Last Easter I visited Athens on my own (well chickie came too). There were a few reasons for this: 1) I got a free stay at the Intercontinental Hotel using my IHG points; 2) I had to get those last tier points in to retain Silver status with British Airways; 3) Despite being on numerous family holidays to the Greek islands, I’d never visited Athens before; 4) Using the Easter bank holidays in the UK made the most of my time with zero holiday days taken!
So here are the reasons why you should visit Athens in Spring & my top tips, especially if you are a solo female traveller!
Visiting Athens in Spring as a Solo Female Traveller
1 – Beautiful blossoms
Spring time in Athens is just heavenly with all the flowers blooming. I saw lots of lilac trees with heavenly smelling purple blossoms. And the streets are lined with bitter orange trees (not edible oranges!) with the fragrance from orange blossom all around.
Spring is definitely the best time of year in terms of what you can smell in Athens!
2 – Temperature
Mild temperatures make sightseeing outside much more comfortable. When I was here at the end of March/early April it was cool for a couple of days and bright and sunny for the rest. This was perfect for walking around during the day and climbing the Acropolis etc.
My Greek friend recommends any time from Easter through to late June:
In late June the sea is warm enough to swim while the vegetation is still lush. By Aug/Sep everything is dried up. It is very hot in summer, but it’s not humid.
I would definitely suggest light layers to cope with the changeability. It can be windy at the top of the Acropolis, so a light jacket is useful. If you stay out to watch sunset it can get cool when the sun has gone down, so the jacket or a scarf is handy.
I do like to pack at least one scarf when I travel, as it can easily fit into your bag. Scarves are my must have travel item for planes for the same reason.
3 – Less crowds
In the off-peak season there are less crowds. Don’t get me wrong – there were still lots of people – locals and tourists, Athens is a capital city, so is expected to be busy. I met plenty of tourists who were visiting Athens before heading to a cruise or to visit the islands, or even head further into the mainland of Greece.
However just imagine how many more people there are at the height of the summer holidays! If you can go off peak then it means having less of a crush in the popular areas. Another way to beat this is to go away from touristy areas.
4 – Make the most of Easter holidays
If you can avoid the school holidays all the better! However it’s good to note that Easter falls a week later in the Greek Orthodox Church than it is observed in the Western Europe. So the UK Easter holidays are an ideal time to visit. You get extra days holiday, but everything in Athens is open as normal.
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Happy easter from Athens! 🇬🇷🐣🐥 . Hope you are all having a great easter weekend – where in the world are you❓ . It’s not actually Greek Orthodox easter til next weekend here – which is good for me as it means that things are open this Sunday! . #easterinAthens #athensgreece #greece🇬🇷 #eastersunday #easterweekend #acropolistime #chickiestravels #femaletravelbloggers #ladiesgoneglobal #happyeaster2018 #femalesolotraveller
Just be careful the week after, as the Greeks take their Easter holidays at this time and it can be a busy time to get transport. However being in Athens (and Greece in general) over Easter means that you get to see some of the local customs for Greek Orthodox Easter, including these amazing eggs!
5 – Athens is a good choice for the solo female traveller
I spent 4 days in Athens over the Easter bank holiday weekend and never felt uncomfortable or threatened. I went out drinking solo, walked around the whole city, day and night. Don’t get me wrong, I also joined some tours and made some friends to hang out with, but the point is I never felt threatened. I was warned about bag snatchers by a friend who had that happen to him (and he’s Greek!). And so I took the normal precautions I would take in London:
Don’t go exploring dodgy areas, don’t go into badly lit areas at night, walk like you know where you are going, stick to main routes.
I also took my trusty Kipling cross body bag. I love this bag as its sturdy and safe, can fit a camera, top/scarf and a water bottle easily, but doesn’t look expensive and is less likely to attract opportunists.
Katie’s top Athens tips:
You have to visit the Acropolis if you visit Athens. There is no point going all that way not to! I would recommend getting a guide to get the most out of it, as there isn’t a lot of information at the top.
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Up close and personal with the Parthenon – I’d highly recommend visiting the Acropolis and seeing it close up for the sheer scale! But I’d also recommend a guide to give you all the information and context. . #acropolisofathens #parthenon #athensgreece #greece🇬🇷 #easterholiday #easterbreak #longweekend #archeology #oldstuff #impressivearchitecture #femaletravelbloggers #ladiesgoneglobal
- Visit the Acropolis before the middle of the day to avoid the heat and sun (even in Spring!)
- You don’t need a guide for the Acropolis museum, which has a lot of interesting displays and you may want to spend more time there. It’s best to visit here during the heat of the day as it’s air conditioned!
When you are done with the museum get ice cream from DaVinci, just up the street towards Plaka, which moves us nicely on to the food tips!
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I don’t know about where you are but the U.K. is experiencing a heatwave right now – so it’s the perfect excuse for ice cream! . ☀️☀️😎😎🍦🍦😋😋☀️☀️ . Seriously it’s even warmer than Athens was at the beginning of the month – where this picture was taken. . Everyone knows that you can always have ice cream when on holiday whatever the weather! (Even better with free chocolate sauce! 😋) . #icecreamtime🍦 #foodie #instafood #foodiegram #goodfood #EatLoveLust #getinmybelly #foodforfoodies @meal @dailyfoodfeed #yummy #foodstagram #myfab5 #eeeats #foodpic #forkyeah @food52 #foodlove @love_food #feedfeed @thefeedfeed #ukheatwave
Foodies should totally take an Alternative Athens food tour. This is 4 hours of deliciousness whilst learning about Greek culture and finding the best spots to eat in the city!
A few spots that I found, either from the tour or wandering around the rest of the weekend include:
- O Thanasis Kebab – a no-nonsense kebab place, where you can sit inside, outside or takeaway. It came recommended and we ate well there, trying two types of kebab offering!
- Yoleni’s Greek Gastronomy was one of the stops on our food tour. This place is a delicatessen, cafe and wine bar over several floors. Great to try Greek food and wine and then buy some to take home.
- We cruised through the Central Market on the food tour – strong stomachs required if you don’t like dead animals though….
I loved the little lanes of Psyrri just North of Monastriraki – there are loads of restaurants and bars on the pavements and spilling out into the road. Two that we tried on the food tour are:
- ΕΝ ΙΟΡΔΑΝΗ A restaurant that is good for groups, where we tried ‘Greek’ mezze – smaller sharing dishes.
Μπουγατσάδικο η Θεσσαλονίκη στου Ψυρρή A cafe that makes the best sweet and savoury layered pastry – you can watch them make it before trying!
The area just under the Acropolis – Plaka – is also a good place to find a cute restaurant perched on the hillside and take pictures of cute cats.
Gin lovers tips
Whilst I didn’t do enough gin drinking to write a whole Gin Guide to Athens, I couldn’t not mention where I drank! My first night, I drank on my own and felt comfortable doing so, however it was a busy buzzing Friday night in Athens and packed. So whilst I did chat to a few people, I couldn’t do my standard thing of getting a seat at the bar! (It was rammed!). My second night I had a partner in crime
- Gin lovers need to head to The Gin Joint. Not only do they have a good selection of G&Ts, but also cocktails and negroni flights (think mini negronis for tasting different versions!)
- If you prefer to cheat on gin, or just keep your options open head to The Clumsies. This bar is one if the top 10 cocktail bars in the world and their menu was inspired by elements when I was there. Really innovative stuff with lots of theatrical flair, plus at night it’s got great music (you’ll hear it a block away!)
Bar with a view
- I recommend A for Athens for rooftop Acropolis views. They do great cocktails and sunset up here feels a little Ibizan, a combination of the styling and music and sunset worship!
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We had a proper Sunday Sunset last night – a fitting end to Easter Sunday for sure! . If you ever visit Athens be sure to check out A for Athens rooftop bar for the sunset and Acropolis views! . 🍸🍹🥂🌅 . #sundaysunset🌅 #aforathenscocktailbar #athenssunset #sunsetview #rooftopbar #acropolisview #athensgreece #easterinathens #greece🇬🇷 #instacocktail #femaletravelbloggers #ladiesgoneglobal #thirtyplusblogs
There tonnes of bars with rooftop views of the Acropolis and most hotels have a rooftop for the same reason. In the central area, Monastriraki Square is the place to head to. A for Athens is the best in my opinion. I also checked out 360 cocktail bar, but they gave me a seat without a view and the drinks were underwhelming. It was also crammed with people.
- I walked everywhere even at 1:30am! This definitely assisted with my 10k step goal, but also meant I saw a lot more of the neighbourhoods.
- In general most of the tourist parts of Athens are very close and in easy walking distance, but be warned for hills!
- If you can’t walk so far then there are buses, trams and the metro also. I wouldn’t advise using Uber – whilst the app does work there Uber drivers are limited to starting routes from their ‘base’, so be ready to wait up to 20 minutes for your ride. Instead just use the local taxis (although you’ll need euro cash for this).
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So have I convinced you to visit Athens in Spring? Let me know in the comments!