Athens: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Athens is not what we expect it to be. Not by a long shot.

Our first impression — a eyebrow twist of shock followed by a “What the f*ck happened here?” Athens is.. urban. Urban the likes of Los Angeles.. urban. You’ll have to venture deep to find the history you came for. But when you do, you’ll still be left wondering if the good truly out ways the bad.

Here’s how we way Athens — the good, the bad and the ugly — in all it’s glory. I’ll do this in reverse, saving the best for last, so as to not turn you off of Athens completely.

The Bad

Druggies and prostitutes is bad every which way you say it. And they line the streets of Athens by the plenty.

I’ve only been this nervous wandering the city while traveling one other time, but this time, I was damn near petrified to walk the streets of Athens during the day let alone late night. I wouldn’t have walked had I known I would be in the middle of some drug infested, whore house headquarters. (I don’t know if staying near Omonia Square had anything to do with this.)

Fair warning: When you’re visiting a politically chaotic, slightly corrupted city like Athens, where riots can break out at any moment, DO NOT take pictures of the police. You can get arrested. I came close but left with just a few dirty stares enough to scare me sh*tless.

The Ugly

It’s not hard to see the ugly in Athens. Graffiti, trash and more graffiti — it’s everywhere. Athens is one ugly city. 

Athens
The Good

But at least your visit won’t be a complete and total waste. Afterall, most of you will probably come for the history. It’s the only reason why we came, other than the fact our cruise begins here.

Athens

When you first lay eyes on Athens, it’s hard to not be turned off. It takes a little time to digest. Wouldn’t blame you, I half wanted to board the cruise ship early and skip Athens altogether.

But we came for the history (and souvlaki and frappe) and that’s exactly what we got — the beauty of Athens. Make sure to hit up historical sites such as the Parthenon, the Agora and the Acropolis. And in particular, make sure to wander the surrounding streets filled with charming shops, restaurants and cafes.

Ermou Street, a pedestrian only street, is filled with great shopping! It’s one of my favorite streets in Athens.

Athens The Temple of Olympian Zeus

Once you can get that initial dislike feeling out of your system — you’ll find the history of Athens, thousand years of Gods and of mythology, of the Parthenon and of Democracy — is alive and well. You just have to dig a little deeper (and ignore everything else).

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  • http://www.thetravelhack.com The Travel Hack

    A refreshing view on Athens. I’ve never been there but ive only ever heard about how beautiful it is. I guess this shows that there is always a different side to every country and you have to take the good, the bad and the ugly to really see the country.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea it was a lot to take in. No more than 2 days for me. Athens has a lot of good, particularly in and around historical sites like the Parthenon, the Agora and the Acropolis. Beautiful shopping districts like Ermou Streets and delicious souvlakis and frappe. You just have to be prepared for when you venture outside of these area for the bad and the ugly. 🙂

  • http://www.thetravelhack.com The Travel Hack

    A refreshing view on Athens. I’ve never been there but ive only ever heard about how beautiful it is. I guess this shows that there is always a different side to every country and you have to take the good, the bad and the ugly to really see the country.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Yea it was a lot to take in. No more than 2 days for me. Athens has a lot of good, particularly in and around historical sites like the Parthenon, the Agora and the Acropolis. Beautiful shopping districts like Ermou Streets and delicious souvlakis and frappe. You just have to be prepared for when you venture outside of these area for the bad and the ugly. 🙂

  • Mireille

    I was almost shocked when we arrived in Athens a few days ago! It reminded me of central cities in South Africa, where I come from. Then you know that there is a big problem – taking a few steps backwards from civilisation. Other than the Acropolis and a few other archaeological gems, I won’t ever want to visit Athens again. It’s a pity really – to think that Athens used to be the centre of civilization at one point in time. We also lived near Omonia square – the “hotel” looked more like a seedy motel. It was a terrible experience!

  • Mireille

    I was almost shocked when we arrived in Athens a few days ago! It reminded me of central cities in South Africa, where I come from. Then you know that there is a big problem – taking a few steps backwards from civilisation. Other than the Acropolis and a few other archaeological gems, I won’t ever want to visit Athens again. It’s a pity really – to think that Athens used to be the centre of civilization at one point in time. We also lived near Omonia square – the “hotel” looked more like a seedy motel. It was a terrible experience!

    • Maria Anagnostopoulou

      Omonia square is the worst area of Athens. All the cities have a bad area and Omonia is in Athens. Except the archaelogical sites, there are great areas in central Athens for visit during day and night and very very safe. Gazi, Petralona, Mets, Thession, Lycabettus, Kolonaki, Plaka, Philopappou etc.

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