I’ve heard many people complain that there’s nothing to do in Athens on a Sunday as many shops and businesses close, and while it is not a day for ‘getting things done’, I still find there is plenty to do. I’ve come up with a list of six things to do on a Sunday so you can soak in the non-commercial side of the Athens and enjoy a more relaxing day in this controversial city..
On Sundays at 10:30am the Official Ceremony takes place where the whole Presidential Guard march from their barracks to the tomb followed by music from the military band. While you’re there check out their shoes, those pom-poms may look a bit stupid but they hide a deadly point used for fighting during the war- they also used the pom-poms for polishing their shoes!
If you’re an early riser, before the guard’s ceremony, you could head to one of the many churches to witness a Greek Orthodox service first hand. Each church usually runs a number of services on a Sunday but the most popular time for Athenians is 07:00-09:30am. The Cathedral on Mitropoleos Street and the little church of Kapnikarea on Ermou are not even five minutes walk from here.
In Athens Sunday is often a day that you can see the archeological sites for free. If you happened to be here on one of the Sundays I’m about to mention you can take advantage. The Acropolis and all the Archeological sites are all free for visitors on Sundays between the 1st of November and 31st March each year and during April, May, June and October the first Sunday of every month is free. So you can see everything without spending a penny, except you’ll probably be pretty hungry after all that walking and on the lookout for a good restaurant. Not to worry though, unlike the shops, the restaurants and cafes stay open so you’ll find plenty of places to eat and drink.
If you’re like me and love searching through lots of bits and pieces to find that one off thing you need go no further than Monastiraki Flea Market, which is held literally seconds from here. On Sunday morning to early afternoon jewelery makers to sock sellers to antique dealers litter the streets of Monastiraki selling their wares. If you see something you like don’t forget that the prices are usually negotiable ;)
So if you’ve managed to do all of the above and still have lots of energy you could climb Lycabettus hill to get the best vantage point in Athens. I recommend going just before sunset, you’ll get to see the sun go down beneath the mountains and the city light up beneath you. And if you are a bit tired you don’t need to worry about climbing the whole way as you can take a taxi or the funicular. There’s also a restaurant and a little chapel called Ayios Yeoryios right at the top.
Sightseeing, unorganised shopping and lots of walking not really your thing? Well you could take to exploring many of the bars and cafes around Monastiraki, Plaka and Exarchia. There are loads of little places that double up as art galleries; just poke your head into anywhere that looks remotely interesting (and often even those that don’t) and you’ll come across some interesting places as well as some art. I’ve learnt during my time in Athens that things are not always as they first appear. I’ve found clubs in what I’ve thought were apartment blocks and large art galleries at the back of what I’ve thought were tiny cafes. So it does pay to be nosy, sometimes!