Alternative Ways to Discover Athens
Traditional tours are a great way to get to know a city — after all, nobody can give insight into historical wonders such as the Acropolis like a licensed guide. If, however, trudging after a lady with a brightly colored umbrella all day is not your style of learning, there are plenty of alternative options. We put together a short guide of alternatives for the modern traveler.
Showaround is an app that aims to connect travelers with locals who can show them around sights precisely tailored to their interests. Whether you’re looking to check out the shopping scene, architectural wonders or beaches in Athens, there is someone out there who shares the same passion as you and is willing to share their knowledge.
The platform is incredibly easy to use, both as a local and a traveler. All you need to do is sign up and begin “browsing locals” — almost like online dating, without the potential embarrassment. Locals’ profiles usually give you a good idea as to what each person specializes in and, most importantly, they are rated and reviewed by previous travelers, so you really know what you’re getting. If only that worked for online dating, too!
In Athens there are over 800 locals using Showaround, with prices ranging between 0-20€/h. We like Showaround because it operates in over 200 countries in the world, meaning that if you like the experience in Athens, you can always go home and become a Showaround guide in your own city!
This is My Athens
The local counterpart of Showaround. This is My Athens is an initiative pioneered by the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau back in 2010. In the heart of the economic crisis, when international media were portraying Athens as a crisis-struck and forlorn place, a group of locals started a movement to show, in their own words, “the real face of the city.” Initially this was a loosely-organized attempt to create an online photostream of iconic landmarks, sights, places and establishments, showing Athens in a more favorable light. In 2014 it became official; a platform was created where travelers could “book” local volunteers, and get to know Athens in all its authenticity.
This is My Athens is also very user-friendly. By clicking “I’m a Visitor,” you are instantly connected to a plethora of savvy Athenians, each one of whom has a special side of the city to share. By ticking boxes with various interests like “Discover Street Art,” “Taste Athens,” and “Check out LGBTQ+ Athens,” the search is narrowed down even more, to the perfect local guide for you. Like Showaround, guides are reviewed and rated, so you have an idea of the experience before you get there. One of the coolest parts of this initiative is that the platform operates on no fees and no donations, meaning its accessible to all and absolutely authentic.
We love This is My Athens because it is a uniquely Athenian endeavor, fueled by real people’s passion for the city.
Audio Apps for Smartphones
In an age where literally every piece of information is at our fingertips, city guides are no different. App stores carry audio tours you can download to your phone, not just for Athens, but the world over. There are also plenty of companies that offer this service, at varied prices and quality — a quick internet search and you will find the perfect app for you. For Athens, we recommend the Lonely Planet Acropolis tour; in two hours, your phone guides you through the archaeological site, highlighting important historical information, interesting mythological episodes, and architectural facts.
We like audio apps because they’re time-saving, and offer small conveniences that really make a difference. Their price usually includes entry/admission to sites, meaning you can skip the lines, some of which get pretty hectic during high season. Some audio tours, such as the aforementioned Lonely Planet, also have offline maps, so you don't have to worry about getting lost or roaming charges.
If none of these options sound like the perfect tour guide experience to you, there is always a solution for the traveler seeking out a traditional tour experience with a modern flair. Contact us and we will connect you to our tour partners, offering tours professionally curated to your specific needs and preferences!