Must-visit Site in Athens: Panathenaic Stadium
Every 2 years the world is watching best athletes competing to become next Olympic Champions. When in Athens, do not miss the chance to touch history at Panathenaic Stadium, which started the tradition of modern Olympic Games in 1896.
At first, I thought that the stadium as a landmark might not be that interesting and we might spend an hour or so there. I am glad I was wrong. In the end, our visit lasted nearly 3 hours : we raced on the tracks, looked at the past Olympic Games posters and discovered site’s rich history. But let’s not rush and see what we got up to on the day.
The stadium can be seen from the outside and some tourists do exactly that : they walk to it and see what is visible. However, if you buy a ticket, you will not be disappointed. Besides the entry is only 5 Euros and kids under 6 are free.
With your entry ticket you will get the audioguide with several languages. There is a walking route with places of interest, where you can listen to the commentary and move around. I thought it was a great way to learn about the history of the stadium, rather than reading displays. It was nice to be in the fresh air and listen to the stories.
As you progress around the stadium, at one point you will go inside and walk the same path as all athletes, who competed here, would follow.
There is also a small museum with posters from past Olympic Games and original torches. I loved that part as I was able to see torches up close and also learn creative ideas behind instantly recognizable posters. Some of them are a symbolic marriage of the Olympics and a country/city where the games were taking place.
When you go back outside, be a royalty for half and hour and try out the VIP seats. We pretended to be athletes and run the whole length of the Olympic track. It is slightly more than 500 meters and the race with my daughter was not easy! I had to sit down and catch my breath afterwards.
The stadium itself is absolutely beautiful. It is made completely out of marble and the design is timeless.
Before you leave, go up to the very top of the stadium ( the audioguide will tell you exactly where to stand) and get a bird-eye view of the Athens with Mount Lykabbetus and Parthenon glimmering in the distance.
The stadium is easy to get to from the Syntagma Square, we walked there and back to the centre. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or a metro. During the summer months it is best to avoid midday, as there is no shade to hide in the stadium and the marble gets really hot. We visited at the end of October, so it was just right and nice in the sun.
There is also a small souvenir shop at the entrance, which sells tastefully designed items, like T-shirts, mugs or stationery.