What to Know Before You Travel to Athens

Athens quickly became one of my favorite travel cities in the world! I can’t wait to help you get ready for your trip. My husband and I both were very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was get around Athens, but there are still a few things you’ll want to know before you go, so let’s get started!

Credit Cards are Widely Accepted
(But Have Euros On-hand)

This is not true everywhere in Greece–in many places, cash is still king–but we never had a problem using a credit card around Athens. Have some Euros on-hand in case you find yourself in an amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant that’s cash only, or for small purchases in souvenir shops, but in general, you can get by with just your credit card here.

We could have paid for a lot of things with a credit card, but sometimes cash was just more convenient!
Essential info: How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Travel

Tap Water is Drinkable, and Free at Restaurants

Not only is the tap water good to drink in Athens, it’s also complimentary at restaurants. This is not the case in most of Europe, so we were unexpectedly delighted (and refreshed) to always be offered water when we sat down on a long day of touring! The sun is also much stronger than I was anticipating, so all that water was necessary!

The sunshine is strong in Athens, so you’ll be glad to have easy access to water while you’re out exploring!
More here: Where to Eat in 36 Hours in Athens

Changing of the Guard (Evzones)

Looking for something completely FREE to do? Head to Syntagma Square to see the Changing of the Guard, called Evzones. It happens 24 hours a day, every hour, on the hour, and the ceremony lasts about 15 minutes. A grander ceremony happens every Sunday at 11:00am, so if you’re in town for that, definitely makes plans to see it!

The Evzones put on a show each hour!
Read on: Money Saving Tips for Athens

Bring Your Walking Shoes–The Historic Sites are Rough!

You’ll be sorry you chose flip flops, fashionable sandals, or high heels on a day of touring aorund Athens! The historic sites are literally crumbling, and there are loose rocks just waiting to trip you up! Also, while everything is within walking distance, you may have to walk quite a ways if you want to see it all! Trust me, you’ll be grateful for your sneakers whether you’re seeing the sites or just walking around town.

You’ll be thankful for function over fashion in your footwear!
More info here: Your Ultimate Guide to the Athens Combination Ticket

Bring a Guide Book

I lost track of how many times Steve and I were looking at a historic site, not knowing anything about it, and we said, “Wow. I’m so glad we brought this book!” There is signage, but not very much. The signs that exist are very text-heavy, with a small font, and there was always someone else there reading the sign as well. It’s nearly impossible to “share” the sign, and let’s face it, we didn’t want to spend 10 minutes reading the details of what we were seeing.

I was surprised to learn that there’s not a brochure or small booklet with a little bit about each site included with the Athens Combination Ticket. It would have been very handy, and I would have even paid up to €5 for something like that! So, I’m glad we brought the Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Athens book. This is not sponsored, and I have no affiliation with Eyewitness; they just make informative, concise, helpful books!

Read next: What Every Woman Should Pack for Every Trip

Beware of Pickpockets

This is not a reason to cancel your trip; this is a reason to be just as cautious as you should be in any large, tourism-focused city. Honestly, I felt completely safe walking around Athens, even with a backpack. Just be aware of your surroundings, hold your bag in front of you in crowded places, and don’t keep money, your phone, or other valuables in easy-access pockets.

Use common sense in crowded areas!
More here: Exactly How to Outsmart the Pickpocket
and Pickpocket Tricks of the Trade (and how to beat them)

Want more? You’ll find all my posts about Athens and beyond on my dedicated Greece Page!

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2 responses to “What to Know Before You Travel to Athens”

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