Athens is a beautiful, friendly city and we spent our time in the vibrant old town centered around the Acropolis. We enjoyed a lovely three lovely days there, exploring the city on foot from our centrally located Hotel Hera: which is highly recommended for excellent rooms, service and a lovely rooftop restaurant with views of the Acropolis. The hotel is only two blocks from the metro (you can take the Metro, with one transfer, from the airport) and if you go there, look for the Greek and American Flags hanging outside, it makes the hotel easier to find, although some folks at a shop directed us to the hotel. The staff at the hotel are all very friendly and they are happy to help if you wish to learn to say “hello”, “thank you”, and “good day” in Greek.
The neighborhood is very ‘walkable’ and there are many small, family owned restaurants and sidewalk cafes. There are small food shops and bakeries too. The food is safe, tasty and very reasonably priced, especially for Europe. At this point Greece uses the Euro. Prices are slightly negotiable at some of the tourist shops.
Of course, you will want to explore the Acropolis and its excellent New Acropolis Museum for a few hours and perhaps eat or have tea at their semi-formal tea room, but also don’t miss the Roman Agora and its museum, located on the northwest side of the Acropolis.
Note that it pays to get an early start: in Greece many of the sites open at 8 a.m., but close by 3 p.m.(1500) during the off season (November to March).
We also enjoyed a trek up the hill to the Philopappos Monument located on the south west side of the Acropolis: a shady trail winds uphill through a park: at 8 a.m. we were just about the only people on the trails. You will see amazing views to the Parthenon, and across Athens to the sea.
You can take ferries from Athens to many other places, including some of their islands. On some of the trips you can go out for a day of exploring to an island and then return the same day to your hotel in Athens. Or you can go to an island for a longer period of time and then return to Athens, without having to rent/hire a car.
If we have the opportunity, we will return to Greece to see more of Athens and to enjoy the quiet walks around the neighborhoods of the Acropolis. We found the rest of the city to have heavier traffic, some nice and other not as nice neighborhoods, and fewer historical sites. But everywhere in Athens and Greece the people were patient, helpful, and friendly to us.