One Day in Athens

By Rosanna Langton on September 24, 2018

The perfect day out in Athens

Athens is a living museum. Modern citizens live surrounded by ancient monuments in this thriving metropolis. With its picturesque neighborhoods, tranquil gardens and some of the best preserved ancient monuments in Greece, it’s hard to decide where to go first.

Check-in at Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, in the heart of the city. The hotel of choice for politicians, Royals and modern icons, it’s the perfect place to start your Athens adventure.

Morning: explore a UNESCO World Heritage site and picturesque Plaka

Watching over the city since the 5th century BC, Athens’ Acropolis testifies to the glory and power of ancient Greece. Start early to avoid climbing in the heat of the day and allow yourself plenty of time to explore. On your way up, look out for the Odeon of Herodes Atticus: one of Greece’s best preserved ancient theatres.

plaka greece athens

Top tip: the best spot to photograph the iconic Parthenon and panoramic views of Athens is beneath the Greek flag. This huge flag, visible across the city, is also part of Athens’ modern history. In 1941, as an act of defiance, two boys removed the Swastika flag during German occupation, leaving the flagpole empty and helping to inspire the resistance movement.

See the original Caryatids from the Erechtheion at the Acropolis Museum; or visit Anafiotika, a small neighbourhood in the shadow of the Acropolis. Here you will see traditional white-washed houses built as a reminder of home for workers relocated from Anafi, an island near Santorini, in the mid-19th century. Today, the narrow bougainvillea-lined streets are ideal for a peaceful stroll.

Afternoon tea at the Hotel Grande Bretagne

Replace the buzz of the city with the mellow tones from the live piano at the Winter Garden at Hotel Grande Bretagne. Sit down to an elegant afternoon tea and choose from carefully selected teas, sumptuous sandwiches and delicious cakes. Famous for its impeccable service, afternoon tea at the Winter Garden is an institution in Athens.

Watch the Changing of the Guard, explore the National Gardens and step back in time at Athens’ ancient ruins

The Changing of the Evzones Guard is an unmissable experience. The unforgettable ceremony takes place hourly in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just outside Hotel Grand Bretagne. Everything about these highly-trained, disciplined soldiers is testament to those who gave their lives for Greek independence – even down to the 400 pleats in their uniform skirts: a reminder of the 400 years of Ottoman occupation.

Top tip: if your schedule allows, come back for the Changing of the Guards on a Sunday at 11am to see the ceremony with its accompanying military band.

The National Gardens are a welcome escape from the afternoon heat and buzz of the city. A former Royal retreat, this oasis in the heart of the city is open for everyone to enjoy. Walk through shaded pathways beside tranquil lakes and beautiful flower gardens.

The gardens connect easily to Zappeion, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Zeus and Kallimarmaro Stadium, the original host of the Olympic Games. You can visit them all in an afternoon so be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Evening: dinner at GB Roof Garden

athens view from gb

With uninterrupted views of the Acropolis and the Parliament, toast your perfect day and reflect on your time in Athens. Dinner at GB Roof Garden is a celebratory affair, showcasing the best from new Mediterranean cuisine: think sea bass carpaccio; lobster orzo with roasted tomatoes or lamb with smoked eggplant. You’re in for a treat with creations from award-winning French pastry chef Arnaud Larher for dessert – truly the icing on the cake!

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