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3 days in Athens too much?

Fremont, California
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3 days in Athens too much?

Hi fellow travelers!

My GF and I are headed to Greece in early Sept and we were originally planning to stay in Athens from Sat to Tuesday morning where we will catch a ferry to head to Santorini. A couple of our friends have indicated that 3 days are way too much to spend in Athens. I was wondering if that really is the case? Would a one day side trip to Olympia be worth it from Athens? I would definitely appreciate any suggestions!

Thanks!

David

London, United...
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1. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

I'd forget Olympia - it's too far and too much hassle for a day trip.

3 days is just about enough for Athens, at least if you're planning to see more than the Acropolis.

Mykonos, Greece
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2. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

3 days is just about right for Athens. Olympia is an amazing site, but generally too far away for a day trip. Delphi is a bit more doable for a day trip but still pretty far. You might want to go to the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion on the coast one evening out of Athens to watch the sun set, very nice. If you include the Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Plaka and other neighborhoods at the foot of the Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus, etc etc you will have just the right amount of time in Athens.

Beaumont, Texas USA
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3. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

I'm sorry, but this is really a pet peeve of mine... so excuse me as I climb onto my soapbox...

Where in the world do people get the idea that a couple of days are enough time to see Athens?

Anyone who dismisses Athens as being only "worth one day" (or two or three) has either read a totally inaccurate guide book, or knows someone who visited Athens in exactly that way -- as a hurried cruise ship passenger, or on a very brief stop on the way to an island -- herded about like cattle in the hot summer sun to try to see the Acropolis with hundreds of other visitors, taken to some tacky shops to buy overpriced souvenirs that were probably made in China, and maybe they a "Greek" meal in a tourist-oriented restaurant with poor quality food at inflated prices.

That's not the way to see any city, and I'd probably have a bad impression of any place I visited in that way. How could anyone "see" anything of a city with around 6 million people living in the immediate area -- a city that has been inhabited since 1400 BC; that is a vibrant and diverse modern capital that holds the ruins of an ancient society like jewels at its heart; that stands as the cradle of democracy and the template of western civilization -- in just a couple of days?

Modern Athens is a city of contrasts -- old and new, busy and laid-back, noisy and serene. Cutting-edge sits alongside ancient tradition. Yes, it's big, crowded, often dirty, sometimes ugly. But always amazing, entertaining, and often filled with delicate and fragile beauty. It deserves as much time as you can give it, because it takes time to begin to unravel it's secrets!

Where else can you get the feeling of respect and humility from seeing major historical sites around every corner, the sense of being where some of the most important parts of our common history started, and the foundations of our communities of today were laid. Not to forget the arts, literature and philosophy, architecture and medicine.

Where else in the world (rightly or wrongly) can you walk right on the steps and floors where ancient Greeks walked 1000s of years ago?

And where else in the world can you walk back to your hotel room at 3 a.m. without the worry of being mugged or even worse?

Browse these websites to get more of a feel for Athens:

culture2000.tee.gr/ATHENS/ENGLISH/main2.html

http://www.breathtakingathens.com

http://www.athensguide.com/

If you take a little time and learn a little more about Athens, and still do not understand why it's worth savoring, then simply move on without an extended stay there. Maybe it's just not the place for you...

Oslo, Norway
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4. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

I agree with Deb.

Although I have been in Athens many times up through the years I still have a lot to explore, and I enjoy the city and its city life every time I am visiting. If possible I now try to extend my Athens part up to one week at a time when I am visiting Greece.

Athens, Greece
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5. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

Fantastic! LonghornDeb has said it all, so I don't have to add anything! But I do urge you to read the Trip Report '3 1/2 days in Athens' by jessybobs, who was in a similar position to you, very recently. I can't believe how much she managed to cram in, and her enthusiasm is infectious! There are three different posts - unfortunately I didn't manage to create links to them, but if you look on the Athens Forum, round about 13th June, you'll find them. And you're coming in September, which should be an even better time to see everything, without the intense heat. I'd be jealous, if I didn't live here already! have fun!

London
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6. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

I have just returned from my first trip to Greece and I spent 3 nights, two days in Athens (as part of a two week trip). Like you, friends of mine who had been to Athens previously suggested that I try to minimise time in the city, and many suggested that I not even see it all, but instead simply catch a connecting flight to the islands.

I'm glad that I didn't listen to them. In the short amount of time that I had in Athens I saw a great deal, but there is still so much more to see and I will definitely include a return to Athens in future trips to Greece.

Seeing the ancient sites will take you at least a day - and that means getting up early and keeping a brisk pace all day. Ideally you should take longer. If you have even a passing interest in Greek antiquity, you should go to one of the museums - the National Archaeological Museum will take up half a day. Alternatively you might go to the Benaki museum and then spend some time exploring the Kolonaki area. Like most tourists you will no doubt want to check out Plaka. I would also recommend venturing into Monastaraki for a stroll and visiting Syntagma Square.

It is true that Athens is not the most stylish city in the world and in places it is quite grimy - but you will be missing out in you overlook all of the things that Athens has to boast about.

As for Olympia, I would instead suggest a day trip to Delphi which will be a busy but very, very rewarding day.

Athens Greece
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7. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

i agree with Deb, as a local of Athens I believe 3 days are not enough. September is a good period to be in Athens as the city will be full of life and loads of events and festivities should be taking place at the time. But I believe besides the typical tourist areas, there are so many areas and things to see like Gkazi, Psirri, Kolonaki, Exarchia and Glyfada. So maybe you guys should make it 6 to 7 days in Athens!

London, United...
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8. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

Other places to see include the marinas dotted around Faliro and Piraeus, Kifissia, the coastal area between Kalamaki and Varkiza (including Glyfada), Mount Lycabettus, Plateia Kotzia and Panepistimiou Street, not to mention the numerous plateias & little parks all over the city with their own micro-communities.

During summer, Athens is best experienced by night - in my book you need one night on Lycabettus/Kolonaki, one night at an open air cinema, one night clubbing followed by late night snacking, one night at a marina and one night in Plaka/Monastiraki/Psirri to have an idea of what life in Athens is really like. That makes 6 days.

I've yet to meet even one person who came to Athens with the intention of seeing and experiencing the city (as opposed to doing a quick postcard tour) who managed to do all they'd been planning to do in the time they had allowed themselves. Most of them get sidetracked by the ancient ruins, or the seaside, or the shopping - and all of them end up spending longer than they thought sitting at cafes and tavernas enjoying frappes and long meals (possibly due to the need to take lots of breaks because of the heat and also because culinary experiences are as much part of travelling as museums).

Even people who post reports on TA about how they've seen Athens in 3 days, have usually only seen a small portion of what's available in the touristy part of the city centre: Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Plaka, Monastiraki, Syntagma & Change of the Guards seems to be all the average tourist manages. If that's what you want to do, 3 days is plenty and you can easily fit in a day trip in there.

canada
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9. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

You won't know until YOU get there.

We loved Athens.

We have friends who love it.

We have friends who hate Athens and won't spend anytime there.

I think 3 days is good, especially if you like museums.

Make sure you have plans of things you want to see and an alternative day trip should you not like it.

Olympia is way too far for a day trip.

London
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10. Re: 3 days in Athens too much?

I can only speak from my own personal experience but 3days wasn't enough for me. Thier was so much more I wanted to see! I didn't even go to any museums as thats not my thing, but if I had included those type of things in my itenary I would have needed even more time.

I managed to get down to Glyfada as I heard about a wonderful beach bar thier called Balux Cafe (only 45mins on a nice ride through Athens)- that was amazing - you should check that out!

Tinsey talks about Lycabettus Hill - that was something on my list as well as a few others......get yourself a good itenary and see as much as you can, but really 3days isn't enough.

Enjoy yourself anyway.