Updated: Jul 9
Stop One: The Mainland
Our first stop in Greece was of course Athens and luckily, we landed pretty early Greece time. I cannot stress enough - make sure to do your research for what documents are needed especially now a days to get into certain European countries. We lucked out and just needed our passports, a negative Covid PCR test and the Personnel Locator Form (PLF) which was for the embassy of personnel and their first few days (something new for Covid). We cleared inbound, grabbed our bags and we were off to our hotel, The Athens Gate Hotel (which was about 25 minutes from the airport). Note a lot of Taxis only accept cash so make sure to pack extra euros depending on how many taxis you plan to take.
*All Photos Shot with my iPhone12*
I would definitely recommend hotels near the Plaka general area. The Athens Gate Hotel is located right across the street from the Temple of Olympian Zeus - which made for a cool balcony view from our hotel room. Additionally, this hotel is walking distance from lots of restaurants, markets and the Acropolis. We freshened up from our 8 hour flight, got ready and headed out to walk around and site see. One thing I recommend with all the walking and uneven graveled roads is make sure you have good, comfortable shoes to wear. We walked through a lot of cute alleys, explored all the little shops for the cute souvenirs and of course took lots and lots of photos, as we both were so fascinated with not only the greenery, but the architecture all around.
Monastiraki and Syntagma Square (the old historical district) are other areas we explored, which had tons of food and shopping! After we worked up an appetite we decided to grab a bite at Yadria and enjoyed the little garden patio outside, within the square. I mean the little old man outside (who was also the hostess) twisted our arm when he promised an amazing lunch or the food was free! The food was actually really great and definitely recommend eating here. Frapees (a Greek staple), saganaki (flaming cheese) and a pita gyro platter all Greek staples definitely hit the spot. The portions are huge - similar to family style so I definitely recommend splitting everything if you're traveling with others. To end a great first meal our new friend came back and treated us with Raki shots to finish off our late lunch.
After that we were off to the Acropolis for our ticketed time slot around 4 pm. I definitely recommend getting your tickets online ahead of time. It was about $25 per person for these and allowed us to skip the ticket line where you enter to walk up the Acropolis. This ticket also covered all of the ruins found on the mountain also known as the Acropolis. This includes the iconic Parthenon dating back to the 5BC, Temple of Athena, Odeon of Heodes Atticus and 360 degree views of the city of Athens. We spent a couple of hours exploring all of them and taking in all the stunning structures.
The evening was followed up at our hotel rooftop for dinner, drinks and dessert since we had an early wake up call to catch our ferry to Paros the next morning. The roof top had stunning views of the Parthenon lit up at night as shown below. We only had one night in Athens, but if you are really intrigued by history, I would definitely recommend spending more than one night and explore all the history that the city has to offer. The staff at our hotel were all super helpful and sweet in aiding in scheduling our taxi for the next morning and even prepackaged us breakfast on the go as well as made us a coffee to take with us.
The next morning we were scooped up and taken down to the port to catch our ferry over to Paros. Make sure to keep aware of the vessel name you are looking for because sometimes multiple ferries have similar names with some being non-stop to destinations or some make nearby island stops! Larger luggage is typically stored below in the main decks with cars (if your ferry has this option) and then we went upstairs to sit in our selected seat section. Some people did opt to bring their small carry on type luggage with them and their personnel items to their seats. I used ferryscanner.com to purchase our tickets ahead of time (definitely recommend) and to scout out the different stops they make and/or times ferries were scheduled between ports. Blue Star Ferries (one of the most popular companies) provided our transportation and was very spacious even for the economy seats we purchased. While we first opted for outside seating, we quickly realized that most people sit outside so they can smoke (if you are not a fan, I would recommend staying on the inside of the ferry). We grabbed a table near the little cafe/snack/drink bar on our level inside and set up for our four hour ride to Paros. This was a perfect opportunity to rest, read our books, snack, grab a coffee and discuss what we wanted to do upon for our first day in Paros.
Most international travel in and out of Greece has to come through Athens, so to use the most of your time in Greece (Especially if island hopping), I would recommended exploring Athens at the end of your trip. For those traveling to explore specifically the history/architecture in Athens, definitely allow yourself a couple of days to be able to truly soak it all in.
Athens Gate Hotel
Athens Was Hotel
Herodion Athens Hotel
Coco- Mat Athens Hotel
Zillers Athens Hotel
Spanakopita - Spinach and Cheese Pie
Tiropita - Three Cheese Pie
Saganaki - Flaming Greek Cheese in a pan usually lit on fire table side & put out with lemon
Fried Feta - Feta wrapped in Filo dough and fried (sometimes topped with honey)
Hummus - Chickpea dip
Tzatziki - Cucumber, garlic, herb dip
Calamari - Fried or Grilled Octopus
Horiatiki - "Village Salad" Authentic Greek salad (does not come with lettuce)
Souvlaki - Chopped Meat Wrapped Pita (Lamb/beef or Chicken)
Gyros - Shaved Meat Wrapped Pita (Lamb/beef or Chicken)
Ice Cream - Found everywhere throughout Greece
Loukoumades - Fried Doughnut Honey balls
Bougatsa – a delicious and addictive custard pastry
Coffee Types in Greece
Greek Coffee - Thick, strong coffee brewed in small brass pots and served with the grounds at the bottom. (Some Greeks say these grounds can tell your future after you drink the coffee)
Frappe - Iced frothy coffee made from strong instant coffee. Can be enjoyed with suagr and milk as well.
Freddo Espresso - Iced shots of Espresso
Freddo Cappuccino - Iced shots of Espresso and Frothed Milk
Historic Stops & Sites to See
Acropolis - Ancient Hill home to the Parthenon and other Temples, overlooking all of Athens
Parthenon - Most symbolic temple which sits at the top of the Acropolis overlooking the city.
New Acropolis Museum - Archeological museum which highlights the Parthenon & Temples
Temple of Olympian Zeus - Temple built to honor the Chief of the Gods
Temple of Athena Nike - Temple dedicated to Goddesses Athena & Nike On the Acropolis
Palaka - Cobblestone Neighborhood below the Acropolis
Monastiraki Square - Shopping District of Athens, Flea Market
Syntagma Square - Central Square of Athens
Port of Pireaus - Athens Main Port & Ferry Arrival/Departures
Panathenaic Stadium - Original Olympic Stadium of the Modern Games
Theatre of Dionysus/ Odeion of Herodes Attikus- Ancient Theatre on Acropolis hill