Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and is Greece’s capital and most populous city. The food, vibrant street life and relaxed lifestyle are popular drawcards, however Athens is known foremost for its remarkable history, mythology and spectacular ruins.
There are many things to see and places to explore in Athens – these are just a starting point.
The Acropolis and the Parthenon
The Acropolis and The Parthenon, Athens
Perched high above the city of Athens, is the Acropolis – a symbol of Greece and the Greek Empire. The Acropolis is home to the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena, and a fantastic (must-see) museum.
Make your way up the hill and explore. The structures leading up to the Parthenon are beautiful and the Parthenon itself is striking with its white marble pillars – it’s hard to believe that it was built in 438BC. From here, wander down to the ruins of the Theatre of Dionysus and then on to the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which begun construction in the 6th century BC and took more than 600 years to complete. The size of these structures is unbelievable – they are massive! Also visit to the Roman Stadium which hosted the first Olympic Games of modern times in 1896.
Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece
Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece
Syntagma (or Constitution) Square is the heart of modern Athens and well worth a visit. Lined with luxury hotels and cafes, Syntagma Square is a great place to relax, enjoy a traditional Greek coffee or snack, people-watch and soak up the atmosphere as locals go about their day around you.
In the area between the square and parliament, you’ll find the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, every hour there is a changing of the guard ceremony – on Sundays it is especially impressive.
Plaka, at the base of the hill topped by the Acropolis, is the oldest neighborhood in Athens. Head here in the early evening and wander the maze of cobblestone streets – filled with restaurants offering amazing Greek food (try the moussaka), live entertainment, and a range of shops to find the perfect gifts or quality souvenirs.
You can’t travel to Athens without visiting the famous (and colorful) Brettos distillery – offering ouzo, brandy and the most amazing range of liqueurs. While exploring these beautiful streets, grab a Greek souvlaki wrap from one of the takeaway stalls – they are delicious!
National Archaeological Museum
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
To gain a true appreciation and understanding of the amazing ruins and Greek history, visit the National Archaeological Museum. Originally built to house and protect finds from 19th century excavations in Athens, it is now filled with an impressive collection of treasures from all over Greece. This amazing collection traces the history of Greek civilization from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity.
This bustling and vibrant quarter is filled with many restaurants, cafes and bars; it’s also home to the daily flea market – here you’ll find clothing, shoes, bead shops, jewellery, and antiques – bargain with the locals to get the best prices. Monastiraki has a great atmosphere, cheap food, and live music – stop, explore and get lost in the rambling streets.
Piraeus is the seaport of Athens and makes the list because it is the gateway to many of the stunning Greek islands. Watch the sunset and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the dockside restaurants, before heading off on a ferry to discover these breathtakingly beautiful islands, for what will be an unforgettable experience.