It sounds crazy, I know it. But I've done Athens in a day twice now.

It can be done and it's not at all stressful.

If you are planning a trip to Greece and intend to island hop (no-brainer), Athens is for sure a great base for your trip; as you can fly to and from most islands from Athens.

After an outstanding few days in Patras (third largest city in Greece) for our friends' wedding, we headed to Athens by car for an express Athenian experience. Not often one for touristy-wonders, but what's a trip to Greece without a stop in Athens?

Luckily, I had been to Athens many years ago for a work trip. It was in the height of a heatwave Summer. This time around, it was an amiable September and I was vehemently clear about spending minimal time here; all for the goal of maximizing my time on the islands (because I am a beach-head, clearly). Honestly, one night in Athens is all you need; particularly if you are short on time.

Here is our express itinerary:

Checked into our Airbnb accommodation here. Konstantinos was a great host and offered us a traditional greek coffee (which by this point in our trip, for a non-coffee drinker, I was beginning to acquire a taste for. Just don't drink the bitter dregs at the bottom), accompanied with a refreshing mix of greek yoghurt and honey. We took our snack out onto the vast terrace and were taken aback by the direct view we had of the Acropolis. Only a 15 minute walk away, the location of our Airbnb location could not have been more ideal.

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Grab some light sustenance al fresco style before your Athenian trek. Nikita's Tavern was just fine.
Inexpensive, not overcrowded and a 5 minute walk away from our Airbnb (if that). Fast home-cooked food that will get you on your way. Stray cat alert! You can't avoid them in many places in Greece...

Baked stuffed aubergine

Trek over to see the ancient ruins (Acropolis and Parthenon). It's an easy 15 - 20min walk; all depends on how much food you ate. The end of the day is a great time to visit the Acropolis if you want to avoid the hot sun and the intense crowds. 
TIP: Download a map of Athens from Google Maps while you are connected to wifi, and you will be able to use it on-the-go while offline. Most restaurants have wifi thankfully. You're welcome!

The ruins are a photographer's dream. Be ready to marvel at the marble structures. It was overcast during our visit but it only added to the mood of our surroundings. 

2hrs was all we needed. From here, we strolled down the quaint winding streets, through the square and the various surrounding markets; taking in the sights and smells with each step.


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Catch the sunset over the acropolis if like us, your terrace allows you the opportunity of the view but don't worry if you miss it; the Acropolis at night is the most spectacular sight. All lit up underneath the stars; a memory that will never be lost.

What a find! Dinner at Melilotos was welcomed. A stylish and modern restaurant design with a focal staircase that only made you wonder what you'd find atop them. Sumptuous meals, full of flavour (go for the lamb and the sausage dishes). I highly recommend dining here to seal your express Athens experience.

There's no better way to close the night than with a bottle of wine and baklava on the terrace in candlelight. Find a local store and get their recco on a local wine while you are at it. I mean, what's the point of drinking Italian wine when in Greece?

And so there you have it. Athens done in 8 hours!

Share your Athenian experiences in the comments section and feel free to let me know if you try any of my recommendations. I would love to read them.