Ancient Gods, Myths and Legends
Athens. The city that gave birth to democracy, the sciences and fine arts. Τhe city of history and ancient civilization, the Parthenon, Acropolis and the Ancient Agora. At the same time a modern city that never sleeps.
Athens is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful European cities. The magic that exudes is unique because one can see the blend of ancient Greek culture with the atmosphere of modern Athens, with its large modern buildings, picturesque quiet alleys or the busy streets and the numerous cafes.
A city you must visit at least once in your lifetime, not only because of its archaeological treasures, the bright sun and the blue Attica sky, but because of its charm and wisdom.
A youthful city, buzzing with life, it is confident, free and full of energy. Athens is an open-air museum. Let its charm seduce you!
Μost popular sights and attractions
Must-sees are the Acropolis, Parthenon, and the New Acropolis Museum, one of the best archaeological museums in the world. From the neighbourhood of Thiseion to Pnyka, the pedestrian walkway of Dionysiou Areopagitou, Plaka, Anafiotika and Monastiraki, you’ll admire archaeological sites, ancient and Byzantine monuments, churches and neoclassical buildings steeped in history.
The Sacred Rock of Acropolis: The Sacred Rock of the Acropolis “the province of the Gods”, unoccupied by humans, is a perfect 5th century BC collection of public monuments which stands as a unique Greek testimony. Visible from diverse viewpoints, the holy rock rises 490 meters above the sea level and covers a surface area of 30,000 square meters. Athena and Poseidon had to fight to win patronage of the city. Poseidon struck his trident against the ground to spring water, but the goddess won by offering an olive tree. It is one of the most photographed attractions in the world!
Propylaea: A monumental gateway to the Acropolis built of white Pentelic marble.
Erechtheion: A building complex from 420 BC, made of Pentelic marble, a unique example of the Ionic order.
Temple of Athena Nike: A masterpiece of the Classical era, built by Kallikrates in the Ionic order, with a four-column structure.
Ancient Agora: Located on the northwest side of the Acropolis lies Ancient Agora. It is home to various monuments such as Stoa Poikile, Temple of Hephaestus, Mitroo, Tholos, Stoa of Attalos, Vouleftirion and the Altar of the Twelve Gods.
Kallimarmaron Stadium: Step into a white marble stadium, home to the first ever Olympic Games in 1896. The Kallimarmaron Stadium was built between 330 and 329 BC and was used as grounds for the Panathenaic Games where the Goddess Athena was honored.
Odeon of Herodes Attikus: Located on the southwest side of the Acropolis, Herodion is known for major cultural events and phenomenal acoustics. Considered as one of the most important theaters in Athens, the Herodion can accommodate 5,000 spectators.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus: Located on the southeast side of the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus is known as the largest ancient temple in Greece. The temple was created in the beginning of the 6th century and dedicated to Zeus once completed 700 years later.
The Acropolis Museum: Being the most popular museum in Athens, the Acropolis Museum is visited by millions of tourists and locals every year. See outstanding architecture, smooth sculptures, artistic masterpieces and breathtaking views of the city.
National Archeological Museum: Being the largest archaeological attraction and museum in Greece. Devoted to Greek art and founded at the end of the 19th century, it is one of the top museums in the world.
Arch of Hadrian: Built in 131 AC, the Arch of Hadrian was built to honor the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This attraction is commonly known in Greek as “Hadrian’s Gate” and is a monumental gateway that looks exactly like a Roman triumphal arch, which is often designed to divide a road.
Syntagma Square: The name Syntagma means Constitution. The Square has a long history. It seems every major event in Greece has either been mourned or celebrated here. At the top of Syntagma is the Parliament Building, formerly the King’s Palace, built between 1836 and 1840 by King Otto. The tomb of the unknown soldier is guarded by Evzones, the elite soldiers who also guard the Palace and are chosen for their height and strength.To the left of the square is the Grande Bretagne a hotel as historically significant as it is elegant and a great place to go in for a coffee in the beautiful lobby or the bar. From Syntagma Square, stroll down the famous shopping street of Ermou, until you reach Monastiraki, and there you’ll enter the old markets teeming with tourist and antique shops.
Activities & Best things to do
Long walks in the parks, the squares or in some full of character areas of Athens are enjoyable things to do and photograph. Sure, most prefer to visit it in the summer as hot weather, crystal clear seas, beautiful islands and sunny days are sought but Athens is a magical city in the winter, too. The melancholy of winter can be felt in every corner of the city.
Explore the historic center: The walk along Dionysios Areopagitis and Apostolos Pavlos streets (the neighbourhood beneath the Acropolis) is one of the most beautiful walks in the center of the city. Sidewalk cafes, the New Acropolis Museum, and row upon row of elegant neoclassical buildings facing the Acropolis will welcome you as you begin your stroll.
Take a walk in Athens National Garden: A green oasis in the center of the city. Just a few meters away from Syntagma metro station and right next to the Greek parliament lies the national garden which, together with the Zappeion hall garden, covers 24 hectares full of vegetation, rare kinds of plants, saplings and birds.
Climb the Hill of the Nymphs: You must climb Filopappou Hill, if you are a sunrise lover! This hill of the Greek capital is a unique combination of natural beauty and history. Its stone paths are dressed in silver and orange shades from the fallen leaves of the trees. Anyone who decides to climb the hill will enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Athens to photograph under the magical Athenian sunrise light.
Enjoy Athens from a height of 30 meters: The Tower of the New Watergas, the new museum stop of the Industrial Gas Museum, invites you to live a unique experience, climbing up the highest building of Technopolis and enjoying the views stretching ahead of you with a 360-degree view. The building is the only remaining watergas production building in Europe while it is a rare example of industrial heritage, as it preserves most of its mechanical equipment.
A scenic walk in Anafiotika: The Aegean in the heart of Athens! The tiny whitewashed houses between rocks, narrow alleys, blue windows and flowers create a magic scenery that overlooks the spectacular view of the city.
Visit Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center: The SNFCC is one of the world’s most sustainable building complexes of its size. It is an architectural treasure, designed by Renzo Piano. It has taken over and restored an abandoned seafront piece of land in the southern suburbs, which practically oversees Athens at its whole. Today the lot has been transformed into the Stavros Niarchos Park, also home to the modern building, which houses the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera.
The gastronomic proposals in Attica are innumerable. The center of Athens is full of taverns and traditional restaurants with Greek cuisine, offering live Greek music, beer houses, wine bars and all-day café-restaurants. Also, gourmet restaurants with international cuisine and Michelin star chefs. You must taste the famous souvlaki, the moussaka, the traditional pies and the famous feta (Greek cheese).
Spend a night like a local! Explore Athens’ urban nightlife, discover secret places that only locals know, listen to Greek music and try local drinks and food. Immerse yourself in the vibrant alleys of Psyrri, home to traditional cafés, bars and restaurants! You’ll find yourself among friendly locals in a convivial atmosphere, drinking rakomelo – a traditional sweet and hot drink, and savouring authentic Greek “mezedes”. Visit the Kolonaki neighbourhood- the high-class and artistic quarter of Athens- as well as the industrial Gazi and the popular Petralona. Don’t miss Troon street, and Evgeniou Antoniadou street in “Ano” (which means “upper”) Petralona. The second one will make you think you are in a Greek village!
Upper: Stylish, with vintage chandeliers and antique furniture, it’s the best choice for all hours of the day, located next to Syntagma Square.
TAF The Art Foundation: If you find Normanou street 2, an alley in Ermou, open the door and discover a hidden courtyard that offers tasteful coffee, special drinks and delicious dishes in a building dating back to 1870.
The Clumsies: At number 30 of Praxitelou street, there is an all-day bar that will surely leave you the best impressions. After all, it was listed as one of the 50 best bars in the world.
Noel: Impressive walls painted in deep red, chandeliers, sofas and armchairs of another era make a place that looks like a baroque Viennese coffee located in Kolokotroni street.
Giasemi (Jasmine): At the most photographed neighborhood of the city, Anafiotika – at Mnisikleous 23 street – you will enjoy authentic Greek coffee, local sweets and traditional pies.
Hytra: The restaurant “Hytra”, whose name derives from the ancient Greek terracotta vase, has awarded two Michelin stars. It is located at the top floor of the Onassis Cultural Centre in Syggrou Avenue and offers a unique outdoor setting with panoramic views of the Acropolis, Lycabettus and the city skyline.
A for Athens: Enjoy the finest view of the Acropolis and throughout the historic center on the top floor of the homonymous hotel on Miaouli Street 2, making a relaxing city break.
Kimolia Art Café: A special coffee bar in a warm and elegant art space. Located at Yperidou 5 street, it’s one of the coziest places to relax in Plaka.
Karamanlidika of Fani’s: A temple of sausages and meet. An authentic “mezedopoleio” (as the locals say) with Greek “mezedes” and spicy recipes. If you find yourself in the Varvakio Market, the smells and the hanging sausages can only draw your attention.
City Bistro: One of the most popular meeting points in the city center, at the atmospheric Spyromiliou Arcade, that brings a European flair in one of the most beautiful spots. Simple and cozy, it is ideal for all hours of the day.
Kuzina: An atmospheric Athenian restaurant in Thissio located in a neoclassical mansion. The comfortable veranda offers spectacular views to the Temple of Hephaestus, the ancient Agora and the Acropolis.
Monk Grapes & Spirits: An elegant wine bar on number 4 of Karori street, that is worth visiting not only for its mysterious atmosphere but for its enormous wine list and its special dishes.
To kreas: If you love fresh meat, this restaurant will steal your heart! Located in Ano (which means “upper”) Petalona, one of the neighborhoods locals prefer, it’s one of the best choices if you want to taste the Greek cuisine.
How to reach Athens
The Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, located 27km away at Spata, is the airport that serves Athens. A lot of international and domestic connections are available from Athens to all of Europe and most of the other major cities of the world. Grecian airlines like Aegean Airlines as well as international airlines like Air France, Lufthansa, Emirates, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Finnair, KLM, British Airways, Swiss Air, Air China, Turkish Airlines and many more offer connectivity to Athens from major cities across Europe and the world.