Greece [Athens/Ios] - what should I absolutely do or see?
July 31, 2009 7:22 PM   Subscribe

So I'm heading to the island of Ios with friends in late august. Our plans mostly involve drinking and beaches, but I'm wondering what I should check out before/after the island, in Athens or otherwise on the mainland. Bonus points for interesting things that aren't complete tourist traps, of course - I'm naturally going to go see the Acropolis, and am resigned to the multi-hour line-up for it, but would rather avoid such for anything else. Also I'm going through the Pimsleur Greek course, so Greek-only attractions will (hopefully) be fine by the time I get there.

And, naturally, I'd be pretty psyched to meet any MeFi people on Ios or the mainland. I promise I'm not crazy!
posted by pahalial to Travel & Transportation around Greece (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would head up to Thessalaniki if you have the opportunity. You can experience the big-city feel of Athens there without all the gritiness. It is really a great city, especially for young people. Many of the other islands besides Ios are great, too. Naxos, Samos, and the like are wonderful and a bit off the beaten path. Santorini is beautiful, too, but a bit touristy. I enjoyed Athens, but it was my least favorite place in Greece during my admittedly short 2 month trip.
posted by kurmbox at 8:53 PM on July 31, 2009


Visit Acropolis IN THE MORNING, reach there just at the time of opening (not before, to avoid the queue) Roaming around Acropolis should take about 2 hours or so. From there, go to Greek Archeological Museum (or nation museum, don't remember the name exactly but) this is HUGE and usually takes more than a day for a curious visitor. They have a foodie place in there too, sells stuff at a very reasonable rate. In the evening, make your way to 'The Pynx'. After sunset, they light up Acropolis and it looks amazing, so be there at Pynx by 19.00 hours and REMEMBER THE ROAD you walked up. After the dark, its very difficult to find way down. We took help of the locals. Carry flashlamp with you. The view of Acropolis from there is priceless. Ignore the guide those tell you other hill, its not worth it.
Thats about it, whatever else is there in Athens is not worth visiting, unless you like visiting dilapidated ruins that make no sense to you. Better spend rest of the time on island soaking in the sun.
posted by zaxour at 11:42 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't miss the new Acropolis museum, an architectural masterpiece with a great view of the hill.
posted by mdonley at 4:55 AM on August 1, 2009


(I like a good dose of nerdery with my drinking and beaches, so ignore this if you don't)

It might be a "dilapidated ruin that make[s] no sense to you," but Ios is home to Skarkos, a really well-preserved prehistoric city site. If I were you, I'd go hunt down some English-speaking archaeologist (unless Pimsleur covers historical and technical language) and have them give you a little insider's tour. It's apparently a really overlooked site, so you could probably see things more up-close-and-personal.

Oooh, and Ios is near Thera, origin of the Minoan Eruption! Definitely worth reading about a little bit, even if you don't want to actually visit the ruins. Also, Ios is where, according to legend, Homer was buried. I'm sure the locals will tell you that constantly.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:18 AM on August 1, 2009


here are my off the beaten path Athens suggestions!

RUINS:
kerameikos -- the old outer wall and road of ancient athens, so they buried everyone out here. really interesting statues, way less crowded than the main drag (acropolis/agora)

OUTDOORS
Hill of the Muses (Filopapou Hill) -- offers amazing views of the acropolis, athens in general, and piraeus. the hill is covered with meandering paths, olive trees and relatively few tourists. it is west of the acropolis.

The Old Olympic Stadium -- definitely cool to look at from the front with all the other tourists. but what they don't know is that you can go around the back and get inside! While standing on Vassileios Konstandinou and facing the stadium walk to the left and then turn right staying as close as you can to the right side of the stadium. there are a few stairways back here, but sometimes they are locked. if they are, keep walking until you get to Agras -- you can follow Agras up to Archimidous and then turn right. On Archimidous, right at the apex of the stadium, you find a big gate that is open almost all the time -- even close to dusk. follow one of the greeks who will be running along the top of the track that runs along the top of the stadium. you can even sit inside the stadium and laugh at all tourist groups standing outside at the bottom of the stadium! You can also walk around the little park on the west side of the stadium.

FOOD
Virinis (my FAVORITE restaurant) -- this is where sneaking around to the back of the stadium really pays off. Virinis is across the street from the back entrance of the Old Olympic Stadium and and is a favorite with the locals. Easily the best food i ate in greece. it has big windows and icicle lights that hang in the windows. As you walk west on Archimidous it will be on your left hand side. order EVERYTHING.

Address: Archimidous 11, Phone: (+30 210 701 1101) It's at the intersection of Agras and Archimidous.

Kallimarmaron -- Serves food based on ancient Byzantine recipes. Different from normal greek food and also very good. It's a little hard to locate though, we got lost trying to find it. but if you wander around in the area long enough (or ask your hotel to call and get better directions) you'll find it. Eforionos is close to the northwest edge of the Olympic Stadium
Address: Eforionos 13, Phone: (+30 210 701 9727).

things to buy at the bakery:
ask your hotel to recommend a good bakery (a non-chain! stay away from Everest if you can -- it's basically a Greek Mcdonalds)
boughatsa (sweet pastry) -- i still don't know what they put in here, but it's heavenly.
spanikopita -- you can get spanikopita almost anywhere in greece, but it's best fresh from the bakery.
filopita -- similar to spanikopita, but without the spinach

MISC:
Melissinos Sandals -- the son of the original owner now perfectly fits sandals to you feet. He is almost always stoned and/or genuinely crazy/nice. don't go here if you have some place to hurry off to -- there are usually a fair amount of people in here and he goes off on lots of tangents. buy at least two pairs of these things -- somehow you can wear them forever and never get blisters.

Parade -- there is a military-ish parade every Saturday morning in front of the parliament building. you can see lots of Greek soldiers in their crazy official pom-pom get-ups.

Flea market-- there is a flea market in the Monastiraki Plaza every Sunday morning. old men bring your normal weird flea market fare to sell. definitely good people watching -- and some very cool antiques.

DAY TRIP FROM ATHENS
Aegina -- an island located 45 min from Piraeus by ferry. This is a great little day trip from Athens. You get dropped off at the town center -- you can wander around for awhile, but i highly suggest renting a moped. there is very little traffic on Aegina and you really get to see the whole island that way, especially the Temple of Aphaea on the Northeast side of the island. you can also take a bus to the temple from the town center. Or you could ask a local where a good beach is!

stay away from the beaches in athens -- don't let anyone convince you it is a good idea to go to Glyfada -- the beach is really gross there.
posted by nanhey at 8:54 AM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


Flea market-- there is a flea market in the Monastiraki Plaza every Sunday morning. old men bring your normal weird flea market fare to sell. definitely good people watching -- and some very cool antiques.

I forgot about this in Athens, that was quite neat. I found some very old English LP's for sale here.

Also, if you're there on a Sunday, there was a neat procession or something at the Greek Orthodox church in Athens (I'm sure there is more than one, but this was the biggest and most renown). There are a couple of great caf├ęs around this church so it's fun to grab a coffee and watch. My memory is a bit hazy, so sorry for the lack of details. Maybe someone else can fill them in.
posted by kurmbox at 9:19 AM on August 1, 2009


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