Athens is undoubtedly worth a visit; this ancient city serves as an immortal reminder of what humanity can do and keep. Whether you’ve been there a day or five, or longer, read our top travel tips for things to do in the Greek capital
Through the airport or Port of Piraeus, Athens is mainly known to foreign sunseekers as the gateway to the islands of Greece. But the capital is not to be missed – this ancient fascinating city is worth a vacation in and of itself. Here’s our rough travel guide to Athens: its history, the best places to visit, and the most remarkable things to see.
Practical tips: the best time to go and how to get around
June to September is the busiest time to visit Athens; Housing prices are at their highest in the summer. July and August are the hottest months, when temperatures rise sharply to 30 (C) s. Meanwhile, be aware that due to heavier winter rains, some sights and tourist information centers may close earlier and sea travel is more likely to encounter disruption. Temperatures are equally pleasant in May and October, with less rainfall than in the winter months.
Athens International Airport is a significant hub, with flights coming in from all over the world. From there, you can take the express bus or metro line number 3 directly to the city center. The center itself is well connected by the integrated transportation system of buses, trams, trolleybuses and metros. For more details on how to use it, see The official website of OASA.
Why Athens is unique
When walking its streets, one cannot miss the diversity of Athens ’faces. With its tall buildings and contemporary shops, you can feel that you are finally in Europe, if you are from the east. However, from the other direction, the food, music, and bustling life on its streets seems undeniable in the Middle Eastern. It is wrong to call Athens merely a memorial of the Byzantine or of the Ottoman Empire, as it is called in the West or the East. Athens is the epitome of the Greek unique: demonstratively Athenian.
Despite their social development being delayed several times in history, the people of Athens have always managed to start where they were forced to stop, to rebuild their heritage and put it on a podium for the world to see. . In the mid-19th century, Athens was just a few of the villages scattered around the ruins of ancient temples. Today the capital of Greece is home to more than 3.7 million people counting its metropolitan area-nearly one-third of the country’s population.
The metropolis serves as the political, economic, educational and cultural center of the country and attracts large numbers of visitors and expats.
With the number of temples, archaeological sites and museums throughout the city, Athens is a paradise for lovers of true history.
Dionysiou Areopagitou is a long and pedestrianized street lined with trees and shrubs, providing easy access to Athens ’major historical sights. Travel around the Acropolis citadel and the Ancient Agora (just to name a couple), and you will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Pericles, Socrates and Plato.
Like other hilltop sites in Ancient Greece, the Acropolis-meaning “High City”-was built in the 5th century BCE and became both a place of worship and refuge when attacked. Crowned with the temple of the Parthenon, the Acropolis views present -day Athens as historic, cultural, and orderly, literally high point. Once dedicated to Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom and war, the Parthenon could easily have been the strongest temple in the ancient world, but now it relies on the support of modern cranes. However, it is a masterpiece to watch – not in every city will you find structures this large that are over 2,000 years old.
At the foot of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora – a kind of versatile public space – emerges from the Temple of Hephaestus. Athenians gathered here to exchange goods as well as news and gossip, making it the center of daily life in Ancient Greece. Believe it or not, the grassy part of these ruins is exactly where the roots of Western philosophy, politics, culture and science emerged.
Like many major civilizations, Ancient Greece rose to prominence and then slowly disappeared under the leadership of its conquerors. To regain a stately facade, Athens underwent major development in the 1800s. To wander the neoclassical architecture of this period, you must head to Plaka.
Plaka showcases a calmer, more intimate side to Athens, with cozy and colorful streets swathing flora, cute restaurants and modest souvenir shops. You will notice that Plaka’s relaxed trend is largely due to the lack of traffic in the area, and yet, it is still very close from the city center. Located under the walls of the Acropolis, Anafiotika is one of the quietest neighborhoods of Plaka, originally inhabited in the 19th century by workers from the island of Anafi-hence the name. Because of this unique collection of small white-stone houses, the hustle and bustle of the city seems many miles away.
To understand all the meanings of the modern Greek state, take yourself to Syntagma (“Constitution”) Square. A noble place of national importance, right here where Greece’s first constitution was established following independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. Guarded by stately soldiers in unique uniforms, the Old Royal Palace now serves as the home of the Greek parliament.
Today, Syntagma Square is the most crowded place in Athens. It has the city’s largest metro station and is scattered with lively restaurants and cafes, as well as banks shaded by trees that offer a front-seat view of life just passing by.
Health is all the rage today, but the Athenians have nurtured themselves for centuries with the concept of kalokagathos -the careful balance between a healthy mind and a healthy body-and you have nothing to expect from the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The city prides itself on a multi-purpose sports center made of marble, the only construction in the world. After renovation, the Panathenaic Stadium (or Kallimarmaro) hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896, and four of the nine events took place here. The venue was used again in this way at the 2004 Games.
And of course, a visit to Athens would not be complete without the sampling of colorful national dishes. Greek cuisine is famously delicious and healthy, the high life expectancy of the country is a proof of this. The diet is based on fresh, common Mediterranean ingredients such as vegetables, olives, cheese and fish. Feast on mouth-watering souvlaki, moussaka or dolmades anywhere in the city, and don’t forget your side of fresh salad made up of the most juicy local vegetables coated with the richest olive oil. Only these pleasures will keep you coming back.
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