Taking an Athens city tours should be on everyone’s bucket list, not just those with an interest in ecotourism. This wonderful city is rich with historical monuments that are likely to fascinate even the most seasoned traveller – explore Hadrian’s Arch, wonder at the Temple of Jupiter and revel in the ancient history of the Panathinaikos Marble Stadium.
There’s no shortage of things to do in the Greek city of Athens and it’s achievable to explore all of these whilst bearing your carbon footprint in mind.
Getting around on your Athens city tour
The transport system in Athens has recently been subject to an overhaul in order to address the problem of pollution in the outlying urban areas. The new urban transport system has replaced all buses with more environmentally friendly vehicles which use new technology.
In order to travel on the Athens Public Transport Network, including the Metro, you will need to have a valid ticket or travelcard. Each ticket can be used on any one of the different travel systems, or you can purchase an integrated ticket which allows you to use all OASA public transport. These are valid for 90 minutes, so if the time period expires during the course of your journey, then the ticket must be revalidated.
You can purchase a monthly or even annual travel card which allows you to travel around the city on an unlimited basis by the public transport option shown on the ticket. The penalty for not having a valid ticket is 60 times that of the ticket face value, so you should take care to ensure you have chosen the correct option before setting off on your Athens city tour.
Walking your way around an Athens city tour
Why not enlist the help of a local to help you find your way around Athens? After all, locals are always going to be the people that can really immerse you in the culture and show you places that many tourists would never dream existed. You can take a guided walking tour of the city and explore the bustling pedestrianized streets, visit the home of the first Olympics and travel by metro to see the ancient sites.
Alternatively you can take a cultural Athens city tour and explore the city from top to bottom, wandering through flea markets and examining the hand-made leather goods on sale. This tour also takes in Agora, where merchants in Greek and Roman times bargained with each other and visits the 17th and 18th century houses of Thisson, ending up at the mighty Acropolis.
Athens Eco Art Festival
Clean Up Greece has been running since 1999 and has organised events around Greece which are designed to raise awareness of green issues and promote environmental awareness through culture.
Every year, art exhibitions, films and conferences are organised which aim to teach audiences about caring for the planet and in Athens, the annual Eco Art Festival promotes environmentally friendly living through the medium of culture through May and June.
A good base for your Athens city tour
Finding a good, eco-friendly hotel isn’t always easy but it is becoming much more so the world over, as environmental issues become more important to people from all over the world. In Athens, a good choice would be the Athens Ledra Marriott Hotel, which has developed and put in place a comprehensive environmental improvement program.
This five-star establishment offers the best in terms of luxury and has a dedicated ‘Green Team’ which have replaced more than 5000 fluorescent lamps with low consumption bulbs, many equipped with motion sensors so that they are only lit when necessary. Energy-saving measures have also been implemented and the hotel’s heating systems now operate on natural gas only.
The Hotel Grande Bretagne has been given the ‘Green Key’ eco-label for 2012 and regards itself as “a healthy, proactive and socially responsible organisation”. The hotel claims that their social responsibility program is based on three key pillars of sustainability: “Environment, Community and People.”
Food and shopping in Athens
For the purist, Avocado is the only full-service vegetarian and vegan restaurant to be found in Athens and they serve a variety of foods including entrees, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, desserts and organic wines.
They also serve super-food juices, smoothies and handmade bread and cakes for those who just fancy grabbing a snack on their Athens city tour.
For the more adventurous, or those who prefer to prepare their own meals, why not pay a visit to the Fish and Flea Market on Athinas between Armoudiou and Aristogeitonos. If you’re an animal lover or somewhat squeamish about the sight of carcasses then this may not be the trip for you as many of the meats are prepared in the open.
There are other markets to choose from too, Varnakios is much like a supermarket and here you will be able to find every ingredient you can imagine for preparing authentic Greek dishes.
On Fridays, the organic farmer’s market is held in Platia Dexamani in Kolonaki from 9am to 1pm.
Athens is a city quite literally dripping with areas of historical interest and as an ecotourism destination, there are plenty of options to satisfy even the most dedicated green traveller. As with any trip, it’s worth carrying out some research of your own before setting off and planning your journey and activities out before you go.
This will ensure that you get to make the very best of this wonderful city and gives you the chance to discover the best way to fully immerse yourself in the rich and varied cultural soup that is the city of Athens.