Five Free Things to See and Do in Athens

by Wren on April 3, 2013

As with all European capitals, Athens can be an expensive place to visit. After all the museum and attraction entry prices, meals out and transport costs, it can work out a pretty pricey holiday destination. However, there are some great free activities in the city if you’re looking to keep costs down, and we’ve compiled a list of our favourite suggestions to help you cram in as much as you can before the flight home.

Climb Lycabettus

While there is a funicular railway to the top, to keep costs down and keep active you could consider walking to the top of this historic hill to reach the breathtaking viewpoint. It’s only a 20 minute walk which allows you to gaze over the city, the crumbling Acropolis and the glittering sea, and when you get back to the bottom you can reward yourself with a cool drink in a shady cafe.

Roam around the National Garden

Formerly the private gardens of the presidential palace, this is a fantastic place to hide from the scorching sun and soak in the beautiful leafy surroundings. If the kids need to let off some steam, there is a children’s playground, along with ponds which are home to ducks and terrapins. For a cheap lunch, pick up some snacks and enjoy the view in the shade of some pretty trees.

Gaze at the Acropolis from afar

Take a seat in the relaxed, pedestrianised square on the corner of Apostolou Pavlou. The ancient Parthenon has recently been released from its scaffolding following a large-scale restoration and preservation programme, so make sure you catch a glimpse of this stunning example of ancient Greek architecture in all its glory. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to see it, bathed in golden light and majestic.

Browse the bazaar

Visiting a local market is one of the best ways to get to know what a city and its residents are all about, and this is no exception. Outside the 19th century market houses stand row upon row of stalls selling a wide range of local produce, from fragrant spices to tangy feta. Alternatively, pick up some Greek spirits for a much better price than you’ll find them at Athens airport.

Watch the Changing of the Guard

Outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Changing of the Guard takes place daily in a 15 minute routine involving tassel-kneed men marching past one another in an elaborate ceremony. Alright, so it’s incredibly touristy, but there is something charmingly whimsical about all the pomp surrounding this sort of event, and is worth watching if you’re in the area. When it’s over, drive off to see some of Athens’ incredible churches, all of which will be free to enter.

About Author: Emma Lawson is a travel enthusiast and keen writer who offers suggestions to fellow travellers based on her own adventures in Europe.

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