10 awesome things to do in Athens during the winter

What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of Greece? Is it scenes of Meryl Streep dancing along the beach to an ABBA song? Is it relaxing on a private yacht in the middle of the Aegean sea with its crystal blue waters? Is it sipping Ouzo from the balcony of a charming restaurant that overlooks the Acropolis?  

For many, the European country is synonymous with summer. Millions upon millions of tourists flock to the country (and its most popular city, Athens) from May through September, cramming onto the Acropolis steps as temperatures skyrocket into the mid-90s. Even more partygoers pile onto ferries to hit the bars in Mykonos or swim the Santorini waters, each by way of Athens. 

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Gorgeous photos of Greece to inspire wanderlust
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Greece. Breathtaking beautiful landscape of two fishing boats anchored to quay in fascinating blue water at the amazing old port panorama in Oia Ia village on Santorini Greek island in Aegean sea.
Sunset view of the blue dome churches of Santorini, Greece, Europe.
The Acropolis of Athens, Greece, with the Parthenon Temple during sunset
Acropolis of Athens at sunset with a beautiful dramatic sky
A landscape shot of one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Greece, right after the sunset. You can see the traditional whitewashed houses and the beautiful colors of the sunset at this special location.
Monastiraki is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens, Greece, and is one of the principal shopping districts in Athens. The area is named after Monastiraki Square, which in turn is named for the Church of the Pantanassa that is located within the square. Photo contains many locals and tourists visiting the square.
Beautiful old, narrow alley with cobblestone in Skiathos, Greece
An alley in Mykonos lined with white-washed buildings with blue doors and windows, typical features of architecture found in the Cyclades Islands.
Poseidon Temple in Greece
An alley in Mykonos lined with white-washed buildings with blue doors and windows, typical features of architecture found in the Cyclades Islands.
Knossos palace at Crete, Greece Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture.
High angle view of Shipwreck beach (Navagio) în Zakynthos Greece în a beautiful summer day, Europe.
Stunning, amazing and beautiful classic white and caramel color Greek architecture with unbelievable wind mills on Santorini volcano Cyclades Caldera island in warm waters of Aegean sea in Greece.
Beautiful panorama of Santorini at sunset
Oia Santorini Greece
Skyline of Oia, traditional white architecture with windmills, greek village of Santorini, Greece. Santorini is island in Aegean sea, famous summer resort.
Amazing and very colorful sunset on the island of Santorini, Cyclades Islands, Greece
Grilled meat, chicken skewers and sausage with roasted vegetables and appetizers variety serving on party outdoor table. Mediterranean dinner table concept. Overhead view.
Parthenon temple on a bright day. Acropolis in Athens, Greece, on a bright day
Ancient greek Odeon theater on the Acropolis slopes, Athens, Greece.
Symi is a small Dodecanese island with a rich historical background. The coast exists of sequentially cliffs of rocks and beautiful sandy caves. The isolated and unpopulated places can be reached with small boats and are very popular among the tourists. The island has been colonized by different nations many times together with the 12 islands in the 20th Century. The island has been occupied by the Italians in 1912. In 1923 the island has been reunified to Greece. The economy of Symi was traditionally based on the shipbuilding and sponge industries. Symi's main industry is now tourism.
Kerkyra, Corfu, Greece: Panoramic view of the classical greek houses on Corfu island, capital Kerkyra
Church bells on a Greek Orthodox Church overlooking the Aegean Sea in the town of Oia on the island of Santorini in the Cyclades off the coast of mainland Greece.
Water taxis in the small island of Hydra (Idra) in Greece. Located in the Saronic Gulf, Hydra is a popular summer weekend destination due to its proximity to Athens.
Beautiful sunset of Hydra island, Greece - top view of city center and yaht marina.
The typical cycladic, whitewashed alleys with colorful flowers at Parikia on the island of Paros, Cyclades, Greece, during summer time
Skiathos old port
The beach was affected by the earthquake in the spring of 2014 and it is very difficult to go down on the beach.
Greece, Santorini island in Aegean sea. Famous Greek resort in Cyclades islands. Beautiful scenic view of Aegean sea from roof of apartment with two chairs and flowers decor. Holidays background.
Beautiful cosy narrow street with stairs in famous Placa district in the rainy day, Old Town of Athens, Greece
Mikrolimano marina in Piraeus, Athens, Greece. Panoramic view of the beautiful harbor with sail boats. Scenery of the city coast with scenic sea port. Luxury marine relax on the waterfront of Athens.
Santorini, Greece. Picturesq view of traditional cycladic Santorini houses on small street with flowers in foreground. Location: Oia village, Santorini, Greece. Vacations background.

Athens tourism hit a record-breaking number this year, with 5.5 million visitors taking the city in 2018. That number is up 600 percent from 2013.

But there's a right time to visit Athens-- and a wrong time. If you want to get the most out of one of the oldest cities in Europe, it's by visiting in the winter, which boasts the exact same opportunities as the summer. Plus, the low cost of flights (priced at nearly half of its summer prices) and the mild temperatures make Athens the perfect winter escape.

Fact: Nonstop flights to Athens in July average over $1000 per person, round trip. Meanwhile, nonstop flights to Athens in March start at $500 per person. (Emirates is currently offering non-stop round-trip flights for as low as $518). 

Fact: Temperatures range in the low 60s in February. We'd take that over a Nor'easter any day

The top-rated restaurants are still open, the Acropolis is still standing, the mastika is still flowing, but you don't have to brave the crowds or break the bank.

We have your flights coveredyour packing list covered and now your itinerary covered. Scroll through below to see the must-hit spots in the bustling city and start planning your trip. 

RELATED: Make sure to visit these places in Athens

Where to go in Athens this winter
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Where to go in Athens this winter

Visit the Acropolis

We have to say it. You can't visit the 4,000-year-old Athens and not visit the Acropolis. Home to the Parthenon and dozens of aged ruins, the Acropolis is a must-see for both history buffs and world travelers alike. While the Ottoman invasion and a 1687 attack left the ruins destroyed, restoration projects over recent decades have sought to return the ancient citadel back to its historical significance.

Take a tour of the Acropolis Museum

A short walk from the Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, which is home to the most antiquity artifacts found on the Hill. It sees 10,000 visitors daily to its ancient exhibitions. 

Its artifacts include pieces from the archaic, classical and Roman periods, where visitors have the opportunity of seeing how art and interpretation developed over those periods. The museum also houses the original Caryatids as well as segments from the Parthenon frieze. 

Picnic in Athen's National Gardens

The gardens were built next to the Parliament Building in 1838 as Queen Amalia's private royal gardens. Records maintain that the queen would spend over 3 hours a day in her garden and personally planted the 12 palm trees which visitors can still see today. 

The lush grounds are home to 7,000 trees and six lakes which are home to turtles, ducks and fish. The garden is also home to a sundial and 19th century excavations and fresh water sources from ancient times.  

Have a drink at The Clumsies, one of the best bars in the world

The all-day bar, which was established back in 2012 by Athens locals Vassilis Kyritsis and Nikos Bakoulis, has been ranked as the 7th best bar in the world. Late-night visitors will be handed a glow-in-the-dark menu to select their poison of choice.

Sip on some of their original cocktails, including the Clumsy Negroni or Green House Sour, mixed with gin and Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur. 

Stroll around Plaka, the old town 

Near the Acropolis you'll find Plaka, with its historic buildings, charming cafes and off-the-beaten path cobblestoned streets. Eat, drink, shop and take in the town's old village vibe. Make sure to hit Anafiotika, which lies on the Acropolis hill and was built with Cycladic architecture. 

Test your skills in a Greek cooking class 

Mention Yoleni's to any Athenian and they'll point you in the direction of the world-famous Greek Gastronomy Center. Yoleni's brings together delicacies from all over the country with its butcher shop, restaurant, spirit cellar and olive oil bar. One pro tip we have? Get your Ouzo fill while taking a cooking class in their chef's kitchen. And make sure the milk pie is on the menu.  

Take a short trip to Vouliagmeni Lake 

If you have a few hours to spare, make sure it's spent at the hidden gem that is Vouliagmeni Lake​​​​​​. Not only does it present a gorgeous view, but its natural mix of sea water and underground thermal springs offer a warm, spa-like experience for swimmers at 71 to 84 degrees throughout the year. Its high concentration of salts and other minerals offer natural healing benefits.

The lake also features 14 underwater tunnels and a 2600-foot-long underwater labyrinthine cave that can be explored. Non-swimmers can relax on the side under one of the center's many umbrellas or lounge chairs. 

Browse the Byzantine & Christian Museum 

One of the most renowned museums in the world, the Byzantine & Christian museum is home to 25,000 religious artifacts dating back to the early Christian, Medieval and Byzantine periods. Permanent exhibitions include art in the Byzantine Empire, from the ancient world to the modern era. Temporary exhibitions range from ancient Eurasian art traced back to the Silk Road to Russian art after the fall of Constantinople. 

Mount Lycabettus 

Situated at the highest point of Athens is Mount Lycabettus, which offers unparalleled, 360 degree views of the city. Visitors can either ride up the mountain in a cable car or take a 40 minute walk up the hill to dine at the Orizontes Restaurant. Visitors can also tour St. George's Church, which was established in 1870. It was originally home to a temple for Zeus.

Walk along the beach in Piraeus

The port city is just outside of Athens and features a long, long history that dates back to 5th century BC. Winter temperatures in the area venture around the mid-60s, so it's not unusual to spot a swimmer in its blue waters. You can stop for a local seafood meal along the road or rent a sailboat to take in the Mikrolimano harbour.


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