Advance Planning

Three months before Reserve your hotel early, as the best places fill quickly.

One month before Check the cultural calendar and book tickets for a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the National Theatre or Megaron Mousikis. Reserve a table at top restaurants.

One week before Check online for strike information (http://livingingreece.gr/strikes); book tours.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/athens) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Athens Official Visitor Site (www.thisisathens.gr) Athens tourism site with what’s-on listings.

Kathimerini English Edition (www.ekathimerini.com) News, arts, ferry schedules.

Athinorama (www.athinorama.gr) Events listings, including movie times (can filter by open-air cinemas). Greek only.

ελculture (www.elculture.gr) Good for arts and culture events. Greek only.

Athens Voice (www.athensvoice.gr) Listings in Greek only.

Top Tips

  • Visit in the shoulder seasons – late spring or early autumn – for gentler weather as well as lighter crowds.
  • Plan on sightseeing in the morning. Outside of peak summer, most sites and museums close by early afternoon.
  • Opening hours and prices change frequently, sometimes month by month. Call ahead if in doubt.
  • Keep cash on hand. Although shops and restaurants are required to have card payment systems, cash is still far more common.
  • Except for a couple of outlying sights, you probably won't need public transit: central Athens is easily navigated on foot.
  • In summer, don't judge a place by the crowd on the ground floor. Empty doesn't necessarily mean bad – it could just be that everyone's on the roof terrace or the courtyard.

What to Take

  • Good walking shoes
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Phrasebook or translation app
  • Phone charger
  • Power adapters
  • Lock/padlock, if using hostels
  • Lightweight raincoat or warmer layer, even in summer; nights can turn cool
  • Earplugs, for when the neighbourhood bouzouki players stay up till 4am – or after you stay up with them

What to Wear

Athenians are, on the whole, well groomed and the younger crowd skews trendy, so pack at least one sharp outfit. Nevertheless, it really depends on the neighbourhood: Exarhia and Keramikos are resolutely casual, and thrift-store chic rules. On the other end of the spectrum, Kolonaki is extremely fashion-conscious, and across the city, the clientele at virtually any rooftop bar will be dressed to impress. In summer, the heat will make you want to run naked so bring breezy cotton everything and cool dresses. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for the cobbled roads and ruins.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Check your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date
  • Make reservations for accommodation, especially in high season
  • Check airline baggage restrictions
  • Inform your credit-/debit-card company of your travel plans
  • Organise travel insurance
  • Check if you’ll be able to use your mobile (cell) phone; ask your carrier to unlock it if necessary