I’m just going to say it…. I didn’t like Athens

It’s unfortunate but true, I didn’t like Athens. Turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I recently read Travel Letdowns and Why I Don’t Like Athens and to be honest, it was a relief. It made me feel a little better about my experience. It always helps knowing you are not alone, even if our travel experiences were vastly different.

Our arrival in Athens was literally a series of unfortunate events. Five of us were flying in from Istanbul to meet our friends, intending to take the bus the next day to Lefkas (where we had charted a yacht to sail nine of us around the Ionian Islands).

A text from two friends warned of us of an impending taxi strike and the need to take the metro to our hotel. Not the worst problem in the world. However, given the heat and the fact there were five of us to spread the cost, we decided to see if we could organise a transfer to our hotel. Our friends on the ground organised this and upon our arrival in Athens we were (eventually) met by our transfer. The hotel owner’s son.

His late arrival didn’t matter, we were grateful… well, until we got to his car. An old Barina for five people (plus a driver) and luggage. Let’s just say, we didn’t fit.  This was how we stayed for the entire journey to our hotel.

Our arrival into Athens… did I mention it was 40 degrees and around an hour drive?

Deciding to get on with things, we showered and went out to dinner… It was a great night, but I woke early the next morning with food poisoning. Now, I’m a pretty determined person and food poisoning be damned, if I was going to see one thing in Athens, it would be the Parthenon on the Acropolis.

So off we set. Looking back at the photos now, it actually looks pretty special. Perhaps if I hadn’t of been so sick, I would have enjoyed it more. As it was however, I lasted about an hour before catching the metro back to our hotel (the taxi strike continued). I did however manage to take a few nice shots of my visit.


The view!Athens

For a short trip, I took quite a few photos… perhaps trying to make it feel like I was enjoying myself more than I actually was. Here I am with my gorgeous friend Pippa and while you may not be able to tell, I am seriously struggling here. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

After a bit of exploration (and I’m sorry to say a few detours to the bathroom) we came to it, the pièce de résistance, the Parthenon on the Acropolis:


Parthenon on the Acropolis!

This was exciting! I was pretty stoked to be able to walk around the ruins and I’m definitely glad I dragged myself out of bed for it. Make no mistake however, this was not a fun experience.

You’d think things would have improved after this but unfortunately not. We had intended to leave Athens later that afternoon, but after receiving some incorrect information regarding buses to Lefkas, we were stranded until the following day. With little choice in the matter (and probably a blessing for me with food poisoning) we booked another night in the worst hotel in the world (if you’re determined to avoid it, comment below and I’ll find the name) before setting off around 5:30 am the next morning to get bus tickets.

Why 5:30am? The ticket counter opened at 7am and we needed to get on a bus that day. We couldn’t risk being late. However, having to rely on public transport the journey to the bus stop wasn’t exactly the easiest! (To give you an insight into our predicament, there had been quite serious debate about sleeping at the bus shelter overnight. Let’s just say, we’re all glad that didn’t eventuate…)

After arriving at the bus stop early in the morning, we were happily rewarded with tickets and eventually left Athens later that day for a sailing trip starting in Lefkas (that was one of the best travel experiences of my life). For that reason alone, Athens was totally worth it.

However, I can’t help but be disappointed and feel that we really missed Athens as a city.

I get that my circumstances were unique and I am willing to give it another chance should that opportunity ever come my way (and I hope it does). In the meantime however, I don’t exactly recommend it. So tell me, did you have a better experience in Athens? I’d love to hear about it!

3 Replies


9 thoughts on “I’m just going to say it…. I didn’t like Athens

    1. thehealthyglobetrotter Post author

      I feel terrible saying it, but I really just wanted to get out of there! We didn’t feel particularly safe where we were staying either so that probably didn’t help! Sorry to hear it was a disappointment for you too!

      1. ashleypaige4

        I know, you feel like you are surrounded by so much history, you should be in heaven, but there’s just something about it that’s disappointing, and I’ve heard it from a few others too.

  1. Amy's Inkwell

    I haven’t been, but it’s on my list. We’ve been putting it off, because of the political and economic situation in Greece.
    We’ve also been telling ourselves that we’ve seen lovely Greek antiquities in London and New York, so maybe we get a pass until things settle down there…

    1. thehealthyglobetrotter Post author

      I think this had a big impact on our trip too. Many shops were closed and boarded up, many homeless people on the street and a bit of a too quiet and a little creepy vibe to it. Needless to say, i think we were staying in the wrong area. A run in the morning with a friend revealed a number of people passed out on the street etc. I wouldn’t have felt safe on my own. Really sad to see, here’s hoping it has a full revival sometime soon. I do hope to get back there one day, it would be very interesting to see what a difference a few changed experiences could make….

  2. masadiso79

    Dearst Leah, as a Greek (and an Athenian in particular), I feel really sorry about your disappointing visit to my city. The good thing is, that you still keep an open mind about visiting again. I would be very happy to assist you next time and make your visit worthwhile. You definitely did not get a proper look at Athens (excluding the Acropolis visit) and the lack of time was one reason why. When you decide to come back, I’d be more than happy to show you around and not miss anything this time! 😉

    1. thehealthyglobetrotter Post author

      Thank you! You are absolutely right we didn’t have enough time and one of my friends who visited after our time in the Ionian said she enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. You can see that my circumstances really tainted the visit and it’s true, i’m disappointed i don’t feel like i really saw Athens. The next trip i’m planning i’ll be sure to ask for your advice! Thanks again 🙂

  3. zack

    I spent roughly two weeks in athens this past summer and LOVED greek people, hated the current conditions of the city. Like you said, deathly hot in summer, economic and political conditions are horrible. GREAT people and food though.


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