Shore Excursions in Athens: visiting the Acropolis and Athens

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Here’s everything you need to know about the Shore Excursions in Athens, including a visit to the Acropolis, offered as part of an organized tour by the MSC cruise company with stops in Athens or Piraeus.

I must say that at the time of this trip, I didn’t find much information about this excursion or tour, so I had no idea if it was worth it or not.

And since I don’t want you to have the same uncertainties I felt, I must tell you that despite not being a cheap tour, I loved every minute of it and consider it worth taking.

As I mentioned, this shore excursion in Athens was done by the MSC cruise, but I believe it’s very similar in other cruise companies.

The thing is, Athens is far from the port where the ship docks, which is in the neighboring city of Piraeus, and if for some reason you miss the ship’s departure time, you risk having to find a way to get to the next port.

So, in this article, we’ll tell you about the shore excursion in Athens tour we took during the MSC cruise in the Adriatic.

Shore Excursions in Athens visiting the Acropolis

Ver o Partenon de perto.
Seeing the Parthenon up close.
Partenon, na Acrópole de Atenas, em obras.
Parthenon, on the Acropolis of Athens, under renovation.

The MSC ship docked in Piraeus, a city near Athens, and then we headed to the Greek capital by bus.

During the journey, the guide shared episodes from Greek history, both ancient and more recent, and before we knew it, we had arrived in Athens.

The city is beautiful, just as I imagined after seeing so many photographs and movies featuring Athens.

However, what I wasn’t expecting was to feel the heat of Athens! It wasn’t even 10 o’clock in the morning, and it was scorching hot, especially while traveling with a young child.

Visitar a Acrópole, em Atenas, com crianças. Em frente ao Erecteion.
Visiting the Acropolis in Athens with children. In front of the Erechtheion.

For context, this was in June, so it wasn’t even the peak of summer.

The bus passed by some historical monuments in Athens, and the guide talked about them, but in most cases, we didn’t even get off the bus.

It was really disappointing…

The only exception was the stop at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

Estádio Panatenaico em Atenas.
Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
Figurantes a tirar fotografias com turistas junto ao Estádio Panatenaico.
Soldiers taking photos with tourists near the Panathenaic Stadium (tourist trap).

Visiting the Acropolis in Athens

Propileu, o monumento na entrada da Acrópole, em Atenas.
Propylaea, the monument at the entrance of the Acropolis in Athens.
Teatro de Dionísio, em Atenas, Grécia.
Odeon of Herodes Atticus, in Athens, Greece.

We were just a short distance away from entering the Acropolis, but a few meters before, we came across the Herodes Atticus Odeon, where we spent a few minutes.

Tickets were handed to us for entry, and we were warned to be careful of the steps, as the marble was worn and slippery due to the number of people who visit the site daily.

Entrada para a Acrópole com turistas.
Entrance to the Acropolis with tourists (Propylaea).

The group was large, making it difficult for us to stay together to listen to the guide’s explanations, which was a downside of the tour.

By the way, the Propylaea is the monument built at the entrance to the Acropolis.

We didn’t linger for too long because the sun was scorching, and there were some children in the group. A few meters ahead, we looked down, and there was the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Odeão de Herodes Ático, visto de perto.
Herodes Atticus Odeon, seen up close.
Partenon ao longe.

The Parthenon doesn’t have a single straight line, but it’s filled with tourists.

So many people eager to get a close look at this magnificent building!

As the temperature continued to rise, we made our way to the Erechtheion building and then headed towards the exit.

Erecteion, na Acrópole, rodeado por turistas.
Erechtheion, at the Acropolis, surrounded by tourists.
Ágora Antiga, vista da Acrópole.
Ancient Agora, seen from the Acropolis.

Visiting the center of Athens

Arco de Adriano, em Atenas.
Arch of Hadrian in Athens.
Visitar Atenas num cruzeiro.
Visiting Athens on a cruise.
Ver os principais monumentos de Atenas, na Grécia.
Seeing the main landmarks of Athens, Greece. Shore Excursions in Athens.
Render da guarda em Atenas.
Rendering of the guard in Athens.
Monumento em Atenas, Grécia.
Monument in Athens, Greece.

At the end of the Acropolis visit, we still had some time to explore a bit of downtown Athens, including time for shopping and snacks.

But I must say it was very little time, as most of our time in Athens was spent on the bus.

Honestly, I expected to have more time to explore Athens independently, but as mentioned before, time was really limited.

Finally, we returned to the bus to head back to the ship in Piraeus.

Gyro, snack em Atenas.
Gyro, snack in Atenas.
Iogurte grego com mel e nozes.
Greek yogurt with honey and nuts.
Prédios em Atenas.
Buildings in Athens.
Vista de Atenas a partir da Acrópole.
View of Athens from the Acropolis.

All you need to know about the Shore Excursions in Athens

What are the downsides of the Athens and Acropolis excursions/tours?

I really enjoyed this tour, but I must admit it felt a bit rushed. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the city of Athens.

In fact, after this cruise trip, I returned to Athens and loved every minute in the city!

Athens is amazing, and on a tour like this, you only get to see what’s on the itinerary, which is just a snippet of Athens and the Acropolis.

Everything else, which is a lot and very interesting, is left out of the tour, which I think is a shame.

So, to summarize, if you really want to visit the Acropolis, the tour is quite comprehensive and definitely worth it. But if you want to get to know Athens, you won’t be able to do so in just two or three hours in the city.

Hope this helps!

Is it worth doing the Athens excursions independently?

Trânsito em Atenas.
Traffic in Athens.
Erecteion e as Cariátides (estátuas).
Erechtheion and the Caryatids (statues). Shore Excursions in Athens.

I believe it’s not worth doing this tour independently because, as mentioned before, the distance from the cruise port to the center of Athens is considerable.

Moreover, Athens traffic is known to be quite complex, which adds to the difficulty of the journey.

And, once again, don’t forget that if you’re on your own, the responsibility to return to the ship on time is yours, and the cruise won’t wait for you.

So, those were the tips I wanted to share with you about the Athens and Acropolis Tour. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment, as I’m happy to help!

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