Athens is a noisy southern city, in which there is a relaxed spa atmosphere, shaped by the summer heat and sea breeze. Add ancient architecture, Mediterranean cuisine, tumultuous nightlife and colorful display cases – perhaps, it all together is the mythical secret of Greek charm.
Athens is not just the capital of Greece, it is the birthplace of the Olympic Games and ancient heroes. Nobody really knows when this city appeared on the map, but everyone believes that there was a divine intervention. According to legend, the sea god Poseidon and the goddess of wisdom, Athena, fought for the right to be the patron of the city. Both decided to bring gifts- whose gift would be more important, would be the winner. Poseidon hit the rock with the trident, and water poured out of the stone. Athena thrust the spear into the ground, and an olive tree sprouted from it. The gift of the goddess was considered more important, since the water that Poseidon made, was marine, therefore, it was salty and not suitable for drinking. Athena won the dispute, and the city was named after her.
This is truly a magical city, in which antiquity and modernity are wonderfully combined. In order to feel only pleasure and joy during your trip, we want to share with you some useful tips related to the capital of Greece. By the way, car rental in Athens Airport would ease a problem of reaching the most distant places of the city and outside the city.
- You can confidently walk around Athens at any time of the day, as the atmosphere of this city is quite calm. Restaurants and clubs are mostly working around the clock, so do not refuse to have a walk through night Athens. Most of the amusement places, which are working at night, are situated in the areas of Plaka, Psirri and Kolonaki.Even in the dead of night, you can listen to national Greek music and watch the sirtaki dance, or visit modern nightclubs with electronic music. Sunday is an official day off in most of the shopping centers and shops in Athens.
- Despite the fact that Athens is a calm and safe city, it is still better for the female tourists not to walk alone at the remote outskirts of Athens. Use the services of a guide, or, at least, take someone with you. In Athens, be careful with money and documents, as there is a danger of meeting the pickpockets, especially in the underground and other public transport, and near the ATMs. Another type of “scam” is an invitation to sit in a bar with a stranger, to drink together and chat, – and eventually a hapless tourist will have to pay a bill by himself. Be especially attentive, if you are in the areas of Sofocleos Street, on the squares of Omonia and Karaiskaki, and in the area of Larissa train station.
- Taxi in Athens is quite expensive, when compared to other Greek cities. It is best to specify the price before the taxi trip. If a taxi driver finds it difficult to tell you the exact price, then it is better to refuse this kind of a trip. The taxi fare, which is higher than 30 euros, is considered overpriced. There are two types of tariffs in a taxi: the first tariff (0.34 euro per kilometer) within the city and at the airport, and the night-time tariff (0.64 euro per kilometer) outside Athens, from midnight to 5.00. Since there is a surcharge 1.6 euros on calling a taxi on the phone, it is, of course, cheaper to catch a taxi on the street. In addition, you could get lucky and get a “free taxi”- a taxi, which is already occupied by the passenger. If your route coincides with the route of another passenger, you could join the trip for free. Busy taxi is determined by an illuminated sign.
- Waiters, taxi drivers and employees in hotels are usually given tips for the services rendered by them. The amount of tips is usually 10-15% from the bill in a cafe or restaurant. If you were served well, and you did not leave a tip, you would be considered ill-mannered and will be judged. In a taxi, it is common to round off to higher price.
- In Athens, there are almost no bans on smoking- you may smoke almost everywhere. This is a real paradise for smokers. Smoking-prohibiting signs are located only in rare places. If you do not smoke, and you are irritated by cigarette smoke, in a cafe or restaurant, explain the situation to the waiter and ask him for the place, where it would be less smoky.
- There is sense in buying home appliance in Greece, as the prices for the electrical appliances in this country are considered the highest in Europe. For other purchases, it is worth traveling outside the capital city, as on the periphery the prices for the local souvenirs, national food, coats and other goods are much lower than in Athens. If you still decide to make purchases in Athens, then you should go to Monastiraki or Plaka districts and to Ermou Street. Here, there is a huge number of different shops, where you will definitely find best souvenirs and Greek products. Plaka and Monastiraki “specialize” on souvenirs, and the main shopping street of the capital is Ermou.
- Almost all the beaches, even in the famous resort towns of Greece, are municipal. It means that access to the beaches is free. It could be necessary to pay only for the rental of lounge chairs and parasols on the beach area.
- It is best to come to Athens in the spring or late autumn. The geographical location of the city determines its climate: hot and arid summer, rainy winter. Due to the fact that the city is on a low plain, surrounded by the mountains, exhaust fumes and smoke float over Athens for a long time.
- If you want to taste Greek national food and enjoy wonderful local wines, then surely visit such taverns and restaurants as Petrino, Psara, Ideal, Zorbas, Carte Postale, Platanos, Taverna Tou Psiri, To Kafenio, Psipsinna. You should definitely try national Greek drink- retsina wine, which is having pine tree sap as one of the ingredients.
- If you are visiting Athens with children- don’t miss the Attica Zoo and the amusement park- Allou Fun Park, where there are plenty of leisure-time entertainments for both kids and adults.