Home to almost half of the population of Greece, Athens is the ancient capital known for its world-renowned historic sights. Offering a fusion of ancient culture and urban cool, a trip to Athens is key to understanding Greek culture, in all its vibrant, joyful and, sometimes chaotic, charm. One of the oldest cities in the world, Athens has a history that stretches back more than 3,400 years. You can’t escape the historic atmosphere of Athens as the Acropolis looms large over the modern city.
Famously the birthplace of the pillars of Western civilization, such as democracy and philosophy, if you travel to Athens you can walk in the footsteps of the greats such as Plato, Pericles and Socrates. Athens is known for its brilliant museums, restaurants and cultural events and the best time to visit is in the spring or autumn when you can go sightseeing without the large crowds and heat of summer.
A holiday to Athens is incomplete without contemplating its diverse neighbourhoods. Discover the delights of Greek cafe culture in Exarchia, go shopping in the trendy boutiques of Koukaki, bar hop in the tavernas of Gazi and stroll through the charming old town of Plaka. Undoubtedly, the heart of the city is Syntagma Square, home to the parliament building and connecting a number of the capitals most important streets. This is the perfect place to begin a tour of Athens or spend an afternoon people-watching.
As well as a seemingly endless city sprawl, Athens is home to a beautiful coastline, with plenty of beaches, full of sun-seeking Athenians on the weekends. On the other hand, Piraeus Port, one of the most important in Greece, connects the capital with the idyllic Greek islands, such as Crete, Santorini and Mykonos.
One of the most important things to see in Athens is the Acropolis, standing high above the city on a rocky outcrop. One of the worlds most treasured historical sights, you can admire the marble columns of the Parthenon and get to know the Golden Age of Athens under Pericles, the father of Western democracy. Afterwards, a visit to the Acropolis Museum is sure to be a highlight of a tour of Athens. Housed within an ultra-modern building, you’ll find a multitude of priceless artefacts from the Acropolis site and gain a deeper understanding of classical Athens.
Just north of the Acropolis is the Ancient Agora, once the heart of public life in Athens. Walk in the footsteps of Socrates, who would have sparked heated debates here back in the day, and admire the well-preserved Doric-style Temple of Hephaistos. The nearby Agora Museum is home to interesting artefacts from everyday Athenians.
The cultural delights of Athens cannot be understated, and the National Archaeological Museum is a paradise for those interested in classical history. Home to the worlds finest collection of ancient Greek treasures, here you can find artefacts including jewellery, sculptures and frescoes, housed within a vast Neoclassical building in the city centre.
Whether you’re trying to snap the best photo of the Acropolis or just want a bit of fresh air, Filopappou Hill is a tranquil oasis to visit on a trip to Athens. Just south of the Acropolis, this green area is the perfect place for a peaceful stroll and boasts fabulous views of the Acropolis and the Parthenon. A marble path, shaded by pine trees, weaves past a number of historic sights on the hill including the Roman monument of Filopappos.
If you travel to Athens, be sure to visit the Panathenaic Stadium. The Panathenaic Stadium was the site of the first modern Olympic Games, although it was used as a racecourse as far back as the 6th-century BC. One of the best things to see in Athens, it’s also the only stadium in the world built entirely from marble.
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