We have already been asked why we chose to go through Greece on our journey: apart from the sun and the Greek islands, we wanted to travel through ancient Greece, the one that made us dream so much through our history books! And we were not disappointed: Delphi, Corinth, Athens, Epidaurus… The wonder was there, thanks to the architectural masterpieces, monumental remains left by a great civilization that ruled 3000 years ago.
Athens, a great historical spot
Acropolis of Athens
We don’t introduce you Athens Acropolis: this natural rocky highland, close to the sea, allowed the Greeks to build a real citadel 2500 years ago! Among the monuments erected and still visible, there is of course the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the war goddess Athena and city emblem, the Propylæa, Dionysus theater and Herod Atticus odeon. But with a high entrance fee (€20/person!), we have preferred to admire the Acropolis free of charge from the top of Mount Lycabettus at nightfall and from the rooftops of “360°” and “Couleur Locale” bars during the day (don’t hesitate to nicely ask the waiters to take some pictures, without feeling obliged to consume).
The Panathenaic Stadium could be summed up like this: a 185m long track, surrounded by white marble stands, where Greek athletes challenged each other naked during the Gymnics Games in ancient times. But what makes this site much more special is its story: inaugurated in 1930 BC, the Stadium was able to rise from its ashes to host the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and those, more recently, in 2004! With a very affordable price (€5/person), we agree that the visit was really worth it: explanations provided by the audioguide (included) and the visit of the museum dedicated to the modern Olympic Games were very instructive… As a bonus: the view on the Parthenon from the stands and the possibility to take nice souvenir pictures on the track and athletes’ podium!
Other sites of Athens
Tourist offices will surely try to sell you a pass at €30 (valid for 5 days) giving free access to the Parthenon, Ancient Agora, Lykeion site, Hadrian’s bookshop, the Keramikos museum, Zeus Temple (Olympieion) and the Roman Agora…
If the offer seems advantageous on paper, it’s not the case in reality … Because most sites can be seen for free from outside, as you can see with our photos! If you are limited by money, we advise you to keep your savings to visit other sites of Ancient Greece a little more spectacular such as Delphi or Epidaurus – which we will talk about a little later in this article.
Delphi, the prophetic city of Ancient Greece
Sanctuary dedicated to Apollo, Delphi owes its reputation to the famous Pythi oracles, a prophetess who delivered God words to the men who came to consult her… Delphi, true mystical site or divine disenchantment? The visit (entrance fee: €12/person) starts with a slow ascent through the votive chapels, places where offerings are left. Halfway up, the famous Apollo temple is taking shape: we did a break, full of admiration in front of the imposing foundations (60m long) and the 6 Doric columns still standing! We kept visiting with the theater and Delphi stadium used during the panhellenic celebrations, rather well preserved. We ended learning more at the museum (entrance fee included in the ticket): exhibition of votive objects and statues found on the site, explanations on the site organization and of the famous Pythia… Don’t count on us to tell you everything, on the other hand take the time to visit the Tholos and Athena Pronaia temple remains located at the bottom of the site (free entrance). Finally, if 12€ may seem at first a bit expensive, we absolutely did not regret this expense which includes the conservation costs (very high!) and museum entrance!
It’s the best preserved ancient Greek theater: almost all original limestone stands, an extraordinary capacity of 12,000 spectators and perfect acoustics from the stage center… If you have a talent for singing, try it for yourself – if not, a simple whisper can be enough! For the ticket price (€12/person), you can also admire the ancient sanctuary of Asclepius remains and Epidaurus museum. The only small disappointment: the ruins, less well preserved than those of Delphi for example, have often been restored with modern materials, which distort the whole in our eyes.
Passing through Corinth, we stopped by the ancient city of Corinth: a large fenced plot of land that gives us a glimpse of the foundations of ancient houses and shops, of thermal baths, as well as of Apollo temple. For budget reasons and on wise advice, we chose not to pay the entrance fee to this site and its museum (€8/person): undoubtedly, Delphi and Epidaurus sites that we had visited before are more spectacular and better preserved! However, for the curious, this site can also be observed for free from outside!
Our tops (and budget tips)
If you decide to visit Ancient Greece in a short time (or with a limited budget) and find yourself choosing between several sites, we advise you to visit the impressive Delphi site, lying on a mountainside, and Epidaurus for its grandiose theater! On the other hand, if you only visit Athens, then get the €30 pass which gives you access to several sites over 5 days. As for us, we only paid the entrance fee for the Panathenaic Stadium which we really liked!
About the entrance fees, they have varied a lot from one year to another: we do not guaranteed that the entrance fees we have indicated in this post will remain valid in the future. If you want to know the right prices, there is only one reliable source: the Greek Ministry of Culture website, information section.
We end this post with a very useful budget tip: you can visit these sites for free during the Greek national days (March 6, April 18, May 18, last weekend of September, October 28) and the first Sunday of November, December, January, February and March.
Enjoy your visit!
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* Post written according to our personal experience *