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Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Around in Athens

Athens is a large city with a metropolitan population of about 3.7 million. With only 11.5 million people in Greece, this is definitely where the action is. I expected it to be pretty tough to get around but, as it turns out, most of the ancient sites and tourist areas are located along just two or three miles of city streets centered around the Monastiraki Square. This square, close to many of the ancient monuments is located adjacent to the intersection of ERMOU and ATHINAS. It is the number 3 blue circle on the right hand map.
AthensMap1-1 AthensMap2-1

ATHINAS and EOLOU streets both run north from this square and are interesting walking streets. Eolu is more of a pedestrian mall than Athinas, but both are lined with interesting shops. Figure on Athinas having higher prices and more fashion. Eolou has hardware stores. Note carefully: If you are following these streets all the way north to the National Archaeological Museum, blue circle number 1 on the map, they both change names!

While you are in the Monastiraki Square you will find a couple of other interesting sites. The entrance to the Athens Flea Market is clearly marked on one side of the square. The best part of the flea market is a couple of blocks down this street going west, then turning right. Another street that ends on the square is opposite the entrance to the flea market. Mitropoleos street is lined with restaurants near the square. We have tried several and found good food in each one. Hadrian's Library and the ancient Agora (marketplace - blue circle number 5) are nearby.

ERMOU and MITROPOLEOS both run to the east from the square and will take you to the Parliament building at Syntagma Square, blue circle number 4. Ermou has a large number of stores aimed at tourists as well as locals. It is a pedestrian friendly mall.

Mitropoleos is a bit quieter and is worth a separate walk.

Stop at Syntagma Square. Visit the Grande Bretagne Hotel lobby.

See the changing of the guard on the hour at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

From Syntagma Square and the tomb of the unknown, head south to the National Garden.

Continue until you reach Hadrian's arch and the temple of Zeus, blue circle number 7.

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