Athens weekend getaway
A long weekend in Athens offers you a great combination of discovery and leisure, enjoying a wonderful Shabbat with prayer services and delicious meals, and exploring the Jewish heritage and historical sites of Athens.
Here are some ideas to make the best of the few days you will spend in Athens:
If you arrive early enough to the city center, you should visit the Jewish Museum, which closes at 14:30 (if you can’t make it, it’s open on Sunday). It will give you a nice glimpse of the long history and traditions of the Jews of Greece, whose presence date back 2300 years. Then head to the landmark of Athens, the Acropolis, and admire its various monuments, symbols of the golden classical age of the ancient Greek civilization. A wonderful complement is the visit of the newly built Acropolis Museum, very well organized and visitor friendly. Nehama, a tour guide who speaks English(among others), and knows very well the Jewish history as well as the general history of Greece, can accompany you and make your visit a memorable one (Click here for more details).
It’s time to prepare for Shabbat. You will enjoy the Friday night prayers in the Sefardi synagogue Beth Shalom, followed by a wonderful Shabbat meal in the GOSTIJO Kosher restaurant of Athens, hosted by Chabad. You will meet people from all over the world and get to know better the local Jewish community. Among songs and lively discussions, you will enjoy the traditional Shabbat dishes and atmosphere.
After the Shacharit prayers at the Beth Shalom synagogue, you will visit the second synagogue of Athens, the Romaniote Etz Chaim, which is located across the street. Shabbat lunch takes place in the GOSTIJO kosher restaurant, again with delicious food and company.
There are a few options for Shabbat afternoon strolls:
You can see the changing of the guards on Syntagma Square, and then enjoy the National Gardens right behind the Parliament building. You can continue to walk towards the Hadrian’s’ Arch, which was the entrance of the Ancient city. Right behind, you will see the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, which was built with the help of the Antiochus, the one known from the Chanukah story.
You can taste the Sefardi specialties of the Jews of Greece at the GOSTIJO restaurant and then head for a drink to one the nice terraces with views of the city. A particularly attractive place is the Lykavetus hill, which you ascend by foot or cable car, and leads you to a spectacular panoramic view of the city.
Sunday (and Monday):
– Visit one of the nearby islands, Aegina or Hydra, or take the full day cruise visiting 3 islands.
– Visit the archeological site of Delphi and its magnificent landscape
– Visit the romantic temple of Poseidon in Sounio and enjoy the sunset there (1/2 day).