Four great things to see in Athens on a budget
Athens is a magnificent city and like many other places you do not have to spend a small fortune to enjoy the city. Many choose a small hotel at the cheaper end of the market and then prefer to enjoy high end cuisine, naturally this may mean having to compromise on sightseeing, but that does not mean missing out on the culture of the place.
Changing of the guard, Athens Parliment Building
Firstly do not miss out on the traditionally costumed evzones or guards in front of the Parliament Building; they are un-miss able with their short kilts and pom-pom shoes based on the attire worn by the mountain fighters during the War of Independence. They stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and enact a high-kicking ritual when they change every hour on the hour. If you are in Athens on a Sunday take in the whole platoon as they march down Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias to the tomb, accompanied by a band.
Athens Gardens are a must and during the hot summer months are a delightful, shady refuge. These are behind parliament and were originally the royal gardens designed by Queen Amalia. The gardens feature long avenues of palms leading to plantings of orange trees and ornamentals. If you have the kids with you the gardens are a haven with a playground and a duck pond, so take some bread from the breakfast table! Look out for the turtles in the small marble fountain in the adjacent Zappeio Gardens.
The most famous of all the sights has to be the Acropolis, but this is not free but reasonably priced on a €12 joint ticket, you can take in this as well as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora and Keramikos. Between November and March, these are free every first Sunday between, and are always free for those under 18.
A recent addition, but only after years of excavation, in 2014 Aristotle’s Lyceum opened to the public, this is free and it is the exact place where, 2500 years ago, the venerable philosopher taught. It is not difficult to find and is it in a small park between the Byzantine & Christian Museum and the Athens Conservatory. There are many other examples of lesser known ruins to be found all over Athens, many of these are to be found close to the National Gardens and are usually marked by placards.
You do not have to be bored in Athens, just wander the historic streets and soak up the feel of the place, take in the old Turkish quarter in Plaka, this was all the Athens consisted of once when it became the capital of Greece its narrow streets nestle into the north-eastern slope of the Acropolis. It can become a bit touristy as you emerge from the hillside, but it is still the most character-filled part of Athens.