First Impressions Visiting Athens, Greece
First impressions visiting any place are important but my first impressions of Athens were not what I expected. It seems as soon as you tell anyone where you’re heading people want to give you their opinions of the place. Or their uncle’s opinion, who went once 10 years ago. Or the friend of their great Aunt who might have been once. People are overly willing to share. Whoever’s opinion it is, you seem to get them flying at you left, right and centre. Which is fine, but don’t let them cloud your judgement. Because Athens seems to have a reputation that it doesn’t deserve. So what did I learn from my recent trip to Athens? Don’t believe everything you hear and don’t take people’s word for it. Travel and experience places for yourself!
Booking A Trip to Athens
When I booked my trip with Medsailors to sail the Saronic route I decided it would be a crime not to bolt on a few days in Athens at the end. Being the capital city of Greece I knew that Athens would have a lot on offer. Famous for it’s ancient history and the Acropolis of course, but other than that I knew little else.
That prompted me to start my research phase, as I do before embarking on any trip. Research of course means Google – Trip Advisor, blogs, vlogs, Pinterest etc. but it also means speaking to people. Yes, real life humans. (I don’t spend all my time behind a computer screen, I promise!)
Expectations of Athens
Talking to people about their experiences in Athens gave me a set of expectations. I was expecting Athens to be dirty. I was expecting not to feel safe, especially on my own at night. And I was expecting to feel intimidated being a solo female traveller. This was the general impression that I was given prior to my trip. Now let’s get to reality.
First Hours in Athens
When I first arrived in Athens I was dropped off by my Uber driver just around the corner from the Airbnb I had booked. This was the first opportunity I had to look around and assess my first impressions of Athens. As I was staying in Plaka I saw one of the prettiest parts of Athens first. The cobbled street where I found my Airbnb apartment was lined with restaurants serving traditional Greek food. I arrived around 2pm local time and the place was thriving. Pretty with a good energy. My first impression of Athens was off to a good start.
I met my Airbnb host in person, who actually owns one of the restaurants. He was friendly and asked one of the waitresses to show me around the apartment. It was exactly as described and a real dream after living on a boat for 7 days. Comfortable and nicely furnished – I was overjoyed.
Impressions After 3 Days in Athens
After 3 days of exploring my first impressions of Athens were complete. My trip was coming to an end and my mind is made up. Athens is a city which should definitely be on your bucket list. It attracts a lot of tourists but unlike some other capital cities it also has a true sense of ‘being Greek’.
If you wonder a little off the beaten track you will find so much variety. This amazing street art and this derelict building are right next to each other. In what other capital city do you find diversity like this right in the centre?
During my walk I came across very few other people as most seem to plod around like cattle just doing the most touristy stuff. My recommendation is to find some articles on Athens that explain where some of the ‘hidden spots’ are. Because there are plenty of them. Just a few streets away from bustling activity, shoppers and diners, are dozens of beautiful little streets each with their own different characters.
Is Athens Safe?
Yes. I felt so. As a solo female traveller this was something which worried me, especially after hearing the opinions of others. But I couldn’t have felt safer. On my last night in Athens I walked home from dinner by myself around midnight from Psyri to Plaka (approx 15 minutes) and I didn’t get that dark foreboding feeling you get in some cities. Athens is a city that never sleeps. There’s no such thing as an empty street. You’ll probably find yourself one of fifteen people all walking home in the same direction. And people are friendly. You’ll walk accompanied by the voices and laughs of fellow diners, each on their way home or to continue the night in another bar.
Is Athens Affordable?
Most capital cities are quite expensive and therefore difficult to visit on a budget. This wasn’t the case so much with Athens. I definitely found it was possible to explore Athens on a budget, especially if you get a bit savvy. For instance, if you’re after a meal rather than picking a restaurant in the main street explore a little deeper and find somewhere a little off the tourist trail, somewhere that the locals eat.
We also stayed in an Airbnb, which is about a third of the cost of a hotel. Plus Airbnb’s come with extra perks. Your host, if you ask nicely, will give you tips on the area and help you with your travelling routes if you need it. They can offer advice and be on hand in case of an emergency. Plus you get so much extra space!
We are extra savvy and got yogurt pots from the local supermarket for breakfast to save a few pennies!
My First Impressions of Athens
My first impressions from a 3 day trip visiting Athens were so much better than I had hoped, in just about every single way. Experience places for yourself, they might surprise you!
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