Visiting Athens as part of your Cruise Holiday
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If you are visiting the Greek capital city of Athens as part of a cruise holiday then you’ll find that your cruise ship will dock in Piraeus. Piraeus is one of the busiest shipping ports in the entire world and can be a little overwhelming as you look at it from the comfort of your cruise ship.

Piraeus

From Piraeus it is around 10km to the centre of the capital city of Athens. One great way to get around that I recommend is by taking one of the many hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses that are available. There are a number of different bus operators waiting at the port and the majority of which come with earphones so you can tune into the audio commentary which provides details of the history of Greece and Athens and more information on the sites and attractions that you pass along the way.

On my last visit to Athens I took one of the red City Sightseeing bus tours from the port into Athens. I decided to get off the bus at the world famous Acropolis. From where the sightseeing buses and taxis drop you off (the furthest point they are allowed to drive to), there is still a significant climb to the top of the hill upon which the Parthenon and Acropolis sit imposingly overlooking the sprawling city of Athens.

Acropolis

If you’re visiting Athens in the searing hot summer months then I recommend that you complete this climb as early in the day as possible, before the sun becomes too strong. Although the climb isn’t too far or too strenuous, the heat of the day can make it very tough. I also recommend buying bottles of water from one of the vendors at the bottom of the hill before you begin. You’ll thank me when you get to the top!

The steps are also uneven and have become quite slippery as a consequence of the millions of people who have walked this path before you, so sensible shoes with good grips are a must. Unfortunately I’ve witness people taking a tumble on this path before so take good care.

Athens is a city which has more than 6 million residents and the view of the city that you have from the top of the hill where the Parthenon and Acropolis sit is absolutely stunning. The city just seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, broken only by the numerous green hills within the city.

Parthenon

There are also many taxis available at Piraeus port which can take you to the city of Athens if you decide not to take one of the hop-on, hop-off city sightseeing bus tours. Many taxi drivers offer day tours of the city and the surrounding areas in their taxis. This can be a cost effective option if you are in a group of four people who could split the cost of the taxi rather than buying 4 bus tickets, which aren’t cheap. I always recommend agreeing a price with any taxi driver before you get into his cab.

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Katakolon – Greece’s Second Busiest Cruise Port
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Beckoning you to find its secrets, realms of ancient relics and ruins, temperate weather, and beaches only points to picture-perfect Greece. It gets even better with a cruise holiday. Full of surprises within your reach, one popular gateway by sea is the port-village of Katakolon on the Greek mainland.

Katakolon Port

Surprisingly, with only a population around 3,000, Katakolon cruise port is the second busiest in Greece after Piraeus. Each year more than one million cruise passengers arrive from their floating hotels to its shores. Quaint cafes lace the waterfront and there’s even a small beach that draws swimmers right near the port.

The port of Katakolon principally serves as a stopover to visit the ancient site of Olympia. Let your imagination take hold and experience its tales but remember to carry water and take the sunscreen along.

Olympia

Let the Games Begin

Walk upon the birth land of the Olympic Games in a massive archaeological site. The earliest of Greek born athletes competed here every four years, commencing around 750 BC. Originally, only foot races were the competitive sport with chariot racing and wrestling added later on. Besides serving as a tourist attraction, it is also where the Olympic flame is lit by reflection of sunlight, utilising a lens for our modern games.

All Hail the Gods

Even the Gods approved of this location for their temples. The two most important relics of Olympia are the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Hera. Several columns from the Temple of Hera are standing with some reconstruction.

The Temple of Zeus originally housed an enormous seated statue of Zeus. It is thought to have been 43ft tall made out gold and ivory and was produced in the workshop of Pheidias, also in Olympia.

Temple of Hara

Archaeological Museum of Olympia

Whilst in Olympia, visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. The most motivating display is a scale reproduction that outlines the site at its peak. This is really useful to gain a feel as to how an extensive Olympia was. Other exhibits contain many artefacts that have been dug up on the Olympic grounds over the period of its excavations.

Some of us just want a relaxing holiday sans running around sightseeing. There are alternatives for your day in port that are worth considering instead.

Beaches

Besides the beach in port, approximately a mile away is another small beach in the seaside village of Agios Andreas. However, a wide sandy beach waits with chairs and umbrellas are available for rental. Kourouta Beach is popular for seaside lovers and is a 25 minute ride away from port.

Katakolon Beach

Wine Tasting

Established in 1860, The Domaine Mercouri Winery a family estate is an option to visit. Tours include the original winery filled with old wooden equipment including presses and the barrels used by the grape stompers. Head back to the 21st century in the winery’s new building with the contemporary edge that is now used today. After the tour enjoy red and white wine tasting accompanied by cheese and crackers.

Set out on your own or take a tour arranged right aboard the ship. The appeal of arriving here is being transported back thousands of years of history. Whatever you decide, leave the glitz and music behind on board for a day, and see the sights of Katakolon and its fabulous cruise port.

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