Although Athens may not be as big as some other European capitals, one can probably say that driving here can be somewhat overwhelming. Yes, this is a city where traffic can be frenzied. If, however, you visit Autoclick rent-a-car the moment you arrive at Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos", you can be sure to have everything you need to help you through the confusing traffic. All of Autoclick's cars are equipped with a sophisticated GPS system, offering you free Wi-Fi Internet connection at all times enabling you to find your way easily, within Athens or even further afield. Even if you aim to visit some places off the beaten track, you only have to pay for your car; GPS and the Wi-Fi system are always included for free with Autoclick.
This way, you will not waste any time with complicated paper maps; your GPS will point you exactly where you need to go and will find you the best possible routes. Another great advantage offered by Autoclick's car hire service in Athens is that you avoid being dependent on the local transportation system. Regardless of the time of the day or night you want to tour the city, you will find your way with ease. And let's not forget, if you are in Athens, a city that looks a bit like an open air museum, you would not want to miss anything important, even if that means a couple of hours’ drive. Of course, that is really up to you and probably depends on the length of your stay. But, some of the attractions further afield are as doable as are the many other famous landmarks you can see within the city limits.
What to see in Athens by car
It is true - people arriving in Athens are either here on business, or just passing through, waiting for their connection to one of the incredible Greek islands. Just a few of the tourists are here to spend their entire vacation in Athens, even though there are plenty of things to do, enough, in fact, to easily fill a couple of weeks. This is, after all, the cradle of western civilization, a place where ancient ruins can be found every few metres or so, with more artefacts per square metre than any other place on earth, except perhaps for Rome. But Athens it is not only about mythology and legends, not only about archaeology and history. Athens is about a spirited atmosphere, a way of life encompassing the sound of broken plates and serious laughter. Here are a few of the sites you shouldn’t miss when in Athens:
The Ancient Agora of Athens - This was a public meeting place, once the heart of ancient Athens and the birthplace of Greek democracy, a place where social and commercial activities, religious gatherings and endless speeches were the daily custom. Monuments to look for once you have arrived here are the Temple of Hephaisteion, one of the best preserved temples in Greece, plus Stoa of Attalos, a portico sheltering Agora's museum.
South of Agora is the Areopagos hill, a landmark you can use to reach the Acropolis with ease. If you choose not to head straight to the Acropolis, you can first drive past Syntagma Square, the Arch of Hadrian and the Temple of Zeus, or what is left of it, which is known as the Columns of the Olympian Zeus, all condensed in a relatively small space. Reaching the Acropolis during the day can be a bit of a struggle in the summer months. If you would like to see it all at a more relaxed pace, you should try to do so in the early evening, when most of the tourists have returned to their hotels. The lights are pretty spectacular and you may also find a parking spot more easily.
Amongst the more important attractions on the Acropolis of Athens, the main points of interest are undoubtedly the new Acropolis Museum, the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, the Erechtheion or Erechtheum, the Theatre of Dionysus, considered to be the first theatre in the world, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the Propylaea, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
After some hours of Greek history lessons, come down to the streets of Plaka, the most beautiful, older quarter of Athens. Although the streets here are filled with tourists, you will always be able to find a table for lunch in the myriad of restaurants and taverns.
See the Tower of the Winds, also known as the Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes, and the Roman Forum before heading to Monastiraki, a flea market neighbourhood, and the old town.
In your rented car it should be easy for you to reach Piraeus, one of the Mediterranean’s largest ports and also, one of the most important harbours of the ancient world. Today, Piraeus is a bustling city, within the larger Metropolitan area of Athens, and is a good place to admire luxury yachts or chat with a local fisherman in one of the tavernas.
If you still have the energy to see some more museums, visit the Benaki Museum in downtown Athens and the Goulandris Foundation Museum of Cycladic Art, easily two of any Top Ten attractions of Athens.
A walk around Philopappos Hill, an area surrounded by pines, will afford you some of the most incredible views of Athens. From the hilltop you can see the southern part of the city, plus the Acropolis. Have a break and see the Old Observatory, the Philopappos Monument or visit the two churches.
Whether one talks about ancient ruins or natural marvels, there are several short excursions to do easily from Athens by car. Here, we have compiled a short list of recommendations.
184 km / 2 h 10 min driving
Recommended for: ancient history, archaeology
In ancient times, Delphi was considered by the Greeks as the middle of the entire earth, a sacred, magical place, acquiring considerable wealth from those seeking answers from the Oracle of Delphi. At only two hours’ drive from Athens you can see the Temple of Apollo, the Ancient Theatre from the 4th century B.C., the Roman Agora and the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
119 km / 1 h 20 min
Recommended for: ancient ruins, history, archaeology
An important centre of Hellenistic civilization and a major archaeological site, Mycenae was where Heinrich Schliemann revealed the truth behind the Trojan War and unearthed the great palace mentioned in Homer’s Ilias poems. Apart from the palace, you should see the grave of the famous Trojan hero, Agamemnon.
Argos, Tiryns, Nafplio
137 km / 1 h 45 min
Recommended for: medieval and ancient sights, history
Around 130 km away from Athens, Argos offers a theatre dating from the 4th Century and a museum. Further south, towards the sea, Tiryns impresses with its limestone fortifications and Nafplio, a seaport town in the Peloponnese, having been an important strategic point for Turks and Venetians.
Worthy of a trip is also Epidaurus, a small town considered to be a healing centre, in ancient times, dedicated to Asclepius. 70 km from Athens you could also drive to see Cape Sounion and its Temple of Poseidon. A bit further north, you might visit the legendary fields of Marathon, where Persians and Greeks battled in 490 B.C. Here you can visit an archaeological museum and a monument dedicated to Greek soldiers lost in battles. Continue your trip by car to the east and see Rhamnous on the peninsula of Attika and also, the ruins of Nemesis and Thetis, all pretty well preserved.
Regardless of the purpose of your journey, having a car with you in Athens will be a blessing. Although some parts of the city are better seen on foot, places like Cape Sounion, Marathon, Argolis and the Argolid Peninsula would be difficult to reach without a car. Autoclick's low-cost cars are available as soon as you enter Greece and are at your disposal throughout your stay.