It seems like Greece is on everyone’s mind this summer. Whether you’re going to do one of the beautiful islands or explore the city of Athens, there are a lot of wonderful choices before you plan your next getaway. But, if you’re in Greece, I highly suggest you include Athens in your itinerary since there’s so much history and of course, there’s the Acropolis with the majestic Parthenon.
Earlier this Summer, we had a day in Athens to explore as part of a cruise around the Greek Islands which included Cofu, Mykonos and Kefalonia (Cephalonia). Since our time would be limited and I wanted to see as much as possible, I booked a private 8-hour tour with a local tour company, PK Travel. I prefer exploring on my own, but knowing that we had only so much time in Athens, booking a private tour, having transportation, and a knowledgable guide made the most sense. PK Travel was the best decision we could have made and we ended up having such a memorable experience exploring this ancient city. More on PK Travel in a bit, but since the highlight of the day was visiting the Acropolis, I wanted to share some essential tips before you hike to the top.
Once at the entrance of the Acropolis, be prepared for a lot of walking to higher elevations — some paved, some steep and a lot of uneven terrain.
- This isn’t the time for stylish shoes or anything with heels. Hiking shoes or anything with a good rubber sole are critical.
- If you’re in Athens during the summer months, be sure to have light, breathable clothing.
- The Acropolis is out in the open and there’s no shade once you start the hike. Have a wide-brim hat and have plenty of sunscreen.
- Bring water — there aren’t any shops selling refreshments or souvenirs once you start the climb.
- And of course, bring your camera!
The Hike to the Top
At the base of the Acropolis, the path is wide, paved and a gradual incline. This is the easy part.
Once you get to the entrance of the ruins, this is where the path is steeper as you zig-zag your way to the top on numerous steps.
It’s not a race so make sure you take your time. Take breaks as needed. I saw many people winded along the way but it can be done.
Once you make it to the top, the path becomes even more uneven and this is where having the right shoes can make a difference. Since you’re walking on marble, the stones are extremely slippery and if there’s even a hint of rain, be even more careful and take your time.
At the Top of the Acropolis
The views from the top are beautiful as you look out over the entire city of Athens. But once you’ve had your fill of the city views, the Parthenon takes center stage.
Photo Tip: There’s one side of the Parthenon with a lot of construction and machinery as part of the reconstruction. Be sure to walk to the other end and pick a corner for your “postcard” photo moment or selfie!
Once you’ve had enough time admiring the Parthenon, there’s still a lot of ground to cover and ruins to see.
We easily spent at least four hours at the Acropolis but that’s because we also had a tour guide who provided us with a lot of rich history so we didn’t just wander around aimlessly.
We were very fortunate to have had PK Travel as our guide in our day in Athens. For our group, we had a private, air-conditioned bus, an English speaking driver, Dimitris, and we added on a private tour guide, Michael, to give us more context to everything we were seeing that day. We were provided bottled water during our day, we were able to adjust our itinerary as needed — there were a few times when we wanted to explore the cuisine of Greece and sample some sweet treats, so our driver and tour guide adjusted our schedules to accommodate our requests.
We also saw the changing of the guards, had an extensive tour of the beautifully modern Acropolis Museum, saw the Panathenaic Stadium and had a wonderful lunch filled with some delicious Greek delicacies. We crammed a lot into our 8-hour tour but it was a wonderful experience and memories that will last a lifetime!
- For Athens, you can pick from either a day or half-day tour.
- The main cost includes the driver and vehicle; your driver will provide information while en-route but will not accompany you inside each place; the private tour guide is an add-on we wanted so that we had a guide with us inside the sights (well worth it).
- They are extremely flexible so if there are things you want to see/do that’s different from the original itinerary once you’re on the tour, just let them know.
- Payment is in cash at the end of your tour (and can be paid with U.S. Dollars or Euros).