A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus

Every time I was travelling from Thessaloniki to Athens, I wished I had more time to take delight in this enchanting city. A city that holds the “sceptres” of civilisation for centuries. I wished to get to know each and every side of it. Because, Athens, the capital of Greece, hides many diamonds that every tourist has to unveil. My time was never enough. In this trip, though, I decided to take the time in order to make my dream come true. The means that would get me out of the trouble, discomfort, and tiredness of seeing all those that were on my schedule, only in one route, was the Hop on Hop off bus. Come with me to a tour around Athens.

Διαβάστε το άρθρο στα ελληνικά στο Ανθομέλι, το ελληνικό blog μας.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
A guided tour around Athens with the red bus

A guided tour with a Hop on Hop off bus around Athens

I thought about sharing this ride with you, in order to arouse your interest in choosing this relaxing tour when you visit our Athens. photo

A Hop on Hop off bus gives you the opportunity to get to know Athens from above, to discover it and, of course, thanks to the 14-stop-convenience, to get to know in person everything that the city has to offer and a tourist could see. You can hop off at any stop you want and after the tour you can hop on the next bus to the next top. If you don’t want to hop off, you can take your ride, enjoying Athens from the deck of the bus, which gives you the opportunity to make better photos because of its height.

Columns of the Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch

I sat back on my seat and my tour started with the first stop at the Columns of the Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. The columns we see and admire consist a part of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, which was one of the biggest temples of ancient times. Today, unfortunately, out of the 104 Corinthian columns, the most beautiful of their kind, there are only 13 at one corner and 3 more further down remaining.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Hadrian’s Arch is located on Vasilissis Amalias Avenue and can be recognised by everyone passing by that location.

Historically

The temple started getting built around 590-560 B.C. and completed by the Roman emperor Hadrian at 125 A.C.  Hadrian was a true philhellene and for that reason he wanted to be present at the official dedication of the temple.The arch we see is the one built by the Athenians in honor of the emperor Hadrian, in order to pass by it underneath as a triumphant.


A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The Temple of the Olympian Zeus is located right behind the Arch and is accessible through Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.

Panathenaic Stadium/ Kallimarmaro

Our next stop is at Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro. I disembarked at this one in order to admire it in detail. At first sight I was fascinated by the simplicity, the size and the beauty of the stadium and it felt like I could sense the history behind it, floating on the air. It is simply wonderful! Think about how many years ago it was built and how big it was for the building standards of that time. Now it is located on Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, but at that time its location was considered to be outside the city of Athens.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Kallimarmaro has a capacity of 50.000 spectators and hosted the first Olympian Games

Historically

The stadium is a Lycurgus’ of Athens work and it was named Panathenaic, because it hosted the Panathenaic Games and had not the marble panelling yet. However, rich Herodes Atticus during 140-144 A.C. renovated the stadium and faced it with marble from Penteli.At 1896 its marble was refined and it took also the name “Kallimarmaro” ever since.


You can buy tickets for Panathenaic Stadium and Audio Guide here

  • Learn the history of the Panathenaic Stadium with an informative, fun audio guide
  • Enter the vaulted passage, run on the track where nude athletes and Olympic contenders once raced!
  • Watch highlights from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games on two big screens and play on a multimedia touchscreen table

Syntagma Square

We all hop on the bus again to the next stop, which is at Syntagma Square. There is no tourist or visitor in Athens, that hasn’t passed by this square. It is the central square of the city and is located in front of the Hellenic Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Of course we don’t forgo taking the necessary pictures either with the fountain, or the square, or the Hotel Grande Bretagne and definitely the Parliament as a background. I recommend that you go down to the square with the fountain, which reminds us of old times, since the square’s character did never degrade, despite the tampering that took place during all those years. You will catch the delicious smell of freshly baked sesame bread rolls floating on the air and you won’t definitely be able to resist to it!  

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Syntagma Square took its name, when King Otto of Greece accepted the request to grant a constitution in 1843, after the rebellion that took place in the square by the people and the military. Its former name was “Palace Square”.

As I did, I suggest that you hop off and admire the building of the Hellenic Parliament, which I believe it is the most imposing building in Athens and, certainly, the most photographed one carrying the Athenian identity, along with Acropolis. The building, where today the Hellenic Parliament is housed, is the old palaces that housed the first King of Greece, Otto, and later King George I, till 1910.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The King’s Palace is the headquarters of the Hellenic Parliament since 1929.

In front of the Parliament there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since 1932. The Evzones are standing still on their outposts in front of the Tomb and we admired them and photographed next to them, of course without bothering them. Standing still, unexpressed and erect (required height over 187cm), are the guards protecting the holiest thing in peoples’ lives, their homeland. All over the square, there are dozens of flying pigeons, symbolising freedom. 

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Hellenic Parliament , Evzones (Tsoliades)

Historically-Evzones (Tsolades)

Evzones (Tsoliades) can keep after training their eyes open up to 2.5 minutes. Their fustanella has 400 pleats, as many as the years of Greek slavery under the Ottoman Empire.  Their vest takes at least two months to be made and it is all embroidered with gold. The shirt is white with large sleeves. The fez is made of felt and the black tassel symbolises the tear of Jesus Christ during His crucifixion. Their tsarouchia weigh 3 kilos and have 60 cleats on each sole.  


A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
If you are lucky you may come across the changing of the guard.
From our youtube channel

Benaki Museum

At Styntama Square the Hop on Hop off bus turned right and entered Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, where Benaki Museum is located. The museum is housed in one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in Athens and is the family home of the museum’s establisher, Antonis Benakis.

The Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization is a hive of gorgeous Greek art and material representing the country’s culture and traditions. See Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman antiquities, The Byzantine Collection and more in a beautiful neoclassical-style building.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Benakis family donated to the Greek state all their personal collections including works of Ancient, Byzantine, Islamic and Traditional Art.It is the first private museum of Greece (1929).

Book here your ticket to Benaki Museum of Modern Greek Culture. Have access to the permanent collection and to the temporary exhibitions. Scan your smartphone ticket at the box office of the main building.

Museum of Cycladic Art 

The Museum of Cycladic Art is located in the same avenue and is housed in a fine corner building. It was established in 1986 and hosts the collections of works from the Cycladic culture by Nikolaos and Dolly Goulandris. 

The Museum of Cycladic Art is a testament to what was a flourishing civilization on the islands of the central Aegean during third millennium BC! Step back to the Bronze Age at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, which has the world’s most complete collection of Cycladic antiquities. See how the Cyclades built and fought by examing bronze tools and weapons.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The Museum of Cycladic Art on Vasilissis Sofias Avenue.

Tip: If you wish to visit any of those museums you can hop off and take the next red Hop on Hop off bus passing by the stop. 

Book here you ticket for Museum of cycladic Art and have access to the permanent collection and to the temporary exhibitions. Scan your smartphone ticket at the box office of the main building.

The Runner

Our next stop is the area around the well-known Hilton hotel, with its singular semicircular architecture.  My eye went directly at a unique work of modern art. It’s the Runner!!!  The work represents a man running and showing his speed through the position of the glass, also symbolising the speed of peoples’ daily life, giving us the illusion that he will lead us with his speed not only on our foot movements, but also on our visions.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The Runner is all made of glass and it was constructed by the sculptor Kostas Varotsos in 1988.

National Art Gallery

Passing by Michalakopoulou Street the bus stops at the National Art Gallery of Athens. We definitely hop off in order to make a visit and admire the wonderful exhibits. The collection of works is big and significant, including modern Greek art sculpts, paintings from Greek and foreign artists, with highlight the paintings from Domenikos Theotokopoulos. All the exhibits of the National Art Gallery are from the 19th and 20th century. The National Art Gallery is also known as Alexandros Soutsos Museum, because he donated to the state his moveable and real estate property, as well as all his collections, so that the Museum would be created.

Read also on Greek Travel Family:

Archaeological Museum

If you don’t disembark at the National Art Gallery I recommend you to visit the Archaeological Museum of Athens. It is an opportunity to admire the exhibits of the museum that is housed in a fabulous neoclassical building and match harmoniously with its exhibits. Its collections come from all the cultures of the Greek area from the Prehistoric till the Roman era, including a collection of Egyptian and eastern antiquities as well.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The National Archaeological Museum is located in the area of Exarchia on 28th October Street and number 44, next to the National Metsovian Technical University of Athens.
A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus

“The little horseman of Artemisio”. It is the most magnificent cast statue of a horse with a rider, preserved from Greek antiquity. It was pulled in pieces from an ancient shipwreck

The vehicle continues its route and is heading to Panepistimiou Street. A street that has to show the most beautiful possessions of Athens, because it is lighted up by three buildings – jewels. The Academia of Athens, the University of Athens and the Library of Athens. It is the so-called neoclassical Athenian trilogy, the three temples of learning, seeing them in this row when entering Panepistimiou Street with direction to Omonoia Square.

Academia of Athens

The Academia of Athens is a diamond of Greek classicism, one of a kind in this world. Its external painting has so much gold, as any other building in Athens. The statues of Greek goddess Athene and god Apollo surround the wonderful building and the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates stand of its façade and looks like they are waiting to spread their wisdom to all the young people passing by its door.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Academia of Athens

University and Library of Athens

The University of Athens, also known as Kapodistrian University, in honor of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of Greece, stands out between the two buildings because of its colour combinations and its architecture. Next to it is the Library of Athens, which is housed on a exquisite building decorated by the beautiful semicircular stairs.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The University of Athens
A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
The Library of Athens on Paneptistimiou Street



Booking.com

Kotzia Square

The vehicle started moving fast and our cameras is on fire. In a bit we arrived at Omonoia Square. The bus is moving round the square and is entering Athinas Street, so that we disembark and take pictures of Kotzia Square with the Town Hall, the pigeons and the lots of people.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Kotzia Square, where the Town Hall of Athens is located

It would be nice to go down to the square and be mixed with the people in order to get to now in person the daily life of Athenians. Athinas Street, the biggest shopping street, the street of the market, is all the goods of Athens, the soul of the city, the vibe of its life and the best place to buy cheap, thanks to its big market. In this street there is Varvakios market, a building where many merchants of, mostly, meat, fish and fruit are co-located. The area is an ideal place for spices, cheese and cured meat products. Here you can find everything you want and even in low prices.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Spice market at Athinas Street in Athens

Walk between the people and get lost in the smells, scents and colours A pandemonium of people, cars, voices and sounds of the pitchmen touting their merchandise, are blended and consist an alternative setting, but also modern and contemporary. All this situation looks like a trade fair and your walk there will definitely be delightful.

A guided tour around Athens with a Hop on Hop off bus
Tour with a hop on hop off bus around Athens

Our tour came to its end and it is time to disembark from the Hop on Hop off bus, that guided us in so many places in the city of Athens, without even get tired or stressed out by the traffic jam and the transportation to all those places I saw, photographed and enjoyed. This experience taught me that Hop on Hop off buses are a very good means of touring around a city and, ever since, I have been using this means for my guided tour at every big city I visit.

You can also plan a trip to Athens, the capital of Greece, and be sure that your travelling experiences from that trip will be unforgettable.

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mama Maria
mama Maria
Hello! I am Maria, Kathy's and Callie's mom, and everyone knows me as Mama Maria. I am a part of a big happy travel family and I am very proud of all of them. My husband and I have always been travelling but since we bought our motorhome our life has changed a lot. We have travelled almost all around Greece and Europe and I am here to help you organize your trip through my posts. History, sightseeing and culture are my favorite parts of a trip and I am passionate about writing about them on our first blog Anthomeli. Now, our adventures will be posted here on the Greek Travel Family blog and I hope you enjoy them. However, I am still a mum and a grandma and when I am not travelling I like taking care of my family and grandchildren.

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