Piraeus, the port at Athens, is a major jumping-off point for cruises in the Mediterranean and Aegean, and for hydrofoils to the Greek islands. It’s about 30 minutes by car to most of what you’ll want to see in the city. Allow longer, though, as traffic in Athens is notorious.
What We Love
The Acropolis Museum: With 150,000 square feet of exhibition space, well-curated collections, and excellent guides, this museum is as fascinating as the ancient site itself.
Café Culture: Greeks take breaks throughout the day to meet their friends for coffee. Do the same at happening spots like the rooftop 360 Cocktail Bar (which favors caffeine during the day) in Monastiraki.
Best Known For
The Acropolis: Greece’s great architectural and historical marvel needs no introduction. If you can, go in the evening to avoid the worst crowds — and the heat.
Ermou Street: The lively pedestrian street runs from posh Syntagma Square to the newly revitalized Gazi district (now a nightlife center) and is lined with some of the city’s best shopping and dining establishments.
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Who It's Best For
Food Lovers: The Greeks know how to eat. Don’t leave without enjoying a street-side souvlaki and a sweet snack of lukumades, the Hellenic version of beignets, drizzled with honey and cinnamon.
History Buffs: Choose among dozens of archaeological sites, such as the Ancient Agora, the theaters of Dionysos and Herodes Atticus, the ancient Kerameikos cemetery, the Roman Forum, the columns of the temple of Olympian Zeus, and Hadrian’s Gate.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Protests Are a Fact of Life: It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in any danger, but if you get caught in a demonstration, it can be unsettling. They’re announced in advance, though, so hoteliers or cruise directors can tell you what areas to avoid.
The Financial Crisis Isn’t Entirely Over: The EU pulled Greece back from the brink, but the economy still isn’t exactly rock-solid. It can’t hurt to have cash at the ready.
Ann Abel is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Departures.