I have landed in Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport multiple times over the years but has only been in the last 2 years that I have actually had the chance to get out of the airport and do anything. Previously it would be a typical land-sleep-takeoff situation, but thankfully the last couple of times have been different. Having a number of days to spend here has given me the chance to do some real exploring and these for me have been the best places to go from Athens airport.
I should of course start off with Athens itself, an absolutely gorgeous city which is steeped in history. The Acropolis for example, is an ancient citadel which has been wonderfully preserved and this sits in the heart of the city. Athens is a mountainous city which wears its past on its sleeve and a couple of days here is very enjoyable.
To the Islands
Greece is surrounded by over 600 islands and my experience of them so far has been absolutely wonderful. I first visited Mykonos and stayed in the glorious Adorno Suites hotel, check it out here https://www.adornosuites.com/, the hotel and the service was outstanding and the island itself, wow! Stunning beaches, amazing food, quaint little villages and towns and some of the most outstanding sunsets I’ve witnessed. You could also go to Hotels Chania Crete, Naxos, Rhodes, Santorini or any one of these beautiful little isles. If you are in Athens, the islands are just a seaplane or a ferry ride away.
Sofia is the capital of nearby Bulgaria and with a flight time of just 1 hour 20 it makes for a great option from Athens airport. There are a number of budget airlines which offer this route and you can grab flights for around $30 return! Sofia is a super chilled out capital which feels like a kind of young and excitable city. There are old mosques and Red Army monuments to discover, many national parks to wander through and the art scene here is very cool indeed, a lovely place to spend a weekend.
I had never seen much of Turkey before so when I saw that the flight to a place called Izmir was just over an hour away, I had to go exploring and see what I could find. They call this place the Pearl of the Aegean and having gone not really expecting much, it actually blew me away. This is a place entrenched in history, discovered by the Ancient Greeks, destroyed by the Romans and rebuilt by Alexander the Great before joining the Ottoman Empire, this is a history buff’s idea of paradise. There are many archaeological sites throughout the city and the Velvet Castle at the top of the Kadifekale hill provides the types of views that helps you to understand were it got its name from. Flights are short and cheap and the city itself is magical.
If you happen to be at a loose end in Athens, these are my top recommendations for what to do.