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.
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.
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.
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.
With a selection of 20 beaches, you won’t be lost for a view of the sea. Alimos beach is very close to the city centre so you can head there for a quick escape from busy city life. If you want something more chilled, take a trip to Glyfada’s sandy beach where you’ll also find some secluded coves. For something more cultural, try visiting the The Acropolis where you can view the ruins of three temples built in the 5th century BC.
For a true taste of Athens life, visit the Hellenic Festival. Towards the end of summer to early autumn, the International Petra Festival, which often attracts much of the same performers as those who attend the Hellenic Festival. For a sight to remember, purchase tickets to the Night of the Full Moon at the Acropolis.
Join the Athens YMCA mountain bike trail which is 18 mies long with a moratorium on the trail development. To try out snorkeling, head towards Sounio where the rocky coves are deep. Alternatively for an assisted bareboat charter, try out flotilla sailing in the Ionian – Lefkas.
Why not up the anti and keep fit during your action holiday in Athens by running in or watching the Athens Classic Marathon. Alternatively there is a wide variety of excursions available, most of which there will be details in available in your hotel lobby.
For a luxurious, relaxing spa trip, why not head towards the Luxury Vouliagmeni where you can take full advantage of their indoor pool with seawater and roman baths among many other services. For a unique experience, visit the Turkish Hammam Baths in Athens where you can really induldge in your surroundings.
For something a little more exotic, why not go on a wine tasting and Ancient Corinth Day trip where you’ll be able to indulge in some traditional Greek wine at a Greek vineyard then learn a little history about Ancient Greece with a visit to Ancient Corinth.
Visit the heart of the city in downtown Athens area where you can find the best bars, cocktail lounges and clubs. American Tavern or the Amici Italian Café are great spots whether you want a drink to start off an evening of fun or a night cap. Head right to the city centre where you’ll find the Fou Club for a night of dancing. Or head to Pil Poul for a romantic meal.
For a hotel right in the city centre, head to the Arion Hotel. With it’s perfect location, you’ll be surrounded by all the best entertainment and restaurants Athens has to offer. Alternatively head to the Adrian hotel, where you can spend a romantic get away for two.
To add a bit of ancient Greece to your trip, why not visit one of the great museums that Athens has to offer. From the Acropolis museum, the war museum to the National Archeological museum, there’s something for everyone’s taste. If art takes your fancy, take a trip to the Benaki museum.
If the Ancient Greek Gods tickles your fancy, take a trip to the Temple of Zeus where these mythological characters come to life. If you’re after a market place or civic center, the Agora is for you. It is still recognized to day as being one of the most important part of the Ancient Athenian way of life.
If you are looking for a quick, cheap way to see a lot of the main attractions and sites in Athens, why not try out the Hop-On Hop-Off tour. You’ll get to enjoy riding on an open top double decker bus while visiting some of the top tourist spots of the city in the glorious Greek sunshine.
For a traditional open theatre, book tickets to visit the Herodes Atticus Odeon. The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus in Athens still has remains in our present day, and is still a major open-air theatre, one of which was the earliest to be built. For documentaries and foreign films, visit the Athens Cine.
At the Athens Concert Hall you can watch many its many art events and performances. It is perfect for holiday goers who want to add a bit of Greek culture to their trips. For those who love interested in technology and science, the Planetarium is for you. Here you can learn visually about Athens.
If sport is what grabs your attention, head to the Glyfada Gold Course where you’ll find an 18 hole, Par 72 course to keep you busy for a sunny afternoon. If you enjoy bike rides, the Athens Ga Bicycling Club is located in the Georgia area. Alternatively you can explore the city by attending one of the organized walking and sightseeing tours.
There are 54 restaurants in which to wine and dine within Athens. For something a little familiar to home, why not head to the Hard Rock Café where you’ll find English style foods. For a more traditional Greek dish, try out Spondi or Daphne’s restaurants.
There is a great range of hotels available to suit all price budgets. For something a little cheaper, look towards the Geke S.A. or the Hotel Achilleas where prices start from around £64. For something a little more luxurious the Hotel, Grande Bretangne is the choice for you with prices from around £236.