CENTRE OF ATHENS
When one thinks of history’s great civilisations, it’s impossible not to include the ancient Greeks. And perhaps there’s no building that evokes ancient Greece more than the Parthenon. One of the most recognizable monuments around the world, the Parthenon, is the most magnificent creation of Athenian democracy at the peak of its power and the symbol of ancient Greece. The temple stands on the Acropolis Hill towering over the Greek capital.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Also called the Olympieion, once the largest temple in Greece, the temple of Olympian Zeus was a grandiose temple built between the sixth century BC and second century AD. This impressive construction, made entirely of white marble from Mount Pentelicus, lies in the heart of modern Athens. Although an earthquake destroyed most of the temple during the Middle Ages, the remains still demonstrate the vastness of the monument offering a majestic sight.
Panathenaic Stadium/ Kallimarmaron
The Panathenaic Stadium is a classical cultural and touristic monument of Greece and one of the most significant monuments not only for Athens, but for the whole Greece. Its rich history is directly connected to the Modern Olympic Games as from their revival in 1896. With its serried rows of white Pentelic marble seats built into a ravine next to Ardettos Hill, this ancient-turned-modern stadium, the only one in the world made entirely out of marble, is a draw both for lovers of classical architecture and sports fans who can imagine the roar of the crowds from millennia past.
Ancient Marketplace (Agora)
Agora is an archaeological site located beneath the northwest slope of Acropolis. Once the centre of the public life of Athens, Agora remained in use as an assembly, as a commercial, or as a residential area for about 5000 years, and is still buzzing with life reflecting its early days of glory.
The Areopagus is one of the three hills located on the west side of the Acropolis hill, between the ancient Agora and the entrance to the complex called “Propylaea”. It has been the stage of many important events in the city’s mythology and history. The Areopagus hill offers incredible views of the nearby Acropolis hill and gives a good scale of the fortifications built on top of the rock itself. It is also the perfect place to view other parts of the heart of ancient Athens and to take in the treasures and sites of ancient Athens surrounding you. Just don’t forget to wear appropriate shoes.
Plaka is without a doubt one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods and probably the most popular neighbourhood amongst those visiting Athens, with its narrow streets, lovely neoclassical buildings, small cafes, traditional tavernas, souvenir shops and ancient ruins in almost every corner. Plaka is in the heart of the centre of Athens, just under the Acropolis hill, yet has a totally different air than the rest of the city centre, creating a feeling of nostalgia of the old Athens. A special mention needs to be made here to Anafiotika, the most unique neighbourhood in Athens. Whilst taking a stroll there, you may forget for a bit that you are in Athens and you might think that you either time-travelled or teleported to a small village on a Cycladic island.
If there’s one place where almost the whole history of Greece -and of Athens- throughout the years is hauntingly present, this is Monastiraki Square. A can’t-miss spot of the city of Athens, Monastiraki Square was -and still is- a boiling cauldron of people, ideas, civilizations, and religions. Its pivotal importance in the urban development of the city is apparent when looking at the magnificent buildings that flank it on every side, dramatically blending the present with the past.
Syntagma Square/ National Gardens
Syntagma Square has literally been the very heart of Athens ever since the city became the capital of the modern Greek state. With the Greek Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier looming over it, it is rich with history and is the place where most major events of the last two centuries have taken place. Located right in front of the Hellenic Parliament, Syntagma Square is where you can watch the changing of the Presidential Guard. Right after that, it would be a miss not to enjoy a stroll through the National Gardens. A walk through this lovely Oasis of fresh air and cool shades, located in the very heart of Athens will surprise you pleasantly, especially on a hot summer day.
Ermou Street is a one-and-a-half-kilometre-long pedestrian road in central Athens, right off Syntagma Square. It is the most expensive shopping street in Athens and one of the most expensive in Europe. On its narrow or wide labyrinthine streets, you can find more than 2.500 shops which sell different kinds of products. The shops are selling everything from high-end clothing to trinkets, leather goods, embroidery, and higher quality jewellery. At the same time, because many of its streets have been turned into pedestrian areas, it is a very quiet place with many coffee houses, small bars and modern restaurants.
Standing 277 metres above sea level, Lycabettus Hill is the highest point of central Athens and it is considered one of the most romantic places in Athens, providing an amazing panoramic view that is arguably the best view of the city. Enjoy that splendid view whilst drinking your coffee or having lunch. A funicular or cliff railway can take you to the top of the hill and proves to be α novelty for younger kids.
One of Greece’s must-see museums, the Acropolis Museum was built to house the Parthenon Sculptures. Housing more than 3000 famous artefacts from the most significant sanctuary of the ancient city, The Museum narrates the story of life on the Rock from Prehistoric times until the end of Antiquity. Its collection of items along with the stunning view of the Acropolis creates an experience you would not want to miss.
Address: 15 Dionysiou Areopagitou Str. (closest Metro Station: Acropolis)
National Archaeological Museum
The largest archaeological museum in Greece, The National Archaeological Museum, hosts some of the greatest collections of antiquities in the world. There are over 11000 exhibits dating as far back as the Neolithic Period through the Late Antiquity. This should be on your list of places not to miss while in Athens.
Address: 44 Patission Str. (closest Metro Station: Victoria)
Set in the original Benaki Family mansion, Benaki Museum houses an impressive collection of artefacts that gives a captivating overview of Greek history throughout the ages. At the top of the impressive neoclassical building, there is a café with a view of Acropolis, Lycabettus Hill, and the National Gardens. Apart from that, the museum shop is a worthwhile visit with some of the best reproductions of Grece’s antiquities.
Address: 1 Koumpari Str. (closest Metro Station: Syntagma)
Museum of Cycladic Art
The Museum of Cycladic Art showcases a fascinating collection that gives a real insight into the ancient civilisation of the Cycladic Islands, Ancient Greece and Cyprus. The remnants of these ancient societies from 3200-2000BC, give telling information on how ancient Greeks lived and is brought to life with the permanent audio-visual installation called Scenes from Daily Life in Antiquity.
Address: 4 Neophytou Douka Str. (closest Metro Station: Evangelismos)
National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMCA)
Currently hosting its permanent collection, EMST is an exhibit on its own, housed in the old FIX brewery building that has been transmuted into its modern form. One will be impressed by its imposing dimensions which, coupled with the unassuming location, create an interesting contradiction: a highly sophisticated institution perfectly embedded in a thoroughly pedestrian neighbourhood. Throughout the year the museum organizes special exhibits and events, so make sure to check out what’s on.
Address: Kallirois Avenue & Amvr. Frantzi Str. (closest Metro Station: Syggrou-Fix
AROUND THE SUITES
Flisvos Marina is Greece’s first exclusive marina to offer large-scale mooring capacity for mega-yacht owners from Greece and abroad. Whether you have a boat and you are ready to explore the Greek islands or you are a visitor to Athens, Flisvos Marina is one of the best destinations for entertainment and relaxation. Take a stroll through the imposing waterside pedestrian road or enjoy the Marina in one of the surrounding cafes, restaurants, and shops.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC)
One of the largest and newest developments that Athens has seen, the SNFCC complex, in the bay of Faliro, includes the facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera, as well as the Stavros Niarchos Park. It is a remarkable architectural feat offering a wide variety of entertainment options for the whole family, with events taking place all year round.
One of the glossiest parts of the Athens Riviera is the neighbourhood of Glyfada. Located right on the seafront (and only about a 20-minute drive or 45-minute tram ride from the city centre), with lovely beaches, big restaurants, and rows and rows of high-end stores, this is where many locals dream of moving to combine the best of city living with all that the coast has to offer. One thing you’ll notice is that the people you’ll see on the streets here tend to be well-dressed even for doing non-glamorous things, like going to the gym. However, the locals know that in Glyfada, every outing is an opportunity for seeing and being seen.
Almost hidden from view, behind Poseidonos Avenue is the beautiful sunken cavern of Vouliagmeni Lake, which lends this southern suburb its name (Vouliagmeni means “sunken” in Greek). Open year-round, the lake is an actual flooded limestone cave, lined with tawny cliffs and fed by underground mineral currents that stay at a constant 24° C. At Lake Vouliagmeni, the perfect place for some relaxing moments of recreation, you have the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee, sweets, snacks, meals, a fancy dinner, and unique cocktails. Give yourself an outstanding all-day experience, in the idyllic setting of the Athenian Riviera, half an hour away from Athens city centre.
OUT OF ATHENS
Take the scenic route along the Athenian Riviera to the Southernmost Point of the peninsula. At the end of the Sounio peninsula lies the imposing Temple of Poseidon within a fort that protects the coast of Attica. You will be mesmerised by the blankets of blues, reds, and oranges that engulf the temple as the sun descends into the sea. Along the way to the Temple, marvelous local fish taverns are a total must, offering the best traditional seafood in Athens.
Maybe the most influential city of ancient times, Delphi, was once considered the centre of the world. Nowadays, it is one of the most important ancient sanctuaries in Greece. Situated on the slope of Parnassus, Delphi is a spiritual retreat. As well as exploring the town, strolling through its streets, discovering the pretty little shops and enjoying the marvelous landscape from its many panoramic bars, there are some must-see attractions such as the archaeological site, which includes the Temple of Apollo and the Tholos of Delphi, and the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
Mycenae – Nafplio – Epidaurus
A journey through 3.600 years of Greek history, from the city of almighty King Agamemnon, who led the Greeks during the Trojan War to the picturesque town of Nafplio with its imposing fortresses. Take photos from the picturesque Isthmus of Corinth, connecting the Corinthian with the Saronic Gulf. Explore the kingdom of Agamemnon, the Cyclopean Walls and the archaeological park of Mycenae. Visit the coastal city of Nafplio, once the first capital of post-revolution Greece. Walk through the ancient Epidaurus Theatre, known as the theatre with the best acoustic in the world.
Get a feel of the Greek countryside just an hour away from Athens by visiting a city that, apart from its archaeological and historical importance, is also one of the most popular religious destinations in Greece. Located at the northernmost base of the hill of Acrocorinth, this remarkable city is the perfect place for a day-trip from Athens.
Set foot on one of the most historical and important battlefields in history, a battle so heroic that inspired a global running event: The Athens Authentic Marathon Race. It is really worth making a stop and enjoying a cup of coffee at Marathon Lake.