I’m Sorry but I Just Didn’t Love Athens

I had high expectations when I visited Athens, Greece on my way to Crete. I had seen photos of the Acropolis and many other ruins. As a kid, I had read about the Greek gods and Greek mythology. As an adult, I had heard other travelers rave about Greece. Athens had been touted as a thriving city full of history and good food. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself, so of course I planned on spending a few days in Athens en route to Crete, where I would be spending a week.

Just try to ignore all of the construction and scaffolding all around

Alas, Athens seemed dirty, overly-crowded, and noisy upon first impression. Yes, I understand that Athens is a large urban city, but I don’t think other cities of comparable size are all like this. Some parts of Athens didn’t seem safe and were definitely sketchy. It was also unrelentingly hot, which didn’t help any.

One of the not-so-great ruins sites in Athens

Some of the ruins were a bit disappointing, too. The Parthenon was covered in scaffolding and the ruins of the Ancient Agora were a bit difficult to find because they were so nondescript. The Acropolis was pretty cool but had crazy-long lines, which isn’t cool when the sun is beating down on you.

Crowds and scaffolding in Athens- check and check!

We did stay at a nice hotel with a rooftop pool and bar, Melia Athens, so it wasn’t all bad. The food was really good as well and we especially enjoyed the light and flaky pastries from the abundant bakeries around Athens.

Overall, I’d say Greece has much more to offer than what you find in Athens. I felt like when we reached Crete after leaving Athens, it was like being in another country. Crete was full of beautiful scenery, well-maintained historical sites and ruins, and the food was delicious everywhere we went. My daughter fell in love with the yogurt with fresh honey drizzled on top while we were there and still talks about how great that was. Probably my favorite part of Crete, though, was the beaches. We went to several beaches in Crete and loved Elafonissi the best.

Although we didn’t go to any other islands in Greece, I’d happily go back to explore them. I think I’d skip Athens, though!

What about you guys? Have any of you been disappointed in a place you’ve visited?

Happy travels!



Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

15 thoughts on “I’m Sorry but I Just Didn’t Love Athens”

  1. Oooh, I heard great things about Crete. I liked Athens when I was there, but I totally sympathize with having something being taken away by the excess scaffolding. Also I was there with a friend who is a Cypriot, so having someone who is familiar with the culture, history, and speaking the language makes a big difference. I LOVED Santorini and it’s truly one of the most magical places on earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What I liked about Crete was how many options we had as far as things to do. If we would have wanted to just sit on a beach the whole time we could have, but there are also caves, gorges, and hiking everywhere. Plus the people were so welcoming and friendly in Crete. I’ve heard great things about Santorini. I would definitely go there when (if) I go back to Greece.

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  2. I appreciate your honesty, especially about a highly romanticized city. I feel sometimes places are “built up” in the imagination so much that the actual thing can be a let down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Paula. I agree. I also think often too many people are hesitant to say they didn’t like a place, especially one that’s hyped up like Athens. It’s like everyone just wants to say what a wonderful time they had and no one mentions the places that aren’t so great or weren’t what they expected.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “It’s like everyone just wants to say what a wonderful time they had and no one mentions the places that aren’t so great or weren’t what they expected.”

    This is a common thing you see on Fakebook. Everyone wants to appear that they’re living a charmed life, with magical vacations.

    I like Athens a lot, but now that you mention it, the ruins in Rome were much better. Just hadn’t really thought about it before.

    The museums and food were great in Athens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right about Fakebook. Also agree about the ruins in Rome being better. Athens did have some redeeming qualities like the food as you mentioned but it just didn’t live up to the hype for me.


  4. It’s refreshing to read an honest post, thank you for sharing. The place I’ve truly been underwhelmed by was Paris. In all honesty we did visit during the winter but most places were closed or empty and I felt the general attitude was unwelcoming for a first time tourist. We’ll give it another go one spring/summer but at least my expectation will be managed this time around..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thessaloniki is a suprisingly better city to visit in Greece than Athens. Firstly it is compact with most of the Roman and earlier sites mainly located in the city centre. Right now the construction of the yet to start metro system is finding so many wonderful relics from the past. Many baths have been found. A clean lot those Salonikans. Salonika, the city’s abbreviated name continues to be part of the ancient Silk Road – southern extension within Europe. Lots of hotel choices for all pockets and a good transport system. Highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

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