When most people think of Greece, they picture Santorini’s whitewashed buildings or Mykonos’s crystal-clear waters. But what about Athens? The Greek capital is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but it’s actually a great place to visit – especially in November.
November begins the winter season and is the best time to visit Athens. The crowds are smaller, the prices are lower, and the weather is mild. Plus, there are still opportunities to visit other lesser-known islands of Greece. If you’re planning a trip to Athens, Greece, this winter, this travel guide is for you.
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- Where to Stay
- Day One
- Day Two
- Day Three
- Other tips
- Just a Note
The airport is about 40 minutes from Athens, and we hired a driver for pick-up. This is not necessary since they have uber, but by the time we arrived, we wanted a ride waiting for us. Speaking of uber, most of the cars on the Uber app are taxis. They also have a train system that we did not use. We walked a lot because we stayed in a central location. I will note that we prefer to walk a lot to make up for all of the eating we do!
Where to Stay
We stayed in the city center in the neighborhood called Plaka, which is around all the restaurants and shops. It was very walkable for most of the activities we did. Our hotel was the Sweet Home Hotel, a family-run hotel with a delicious breakfast buffet every morning. The rooms are a modest size but comfortable.
We arrived the night before with only time to eat a delicious greek dinner and head to bed to rest for our full day in Athens, Greece. Our first full day was Thanksgiving, and we packed it with all the historical things to do in Athens, Greece.
Even in the low season, it’s important to visit Acropolis when it first opens. You want to get the views of the hill without large groups of tours blocking you. We ventured to Acropolis at 9 am and purchased a combination ticket that included different sites. We learned later on from our guide that all of the sites are half off in the winter, and you save more by getting them a la carte.
Acropolis, to me, had a nice view of the city, but they were doing a lot of restoration, so you could not get as close to the popular sites. It is still worth the visit. Unless you are really into history, you do not necessarily need a guide. The southeast entrance has the best views.
Temple of Zeus
The Temple of Zeus is across the street from Acropolis, and unless you have a ticket as part of a package, it is not worth the visit. It is very underwhelming, and there is not much to it. Ironically it was destroyed by lightning, and only a few pillars remain. You can view it from outside the gate.
The Panathenaic Stadium is a great spot to visit if you are into sports and fitness. I liked it because you can use the track for exercise as well. However, this is a site you can also view from the street well if you are on a budget. The entrance fee was 10 euros per person.
Lunch at Anafiotika Cafe
I liked this cafe because it was in a quaint neighborhood right below Acropolis with charming streets and a beautiful view of the hill. This restaurant is in the middle of Plaka serving delicious Greek food. We sat indoors during lunchtime right next to the fireplace.
Free walking tour
I constantly like free walking tours in every city I visit. This gives me insider insight into the area, and I can ask questions about how to plan the rest of my trip. I booked a tour with the company Athens free tour in the afternoon, which was about 3.5 hours. We got an extensive overview and history of Athens as well as recommendations for eating and shopping. We even watched the changing of the guards. This tour is when we learned that the sites are half off all winter. In addition, they let us know that on Fridays, the Acropolis museum is open until 10 pm, so we squeezed it in!
This would be the warmest day of the week, so we decided to visit the islands. We were unsure about booking a tour that goes to all three close islands or just one, and we opted for one Island. Each has pros and cons, but deciding what to do is based on your goals for the day.
The tour is pricier but includes food and transport to the ferry. The only downside is you only have about one hour on each island; many reviews say it was not enough time. It is also about a 16-hour day which does not leave much room for other activities.
Ferry on your own
After speaking with our guide from the free walking tour, we decided on this route. We booked our ticket the night before on the website ferry hopper and took a taxi to the Piraeus port. The ferry left around 9 am, and we got to the island around 11 am. We had about 3 hours on the island, which was plenty of time before getting back on the ferry at 2:30 pm. We chose to visit Hydra.
We chose to visit Hydra because of the reviews and the uniqueness of the island. It had beautiful white houses, and it was car-free. The Island is home to one of the most beautiful and oldest pharmacies in Europe, so naturally, I had to capture a picture. I enjoyed getting lost in the quiet streets and relaxing all day.
To round out our day, we visited the acropolis museum for its extended opening on Friday night. The price is excellent at 5 euros per person and is all glass so that you can enjoy the nighttime view of the Acropolis. Here is where all the statues and other notable artifacts are housed from Acropolis. Compared to the Egyptian museum in Cairo, it is small, and we only spent about 45 minutes there.
Day three was all about local shopping and eating. We explored most of the morning. The one thing I love about traveling over Thanksgiving is countries also participate in Black Friday. We got many souvenirs from local vendors for 50% off, plus my negotiation skills. Essential things to bring home from Greece are the evil eye or blue opal silver jewelry.
Little Kook Restaurant
Little Kook is a restaurant in the middle of downtown Athens, which is a fun instagrammable spot worth visiting. We stopped by for a quick drink to see what the hype was about. They change their décor four times a year and take up the whole block. Of course, we had the Christmas theme. Little Kook would be great for dessert or brunch because of their huge portions.
Greek food is one of my favorite foods, so of course, we scheduled a food tour. The food tour covered so many food stops, so come hungry. I loved learning about the history behind the food and culture in Greece. We went to many local spots that I would not have found on my own. Another fact I learned was many of the Greek foods we like actually come from Turkey. The Ottoman empire occupied Greece for a long time, so it makes sense why their food is similar.
Dinner at Anefani
After a few hours from our food tour, we walked off the food with more shopping, working up an appetite. We stopped at Anefani restaurant with a beautiful rooftop view of Acropolis. They had live music and plenty of outdoor heaters to feel comfortable during the crisp mid-50s night. It was a beautiful ambiance to end our time in Athens.
Traveling while Black in Athens
Although we had a great time overall, I can’t overlook the thorn in our time in Athens. We were racially profiled a lot. For starters, we noticed no other black travelers in the city of Athens, and we got a lot of stares. Some out of curiosity but some out of disgust.
We experienced blatant dirty looks, grabbing of purses, and being followed vigorously around stores. It was uncomfortable and annoying, so much so that I stopped purchasing from stores altogether. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo (the greek freak) spoke of his upbringing in Athens and the racism he faced. We did not experience this type of treatment on the islands, so maybe it is an Athens issue.
We were there at the start of the winter season in Athens, and the temperatures ranged between 50-70 degrees. Definitely bring layers because it will start cold and be warm during the day. I thought it was very pleasant weather with no rain.
Just a Note
This Athens travel guide is based on my experience and interests. There is so much to do in Athens, Greece, that your guide to Athens might look different. For other ideas, check out these options.