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Guided 1/2 day small group tour of Athens?

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Guided 1/2 day small group tour of Athens?

Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 08:12 AM
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Guided 1/2 day small group tour of Athens?

We will have 1.5 days in Athens at the end of a two week Italy/Greece trip. First and only time to Athens. We are staying in Plaka so can roam that area on our own. I would like to find a small group tour (minivan with AC) of the key ancient sites of Athens and can't seem to find anything that isn't either a private tour costing $300+ for the two of us or a big bus tour with 40 people that pretty much drives by everything but doesn't stop until the Acropolis at which point we can get off the bus to ascend the hill for a guided walking tour. I really want to walk around a bit at Syntagma Sq and Tomb of the Unknown Solider and also in the Ancient Agora.

There are many walking tours (no vehicle) but I'm a bit concerned about the heat (Sept 14) as we are ages 65 and 70 and the limited reach of a walking tour.

If walking in the heat, is it better to go in the morning or afternoon? What do you think of this idea: Hop on Hop off bus to get "oriented" plus a walking tour to get up close?
LeslieC is offline  
Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 08:20 AM
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I know of no driving tour that is available. Most of Athens is best scene by walking. If you are in good health then it is very doable.

Most of what people go to Athens for is in a small area so can be easily walked.

All I can think of is hiring a taxi but they are not licensed guides and could be costly.

With 1/2 day it's really not much time. You'll only get a "drive-by" tour of Athens and not be able to enter any sites or museums.

Sept. 14 will not have the heat of summer, but there could be some warm days.

If heat is a concern then early morning or late day would be the best.

There may be somone here who knows about the type of tours you want, hopefully they can provide some info.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 08:23 AM
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You can certainly do some or all of this on your own. I would go to the agora in early morning, when it opens it will be cool (ish) and not very crowded, it's just on the edge of the plaka.

I also can't see a need for a guide in Syntagma square or at the tomb. Try to spend a few hours at the national archelogical museum, among other treasures many fine mosaics from excavations all over mainland Greece and the islands. To save on your limited time, just grab a taxi over and back.

Get up the acropolis by the walk or the elevator and hook up with a guide at the top. The most intense heat is as you would expect, noon to 3 or 4.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 08:28 AM
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If you want a walking tour then there are several that are reasonable:

http://www.athenswalkingtours.gr/city-walking-tours

http://www.athensfreewalkingtour.com/afwt/index.php/en/


Or if you really need driving this company offers bus tours at reasonable prices. Click on the Athens Tour Link:
http://www.athenstourgreece.com/
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Old Mar 3rd, 2017, 08:48 AM
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Suggest you contact http://www.athens-walks.com. Kostas can put together a custom tour that will suit your needs. In the About Us page of the website it says: "Athens Walks provides fully customized tours that can address the needs of families, couples, older travellers and people with limited mobility."

Mornings are the best time for touring the sites, as it will be cooler than the afternoons.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:51 AM
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If you're still looking around, here's another company to look at. We too will only have a full day and 1 night in Athens so we've booked a private tour for 4 of us and a transfer to the airport with this company. Very good reviews, great response and so far we're very happy with their service tho we won't actually be there until the end of the month.

https://www.pktravelgreece.com/

Enjoy your travels.
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Old Mar 4th, 2017, 05:52 AM
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We had a great 1/2 day tour with Spiro from www.athenstaxi.net a bunch of years ago.
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 05:27 AM
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We are using this company in October for our Athens outings:

Tours by Locals

Check the website, our experienced-traveler-friends love them.
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 08:34 AM
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Another vote for Kostas at Athens-Walks.com
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Old Mar 9th, 2017, 10:25 AM
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ATHENS 1.5 DAY

You have good suggestions here, but your wish-list is hard to achieve —

TAXI TOURS - These really are just hiring a taxi, the driver cannot “guide” you, just drive you to a museum or site & hand you a brochure — and sometime cannot even get you near to a site because of no-cars lanes.
HOP-ON-OFF BUS - No no no. I did it once for “research”; bus goes mostly on busy big streets & u are stuck in traffic staring at office buildings. Unlike London/Paris, this idea doesn’t work in Athens
SMALL TOURS - Outfits like Viator, Context, My Athens have excellent licensed guides - typical price is €60-70 per hour for group of 4 or 5. Problem is, you can’t apply to JOIN a small group, you must bring the group. Heimdall is right a custom tour can be terrific, but I get the feeling that cost is a factor for you.
ATHENS WALKING TOURS - their main tour runs 9:30-1 pm, covers a lot, has max. of 18 - http://www.athenswalkingtours.gr/The...-And-City-Tour all on foot but only 45 mins is actual walking & there are often walls to sit on while guide stops to lecture. A pretty good option

POSSIBLE D-I-Y OPTION.. with a LOT of help
-- I get the feeling you want SOME tour help, and this may do it for you:
The Rick Steves website Athens section under “LISTEN” offers FREE DOWNLOADS of Audio guides and MAPS to (1) Acropolis (2) Ancient Agora (3) A City Walk and (4) Nat. Arch Museum — A "Guide in your Ear"!!

If your 1.5 time starts with the half-day it's perfect for orientation:
• Do the “CITY WALK” w. audio OR … if you want to do the SAME orientation sitting down--
• Take the HAPPY TRAIN! http://www.athenshappytrain.com/athens-sightseeing One of these mini-trains starts every 30 minutes at Syntagma Square; it can use those no-cars lanes, drives by ALL the major sites. If u stay on board the whole route it’s 60 mins. but it’s hop-on/ hop off so you can explore take photos, stop for coffee. AND its only €6!!

FULL DAY —
• Rise early, at Acropolis gate by 8:15, use ricks step-by-step audio guide, and when tour crowds arive, walk down thru Ancient Agora with Audio #2. • Have lunch in Acropolis Museum terrace (u can, without buying tix).. Then decide if u want to do museum OR (if u still have pep)
• taxi to NAT ARCH. MUSEUM. Rick’s audio steers you direct to the Most Famous statues & treasures, so you don’t get lost in roomfuls of vases.
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Old Mar 15th, 2017, 02:08 PM
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I read somewhere, unfortunately don't recall where, that there is a walking tour (group) that you can do where you pay whatever you feel is appropriate. If I come across the name before you leave, I'll post it. Maybe someone else is familiar with this group?
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Old Mar 15th, 2017, 02:42 PM
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I Believe jeanned is referring to a free walking tour that is run on an irregular basis by recent college grads ... it's useful as a orientation but cannot substitute for other tours -- because the leaders simply walk you by the major sights, they're not licensed and can't take u in and guide you around. I think these walks start near the Acropolis Metro stop around 9 or 10, but as I said, this service tends to appear & disappear, so not suitable for this group.
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Old Mar 18th, 2017, 06:59 AM
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Thanks to everyone. What kind and thoughtful replies.

Travelerjan- you convinced me of what I suspected about the hop-on-hop-off big bus. We've really enjoyed those in London, Paris, Rome but didn't bother in Sevilla. I did sense what you described just looking at their route map for Athens. I did not know about the happy train, so thank you for that! That fits the bill except for the silliness of their choo-choo train look. I'll see if my husband will cooperate with riding one loop. Thank you also for the Rick Steves tips, though I don't think we want to walk around with head sets. We arrive in Athens from Santorini at 10 am, so that's the "half day" I referred to. We are just a party of two and choose not to afford a private tour. The only small group tours with ready made groups are, unfortunately, shore excursions from the port and they won't let us non-cruisers join those. I've looked at every single tour company rated on tripadvisor and the only one that fits is Athenswalkingtours. I checked historical weather for mid Sept and am less concerned about heat. So, my plan is now as follows:

After checking into the hotel and resting, explore Plaka on our own, then walk up to Syntagma Square and then get oriented with one loop on the happy train. Next day, take an Athens walks 3 hour tour that includes the Acropolis and Ancient Agora since those are must sees for us. Go to the Acropolis Museum on our own.

Anyway, travelerjan - your thoughtful commentary led me to your last Greece trip report which was delightful!
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Old Mar 18th, 2017, 05:39 PM
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Leslie, THat's a good plan; Acropolis Museum has GOOD signage, and there are "docents" with lapel labels standing around (ask about them at the front desk) who can answer questions about various pieces. Especially fine, on the top floor, before you look at the friezes, is a swell 20-mnute video about the history of the Acropolis/Parthenon. Really enjoyable (and a chance to sit down). Before you tour the museum, do have lunch in the terrace cafe, which has glassed-in and open-air parts, looking up at Parthenon AND (unlike some museum cafes), reasonable prices.

Your tour probably will swoop thru the Ancient Agora Stoa of Attalos, which has a "museum" of artifacts discovered when Agora was excavated in the 1950s. (Did u know it was totally covered with 400 shacks & bungalows?? https://www.athensguide.com/agoras/index.htm JD Rockefeller bankrolled Amer. School of Classical Studies to move people & demolish buildings to find the treasures beneath.) My favorite display showed "Oistrakhs" -- pottery shards with names scratched on -- used for voting each year on whom to Ostracize (banish). Right in the case are shards marked "Socrates" and "Aristophanes". Woooo

BTW, Leslie that 2010 Post was my last trip RePort - but have had 3 trips since! I took a swell 4some in 2011 & 2013 was my Ultimate Travel-Pal trip ...best group Ever!! Can't top that so. In 2015 I went solo, meeting old friends along the way. Recently struggled w. health mystery (exhaustion) but changing my BP pill seems to work, so, fingers x'd, I'm planning a Grand Finale in May-June 2018... and I WILL write a trip report
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Old Oct 7th, 2017, 08:16 PM
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Travelerjan - You gave us so much great advice, I just want to thank you and give feedback on the Athens Happy Train. Athens Walking Tours were great. But the Happy Train was just awful! First, we sat and waited for an hour because they wouldn't start up until they have enough people. The train went at a snail's pace, stuck in traffic and at traffic lights. There was next to no commentary. We got off in the Plaka.
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Old Oct 8th, 2017, 08:20 AM
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Thanks for the Feedback! glad to hear Athens Walking Tour lived up to expectations, and sorry about the Happy Train! That's what happens when tourist traffic thins out ... Same thing occurs when a licensed guide is putting together a group at the gates of a ruin. If there are few takers, it could be 45 minutes or more before his tour begins, just to rope in more people. Sigh.
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