I have been to Athens on more than one occasion so I thought I would bring you my tips and tricks to the ancient city:
Of course there is the no. 1 must-see: The Acropolis. Go in the morning or late at night, when there are fewer tourist and less heat.
The new Acropolis Museum is absolutely worth a visit. This is where you get to see, what was found at the Acropolis, and it is showcased very nicely. Do not take pictures in the museum.
To get a nice view of the city and the Acropolis, climb the Lycabettus Hill. Go in the evening to watch the sun set. You can go by cable car or you can walk, if you need to burn some calories.
The Agora is a interesting place to visit. This is where all the people in ancient Athens met, traded, talked etc. The Temple of Hephaestus and The Stoa of Attalos is also found here. Go to the top floor of the Stoa to get a good view of the Agora and look at the models of ancient Athens. Do note that there is much shadow to be found at the Agora. Bring water.
A less popular place is The Roman Agora in Plaka, the old town. The Tower of the Winds is situated here. Keep your tickets for The Akropolis as is valid for this as well.
Besides being a monument from ancient times, you can also get inside to hear a concert in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Buy your tickets in advance from the website.
Outside the ancient city wall you find Kerameikos, the old cemetery. The name means “the potters’ quarter”, which is also was. It is a beautiful place to take a stroll and enjoy the sunshine.
If you want to take a break from all the people in Athens, you can go to Piraeus from where there is a ferry to the Island of Aegina. Take the metro to Piraeus and cross the street to find the ferries. On the island you can take a dip in the water, but for me the best part is The Temple of Aphaia. Take a bus from the harbour or take a taxi (make sure you know the price beforehand!). If you find a nice driver, he will make extra stop at e.g. the abbey church. It is possible to return on the same day or spend the night on the island.
If you fancy modern art and not only the ancient, take a look at the Benaki Museum. In Plaka you find The Athens Gallery, where you can buy modern greek art. The owner speaks English and offers great service.
If you have the time to get out of the city, take a trip to Delphi and/or Eleusis. Both places deserves a visit. Delphi was considered the center of the world in ancient times, and when you are there you understand why they believed the place was holy. You cannot make a short visit to Delphi. It takes time to go through the museum and the area outside. It is possible to return to Athens in one day, but you can also spend the night. In modern Delphi, a short walk from the museum, you find hotels and restaurants. The archaeological area and museum at Eleusis is smaller, and can be seen in an hour or two.
The best hotel, in my opinion, is Hotel Attalos. It is cloese to the Acropolis, Agora and Monastiraki (the modern day area for shopping in Athens), but it still manages to be quiet, and the staff is polite. From the roof top terrace you can se the Acropolis.
Places to eat:
Most people know mousaka and tatziki, but greek food is also fresh fish and sea food. The greek cuisine is quite spicy. A good – and popular among the locals – restaurant in Plaka is Psaras.
If you want to dine like ancient greeks, try Arxaion Gefseis. The setting is beautiful, the food is great and you can try eating with only a knife and spoon. Reservation is advisable.
Good to know:
Opening hours in Athens is varying. Most stores are open all day, but a lot of the small shops close at mid day, but are open very late. A lot is closed on mondays.
Museum exhibitions can be closed for no apparent reason. This is the case at the National Archaeological Museum (an interesting museum with the mask of Agamemnon and famous ancient sculptures). It does not always help looking at the website, since most is only in greek and not up-to-date. Most museums are closed on mondays.
The sewer system in Greece is old. You cannot throw toilet paper in the toilet.
There are quite a stray dogs in Athens. Stray dogs with a collar are “official” stray dogs, which means they are healthy and non agressive.
Beggars and homeless people can be seen everywhere in the city.
Like the rest of Greece, it is warm in Athens during the summer. The best time to visit is in September/October or in the spring. It’s nice, but not too hot.
The Metro is modern and easy to use. Some stations showcase ancient buildings in the floor or on the wall.