Tips on travelling to Athens from Gianns Tsakopoulos
Gianns was born and raised in Athens and has always felt a strong urge to travel. He loves discovering new places and cultures and never tires of exploring Athens.
What do you love most about Athens?
The fact that Athens is frantic and chaotic, but it can also be luxurious, artsy, and neat.
Where would you send a first-time visitor in Athens?
The first place you should visit in Athens is of course the Acropolis. Standing up there, on the sacred rock, as we locals call it, you can really feel the magnificence of ancient Greece even though you are standing in the middle of a modern capital city.
Are there any tourist attractions that are overrated, or best avoided?
The unlit part of the National Gardens near the Zappeion is an area you should avoid at night. In general caution should be exercised after dark outside of the main tourist areas.
How long should I spend in Athens?
For Athens, the minimum stay in order to really get a feel for the city would be about three or four days.
When is the best time of year to visit Athens?
May, June and September are definitely the best times to go to Greece for those intending to spend time on the beach or visit some of the Greek islands. July and August are usually very crowded so late spring, early summer and early autumn are often more pleasant.
Where would you recommend travellers find accommodation in Athens?
Plaka is the most popular place for travellers and has a choice of accommodation across the price spectrum. Most of the high-end hotels are around Syntagma Square. Some excellent pensions and mid-range hotels also dot the area south of the Acropolis, around the quiet neighbourhoods of Makrygianni and Koukaki.
What are some of your favourite local dishes?
Some of the tastiest local dishes include Mousaka, a baked eggplant dish containing cinnamon, eggplant, ground beef, onions and potatoes; and pastitsio, which is similar to lasagna but not as saucy, containing layered noodles, meat and tomato sauce, among other things.
What is the best mode of transport for tourists in Athens?
Athens Metro provides an excellent way to get around. The Metro is also very beautiful and a sort of tourist attraction in itself.
Is Athens a safe travel destination?
Yes, but travellers should avoid lonely walks around the city centre after dark and take all the usual safety precautions for big cities.
Has Athens been hit hard by Greece's recent debt crisis? Does this matter for travellers?
The Greek debt crisis has had massive consequences for doing businesses in Athens, but it has not ruined the city for tourists. In fact, travel has become cheaper which is an advantage.
Is there good shopping in Athens?
Athens is a shopper's paradise. Besides the areas of the Plaka and Monastiraki which are well known to travellers for their large variety of tourist shops, all of central Athens is full of shops for every kind of person and every kind of budget.
What is the best thing to do with children in Athens?
A visit to Athens with kids will certainly be enjoyable for all the family, with entertaining activities and interesting experiences available. The Museum of Greek Children's Art, the National Garden of Athens, and The Allou Fan Park are some of the places families should go.
Is there anything else you feel travellers should be aware of?
Travellers should be aware of the fact that Athens has frequent public service strikes, which often affect the public transport services in the city.