Explore thousands of years of history and culture in cosmopolitan Athens, from the ancient Acropolis with its famed Parthenon temple to its contemporary art galleries. You’ll see traces of the Byzantine and Ottoman eras in its multi-layered architecture, combined with a modern buzz – Athens is a hotspot for urban street art! Gather in central Syntagma Square to watch the world go by, imagining this ageless city as it was centuries ago. Ready to get out of town? Excellent beaches are a short trip away along the Attica peninsula, along with sleepy villages and mineral-rich lakes to explore.
The Acropolis is Athens’ most iconic attraction, an ancient city within a city that sits on top of a hill overlooking the town. It’s worth getting up early to have it (relatively) to yourself, so you can take your time as you wander through its ruins and see the unforgettable columns of the 2,400-year-old Parthenon temple. Stop off at unique museums like the National Museum of Contemporary Art and archaeology-centred Numismatic Museum, where you can view ancient artefacts. Do you want to get a flavour for the local cuisine? Why not stop off at the Central Market, with its food stalls.
Ships arrive at the port of Piraeus, which offers a few unique attractions of its own, including the Archaeological Museum and several Greek Orthodox churches. To get into Athens, you can take the Metro Green Line from Piraeus to Monastiraki, which puts you within walking distance of the Acropolis. There’s an E-ticketing system that’s easy to use, allowing you to top up your card as needed. Taxis are also thick on the ground, providing a fast and simple way to get around. The ride from the port to Athens city centre takes about half an hour depending on traffic.
Athens is on the tourist map throughout the year, with each season offering distinct charms. Winter is a good time to visit if you want to enjoy the Parthenon without the crowds – it can get very busy during the high season. Temperatures soar during the summer, particularly during August when the city empties out as locals head to the beach to cool down. Both the spring and autumn months are considered to be best if you want to avoid the summer crush and enjoy mild weather for sightseeing. The shoulder months of May and September are ideal!
Many will have heard of Athens – the capital of Greece, in particular the rich history of warring goddessRead more
Although it’s easy to spend the bulk of your time visiting ancient monuments in Athens, its modern side deserves a look as well! Visit neighbourhoods like Kolonaki, where you’ll find chic streets lined with galleries, eateries and boutiques. Psiri is a rather trendy neighbourhood. This formerly industrial area has bene transformed into a haven of artsy shops and hipster cafes.
If you’ve seen the Parthenon and want more, why not take a day trip to Delphi? This mystical site sits on Mount Parnassus, and was once thought of as the navel of the world by the Greeks. It was home to the famous oracle, who was consulted about decisions great and small. Have a wander along the Sacred Way leading up to the Temple of Apollo and Theatre of Delphi, which was constructed circa 400 BC.
You don’t have to travel far to find beautiful beaches in Greece. Why not take the ferry from Piraeus over to the island of Aegina? It’s only a 35-minute ride, and you’ll find scenic, sandy beaches here to relax and admire the view.
Greek food is one of the world’s most flavourful cuisines, and cosmopolitan Athens is an excellent place to try both traditional and modern dishes. Head to the historic Plaka district to find a wide selection of restaurants and tavernas, many featuring impeccably fresh seafood.