Are you enchanted by the past, dreaming of people who lived long ago? Intrigued by gods, legends and architecture that withstand the test of time? Yes? Then Athens, Greece is the place for you! Home to many famous ancient wonders, Athens is oozing with history, art and architecture. Step back in time and lose yourself in this ancient world while studying abroad in Athens!
Studying abroad in Athens provides students with access to one of the oldest cultures in the world. Whether it’s ancient ruins or modern nightlife, studying abroad in Athens will expose you to a number of unique and interesting attractions. And don’t forget about the food: Greek salad lives up to its every description, as does the spiced pita bread and warm, friendly stereotypes of the Greeks themselves. If for some reason you find yourself hankering for more, just hop on a ferry to the nearest island, where you will find all sorts of different cultures, cuisines, beaches, and villages, making your time in Greece not only educational, but also truly adventurous.
If you’ve already decided to study abroad in Athens, the next challenge is choosing a program. The program reviews below will help you cut through the noise and choose the best fit for you. Consider how you want to shape your experience abroad: Do you care most about the home-stay? Learning Greek? Maximum exposure to the culture? Don’t forget, when you return home from studying abroad in Athens, leave a review of your program to assist others with the same tough decision you face now!
Photo credit: Travel Coffee Book.
Planning Your Trip
Don't leave without seeing these sights:
- The Acropolis and Parthenon. Located in the heart of the city, visit Athena at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient citadel and temple to the goddess are breathtaking! Remember to stop at the Theatre of Dionysus and the Odeon of Pericles on the slope of the Acropolis, and admire the caryatid replicas on the Erechtheion.
- Next, visit the New Acropolis Museum to see original sculptures from the Acropolis and the real caryatids. Also check out the National Archaeological Museum to see more famous artifacts, such as the Mask of Agamemnon and the Artemision Bronze statue of Zeus… or is it Poseidon?
- Visit the Ancient Agora of Athens, the hub of the ancient city. Hang out with Hephaestus at his temple and tour the marketplace and center for culture and religion in ancient Athens.
- Looking for the ultimate birds-eye view of Athens? Fly above the city with Hermes (or take the funicular) to Mount Lycabettus for a panorama of Athens.
- Visit Syntagma Square, home of the Greek Parliament and site of many political protests. Go around the corner and stroll through the National Gardens with Artemis to escape the urban sprawl.
- The Plaka is the historic district at the base of the Acropolis. The winding, narrow streets are filled with shops and tavernas, making it popular among tourists and students. Dionysus must live in Gazi and Psiri, as these neighborhoods are known for their nightlife… maybe you’ll even bump into Aphrodite!
Most places offer student discounts, so don’t get swamped with fees for historical sites! An Acropolis ticket costs about €12, but EU university students receive free admission with a student ID. Non-EU students can get a reduced price of about €6. Or, one €12 pass (€6 for students) can be purchased for all of Athens’ historical sites which is valid for seven days. The Acropolis (and all state-owned historical sites!) is free for everyone on Sundays between November 1st and March 31st. Admission is also waived on some holidays, so check online before visiting. The Metro also offers student discounts. The moral of the story? Always bring your student ID!
Although Athens is not an overly expensive city, it’s always wise to budget accordingly and keep track of your finances. In some places you can use your credit card, but it’s best to use cash. Many small shops, tavernas and metro ticket machines only accept euros. Make it easier on yourself by always having cash available. If funds are tight, apply for a scholarship! American undergrads should check out scholarships offered by Fund for Education Abroad. It is also wise to check if your home university offers study abroad scholarships.
Culture Shock and Support Systems:
Culture shock is a possibility when traveling, so select a program that fits your needs. College Year in Athens, Erasmus and The Athens Centre are known to offer support and help students adjust to the new culture. If the need arises, you can also stop by the US Embassy in Athens!
First time visitors might find the amount of stray animals surprising; there are dogs EVERYWHERE! Although it’s tempting to feed these cuties, be careful- a pack of dogs may follow you for the duration of your stay! Also, slow down and enjoy yourself, because Athenians are definitely not in a rush! You may be in a store or visiting the Acropolis when it suddenly closes an hour early! Life in Greece is very relaxed, so throw out your carefully timed schedule and just go with the flow! Opa!
There are some great nooks and crannies tucked away in Athens, so go exploring! There is a metro system, but walking is a fun way to see the city if you don’t mind the hills!
- Visit the Poet Sandal Maker of Athens for a pair of custom-made leather sandals.
- On Sunday mornings, go to the Monastiraki Flea Market for some one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
- And finally, the food! Greek food is amazing, period. Tzatziki, gyros, souvlaki, spanakopita, baklava… eat as if you are dining with the gods on Olympus! The small gyro stand in Plateia Varnava is amazing (and cheap!) and the nearby taverna, Oraia Ellas, has delicious food and a very friendly staff. If you are of age, honor Dionysus with some Ouzo or Rakomelo. Yamas!
Athens is an incredible city, and a perfect destination for anyone interested in history, art history or architecture. It won’t be long before you start quoting national Greek hero, Lord Byron! “Maid of Athens, ere we part,/ Give, oh give me back my heart!”