site at the foot of a Mount Parnassos and overlooking the coastal plain. Within the angle formed by the twin rocks of the Phaedriades, lies the Greek ancestry sanctuary of Delphi, which had the most famous oracle of ancient Greece. The significant ruins at Delphi include the Temple of Apollo, the Athenian Treasury, the theater, and hippodrome.
According to mythology, Zeus was to decide the site of Delphi, which is a place to worship the goddess connected with fertility. Zeus released two eagles from the ends of the universe to find the center of his ‘Mother Earth’ which was believed to be the place where the world met.
In the myths of the ancient Greeks, the identified site was sacred and was guarded by the terrible serpent Python, an enemy of the deity Apollo. Python was later killed by Apollo. Apollo then made Python’s home and the oracle his own Panhellenic sanctuary. The sanctuary of Delphi, set within a most spectacular landscape, was the cultural and religious center. It is the symbol of unity for the Hellenic world for many centuries
Do you know what is the connection between the Pythian Games and the Olympic Games? The former is the forerunner of the modern Olympic Games to commemorate the victory of Apollo over the killing of Python, athletes from all over the Greek world compete in the Pythian Games which were held every four years. Besides athletic events, there were a poetry reading, music competitions and theatrical plays too. The winners at the Pythian Games were presented with a laurel wreath sacred to Apollo. In modern times, the moving of the Olympic flame via a relay system starting from Greece to the Olympic venue began in 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Ever since then it has maintained to be part of the modern Olympic Games.
Due to the widespread of the site of Delphi, it is advisable to take a private tour to help you see as much as you can. The museum would be a good place to start as its many treasures will help you to visualize what the now bare ruins of Delphi looked like in their glory days. The private tour will take you along the Sacred Way that was followed by ancient pilgrims winding it way up the hillside. You will pass ancient treasuries and monuments to the Temple of Apollo in top things to do in Athens Delphi is number.4
5) A God Versus a Goddess ” Top Things to Do in Athens, Erechtheum”
There are a lot to see in tours of Erechtheum. The Erechtheion or Erechtheum whichever you prefer to call it was built at the most divine place of the Acropolis.
This is the place where Poseidon (god of sea, earthquakes and horses) and Athena (goddess of wisdom and military victory) battled for the right to be the guardian deity of the city. Each of them would give the city a gift, and then the people could decide which gift they preferred.
Poseidon planted his spear in the rock, creating a salt spring and Athena planted an olive tree. Because the water from the spring was salty and deemed to be useless, the Athenians chose the olive tree. A tree that bear fruits and which they could harvest. After winning the battle, Athena became the patron deity of Athens.
Named after the mythical king of Athens, Erechtheus, it was dedicated to both Poseidon and Athena. Made from Pentelic marble, construction of the building took fifteen years to complete. Standing inside the temple’s cellar was an ancient, wooden statue of Athena which according to myth, had descended from the sky.
The main building consists of four compartments, the largest being the east cellar, with an ionic portico. Part take in a private tour it will take you to the shrine of Athena by going through any of the three porticos leading to the inner chambers of the cellar via a balcony and stair and a public viewing platform and in top things to do in Athens number.5
Pretty Maidens in a Row
Among the ionic porticos, the most famous one is the porch of the Korai, also known as the Porch of the Caryatids. Caryatids mean columns shaped like women. You must definitely look out for these caryatids as they had also been called the “Porch of the Maidens” represented by six draped female figures. You will notice that they are supporting the six ionic columns, which is the Erechtheum’s most defining feature. In their hands, they held plates which unfortunately are now lost. Over time, the statues on the Acropolis have been replaced by replicas. One of the original six figurines is now in the British Museum in London. The other five are housed in the Acropolis Museum.
Greece is a country of myth and it is no wonder that ancient people worshiped different gods, demigods, andlegendary heroes. The Erectheum was linked to some of the most ancient and holy artifacts of the Athenians. For one, the Palladium, which was an ancient wooden cult image of Athena Polias (Protectress of the City) which was worshiped and maintained its religious significance then.
There is the spot of Poseidon’s embedded trident and the salt water well (the “salt sea”) that resulted from Poseidon’s strike. Another would be the sacred olive tree that germinated when Athena struck the rock with her spear in her successful fight with Poseidon for the city patronage. Also, there are the supposed burial places of the mythical kings Kekrops and Erechteus and those of the local heroes Hephaistos, Boutes and other gods.
Indulge yourself in a private tour to this must-see Erectheum and like any other tourists to Erectheum, you will be amazed by the monuments, the figurines on the building and also the myth behind it. You cannot help but admire the master craftsmanship of the monument during the time when there was no technology.
While browsing through the private tour of Athens , the photo of Meteora stood out prominently from the page. Just looking at the photo, you get the sense that the view from the top and the surrounding sceneries must be spectacular. Make it one of the must-see places in your next holiday to Greece. You will not be disappointed. Aren’t you curious how were they built high up in the sky? And in top things to do in Athens number.6 is Meteora!
The Greek word Meteora means “suspended in the air,” and this phrase aptly describes the astonishing cliffs that rise more than 1,200 feet (366 meters) into the air overlooking the villages of Kalambaka and Kastraki. What makes these cliffs even more exhilarating are the historic monasteries balancing along the summits like cupcake!. Dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries, the monasteries at Meteora were built by monks searching spiritual solitude and freedom from religious persecution.
Besides those in Mount Athos, Meteora is the biggest and most important collection of monasteries in Greece. The history of the Meteora can be traced back to the11th century, the time when the first hermits settled there. The rock monasteries have been characterized by UNESCO as a unique phenomenon of Greek cultural heritage and this has a prominent place on the cultural map of Greece. The six monasteries were built on natural sandstone rock pillars.
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron
It is the biggest and oldest of the Meteorite monasteries. It was founded by Saint Athanasios who is the first founder of the monastery. The church ‘Katholikon’, honoring the `Transfiguration of Jesus` was erected in 1387/88 and decorated in 1483 and 1552. Nowadays, the old monastery is used as the main museum for tourists. Spend some time to gaze at the artistic details of Greek Byzantine art. You will see priceless monastery and religious items on display in the museum. Then move up to the summit and capture the splendid view.
The Holy Monastery of Varlaam
The second biggest after the Great Meteoro. It is located opposite the Great Meteoron honoring Agioi Pantes. It was built in 1541/42 by two priest-monks and decorated in 1548. It is dedicated to All Saints. The refectory is used as a museum. In the North of the church is the side chapel of the Three Bishops.
The Holy Monastery of Rousanou
It is dedicated to ‘The Transfiguration’ most probably the first hermit who settled on the rock. The ‘Katholikon’, of Athonite style, was founded in the middle of 16th century and later decorated in 1560. There are three levels in the monastery: the church and cells are on the ground floor, the guest quarters, reception halls and exhibition room are on the two upper floors.
The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas
It is the first monastery you will see on your way to Meteora. The ‘Katholikon’ dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a church with a single interior hub and the small dome was built in the beginning of 16th century. It was decorated by the Cretan painter Theophanis Baths-Strelitzas in 1527.
The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen
It is one of the most accessible monasteries as you don’t have to cope with the many steps to reach it. You simply walk across the bridge to reach the entrance. It was built in the middle of 16th century and decorated in 1545 or slightly later. The ‘Katholikon’, honoring St. Charalambos, was built in the Athonite type, in 1798. It sits on the plain and not on a cliff.
The Monastery of Holy Trinity
Considered the most difficult one to reach but once you get to the monastery, it is worth all your efforts. You will be rewarded by stunning and captivating panoramic view. Visitors have to cross the valley and continue walking high up through the rock before they arrive outside the entrance. The church was built in 1475-76 and decorated in 1741.
Did you know that this monastery was used in the filming of James Bond film `For your Eyes Only`?
Access to the monasteries was originally (and most probably deliberately) difficult, requiring either long ladders attached together or large nets used to drag everything and people up. As the story goes, the ropes were only replace when the ‘Lord’ let them break. That is a lot of faith to have! The net in which courageous pilgrims were hoisted up vertically along the 373 meters (1,224 ft) cliff to the Varlaam monastery symbolizes the fragility of a traditional way of life that is threatened with extinction.
Queen Marie of Romania become the first woman ever to enter the Great Meteoron monastery in 1921. By that time, steps were cut into the rock of the cliffs, making the complex accessibility to the monasteries easier by way of a bridge from the nearby plateau. During World War II the site was bombed and many prized arts were stolen.
Only six of the monasteries remain today. Four of these were inhabited by men and the two by women.
7) A Fun and Relaxing Private Tour around the Plaka
Touring Athens is not just visiting the amazing ancients sights. There are many other interesting places in Athens. One of them is the Plaka. A place where can take a break and enjoy a quiet and relaxing time. A private tour around the Plaka will offer you just that!
The Pláka is the oldest historical neighborhood of Athens. Built on top of the residential areas of the ancient town of Athens and due to its proximity to the Acropolis, it is known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods”.
It was developed mostly around the ruins of Ancient Agora of Athens, thus, it is near to many of the archaeological sites in the area. Under the Ottoman rule, Plaka was then known as the “Turkish quarter of Athens”. Like the rest of Athens, Plaka was temporarily abandoned by its inhabitants during the Greek War of Independence. The area was slowly resettled during the beginning of King Otto’s rule.
Quaint and Laid-back
Many of the streets have been closed to land vehicles and converted into a pedestrian area. Because the streets are narrow, you should be cautious of a speeding motorcycle or delivery truck entering the pedestrian area. In the past, it was the nightclub district, but most of the nightclubs were closed down when the government banned magnified music in the neighborhood in the seventies. It was also an effort of the authority to get rid of illegal and unlawful activities around the area. The move was very fruitful. The area is now full of restaurants, cafes, jewelry stores, and souvenirs shops. Although, it has become commercialized it is still agreeably the nicest neighborhood in central Athens. Most of the restaurants and the food serve there are typically catered for tourists. Take you pick of a restaurant and enjoy a local meal or a drink. Sit back and take in the sound and the sight of the people and surrounding. You should plan an evening trip here too. Merely to see a different side to the place at night, have a drink or two and be wow by the local songs and melodies.
Don’t Leave Plaka Empty Handed!
When you go inside any of the tourist shops, you will notice that they are crammed full of stuff. There are plenty of interesting items that you could buy if you feel obliged to bring back a souvenir for everyone you know. Another thing you will notice is that most of the shops sell almost the same stuff for pretty much the same prices. No rivalry and the tourists will be made not to feel that they have been overcharged! However, there are some shops that are more varied than others in that they sell antiques, or authentic hand painted icons, wood carvings, and paintings. Do wander around the Plaka. With so many types of shops, you may even be tempted to buy a local trinket or two so or amazing postcards to send home and makes everyone back home jealous. There are lots of jewelry stores too. It takes one to know the real for the imitation products! For those who are looking for something special, there are a couple of shops that are owned by the artist. They offer original hand-made pieces and copies of ancient museum pieces.
Going on a private tour to Plaka is a sure way to see the new and the old of this unique neighborhood. You will be glad that you have made the right choice in top things to do in Athens number.7
Take a private tour to Thessaloniki and you will sure to have a relaxing and a wonderful time. Formerly known as Salonika, it is not only Greece’s second-largest city after Athens but also the capital of Northern Greece and Macedonia. It is exquisitely positioned by the sea, and there are also many interesting places in the city and its surrounding areas that you can visitin top things to do in Athens number.8.
Every year during the International Thessaloniki Expo, the lively festival of Greek music and the film festival of Thessaloniki are held. Many social events and a buzzing nightlife also make this city the cultural capital of Greece.
The Greek national sport is football and not surprisingly Thessaloniki is also home to some of the most famous sports unions and football clubs.
The university of Thessaloniki is the second largest of Greece. This university town attracts many students from all over Greece.
Thessaloniki was the half-sister of Alexander the Great. She was married to King Cassander of Macedon. He named the city after his wife Thessalonike. When the Romans came to Greece, they acknowledged the importance of the city and made it a paramount center for their military, commerce, and culture. During the Byzantine period, it was the second most significant city after Constantinople. You can still see several churches here from that period. The Turks, under Sultan Murad II, invaded Greece and Greece were under the Ottoman Empire for 376 years until they were liberated in 1829. It was during the Middle Ages that Thessaloniki became an important place for the Jews. To this day, the city has a very large Jewish community. The majority (98%) of Greek people are Greek Orthodox. During the Second World War, the city was occupied by the Germans and 50,000 Jews were deported to the concentration camps.
Join a private tour and choose from a selection of visit that interest you. The medieval fortress on top of the town is one of the main attraction. It is worthwhile visiting and from there you can get a magnificent view of the surrounding areas. The oldest part of the city is the area just below the fortress. Take a relaxing walk around this neighborhood with its pretty houses and narrow winding streets and be taken back into the past.
For museum lovers, the archaeological museum has interesting ancient artifacts collected over different time periods in Greek history. You may also decide to visit the Museum of Macedonian Struggle and the Ethnological Museum. Wander into the Gallery of Fine Arts, the Technical Museum and the big International Trade Fair and be surprised with what are on displayed.
Thessaloniki offers both old and new attractions from its Byzantine walls. The White Tower used to be a prison and was a remnant from the Turkish occupation. In the harbor, you will see a statue of Alexander the Great and in Aristotle Square, there is a statue of a philosopher. Your visit will take you to the Turkish baths and the colorful food markets. In addition, you can also visit the Roman Baths, and the Roman Square, as well as the Galerius Arch (Kamaraç). Thessaloniki’s nightlife is unmatched. From small tavernas to nightclubs and other entertainment venues, from drinking to eating, Thessaloniki offers it all.
Athens Attractions Map
Athens is a very big city a great place to spend some time taking a walk and discover the lush green landscapes. Don’t forget to indulge in its traditional cuisine of fish and seafood while taking in the nice view of the town and the sea or just simply enjoy the fresh sea air.