Athens Travel Guide
Athens Travel Guide
Athens is a city full of life and is breathtakingly well-endowed with cultural and historical attractions:
Athens is charming, challenging and captivating, with legendary attractions, many of which are conveniently clustered within walking distance of the landmark Acropolis. The wondrous remains of classical Greece are an eternal draw card for travellers, but Athens also boasts a unique modern atmosphere and plenty of appeal for foodies, fashionistas and party-animals with some great restaurants, diverse shopping opportunities, and an energetic nightlife.
A holiday in Athens, with its hectic traffic and frenetic pace, may be too daunting for very young children or those that can't abide crowds and bustle, but anyone with a taste for classical history, colourful street markets, and tasty Greek specialities will revel in exploring this ancient city.
Best time to visit Athens
The winter months are the best time to holiday in Athens if you want to miss the crowds, get the best hotel deals and don't mind the odd shower; however, the most popular months to visit are the summer months of July, August and September. The summer months can be hot and muggy, so make sure your hotel room has air conditioning. We think the best time to travel to Athens is in spring or autumn, when the weather is still warm but most of the tourists have gone. Read more on Athens' Climate and Weather.
What to see in Athens
-Lose yourself in one of the best museums in the world: The National Archaeological Museum.
-Wander through the ruins of the Ancient Agora, where Plato and Socrates once spoke.
-Visit the breathtaking Benaki Museum.
-Enjoy a sunset and spectacular views from Lykavittos Hill.
What to do in Athens
-Relax in the lush National Gardens for a break from the heat and crowds.
-Go shopping and dining out in the historic neighbourhood of Plaka.
-Watch the traditional change of the guard at Syntagma Square.
-Take the kids to Allou Fun Park for thrills and giggles.
Athens is the travel hub of Greece and boasts the third largest passenger port in the world, providing the perfect means for visitors to island-hop to their heart's content. The famously lovely Saronic Islands are all an hour or two away from Piraeus Port by boat and Cape Sounion is a very popular day-trip from Athens. There are also many wonderful excursions out of Athens into mainland Greece, including trips to the mysterious site of Delphi, and the splendid Monastery of Daphni.
Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, often just called Athens International Airport, is the main gateway to all the delights of Greece and is situated 20 miles (33km) southeast of Athens city centre. Get more information on Airports in Athens.
Did you know?
-Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a history dating back at least 3,000 years.
-Over 40 percent of the Greek population lives in Athens.
-Athens is considered the birthplace of democracy.
Acropolis, Athens © GNTO
Athens exudes a unique charm; its lively character wins over tens of thousands of visitors every year. Street markets, vine-covered tavernas, souvenir stalls and ancient monuments are dotted among high-rise buildings in this capital city, which one out of four Greeks calls home. For tourists the greatest advantage is that most attractions are accessible on foot in the central area around the landmark Acropolis.
Athens was named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, who according to mythology won the city as prize after a duel against Poseidon. The city can chart its history back thousands of years and is regarded as the cradle of western civilisation; the place where democracy was invented and philosophy, art and architecture were refined. After a classical golden age when it was home to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the city declined in the Middle Ages, dwindling to nothing but a town with a few thousand residents gathered in the colourful area that is now known as the Plaka, until its rebirth as capital of an independent Greece in 1834.
Nowadays the city is busy and bustling. While the pollution, frantic gridlock and dingy buildings are a striking contrast to the open beauty of Greece's coast and islands, Athens is truly the heartbeat of the country, and ancient wonders like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temples of Zeus and Hephaesus ensure that Athens will always lure travellers.