I knew the Acropolis was going to be a highlight of my trip, and I also knew it was going to be insanely crowded. It’s the biggest attraction in Athens, and I was there at the peak of high season.
So I woke up early, and went to stand in line. I got there at 7:30am when they open at 8am, and I was the only one in line until 7:50am. That surprised me!
As soon as they opened the gates, I practically sprinted to the top (yes, I was incredibly out of breath by the top!) so I could try to get some pictures without other people in them. It worked! I had just a few minutes where I was able to explore the top and get pictures without masses of tourists crowding the background.
I snapped as many pictures as I could as quickly as I could, and then when it got crowded, slowed down to really enjoy it. I was also excited to be at the top early, because I was able to see and hear the Greek soldiers raising the Greek flag over the site and singing the national anthem to start the day. It was a really cool moment. (But alas, I didn’t get any pictures of that!)
They’re doing a lot of restoration work on the Parthenon, and honestly, I can’t wait to come back and see it again when they’re finished! They talk about how the geometry of the building makes it seem like it’s alive, and they’re right. Pictures don’t do it justice. To walk around it, and see the views of Athens, was just breathtaking.
The other buildings at the top of the Acropolis are interesting, even if they’re not quite as amazing as the Parthenon. I really liked the Erechtheion because I thought it looked interesting.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the heroes of Ancient Greece coming there and being there. I thought of Pericles and how he must have been, and then I thought about all the history the Parthenon has seen. It’s just incredible; words can’t do it justice. The feeling is majestic!
After exploring the top of the site, I started making my way back down to see more of the ruins on the sides of the Acropolis. I passed all the tourists coming up, and holy crap! In the hour I’d been at the top, there was now a giant line snaking around all of the stairs to get up to the top. I’m so glad I went so early! If you’re not the first person in line, and if you’re not sprinting up the sides, then you’re going to get stuck in masses of tourists. I recommend a solid training plan to be able to get up the side quickly. (Kidding not kidding)
There are two amphitheaters that are well-preserved on the side of the Acropolis, and it’s crazy to think that the entertainment essentially invented at that site is what we’re still entertained by today.
I walked around the whole perimeter of the Acropolis before heading on. It was practically deserted in some places – I think most people come on tours to do the main parts of the site and then head on. But it was fun to feel like an explorer, and the perimeter route had some incredible views of the city.
Then I was done. I was surprised how quick the whole visit was – I feel like I really took my time, enjoyed it, and experienced it all, and I was easily done in less than 2.5 hours.
But for those hours, I loved immersing myself in the history of the site, and the history of so much of what we know as civilization.