The Birthplace of Western Culture
Athens used to be a one-night stand to experience the Acropolis before heading out to one of the
but those who still do that today are missing a capital that is increasingly more of a global city, more stylish, and
more cosmopolitan. While "pretty" would be the last word used to describe most of the city and its concrete apartment
blocks, stepping into the pedestrian streets in the Plaka district below the Acropolis reveals an attractive, charming,
more relaxed city, and a thriving outdoor culture.
Outdoor cafes and restaurants are packed, and seaside clubs are filled with enthusiastic young crowds, all enjoying the
year-round sun and mild nights. Traditional tavernas remain excellent dining choices, but modern restaurants serving
contemporary interpretations of Mediterranean cuisine now compete as top gastronomic experiences.
While you'll come for the history, the myths, and the legends, it is Athens' post-2004 Olympics spruced-up
modern face and vibrant life that will
make you stay just a little longer before hopping on a ferry to Greek island bliss.
Top 10 Sights and Attractions
- Seeing the Parthenon and the Acropolis.
- The fascinating art of ancient Greece in the National Archaeological Museum.
- The archaeological treasures of the Acropolis Museum.
- A walk through the ancient PLAKA district.
- The majestic Temple of Olympian Zeus.
- The fine private art collection of the Benaki Museum.
- Streetlife, bars, and shopping in PSYRRI and ERMOU STREET.
- Classic and contemporary Greek art together with European masters in the National Gallery.
- The outstanding collection of Christian art in the Byzantine Museum.
- A walk from SYNTAGMA to KOTZIA SQUARE.
Look for the hotel or hostel that best matches your budget, type of trip or personality. Here you can guarantee a room but you do NOT pay anything at the time of booking. Payments are only made at the hotel and there are no booking fees.
Most hotels allow cancellations with no penalty if done up to 24 or 48 hours in advance. You'll see that information at the time of booking and again in the confirmation email.
Coffee is more expensive in Athens that in anywhere else in Europe, maybe because people just sit at cafés to have coffee for hours and that's how the space they're taking is paid. A café is also used for people-watching and meeting friends, and with such good weather most of the time, many sit at tables outside.
When it's time for a fuller meal, a traditional taverna is still the choice for many. You should try one too, although there are now modern versions with reinvented classic dishes and contemporary décor.
All other restaurants are diversifying the city's dining choices, with new ethnic menus and innovative chefs. While most tourists end up eating in the atmospheric Plaka district, in most cases the restaurants there are touristy and ordinary. Instead, choose one of the increasingly sophisticated choices elsewhere.
Athens' major shopping areas are Kolonaki (with Stadhiou, Voukourestiou, and Anagnostopoulou as the streets with the biggest
concentration of major labels) and the pedestrianized Ermou Street with all of the mainstream chain stores for clothing and footwear. Also worth a browse is the popular Monastiraki Flea Market, the place for antiques, collectibles, and clothes, while for more
upscale shopping, the Attica department store is the place to go.
Airport and Transportation