Piraeus (Athens), Greece

Piraeus is the port city for Eastern Mediterranean cruisers that want to visit the city of Athens. If you are not taking a shore excursion or using a private tour guide, metered cabs are lined up at the terminal.  For a less expensive option into Athens you can taxi or walk from the cruise dock to the metro station (about a 15 minute walk).  Take the Green Metro line to the Monastiraki Station and you'll be at the base of the Acropolis in the Plaka District.

If the Acropolis is on your list, get there as early as you can, to avoid the crowds and tour groups.  Licensed guides wait at the base offering walking tours. It’s easy to find other tourists willing to share a guide, making it an affordable and enriching experience. If time permits, a visit to the archeological site specific Acropolis museum is well worth a visit. There is an outdoor restaurant at the museum where you can get a very good meal with a view of the Parthenon.  Tip: Theater of Dionysious, the Ancient Agora, Roman Forum, Keramiekos Cemetery, Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Library of Hadrian, are all included in the price of admission to the Acropolis.

 The Plaka, lying below the slopes of the Acropolis, is the oldest section of Athens. Some streets are pedestrian only, winding their way around ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine monuments. There are restaurants, cafes, taverns, galleries and shops that sell leather goods, jewelry and all kinds of souvenirs. For a “fast food” lunch try the souvlaki, a Greek specialty!

According to the myth, Athena dropped a gigantic mountain on her way to build the Acropolis, and it became known as Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens. You can drive up, walk up (the trail up winds back and forth, so it is a gentle climb), or take the funicular. At the top you can visit the whitewashed 19th century chapel of St. George and enjoy a cold drink at the café. Of course the real reason for going to the top is the view!  Absolutely breathtaking!

Every hour of the day there is a ceremonial changing of the guards outside the Parliament Building at Syntagma Square. Their unique uniform includes the kilt-like foustanella worn with wool stockings with tasseled knee garters, a red cap with a long black tassel, a white undershirt and red leather shoes with black pompons.

Tip: Plan this for the end of the day so you can hop on the metro at the Syntagma Square station to head back to the ship.