For guests wanting a general orientation, a little history, time for shopping and exploring on their own, or even an optional visit to the Acropolis, this is the perfect exclusive Athens tour for you or your group, offering more time in the city than cruise line tours.
You will drive to the center of Athens, approximately 30 minutes from the pier. Upon arrival, your professionally trained guide will narrate during a city orientation, viewing such sights as the Temple of Zeus, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the former Royal Palace, which is now the Greek House of Parliament. You will pass by the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, and the National Library.
A photo stop will be made outside the Panathenian Olympic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. From here, you will continue on to the Plaka, one of the oldest parts of the city.
Upon arrival at the Plaka, your guide will give you a time and specific location to meet for your transfer back to the pier.
Your guide will then begin an optional tour for those guests wishing to climb the famous Acropolis. As this is an option, admission to the Acropolis site is not included in the price of your tour. The entrance fee is approximately 20 EUR, and they do not accept credit cards.
The Acropolis of Athens is recognized as the culmination of Greek architecture, art and sculpture. During your visit to the Acropolis (from Greek meaning above the city), you will view The Parthenon, constructed between 447-432 B.C. as a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Its main function was to shelter the monumental statue of Athena that was made out of gold and ivory. You will see the Erechtheon, started in 420 B.C. as a temple for religious rituals; the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis which blends Doric and Ionic building principles; and the small temple Athena Nike, which stands on a protruding mass of rock, protecting the gate to the citadel.
From the Acropolis, you can also look down on the Ancient Agora, Tower of the Winds, Herodes Atticus Theater, and the Theater of Dionyssos from your lofty perch. The guide will lead you up, narrating as you climb. The guided portion of the tour ends upon reaching the Parthenon, allowing you free time to browse on your own. Those guests taking the Acropolis option will have approximately one hour of free time after you descend. Your guide will depart after the Acropolis tour.
For those guests not climbing, you will have approximately three hours of free time to explore.
Bordered by the Acropolis to the south and the Ancient Agora to the west, the Plaka is the historic heart of Athens. Blending with the adjacent Monastiaki district, the Plaka area seems to have a little of everything, from the ancient ruins of a Roman forum, the Greek Agora, and Byzantine-influenced churches, to restored 19th-century neoclassical homes and modern day stores, boutiques and cafes sprinkled throughout.
The Plaka area is home to several nearby museums including the Benaki, Kanellopoulos, the new Acropolis and the Greek Folk Art Museum, to name a few. For shopping, you will find Greek souvenirs and clothing, as well as jewelry shops. Greek gold jewelry is often better priced than other European countries as the labor cost is lower.
For a quick, inexpensive taste of traditional Greece, order a pita-souvlaki or gyro from a walk-up window and eat it standing up. Be aware that any time you sit at a cafe in the Plaka, you pay for the experience, and outside seating carries a higher charge than inside seating. If you want to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal, look for where the locals are dining, which is almost never on the major streets, but usually on smaller side streets. At the designated time and location, your guide will be waiting to take you to the transportation for the drive back to the pier.
Guests wishing to stay longer in the Plaka should let their driver know, and will need to arrange their own transportation back to the port.
Due to crowds, traffic or other conditions out of our control, the order of the tour may be changed.
Reviewer: Warren Frederick
Reviewer: William Pressly
Great tour guide; very interesting history lesson.
Reviewer: Lily Galati
Tour was well organized and guide was great. Bus were new and clean and very prompt. The tour was a perfect balance of seeing the highlights in Athens along with a little free time. Would book with Shore Excursions again.
Reviewer: Mitch Fox
Great tour of the Acropolis. Guide was very knowledgable. Loved seeing the Parthenon. We should have had additional time to shop in the Plaka. We had to take a cab back to the ship instead of using the tour bus.
Reviewer: Dehai Tao
It is a good one. The local person is nice. But she should have told us more about Greek history.