About Athens

Download "ATHENS-ATTICA" information leaflet (Greek National Tourism Organization)


When one thinks of Athens, the first thing that comes to mind are history classes, ancient ruins and inescapably the image of the Parthenon and the Acropolis. Every visitor who plans a trip is bound to climb the Acropolis hill in order to marvel at the ancient temple of Athena and to feel the aura of the city’s cultural culmination of 5th century BC, known also as the “Golden Age of Pericles”.

Apart from the visits to archaeological sites which still resonate the glory of antiquity, Athens has much more to offer. The city’s history that dates back to the Neolithic age and the multitude of conquerors that have swept over the city during the centuries have left their mark in all parts of Athens rendering it to a multifaceted town and a kaleidoscope of architectural styles ranging from Neoclassicism and Art Nouveau to Modernism and Post-Modernism. Just a stroll upon arrival around the famous historic triangle “Plaka  Thission, Psyri” -the oldest neighborhoods- reveals the coexistence of different eras, different styles and the variety that makes Athens an appealing destination. Old mansions, other well-preserved and other worn down by time. Luxurious department stores and small intimate shops. Fancy restaurants and traditional taverns. Museums, galleries and clubs. All have a place in this city, and all can find things to do anytime of the day –or night!

 
 
 


 

During the Day…

During the day, numerous museums can get the visitor acquainted not only to the cultural heritage of Greece but also to its more recent artistic productions. Just to mention a few are the National Archaeological Museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art, the Benaki Museum, the Byzantine Museum, the National Gallery, and the gem of all, the new Acropolis Museum.

During the day, numerous museums can get the visitor acquainted not only to the cultural heritage of Greece but also to its more recent artistic productions. Just to mention a few are the National Archaeological Museum, the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic and Ancient Greek Art, the Benaki Museum, the Byzantine Museum, the National Gallery, and the gem of all, the new Acropolis Museum.

 
 


 

But one doesn't need to be a history or culture aficionado to enjoy Athens. The city offers a variety of activities that can cover all tastes. There are lots of options: ancient Greek theatrical plays, orchestras playing from classical music to jazz in famous concerts halls, like the Athens Megaron or the ancient Herodeion, or in unique musical stages and small cozy clubs. It is a must to watch any kind of performance at Herodeion, but it can be equally memorable to spend an evening at a small tavern with live greek music of the early 20th century, known as rebetiko.


And during the night…
Still, the ace in the sleeve is the nightlife of Athens. Some say that Athens is more vibrant at night than during the day. One can find bars and clubs not only in the central areas, but in any neighborhood. The music and the décor can suit any style and preference. A firm preference of Athenians, are the bars and clubs with rock, pop, jazz, blues and Latin music. For Greek music lovers, the options are limitless.
 



Hip areas include Gazi, Psirri, and Kolonaki. At Psirri you will find some of Athens' hottest clubs and bars. Large and small, they play all types of music. Gazi is considered as one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Athens nightlife. Most of the galleries, mainstream bars, restaurants, clubs and Greek nightclubs are clustered around the old Gas Company area (hence its name "Gazi") trademarked by their industrial design as many of them are housed in remodelled -- and once abandoned -- factories. More traditional Greek evenings can be spent in Plaka, Monastirakiand Theseion, around the Acropolis hill and connected with pedestrian routes. However, be prepared. Athens nightlife is not for the weak at heart. Activity starts pretty late into the night, definitely after 10pm, and can last until the very early morning hours!

Dining in Athens…

Food is also a major part of Greek life and a meal is considered a social event, while having a meal with friends is a deeply rooted social habit. It seems that the Epikureian philosophy still holds in the hearts of modern Greeks, that relish and savor their food and drink in any occasion. Taverns and restaurants are open throughout the day and –most importantly- until very late at night. The choices are limitless: from quick snacks to 5-course dinners, from Greek style meze (the favorite style of dining with a variety of small platters) to fine eclectic gastronomical treats in four-star restaurants. Pick and choose according to your mood. You can find anything you look anywhere you are. Greek wines or ouzo are also a definite must-have with many labels granted the designated appellation of origin. Typical varieties of the Attica vineyards are Savvatiano, white Muscat, Roditis and Malagouzia for white wines, and Mandilaria and Agiorgeitiko for reds, while one can also find foreign varieties that have been favored by the Attica soil like Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.


Athens: a gateway to anywhere…

One should not forget that Athens is built near the coastline. Hop on a bus or the tram and within half an hour you can sunbathe and swim in one of the various beaches of the city. Alternatively, choose a café or restaurant along the coast and enjoy a beautiful sunset in the cool night breeze. September is still very warm, and the freshness of the sea can lure anyone away from the hubbub of the city.

 
 


 

But apart from the short escapes, Athens can be one's center to start discovering the rest of Greece. All Greek islands can be reached from the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio, closely located around Athens. In particular, the islands of Argosaronikos Gulf (Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Spetses) are ideal for one-day cruises each one of them with their own unique flair offering a different experience that can suit all tastes. The islands of Kea and Kythnos are the most closely located islands of the Cycaldes complex, and can offer a more relaxing escape to the visitors that look forward to experiencing unspoiled beaches with crystal blue waters and genuine Greek hospitality.

All other major cities and important archaeological sites of mainland Greece (such as Olympia, Mycaenes an Delhpi) are accessible by car, buses or trains, rendering Athens the focal point of short holidays and vacations. September is a great time of the year to drive around the country not only to bathe in wonderful beaches and visit ancient temples and cities, but also to get acquainted with the -largely uknown- medieval history of the country: Nafplio, Mystras, Monembasia or the peninsula of Mani are all definite must-sees.


Shopping in Athens

Last -but not least for many shopaholics- one can be surprised at the bargains and objects that can be found in Athens. From tacky souvenirs at the tourist shops of Plaka around the Acropolis area to elegant jewelry by famous designers Ilias Lalaounis and Zolotas in the historical center of Athens. From antiques in various shops of Monastiraki and the Sunday flea market to leather goods, brand shoes and designers clothing at Kolonaki district and Ermou Street, the shopping heart of Athens. Fashion worshippers and tireless 'walkers' who walk for miles in order to find a pair of shoes that is just right, regular customers at department stores or designer's boutiques, and window shoppers, everyone has a place in the shopping centre of Athens, no matter how deep their pockets. Shopping is an enjoyable activity, so apart from a walk round the shops or raids on the shop shelves gather your strength with a coffee or a cooling fruit juice at one of the many small cafes on the streets of the capital.

 
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