Greece, or more precisely, Athens is our destination this week and we have a few hints and tips to help you get the most out of your trip to the “cradle of western civilization”. Surrounded by oceans - Mediterranean, Ionian, Aegean and Cretan, Greece is one of the most populous countries in Europe, with 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The official name is the Hellenic Republic, Hellas or Ellada, but we all know it as Greece. Popular as a tourist destination for the British holiday-going public for decades, Greece has a multitude of islands to visit and the climate often tops the barometer.
Flights to Athens
Right now (June), flights to Athens from that well known orange website are approximately £215 return, per person, but it’s worth looking around at a few comparison websites. If you’ve got flexibility in your dates, use it; travelling a day later can make all the difference.
Usually we recommend using Airbnb for your accommodation needs while on holiday, but in the interest of variety this time we’re going to go with lastminute.com
. Prices range from all of £22 per night to in excess of £180. Of course it all depends on the level of luxury your budget can stretch to and the star rating you’re willing to accept, but if plan to see a lot of sights; you won’t be in your room very often.
check the reviews. Look-out for these keywords: ‘clean’, ‘air conditioning’, ‘comfortable’.
Have you ever had Koulouri? Simply put, the Koulouri is a plain, round, seed-topped bread that is mainly eaten in the morning. Fresh and sweet in taste, this bagel/pretzel hybrid can be enjoyed with feta cheese, cream cheese, olives or just smothered in the chocolate spread of your choice. Available from bakeries and food stands across the city, this tasty treat costs all of 50-60 cents and is happily healthy…except for the chocolate element that is.
If you’re after something a little meatier, try a Souvlaki. Very similar to the Kebab, the Souvlaki is skewered meat and vegetables, grilled and served on a pita bread wrap and depending on the café, with chips.
Note: sets of barbeque skewers have been unearthed in Santorini, Greece and dated back to 17th BC…but we imagine the ‘chip’ accompaniment came a little later.
Tourism – Places to see for free
Situated in front of what was the Old Royal Palace and is currently the home to the Greek Parliament,the square is the epicentre of historical and social points of view and from there you can reach many of the most popular tourist sights in Athens including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the traditional changing of the guards, executed by the Evzones (elite light infantry units of the Greek Army).
Athens’ National Gardens
Formerly named The Kings Garden, now the National Garden, shaded paths in the heat are well received, as are the trees, flowers and…ducks. There are two duck ponds, a multitude of cats and there is also a small zoo, so if you need to escape the concrete jungle, this might be the place for you.
About the National Gardens, novelist Henry Miller wrote:
"It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds.”
Open to the public daily from 8am to 8pm and for those of you interested in the philosopher’s teaching regimen, a wander through the rosemary and lavender filled gardens may well encourage your mind to wander to the ancient past. The school for both advanced and beginners, was founded in 335 BC near the river’s Iridanos and Ilissos and can be found in the heart of Athens.
Transport from airport and around Athens
and modes vary, but in an effort to keep it simple, here we go…
90 minute ticket on all modes of transport – €1.40
24 Hours ticket on all modes – €4.50
5-day ticket – €9 (airport link not included)
3-day tourist ticket – €22 (airport link included)
Athens City Pass
If you would like to include admission tickets to your transport, think about purchasing the Athens City Pass. The card comes in three form – ‘Mini’, ‘Classic’ and ‘Complete’.
The ‘Mini’ costs £26.10 and includes free entry to the Acropolis museum, free guided walking tours, hop on hop off bus tours, discounts and more. The pass is sent to you via email; simply print and take with you.
The ‘Classic’ pass costs £69.73 and includes all the ‘Mini’ does, but adds free entry to the Acropolis itself and the Parthenon, free use of all public transport (including airport routes) and more.
’ pass costs £98.53 and includes all of the above, free entry to the National Archaeological Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, Byzantine & Christian Museum, and the Numismatic Museum. Click on the link for the full list.
70% of Greek internet users have access via 3G/4G mobile, so the chances are you’re going to be able to get a signal just about everywhere.
Note: download any maps or apps you need either before you travel or while located in a free WiFi zone.
don’t tend to fit snuggly within holidaygoer’s budgets, but we want to give you a heads-up about some great events happening over the summer that you might like to attend. First up:
Running from Saturday July 1st – Sunday July 2nd, Rockwave
was founded in 1996 and since then has gone from strength to strength. Some of the first acts to perform included Slayer, Violent Femmes and Iggy Pop. While this year’s line-up is undisclosed, it should be a good one.
Athens Pride Festival
Saturday the 10th of June at Syntagma Square.
This year, Athens Pride will pass in front of Parliament during the parade, and take place in the afternoon, and the evening, followed by a concert.
Athens and Epidaurus Festival
22nd May – 19th August, 2017
The city’s annual arts festival, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival
has been in existence for over 60 years and is full of music, dance, theatre and more. Utilising ancient and industrial buildings, the festival is a real treat for all.
And remember, don't forget to pop by eurochange
before you head off to the airport.