Athens, Greece has much more to offer than just the Parthenon. While you can spend two full days touring downtown Athens, there are many more places to visit within greater Athens during a longer trip.
Athens is the only capital in Europe where tourists can come and swim at nice clean beaches. It might not sound important, but it is perfect for the warmer summer months.
A dozen kilometers Southwest of downtown Athens is the city of Pireas, although it is still within the same urban area. Pireas holds the main ports of the city, as the largest passenger port in Europe. To get to Pireas you pass by many of the 2004 Olympic stadiums.
The little port of Mikrolimano is the best place to enjoy fresh fish. There are many restaurants and cafes right at the edge of the water. From here you get a nice view of the Southern part of the city and its beaches.
If you are looking for luxury on the sea, there is Business marina where you can rent yourself a very fancy yacht.
Further down along at the end of the peninsula is the Piraiki neighborhood. Here are many of the cheaper fish restaurants, as well as some less busy places to jump in the water. It is a bit more difficult to get to, but completely worth it.
Zea Marina is a great little area to walk around, enjoy the view and grab a bite to eat. This circular inlet is the old port of historic Athens. It is now home to great number of shops inside the marina and endless lovely yachts that we could never afford.
If you visit Athens in the summer, you must spend some time at its nearby beaches. There are several beaches closer to Athens, but Voula Beach is the best one to relax and plunge in the water. There are plenty of places to grab a drink and catch some rays.
The best way to get around the greater Athens area is with a tour, especially if you want a guide of information as you visit each place. We used Greece Athens Tours, who not only gave us a tour of downtown Athens, but took us to these more hidden spots as well. If you want to get everything done in one swoop and not have to worry, this tour is for you.
The option that gives you the most freedom and flexibility is using a taxi, and you can stay in each place as long as you want. However, this is the most expensive way to get around. It can cost upwards of €20 each way from downtown to the coast.
The cheapest way to get to the water is by train. Yet, there are several downsides to public transportation in Athens. The first is time, it takes well over an hour to get someplace that only takes 15 minutes via car. Also, during the summer the tram gets uncomfortably warm from the sun.
The last issue is that the tram obviously does not go everywhere. Even if it does, it might take several transfers to get to your final destination.
If you know of any other great places to visit in the outskirts of Athens, please let us know in the comments below!