Visiting the Acropolis of Athens in off-season! Parthenon of Athena, ancient Greece archaeology museum.
Flashback to Athens, Greece and pirouettes of joy… I’m on my way to the Parthenon, the iconic temple of Athena and symbol of the city.
Photographer Joey Wong and I visited Athens during the off-season, which we recommend for multiple reasons. Ticket prices are cheaper, the weather is not too hot, and there are fewer tourists around — meaning you can take your time to explore, and get marvellous photos without anyone in the frame.
We hope you enjoy these outfit photos, inspired by Greek goddesses and shot amidst ancient ruins.
The Acropolis looms over the city, and is impossible not to recognize. (This citadel includes the famous white-columned Parthenon, as well as the 5th century Propylaia, Erechtheion and Temple of Athena Nike.)
Get into an Uber or taxi (prices are cheap in Athens), and have the driver drop you off at the foot of the hill. Then, it’s a short walk up to the main entrance and ticket booth.
Monastiraki, the neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, is worth spending time in. This classic area has cobblestone paths with whitewashed houses, outdoor cafes, and pockets of nature.
As you walk up to the Acropolis, which means “highest point,” you get the sense that you are ascending Mount Olympus — mythical home of the Greek gods.
Athens is an ideal destination for those who love ancient culture, myths and art.
The capital has been inhabited for 2500 years, and archaeologists are continuing to uncover surprising artifacts.
(Click below for more from this Gothic designer):
We came in late March, which is right before the start of the tourist season. The timing was ideal: the sun was out but it wasn’t overly hot, and the attractions weren’t crowded.
Packing tip for Athens: bring sunglasses, wear layers (it gets chillier at night in the spring), and choose shoes that are great for walking (the Acropolis has a rocky ground).
Normally, the entrance fee to the Acropolis is 20 Euros — but from November 1st to March 31st, it’s half price! There is also a “multi-site ticket” for €30, which is valid for 5 days, and lets you visit this and six other archaeological sites.
It’s not possible to buy tickets online (unless you go with a guide), so give yourself plenty of time to line up at the main ticket office. Once again, we were glad we came in the off season, since the wait only took 10-15 minutes and the weather was pleasant.
My friends and I chose the 10 Euro entry, which let us access the Citadel, North and South slopes (and all the main structures). We loved walking slowly up to the Parthenon, taking in the sights along the way.
One of the first ruins we encountered was the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus. If we were here in the height of summer, it would be impossible to take photos without others in the background.
No need to hire a guide for the Acropolis, as there are many explanatory signs along the way. What a treat to view these two-thousand-year-old remains right up close, in their original environment.
My outfit of the day is inspired by the Greek goddesses. This Morph8ne long sleeve shirt and other items are available below (click to see):
I felt as if I were channeling Athena, as I looked over the grand theater.
For those who aren’t familiar with the mythology, she is the Greek goddess of wisdom and war. The calm-tempered Athena only fought for just causes, and helped out heroes including Odysseus, Jason, and Hercules.
Originally, there were several temples dedicated to Athena in this same location, lost and rebuilt throughout time.
During the Golden Age of Athens (460–430 BC), the Parthenon and other famous temples were built to honor Athena — and still remain standing, to this day. This project was led by Pericles and brought to life by the sculptor Phidias, and architects Ictinus and Callicrates.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre on the southwest slope, with a remarkable “ancient meets modern” look. It was completed in 161 AD, but damaged by east Germanic tribes in 267 AD.
The Odeon was renovated in 1950, and remains an active concert venue with a capacity of 5000 (the Tokyo Ballet and Maria Callas have performed here).
I’ve actually been to the Acropolis years ago — but it was during the peak of summer, and I felt stifled by the tourists and humidity. This time, I avoided the busy season, and the experience was a million times better.
Instead of being pressed along by the crowds and searching for shade, I was able to take my time to wander. I could stop to read the placards, take unobstructed photos, and truly enjoy the sights. Plus, as you can see, the weather was pure “nectar of the gods.”
So many epic viewpoints, as the elevation gets higher…
Almost at the top! I’m standing right below the Propylaia, or monumental entrance to the Acropolis. It is a majestic entryway, with colonnades in the Ionic and Doric styles.
(My faux python purple clutch is by Makeup Junkie Bags.)
Walk through the Propylaia, and there she is… The Parthenon! The symbol of ancient Greece, democracy, Western civilization and culture.
Obligatory photo in front of the Parthenon, on the Acropolis. It’s apparently one of the most Instagrammed travel destinations.
The Parthenon has been through a lot, to put it mildly. After the fall of Greece, it was used as a Byzantine church, a Cathedral under the Venetians, a mosque during the Ottoman Empire rule, and even a harem.
In 1687, it was significantly damaged by an explosion. In the early 1800s, Lord Elgin stripped most of the sculptures and put them in the British Museum, where they mostly remain today.
Despite all this, the pillars stand strong. The architects of the Acropolis were very much ahead of their time.
Next to the Parthenon, it’s easy to spot the Erechteion — a temple dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. The north side features the famous “Porch of the Caryatids,” or six Ionic columns carved to look like Greek maidens. (That’s quite the load they are carrying on their heads!)
These are actually plaster copies of the caryatid sculptures. A few of the originals are preserved in the Athens Acropolis Museum, while others are in the British Museum.
The Greek government is still trying to get the “Elgin marbles” returned to the Acropolis, but it is a slow process. Fortunately, many other museums and collectors worldwide have sent back pieces.
When you look out over the city from the cliff, it’s easy to understand why this has been a spiritual site for millennia.
I recommend coming to the Acropolis early in the day, so that you can catch the light and take your time to explore.
I grew up reading stories about the Greek gods, and enjoyed seeing how the mythology was woven into the landscape of Athens.
Above is the Areopagus, or Ares Rock. Ares (the god of War) was supposed to have been tried here for the murder of Poseidon’s son Halirrhothius.
In another story, Ares was fighting the local Greeks on the mountain. Athena felt he was being unjust, so she hurled a giant rock at him and knocked him out cold — which you can still see on the top of the hill today.
One of my favorite gods is Dionysus (I’m standing in his stadium). He represents wine, fertility and ritual madness.
The wild festivals that celebrated him also spurred the development of Greek theatre.
Outside the Acropolis, we stopped for ouzo and Greek snacks.
Then, we took a short walk to the new Acropolis Museum. (Address: Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42)
This archaeological museum opened in 2009, and focuses on artifacts found during Acropolis excavations. From the Bronze Age to the Roman and Byzantine empires, the exhibitions show the many layers of history found in this important site.
The museum is beautifully designed, with lots of natural light. Visitors are encouraged to see the remains in chronological order, and learn about the works from multi-media displays (such as 3D renderings of “kouroi” statues of nude male youths).
On the right, I got to see the original Caryatids up close, and watch a video about how they restored the marble with laser technology.
We reached the top level at sunset, which let us take in this 360 view of the Acropolis and mountains.
This uppermost level re-creates the frieze of the Parthenon, with both plaster and original pieces. Visitors can walk around and see the carvings in their original position, which depict the Great Panathenaia festival for the Goddess Athena.
Talk about a perfect day in Athens! I’ll remember this trip for years to come.
The Acropolis is beautiful any time of the year, but I suggest that you come in late spring or late fall for a quieter, more leisurely experience.
You can find more Athens tips at DiscoverGreece.com, a great resource for planning a trip here.
I leave you with our Athens travel vlog, which features the Parthenon as well as the modern side of the city. Please also take a moment to watch — I hope it inspires you to come to Greece.