Athens, Greece The most important and stunning site to see in Athens is the Acropolis. Being a very large city and the Capital when you get close to the Acropolis you can see it for miles. Atop the highest point in Athens it’s size and grandeur is impressive.
You can get there on a Hop on Hop off bus, a cab and the train. Leave at least a half of a day to get up to the top of the hill, view the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion Temple, renowned for the Caryatids (six lovely ladies). A guide with insights into these lovely 5th Century BCvisuals is always helpful. At the bottom of the hill are 2 theaters-a Greek theater of Dionysos and the Odeon of Herod Atticus.
We have had a bus tour the first time and the second decided to enjoy the outdoor seating of a Hop on Hop Off bus. We were able to catch this right around the corner from our port in Piraeus. We very much enjoyed seeing the semi sleepy beach town around Piraeus and then the Olympic stadiums (1896 and 2004) and finally reached the Acropolis.
Plaka is the oldest section of Athens and having just walked through it our first visit we decided to hike the circumference of the Acropolis, through Plaka, finding the Flea Market and the beautiful Agora City square as well. On the way to Plaka from the Acropolis is the beautiful New Acropolis Museum. Enjoying the Acropolis in the morning, having lunch in Plaka and returning to the museum would make for an excellent day.
There are so many other sites to be seen in Athens as well depending on your interests. Parliament and the Royal Palace can be seen from the Hop on and Hop Off bus. Outside of the Parliament is the National Gardens if you’d like a quiet stroll. Another park with walking paths is the Phillopapou Hill where the National Observatory of Athens is located. The last area that caught my eye was Lycabettus Hill. This can be reached with the Hop on Hop off, has a cable car to get to the peak of the hill and the views are extraordinary. On your hike down you hit another quaint town of Kolonaki Square. This has shopping, restaurants and the like.
There are day trips our of Athens also. Corinth where St. Paul lived and worked for 18 months can be reached in 1 hour depending on traffic. A little further out on the same road is Mycenae where the Citadel of Mycenae and other ruins can be viewed. Mycenae was the strongest kingdom in Greece for over 400 years. The last road trip would be to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. Located on a massive seaside cliff it is impressive. There are many steps to get to the top so wear appropriate walking shoes.
Athens is so large that you can do and see just about anything here. If you have a few days I would get a City Map, study ahead of time what interests you the most and enjoy your time.
Olympia, Greece. Olympia is known as a major ancient, religious sanctuary and the ancient Olympic site. This site has been dedicated to Zeus and originally had 70 significant ancient buildings which many have survived. Olympia showcases much of the Greek architecture in one complex.
Making two trips to Olympia in 15 years was fun. The first trip was with a 5 year old and 10 year old. We took them to the original ancient Olympics stadium where they were amazed that Olympians competed naked in 776 BC. They enjoyed running the field and the open air complex.
When I say complex it is an understatement. The Olympia site includes the Archaeological Site of Olympia, the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and the Stadium of Olympia. It is a great way to spend an entire morning wandering through these Greek wonders.
The second time we arrived in Olympia we had young adults with us. Not wanting to miss the Olympia visit they recalled when they were younger, we knew we would not make a full day of it. We rented a driver and once again spent the morning marveling at the Archaeological sites but then headed off to a great Greek restaurant then wine tasting. At the end of the day the driver also decided to take us to one of his favorite beaches which looked amazing. We just wished we had more time.