Stunning Athens, named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena, is not only the capital city of Greece, but one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Brimming with aromatic tavernas, lively neighbourhoods, and plenty of ancient culture mixed with modernity, there is nothing quite like holidays to Athens.
In preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games, a lot of money was spent on regenerating the city which in turn boosted the city’s appeal for great holidays in Athens. Gone are the days when Athens was just the best place to fly into before catching a boat to the Greek Islands like Mykonos or Santorini, the city now exudes a certain charm and character which attracts holidaymakers from across the world.
As well as the many museums in Athens, including the National Archaeological Museum, there are also street markets to explore, vine-covered tavernas where you can sit and relax with a bottle of wine and a Greek salad, plenty of shopping opportunities and historic wonders to see at every street corner.
As you will find out on holidays to Athens, it is actually quite a large city with plenty of accommodation options. The scenic heart of the capital is centred on the dazzling Acropolis in Plaka. With rooftop terrace gardens and patios, views of the Parthenon lit up at night, and easy access to the metro and shops, this is the spot for those who are in Athens for a short break or just want beautiful views. However if its upscale boutiques, gourmet restaurants and trendy nightspots you are looking for then there is no better place than Kolonaki, one of Athens' most attractive neighbourhoods.
For those looking for a quick stopover in Athens before exploring the Aegean, staying nearby the port of Piraeus is as good a spot as any. Here you can be within walking distance of the harbour and only a short distance away from the metro that can take you into the heart of the city or to the bus terminals for day trips to Corinth in the Peloponnese.
As well as its obvious historic importance, Athens is also Greece's commercial centre and home to most significant of all the Mediterranean ports, Piraeus. Couple all of the above with attractive pedestrianized streets, leafy parks, great shopping, pine-covered hillsides, numerous bars and restaurants and a lively nightlife scene and it is easy to see why Athens has become a popular Mediterranean holiday destination in the last few years.
The best way to explore Athens is on foot as so many of the city's attractions are located close to one and other. Start with a visit to the world-renowned National Archaeological Museum before a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium which dates back to 330 BCE and hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Even today, this 70,000-seater stadium is used for concerts and large events.
Obviously no trip to Athens would be complete without seeing the city's most famous landmark, the Acropolis, and a great place to view it is from the monument on Philopappou Hill opposite. Plaka is another popular area of Athens and is home to a variety of quaint museums, Roman temples and Byzantine churches, art galleries, tavernas, cafés and restaurants. Finally, make sure you find enough time on your Athens holidays to visit some of the fantastic beaches that line this beautiful stretch of the Greek coastline.
Out and About in Athens
One of the main attractions of Athens holidays is that the city is quite compact and most of the attractions are accessible on foot from the central area around the Acropolis near the Plaka district. As you will soon discover, walking is the best way to soak up the atmosphere and run into culture at every turn.
There are some great beaches within easy reach of Athens allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a major city combined with the obvious attraction of a Greek beach holiday. Travel a few miles along the south-east to the district of Glyfada where you’ll find some uncrowded beaches, although many of them are private so you may have to pay to enjoy them.
To the northeast of Athens, close to the Marathon district, the beaches are beautiful and generally quieter while to the east you will also find nice beaches, but here they are a lot more crowded. The best way to explore the beaches in Athens is by hopping on a bus and seeing where it takes you.