Right from when I first started to plan my trip to Athens I knew I wanted to take a tour of the city. And I was so happy to find a free walking tour . I emailed the guys (George and Paul) and we planned the details.
On the day of the tour – a nice, warm Friday in March (which showed as rainy in my weather application but I didn’t see a drop of rain!) – we met in front of the New Acropolis Museum entrance (in front of the big yellow mailbox).
At 10:30 a.m., Paul came to the meeting point and we started the tour and also getting to know each other along the way. What I absolutely loved about this tour was Paul’s passion when talking about Athens (the sites, the history, the mythology).
We walked to the Temple of Zeus , which is right near Hadrian’s Arch and was told about the history and why that arch is there. Then we saw the Zappeion, continuing further to the Stadium where the Athenian Games took place and then to the Presidential Palace where we caught the changing of the guards. Yes, it happens here too, not only in Syntagma Square. We crossed the National Gardens and then we saw the Parliament building.
To cross to Syntagma Square we used the metro passage and also seen the artifacts displayed in the station as they were found when the metro was built in 2000. After a stop in Syntagma Square and learning more about the history , we walked down on the commercial street of Athens (Ermou St.) passing by an important church and then continued all the way to Monastiraki . There we saw Hadrian’s Library, the Tower of th Winds, and the Roman Agora. We walked on the stairs and got a lovely bird’s eye view of Athens and some of the seven hills it is built on. Then we walked by the northern slopes of Acropolis, to get to another stop – the Odeon – and from there we went back to the Museum entrance where the tour started.
The tour visited the following sites: Hadrian’s Arch, Temple of Zeus, Zappeion , Kallimarmaro Stadium, Presidential Palace, National Garden, Monument to the Unknown Soldier, the Parliament, the Mitropolis, the Plaka and the Monastiraki Markets, the Old Mosque, Hadrian’s Library, the Temple of Vulcan, the Ancient Greek Agora, the Roman Agora, Mars Hill, the Acropolis and the Odeon of Herodus Atticus. Do remember that this is a free walking tour, so we visited only the sights which didn’t require entrance. But passing by all the sights was amazing and gave lovely photo opportunities.
The entire tour was about 2 ½ h but Paul mentioned we are some of the fastest persons he ever walked with (so the tour can take close to 3 -4 hours, depending on the group). After the tour we chose a café for a frappe. And a very long chat, realizing we’ve become friends already.
He was also really nice to show us back to Monastiraki metro station from where we walked back to the hotel.
I was so happy to take the tour and learn so much more about Athens. Paul’s passion showed all the time, making us love the city even more.
I do recommend such a tour for anyone visiting the city. You’ll learn a lot about the history and you’ll get a sense of the space you are walking in, so when you come back to the sites on your own, you’ll be able to navigate the area easily.
Remember that Athens’ weather is mild (year round) and downright hot in summer. Wear comfortable walking shoes and don’t be shy to ask for breaks (to get water, to use the toilet, to rest).
Paul grew up in Brussels , Belgium then lived in the UK and Spain before returning to Greece. In his early twenties he went backpacking through Europe for more than a year. For more than a decade, he’s been working in the tourism industry in Greece, in various positions.
Disclaimer: My walking tour was sponsored but this fact didn’t influence my opinion about the walk. While we do talk about a free walking tour, tips , although not obligatory, are expected.
>>book a hotel near Syntagma Square for your city break in Athens
Photo credits: Cristina Puscas