The capital of Greece is a boon for history and culture buffs, but also offers the verve of an exciting city to tempt those who like to party. From the ancient open-air museums to the vibrant shopping streets, the bustling nightlife to the delicious food, visitors to Athens are always spoilt for choice.
The most renowned tourist attraction is arguably the Acropolis, the ancient “high city” of Athens, comprising marble temples built to honour the city’s goddess, Athena. The complex comprises a range of buildings from the Greek Classical age, including the Parthenon and Temple of Athena Nike built in 438 BC. Wear flat shoes with grip as the marble steps to the Parthenon could be slippery.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to Athens’ National Archaeological Museum, featuring artefacts spanning a period of more than 5 000 years from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece. Widely considered one of the world’s greatest museums, visitors can expect the to see the most vast collection of artefacts from Greek antiquity worldwide.
Head for the quaint historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis with their restored 19th century archictecture, Roman ruins, shops and pedestrianised streets. Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio are a labyrinth of streets you’ll want to wander through.
The glorious era in the history of man is celebrated at The New Acropolis Museum where artifacts, statues, sculptures and objects are on display. Some of these 4000 artefacts have been in storage for over 200 years and are now on show for you to take in and enjoy.
Indulge in the best views of Athens at the top of Lycavittos Hill from where you can see the entire city. Walk from Kolonaki (located bear Evangelismos Metro Stop) or take the funicular railway from the top of Ploutarchou Street in Kolonaki.
If it’s all things Greek you’re seeking, pop to Oikotexnia near the Syntagma Metro Station where you’ll find a wide range of Greek handicrafts, including kilims, flokatis, table cloths and needlepoint rugs. Alternatively, head for the Center of Hellenic Tradition in picturesque Plaka, where you can buy high-quality traditional Greek art, pottery, embroideries and prints. For yummy traditional foods, ouzo and spices, Athinas Street central food market is hard to beat.
Don those walking shoes and embark on Athens’ archaeological walk, starting at Vasilisis Amalias Street, which passes the New Acropolis Museum, Acropolis, Herodion Theatre, Thiseio (Apostolou Pavlou Str), Ermou Street and the popular area of Kerameikos (Gkazi) where numerous bars and clubs are located.
Athens is dotted with ancient sites, many of which are free to visit including Filopappos Hill and Panathenaic Stadium. Even the Acropolis is free to visitors on Sundays between November and March. Embark on a walking tour of picturesque Plaka and stumble into a myriad of ancient historical sites without spending a penny.
Check out the free bi-monthly Athens city guide, Athens in Your Pocket for information about sightseeing, restaurants and events in the city, also available as an App. https://www.inyourpocket.com/athens