The Highlights of Athens Private Shore Excursion 8 Hours

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  • 8 hr

Highlights • An 8 hours private shore excursion in Athens • Visit both the Acropolis of Athens with its Parthenon & the new Acropolis museum • Visit the picturesque neighborhood of Plaka and have a free time to enjoy lunch in a Greek restaurant • Highly recommended for cruise passengers visiting Athens for a whole day or for several hours • Professional English speaking tour driver • Travelers can customize the tour within the itinerary!

Itinerary Details

Operated by: Athens Tours Greece

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: Piraeus

Pick up from your cruise ship pier at Piraeus port. We will drive along the coastal road of Saronic Gulf to enjoy the Piraeus and Athens riviera. The Port of Piraeus is the chief seaport of Athens, Greece, located on the Saronic Gulf on the western coasts of the Aegean Sea. Piraeus port is the largest port in Greece, home to Europe's biggest passenger port, and as such is a huge draw for cruise ships from around the world bringing tourists eager to explore this centuries-old city, and one of the largest in Europe. But yet another major draw is the fact that it's easy to visit Athens because it's located nearby. The Greek capital city of Athens is just 12 kilometers or 7 miles from Piraeus port. We will drive directly to the Acropolis to admire the Temple of Democracy!

Duration: 40 minutes

Pass By: Acropolis

The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens, and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world. In the second half of the 5th-century bc, Athens, following the victory against the Persians and the establishment of democracy, took a leading position amongst the other city-states of the ancient world. In the age that followed, as thought and art flourished, an exceptional group of artists put into effect the ambitious plans of Athenian statesman Pericles and, under the inspired guidance of the sculptor Pheidias, transformed the rocky hill into a unique monument of thought and the arts. The most important monuments were built during that time: the Parthenon, built by Ictinus, the Erechtheon, the Propylaea, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, designed by Mnesicles, and the small temple Athena Nike.

Stop At: Propylaea

The Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis was built on the west side of the hill, where the gate of the Mycenaean fortification once stood. The first propylon, or gate, was constructed in the age of Peisistratos (mid-sixth century BC), after the Acropolis had become a sanctuary dedicated to Athena. A new propylon, built-in 510-480 BC, was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC and repaired after the end of the Persian Wars, during the fortification of the Acropolis by Themistokles and Kimon. The monumental Propylaia admired by modern visitors was part of the great Periclean building program. They have erected in 437-432 BC, after the completion of the Parthenon, by architect Mnesikles. The original building plan was particularly daring both in architectural and artistic terms but was never completed. The pie-shaped building of Pentelic marble frames beautifully the entrance to the sacred precinct. The central section, the propylon proper, had an outer (west) and inner (east) facade...

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At: Temple of Athena Nike

The temple of Athena Nike stands at the southeast edge of the sacred rock atop a bastion, which in Mycenaean times protected the entrance to the Acropolis. The Classical temple, designed by architect Kallikrates and built-in 426-421 BC, succeeded earlier temples also dedicated to Athena Nike. The first one of these, a mid-sixth century BC wooden temple was destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. The eschara, the altar believed to have supported the cult statue of the goddess, dates to this period. Under Kimon, c. 468 BC, a small temple of tufa was erected around the base of the statue and a new altar was built outside the temple. The foundations of these early temples and altars are preserved inside the bastion under the floor of the Classical structure. Pausanias (1, 22, 4) refers to this temple as that of the Apteros Nike, or Wingless Victory, and mentions that the cult statue of the goddess had no wings so that she would never leave Athens. Apart from the cult of Athena Nike other...

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At: Parthenon

The Parthenon, dedicated by the Athenians to Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the height of its power. It is also the finest monument on the Acropolis in terms of both conception and execution. Built between 447 and 438 BC, as part of the greater Periklean building project, this so-called Periklean Parthenon (Parthenon III) replaced an earlier marble temple (Parthenon II), begun after the victory at the battle of Marathon at approximately 490 BC and destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC. This temple replaced the very first Parthenon (Parthenon I) of c. 570 BC from Periklis . The Parthenon was designed by architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, while the sculptor Pheidias supervised the entire building program and conceived the temple's sculptural decoration and a chryselephantine statue of Athena. The Parthenon is a double peripteral Doric temple with several unique and innovative architectural features.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Erechtheion

The elegant building known as the Erechtheion, on the north side of the sacred rock of the Acropolis, was erected in 421-406 BC as a replacement of an earlier temple dedicated to Athena Polias, the so-called "Old temple". The name Erechtheion, mentioned only by Pausanias (1, 26, 5), derives from Erechtheus, the mythical king of Athens, who was worshipped there. The sanctuary also contained the grave of Kekrops and the traces of the dispute between Athena and Poseidon for the possession of the city of Athens. Another door on the south facade of the western temple opened onto the porch of the Karyatides, a pi-shaped structure with six female statues instead of columns to support the roof. Created by Alkamemes or Kallimachos, the statues were later named Karyatides after the young women from Karyes of Laconia who danced in honor of the goddess Artemis. Five of them are in the Acropolis Museum and another in the British Museum; those on the building are casts.

Duration: 15 minutes

Pass By:

Changing of the Greek Guards; The Presidential Guard is a ceremonial infantry unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Mansion in Athens, Greece. The unit is distinguished as the last unit of Evzones in the Hellenic Army and is closely associated with the traditional Evzone uniform, which evolved from the clothes worn by the klephts in the Greek War of Independence. The most visible item of this uniform is the fustanella, a kilt-like garment, which has 400 pleats representing the number of years Greece was under Turkish occupation. They are handmade by special craftsmen taking around 80 days to make. In 1868–1914 and 1937–1973 (with interruptions), the guard also included a cavalry company. They guard the grave of the Unknown Soldier represents the common memory of all unknown soldiers killed at war. The changing of the Greek guards occurs every day at the top of the hour.

Stop At: Hellenic Parliament

The history of the impressive building of the Hellenic Parliament is intimately linked to the history of the Modern Greek state. Initially, the building served as the palace of Kings Otto and George I. It became the Parliament and Senate building a hundred years after it was constructed and still houses the Hellenic Parliament today. Through all those years, the building has undergone a series of changes and has been modernized. From 1836 to 1862; After the selection of Otto, Prince of Bavaria, as King of Greece, and the relocation of the Greek capital to Athens, it was decided to erect the palace on Boubounistra Hill. It proved an inspired choice. The chosen location was in the center of the new capital, easily defendable and cool. On February 6th, 1836 the founding stone was laid at the highest eastern point of the city. The ancient quarry of Pentele was the source of marble. King and queen Otto, and Amalia, took up residence on July 25th, 1843.

Duration: 20 minutes

Stop At:

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a war memorial located in Syntagma Square in Athens, in front of the Old Royal Palace. It is a cenotaph dedicated to the Greek soldiers killed during war. It was sculpted between 1930 and 1932 by sculptor Fokion Rok. The tomb is guarded by the Evzones of the Presidential Guard.

Duration: 5 minutes

Stop At: Change of Guards

The Presidential Mansion is the place to be to see a Changing the Guard ceremony in Athens,Greece. Changing of the Guard ceremonies take place at the Presidential Mansion and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is off Syntagma Square below the Hellenic Parliament. The Changing the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in particular has become a popular tourist attraction in Athens. The Evzone's, accompanied by a military band march from their barracks, just behind the Parliament Building, along the Vasilissis Sofias Avenue to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier where a ceremonial change of guards takes place every Sunday at 11:00. The Evzone's provides a 24-hour honor guard, with an hourly sentry change, which is carried out in slow motion, that some say is to allow the troops circulation to resume after standing absolutely motionless. Many smiles when they see the pompoms on the boots of the guards in Athens but make no mistake these men are part of an elite light infantry unit..

Duration: 10 minutes

Pass By: National Garden

The National Garden of Athens, located behind the Parliament and Syntagma Square, is a green oasis in the heart of the city. The National Garden of Athens is a large green space of over 160.000 square meters adorned with over 500 types of plants and trees from all over the world. Former Royal Gardens; The gardens were designed in 1839 by order of Queen Amalia of the Greeks, but were not open to the public until 1923 when they were renamed “National Garden”. The designer of the gardens, Friedrich Schmidt, traveled all over the world in search of the most beautiful, exotic and unique flora. This task was also granted to the Hellenic Navy.

Stop At: The Academy of Athens

The Academy of Athens was founded with the Constitutional Decree of March 18th, 1926, as an Academy of Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts. The same Decree appointed its first Members, who were all eminent representatives of the scientific, intellectual, and artistic circles of that era.

Duration: 5 minutes

Stop At: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) is a public, self-governed Higher Education Institution, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs. Inaugurated in 1837, it has been the oldest higher education institution in the Modern Greek state and the first university in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean area. Since then it has been an internationally competitive, globally-focused, research-led university.

Duration: 5 minutes

Stop At: National Library of Greece

The National Library forms part of the so-called "Neoclassical Trilogy" of the City of Athens: Academy - University - Library. With a history of over two centuries, containing more than one million books and magazines, and a host of handwritten codices dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries, the National Library of Greece is the custodian of the Greek literary heritage, bridging the past, the present and the future. It was built between 1887 and 1902, based on a study of the Danish architect, Theophile Hansen -brother of Cristian Hansen. Hernest Ziller was the supervising architect who also studied the entrance stairways and the main bookstands. As early as 1858, King Otho had ordered Hansen to make a study for the construction of a Library next to the University, which had already started being built.

Duration: 5 minutes

Pass By:

The National Historical Museum is permanently housed in the Old Parliament Building at Stadiou Street (Kolokotronis square). The Museum narrates the history of Modern Greece: the period of Ottoman and Latin rule, the Greek War of Independence (1821), the liberation struggles, the creation of an independent state, the political, social, and spiritual development of the Greeks up to the present day. The Old Parliament House is directly connected with Greek history: it was the first permanent base of the Greek National Assembly. The Old Parliament was founded in 1858 by Queen Amalia, upon a design by French architect François Boulanger, in order to house the Parliament and Senate. For 60 years the building on Stadiou Street housed the country’s turbulent political life. In 1935, Parliament moved to the Former Palace on Syntagma Square, where it is still housed today. Today, the Old Parliament is an architectural jewel in the center of Athens.

Pass By:

Syntagma Square has literally been the very heart of Athens ever since the city became the capital of the modern Greek state, and it's the perfect central location for sightseeing. It is located in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace, housing the Greek Parliament since 1934. With the Greek Parliament building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier looming over it, it is rich with history and is the place where most major events of the last two centuries have taken place. Its name in Greek means “Constitution Square,” a name granted by Greece’s first modern royal, King Otto, on September 3, 1843, after an uprising of the people. This was a smart political move since the royal palace overlooked the square.

Stop At: Plaka

In the shadow of the Acropolis and its ancient temples, hillside Plaka has a village feel, with narrow cobblestone streets lined with tiny shops selling jewelry, clothes, and local ceramics. Sidewalk cafes and family-run tavernas stay open until late. Nearby, the whitewashed homes of the Anafiotika neighborhood give the small enclave a Greek-island vibe. Visiting the Plaka district in Athens is an experience that stays with travelers for a lifetime. With its colorful neoclassic buildings and ruins waiting to be discovered around every corner, there is so much to be discovered in Plaka. Plaka is appropriately known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods.” It lies beneath the northeastern slope of the Acropolis and stretches almost all the way to Syntagma Square, in a maze of winding narrow streets laced with shops and dotted with antiquities throughout. Truly, this is one of the most charming and elegant neighborhoods you will encounter anywhere on Earth. Free time for lunch.

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Stop At: Ancient Agora of Athens

The ancient Agora of Athens is the best-known example of an ancient Greek agora, located to the northwest of the Acropolis and bounded on the south by the hill of the Areopagus and on the west by the hill known as the Agoraios Kolonos, also called Market Hill. The word "agora" applies to an assembly of people and by extension marks the gathering place. In modern Greek, the term means "marketplace". Just about every ancient and modern city includes a place for an agora, and the Agora of Athens is located at the heart of the city, remaining in use either as an assembly, as a commercial, or as a residential area for about 5000 years. Consequently, the area has undergone countless building, destruction, and rebuilding cycles. Today these strata of history have been distilled through excavations to expose the Agora's important functions from Archaic to Greco-Roman and Byzantine times.

Duration: 40 minutes

Stop At: Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on the surrounding slopes, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. The architectural competition was held in 2000, which led to the selection of the proposal by Bernard Tschumi and his Greek collaborator Michael Photiades. The new Acropolis Museum was constructed on the south side of the Acropolis at a distance of 300 meters from its monuments. The Museum’s foundations were completed on the 30th of January 2004 and its opening took place on the 20th of June 2009.

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Pass By: Temple of Olympian Zeus

Located in southern Athens, between the Acropolis and the Ilissos river, the Olympeion was the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus. Here stands one of the greatest ancient temples of Zeus and, according to Vitruvius, one of the most famous marble buildings ever constructed. The sanctuary's foundation is attributed to the mythical Deukalion. The site also comprises the temple of Apollo Delphinios - the sanctuary of Apollo Delphinios was traditionally associated with Theseus - and a tripartite building with a south courtyard of ca. 500 BC. The latter has been identified as the Delphinion Court, which was allegedly founded by Aegeas.

Stop At: Kallimarmaro

Admire the Kallimarmaro stadium, else Panathenaea stadium where here the first modern Olympic games took place in 1896. It is called Kallimarmaro because is all made of marble. A special marble called the Pentelic marble. Special because it changes color according to the day light. Cool with in the morning and in the afternoon it changes color to bone gold color. The monuments on the Acropolis and the temple of Zeus are made of the same Pendelikon marble.

Duration: 15 minutes

Stop At:

Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in central Athens, Greece. Known in Greek as Lykavitos Hill, it stands 277 m (909 feet) above sea level, providing spectacular views of the Greek capital and the coastline. The hill is one of the largest green areas in central Athens, located close to the Kolonaki and Exarchia areas. Many Athenians come here for a stroll and go to the top to enjoy the city from above. Lycabettus hill is accessible on foot, by funicular railway, and by car. Thousands of tourists visit every year to climb to the top, see the small chapel of Saint George, and enjoy the cityscape from above. Today Lycabettus hill is a fantastic place to go if you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The peace and quiet are so different from Kolonaki and Exarchia areas right below and the crowded market streets of Monastiraki and Psiri. After our visit to Lycabettus Hill, we will drop you off at the same spot we have picked you up.

Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
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