Honouring Heroes on March 25th 2024: A visit to Athens for the 203rd Anniversary of Greek War of Independence

25th March - Greek Flag - Acropolis

A guide on visiting Athens during March 25th from the team at Greeklist.

1. March 25th: Α great day for the Greek nation

Greece explodes into a vibrant tapestry of history, faith, and celebration on March 25th, 2024. This unique day commemorates both the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence and the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, a deeply cherished feast in the Greek Orthodox Church. Witness the awe-inspiring military parade, vibrant folk dances, and patriotic music alongside the solemn hymns and prayers echoing from churches, experiencing the dynamic interplay of national pride and deep-rooted faith that shaped Greece’s history and continues to define its culture today.

In this guide, we present to you the best way to experience this unique day.

Greeks fighting for Liberty
Greeks fighting for Liberty

2. The role of Athens during the Greek War of Independence

Though not physically the epicentre of the Greek War of Independence, Athens played a crucial symbolic and strategic role. Its iconic Acropolis became a powerful rallying point, representing the spirit of ancient Greek freedom and inspiring revolutionaries across the land. Some minor battles occurred in the city, changing hands from the Ottomans to the Greeks. Finally, Athens was liberated on March 31th 1833 and the Greek Flag was raided in the Acropolis. In 1834 the capital of Greece was moved from Nafplion to Athens till nowadays.

Athens during the War
Athens during the War period

3. Getting to Athens from United Kingdom

Travelling to Athens from the United Kingdom is convenient, with direct flights available from  London, Bermingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. The Athens International Airport (ATH) serves as the primary gateway, offering a smooth and comfortable entry into the heart of Greece. Skyscanner indicates enticing return fares, with prices starting as low as £60, 

4. The weather in Athens on late March

Late March in Athens offers a taste of spring, but don’t be surprised if a few clouds sneak in to temper the sunshine. While rain isn’t frequent, it can occur, bringing brief showers on average eight days in the month. The average high remains steady at 17°C even on cloudy days, though it can dip slightly lower. Packing a light waterproof layer is wise to ensure comfort during any unexpected downpours. While these showers might bring temporary cover, the sun usually peeks through again soon, allowing you to continue exploring the city’s vibrant history and culture.

Here is a 10-day weather prediction for Athens.

5. Top Destinations and Attractions in Athens for March 25th

Witness history unfold from Syntagma Square to the War Museum, and experience the spirit of revolution at museums, gardens, and iconic squares. Immerse yourself in the heart of Greece, where ancient echoes meet modern energy for an unforgettable adventure!

Here are the best places to visit in Athens during March 25th:

  • Greek War Museum: Step into the crucible of Greek Independence at the War Museum. Witness the weapons, flags, and stories that echoe the battles of 1821, and feel the enduring spirit of freedom that continues to shape Greece today.
  • Greek War Museum
  • Acropolis and Parthenon: Witness the enduring legacy of Greece at the Acropolis, where ancient temples share the stage with a towering Greek flag, a powerful symbol of unity and freedom above Athens.
  • Flag in Acropolis
  • Syntagma Square and the Hellenic Parliament: Witness history unfold at Syntagma Square as the Grand Parade marches past the Hellenic Parliament and pay respects to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier dedicated to the countless heroes who lost their lives fighting for Greece.
  • Greek Parliament and Syntagma Square
  • The Presidential Guard: Standing in front of the Hellenic Parliament are the men ot the Presidential Guard called “Evzones”.  Dressed in the costumes similar to those that the warriors of 1821 wore, are a majestic sight to behold.
  • Evzones
  • The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens: A majestic ode to the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, stands as a beacon of faith and history, welcoming visitors with its grandeur. In a festive spirit as on 25th of March the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation.
  • Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
  • Museum of Philhellenism: Discover the stories of foreign volunteers, known as Philhellenes, who came from across Europe to fight alongside the Greeks. Learn about their motivations and contributions to the revolution.
  • Museum of Philhellenism
  • The National Gardens: A tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city of Athens. This sprawling 15.5-hectare park was established in the 19th century by Queen Amalia, the queen consort of Greece’s first King, Otto.
  • National Gardens
  • National Gallery: Witness the Greek Revolution through art at the National Gallery. Heroic battles, everyday lives, and national identity painted on canvas. From pre-revolution sparks to freedom’s dawn, history comes alive in every brushstroke.
  • Greek National Gallery
  • Church of Saint Nikolaos Rangavas: Located in the heart of Athens, a thousand years old Byzantine church with a revolutionary soul. Its bell, the first to chime in Athens during the Revolution, echoes centuries of faith and freedom.
  • Church of Saint Nikolaos Rangavas
  • Benaki Museum: Housing a fascinating portrait of Lord Byron, the renowned English poet and Philhellene who played a significant role in the Greek War of Independence, and is considered a great hero by Greek people.
  • Benaki Museum
  • Church of Saint Dimitrios Loubardiaris: Named after Saint Dimitrios, the church boasts an intriguing history, dating back to the 12th century. It played a role in the Greek War of Independence  and continues to be a symbol of resilience.
  • Church of Saint Dimitrios Loubardiaris
  • Zappeion Mansion: A grand neoclassical bulding in Athens, which is free and open to the public on March 25th, with many ceremonial festivities taking place.
  • Zappeion Mansion
  • Museum of the City of Athens: Step inside the former royal palace, now a museum, and witness how the revolution reshaped the city’s identity. Exhibits showcase the struggles and triumphs of the Athenians, offering a personal perspective on the events.
  • Athens City Museum

For an extended guide on what to do and see in Athens, check here.

6. Best places to eat in Athens during March 25th

As Athens erupts in the joyous spirit of March 25th, let your palate embark on a delicious odyssey. Venture beyond the familiar in charming Plaka tavernas, or soak in the festive atmosphere with breathtaking rooftop views. In order to experience the festive spirit of the day, we recommend visiting taverns and traditional greek restaurants.

Here are our top picks for places to eat in Athens during March 25th:

Olympion: Mediterranean/Greek Cuisine, Vegan & Vegetarian options

Kuzina: Mediterranean/Greek Cuisine, Vegetarian options

Varoulko: Greek Cuisine, Seafood, Healthy, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Options

Rozalia: Greek Barbeque

Orizontes: Greek/European Cuisine, Vegetarian options

Metaxou: Mediterranean/Greek Cuisine, Vegan & Vegetarian options

Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani: Mediterranean/Greek Cuisine, Barbeque, Gluten-Free options

Mironi: Mediterranean/Greek Cuisine, Vegan & Vegetarian options

Leloudas Tavern: Traditional Greek Cuisine

Tudor Hall, at Hotel King George: Greek, European & Mediterranean Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Options

Artisanal: Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine, Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Options

Just Made 33: Cafe, Greek, European & Mediterranean Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Options

Lukumades: Greek Sweets and Coffee

Artisanal: Greek & Mediterranean Cuisine, Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten-Free Options

On March 25th, it’s a tradition to eat bakaliaros skordalia. It’s actually deep-fried codfish, served with fried potatoes and a garlic dip. We recommend you try it!

Bakaliaros Skordalia
Bakaliaros Skordalia

Don’t miss our extended guide on the Greek Cuisine!

7. The Grand Parade of March 25th in Athens

Athens transforms on March 25th as the Grand Parade fills its historic streets in celebration of Greek Independence Day. Witnessing history come alive, the military parade features marching bands, military units, tanks and traditional costumes, all converging on Syntagma Square, the heart of the city, for a vibrant spectacle. They are followed by the student parade where the best students of each Athenian school parade the streets of Athens, waving the Greek flag.

The parade typically starts at 11:00 am and makes its way down Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, past the Hellenic Parliament building, and ends at Omonia Square. Thousands of people line the streets to watch the parade, and the atmosphere is electric. Be swept up in the patriotic spirit, feel the ground tremble with tank treads, and witness the national flag soar high as Athens commemorates its hard-won freedom.

The Grand Parade at Athens

8. Great day for the Orthodox Church: The Feast of the Annunciation

While Greece vibrantly celebrates its independence on March 25th, it’s also a big day for the Greek Orthodox Church: the Feast of the Annunciation. Marking the Virgin Mary’s announcement of her pregnancy, this sacred day finds Athenians seeking solace and reflection. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral dedicated to the Annunciation, adorned with the Greek flag, for a serene moment amidst the festivities. Witness the awe-inspiring artwork depicting the Annunciation and let the whispers of faith resonate within you. As the city pulsates with the joy of independence, remember the Annunciation’s quiet strength, a reminder of hope and new beginnings.

The Feast of Annunciation

9. Accommodation Options in Athens

From luxury havens with panoramic vistas to charming Plaka guesthouses, Athens caters to every traveller’s dream stay. Discover your perfect Athenian home-away-from-home.

Here is our Top-5 hotel list for Athens:

Find more Greeklist exclusive Hotel deals for Athens and HotelBrain here!

10. Local Transportation and getting around in Athens

Explore with ease via metro, buses, trams, taxis, or rent wheels (car, scooter, bike) for the city and beyond! Here are the methods of getting around the city:

  • Metro: Efficient network with 3 lines, ideal for major attractions and central areas.
  • Buses & Trolleys: Extensive coverage, reaching beyond metro limits.
  • Trams: Scenic coastal route, delightful way to explore the coastline.
  • Taxis: Convenient for spontaneous trips, readily available.
  • Car Rentals: Freedom to explore outskirts and hidden gems.
  • Scooters/Motorcycles: Agile option for navigating narrow streets.
  • Bike Rentals: Discover Athens on two wheels, embrace the bike-friendly culture.

11. Safety and Travel Tips for Athens

Ensure a safe and enjoyable trip with health and safety considerations. Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette to respect the island’s culture:

Follow these safety and travel tips to ensure a memorable and secure holiday season in the vibrant capital of Greece:

  • Emergency Numbers: Memorize key emergency numbers: local police (100), medical emergencies (166), fire department (199), and the British Embassy (+30 2107272600) for assistance.
  • Healthcare Awareness: Note the locations of hospitals and pharmacies for any unforeseen situations.
  • Public Transportation Card: Invest in a rechargeable public transportation card to effortlessly navigate the city using buses, trams, and the metro.
  • Coffee Culture: Savour the unique aroma and rich taste of Greek coffee, a cherished tradition best enjoyed in local cafes.
  • Language: While most of the Greeks speak English, learning a few basic Greek phrases can enhance your interactions and show appreciation for the local language. 
  • Greeting Greek People: Encourage using greetings like “Kalimera” (Good Morning) and “Efharisto” (Thank you) to show courtesy.
  • Dress modestly: Respect local customs by avoiding overly revealing clothing in churches.
  • Currency: Euros are the official currency. Carry some cash for smaller purchases, but credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs are readily available.
  • Sustainable Travel: Opt for walking or cycling tours whenever possible to minimise your carbon footprint and explore the city at a slower pace.
  • Local Tipping Etiquette: Tipping is customary but not mandatory. A 10-15% tip for waiters, taxi drivers, and other service personnel is considered appropriate.
  • Street Food: Sample delicious and affordable street food like gyros and loukoumades (greek doughnuts) for a taste of local urban cuisine.
  • Free Wi-Fi: Many cafes, restaurants, and public spaces offer free Wi-Fi, allowing you to stay connected throughout your trip.

12. Interesting FAQs about Athens

Here are some interesting Q&A about Athens!

How do I get from Athens International Airport to the city centre? 

You can take the metro (Line 3) and stop at the station “Syntagma”. Bus, taxi, or ride-sharing service like Uber, are some other popular options

What are the opening hours for shops and restaurants in Athens? 

Shops generally open around 9:00 AM and close around 9:00 PM. Restaurants often serve lunch from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM and dinner from 8:00 PM onwards. Note that opening hours may vary.

What does the name “Athens” mean?

The city’s name in Greek is “Athena”. Athens was named after the mythical goddess Athena. It also means “flourishing city on a hilltop.

What are some lesser-known historical sites worth exploring in Athens?

The Philopappos Hill, offering panoramic views and the remains of an ancient sanctuary and The Kerameikos Cemetery, the ancient Athenian burial ground with impressive tombstones and sculptures.

What’s the story behind the changing of the guard ceremony at Syntagma Square? This colorful spectacle, with its intricately dressed guards and precise movements, commemorates the Evzones, elite soldiers who played a crucial role in the Greek War of Independence.

What is the motto of Athens?

“Elefthería i Thánatos”, meaning “Freedom or Death”. It was the warcry of the Greek revolutionaries during the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.

Do I need a visa to visit Athens?
EU citizens do not require a visa for short stays. Check with your embassy for specific requirements.

What are some cultural customs to be aware of in Athens?

Smoking is prohibited in most indoor spaces and Siesta time (around 2pm-5pm) can affect shopping hours.

What is Athens best known for?

Athens is a sprawling city established among seven historic hills and surrounded by remarkable mountains. Inhabited for more than 3,000 years, Athens is widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy

13. March 25th on Athens: A Tapestry of History and Celebration

March 25th paints Athens in vibrant hues, intertwining the spirit of Greek Independence Day with the quiet observances of the Annunciation. Immerse yourself in the electrifying parade, witness the solemn beauty of religious ceremonies, and savour the unique blend of festive flavors and historical reflections. Explore the museums, discover hidden gems, and connect with the heart of this captivating city. Embrace the dual essence of March 25th – a day of joy, remembrance, and cultural exploration – for an unforgettable Athenian adventure!

Student Parade March 25th

Check our travel guides to Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete, Santorini, Nafpaktos, Ioannina and Mykonos!

 

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