Relaxed and unhurried Athens combines the cosmopolitan and vibrant with a sense of well being and calm set amid some of the most historic buildings in the world. Great food and drink with the Aegean sea sparkling in the background, huge yachts dominating the lively marina make Athens one of the most sought after destinations in Europe.
Pedestrian walkways link all the major archaeological sights making them both accessible and traffic free, feel the sense of the very roots of modern man everywhere that you look. Athens by day or night is spectacularly beautiful, visit for the culture and stay for the faultless charm and exciting night life of this beautiful ancient city.
Where to Stay
Athens hosted the 2004 Olympic games, the result being that hotels were not only developed but were updated to cater for the watching eyes of the world. Once over, the surplus of accommodation coupled with Greece’s recent downturn of fortunes has ensured that there are excellent hotels to be found at great prices.
The best hotel in the city has to be the Hotel Grande Bretagne, centrally located, amazing views from the roof gardens and pools perfectly compliments the beautifully decorated rooms, each one showcasing the Greek tradition of classical architecture. Filled with antiques, original artwork and sumptuous fabrics the luxurious rooms also boast the most modern of amenities.
Athens with its laid back lifestyle lends itself to the freedom of a self catering holiday, the Athens Green Apartments offer a little more than a traditional self catering holiday though. Each apartment is crammed with design features that add a uniqueness to the simple and chic décor, light and airy the eclectic mix of furnishing, antique and modern are perfectly shown off by the simple lines of the clean white walls. Although situated in central Athens the quiet side street location and private garden filled with olive and lemon trees gives this small apartment complex a sense of peace and calm.
Where to Eat
Greek food tastes of the sunshine, simple local produce eaten in season can be the food of the Gods when eaten in such beautiful surroundings. Slow cooked lamb dishes with herbs, served with flat breads and fresh Greek salads are the taste of the region, along with a wide variety of seafood.
The best way to sample the great Greek food is by ordering a mezze selection with its range of small tasty dishes showcasing the best of the regions cuisine.
As with any cosmopolitan city a wide range of cuisines to suit any tastes are also readily available.Psarras is the restaurant to go to for those in the know. The dining area takes full advantage of the shaded steps leading up to the Acropolis and is one of the few restaurants in the tourist area of Plaka to be patronised by locals as well as those visiting the city. Established in 1898 the food is local in tradition and perfectly cooked using great seasonal ingredients.
As befits the waterside location of the city there are a great many seafood restaurants but Varoulko stands out, not only for the menu created by the excellent owner/chef but for the amazing views over the city from the rooftop terrace. Michelin starred this restaurant combines the best of local produce with the very finest of dining.
What to Do
You simply cannot visit Athens and not take the time to see the Acropolis, dating from the 5th century BC the three temples that sit above the modern city are the very cornerstones of modern civilisation. The best known of these temple the Parthenon is considered to have the most influential architecture of all classical buildings. The nearby New Acropolis Museum although a modern building houses some of the best finds from the Acropolis archaeological digs.
See a different aspect to the historic sights of Athens, evening coach tours will drive you around the famous city landmarks, many of which are beautifully lit against the night sky. Stopping at various museums and monuments there are some fabulous photo opportunities on this tour. The evening is rounded off by a trip to a traditional Greek taverna where dancers and musicians will entertain you as you enjoy the local food and drink.
Boat trips around the harbour are popular with the opportunity to see some of the hidden gems of the Athens coastline, it is possible to visit one of the nearby islands during a day trip but longer journeys with overnight stays can be a beautiful way to see more of Greece than just the capital.
When to Visit
Athens is worth visiting at any time of year, as a major city the tourist season never really ends. Even the coldest of winter months are fairly mild and with lower tourist numbers can be an ideal time to visit the most popular of the attractions. Summers are often unbearably hot making some sightseeing almost impossible.
Spring and Autumn are often the best times to visit, with smaller crowds and pleasant weather making both seasons ideal for those most interested in soaking up the culture.
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