10 Things to do in Athens… for completely FREE!

10 Things to do in Athens… for completely FREE!

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Greece has been on my radar for quite some time.  Ever since we decided to head on over for our 2-week Greek-Island honeymoon, I fell in love.  However, due to undesirable flight cancellations, we totally missed out on our day in Athens.  Cue the sad face.  Therefore, I asked my friend over at Leaving Cairo to provide some fun things for us to do when we do get back there someday!

I learned that you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to enjoy yourself in this Greek capital city.  There’s a whole lot of free things to do in Athens (you just have to know about them!)

1) Archaeological monuments on a full moon night

Heading to Athens in August?  Augusts’ full moon affords visitors the opportunity to visit monuments such as the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum for free.  Enjoy classical music as you wander down Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street at the base of the monument, witness the full moon rising and attend free talks in English about the role of the moon in Ancient Greece.  All monuments open until the early hours of the following morning.

2) Stroll around Parliament Gardens

15.5 hectares of parkland and palm clad avenues in the centre of Athens.  Located behind the Parliament building in Syntagma Square, it offers a peaceful, green respite from the concrete jungle.  You can find a small zoo, a children’s library, a duck pond and a café.   Sit and enjoy a book in the shade or watch Athenian life go by.

3) The rock of Areopagos

Situated below the Acropolis, it’s a bit of a hike but once reached, well worth it. Be astounded at the surrounding view of Plaka, Monastiraki and most of Athens, as far as the coast at Piraeus and the island of Evia.   Best viewed with a partner at sunset – take a bottle of red wine.
Beware: wear non slip shoes…the steps up are made of marble, hence very slippery.

4) Plaka Flea Market

Take a wander down to Plaka, the city’s oldest neighbourhood, on a Sunday and stroll around the flea market.  You’ll find a whole host of items to peruse – from old army paraphernalia to kitchen gadgets and ceramic wares.  The various street life lends Plaka extra character and tantalizes your senses with the various Greek traditional dishes on offer.
Tip: get there before 11am.  The Market is very popular with locals too, thus gets busy.


5) Hourly changing of the guard – Parliament

Watch the Evzones change shift outside Parliament building with their ceremonial ‘dance.’  Wearing the uniform of the Klephts, mountain fighters who fought the Turks from 15th – 19th Century: white tights, white skirt, white blouse with very full sleeves, an embroidered vest, red cap and shoes with big pom-poms – they guard their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with respect. 
Tip: Go on a Sunday at 11am to witness the big event, replete with military brass band.

6) Take a stroll around Piraeus Harbor

Greece’s biggest port, Piraeus is a fascinating place to wander around, particularly if you’re ‘into’ ships.  Watch the bustling tourists and shouting ticket touts as they board the many ferries departing for the 100’s of Greek island destinations, and the workers load and unload cargo from the numerous container ships.  Luxurious yachts vi for space in the harbour, whilst cruise ships ferry their passengers to land.  A hive of activity, you won’t be board.

7) The beaches of Athens

Not many capital cities can boast a location on the coast with clean beaches.  Definitely one of the best free things to do in Athens.
Votsalakia beach can be found in Piraeus and whilst the coast here is pebbly, it offers clear waters for swimming.  Alimos is another popular beach, only 11km from the city centre.  Take your towel, sunscreen, hat and book and spend a leisurely day, safe in the knowledge you haven’t far to go to get back to your hotel.
Griekenland Paasvakantie 2010

8) The Agora of Athens

Situated in the gardens at the base of the Acropolis/Parthenon, this makes for another peaceful respite in the centre of the city.  Soak up the atmosphere with the knowledge that modern democracy originated here: entitled to their 2 pence worth, people would gather here and be allowed to speak for 2 minutes.  Socrates was tried here for corrupting the minds of young people, found guilty and ordered to death by drinking hemlock.

9) A stroll around Exarchia

Coined the anarchist area of Athens, it’s not as unsafe as the media makes out.  Full of fashionable cafés and small food outlets and admittedly, whilst it does have a big police presence it is a pleasure to wander around this area and view the amazing anti-establishment graffiti. Bansky fans will love it.

10) And for a special treat…

Want to put something back into the community?  Then join a NineLives volunteer any weekday morning and help feed the colonies of stray cats in Parliament Gardens or the Agora. Identifiable by their clipped left ear, glossy coats and plump bellies, Ninelives neuters and provides medical attention to stray cats as well as re-homing them where possible.  Feeding takes place from 08:30 every morning and volunteers move to various feeding points around the Gardens.
Next time your in town, make sure you check out some of these FREE things to do in Athens!

An unconventional British lass with a degree in International Relations, the wrong side of 35 and only just the right side of 40, Bex finds herself living in the unconventional country of Greece.  She’s travelled to, lived and taught in various places around the globe—Sri Lanka, Cambodia and even helped teach English to the crew of a container ship travelling across the Atlantic Ocean!
A jack of all trades, Bex has worked at LHR airport, dealing with high profile passengers as well as understanding the logistics of aircraft travel, organised people’s lives through her role as P.A. to various individuals and returned to full time education in her early 30’s. All experiences have helped to shape who she is today.
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