The heart of Greece
Get ready to fall in love with Athens – the city that has it all! Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a party animal, Athens has something special in store for you. Athens is a vibrant and diverse destination that promises to leave you awestruck. Keep reading to explore the top things to do and see in Athens!
7 Hills of Athens
Athens at a glance
Athens has been continuously inhabited for 7000 years. This makes it one of the oldest cities in Europe. The city of Athens was a small town two centuries ago. The population of Athens in 1834 was 10,000. Athens was declared capital of the newly established Greek State in September 1834.
Athens is a sophisticated and cosmopolitan European city; revamped hotels, stylish restaurants, and shops, elegant and cozy cafés pop up everywhere in Athens, a city that never sleeps.
Athens is probably one of the most contradictory cities you will see. The cradle of European civilization, one of the most historical capital cities of the world has been experiencing the most significant changes in the historic center, re-establishing, these last few years, the cultural and social life as it once was.
Featuring one of the most stunning pedestrian promenades in Europe and high traffic in the downtown, Athens can be the source of frustrations if you are a resident but is still irresistibly seductive.
The oldest city in Europe, the richest in history and culture is full of trend-conscious residents and visitors; hedonism and enjoyment are the main themes here, as Athenians value their night outs and their festivals as nothing else.
Athens is one of the safest and liveliest cities in Europe, a colorful mix of history, antiquity, and grace, with a lusty urban soul.
Capital of Greece
Athens is the capital city of Athens Prefecture, the Region of Attica and Greece. Located in Central (Central) Greece and a robust economic, cultural and administrative center of the country. It took its name from the goddess Athena who was the protector. Athens today is a modern city and famous, as in ancient times was a powerful city-state and a major center of culture; considered the most historic city in Europe. It is known throughout the world for its historical monuments survived, albeit partially, through the centuries. The port of the historic town is the port of Piraeus.
Did you know that Athens is No. 1 worldwide shipping center?
A total of 4,538 ships worth 86.7 billion Dollars (81, 8 billion. Euro) controlled by Greek shipping companies established in Athens, the Greek capital, making the number one maritime center in the world, based on the value of the fleet control. After Athens, in second place, followed by Tokyo, Japan, where the value of the vessels amounts to $ 60 billion, with Singapore be preceded by the fleet value of about $ 57 billion. The top five is completed by Hamburg, where 62% of the fleet of 39.6 billion. Dollars regards container ships and the Hong Kong fleet value of around 32 billion Dollars.
Athens is located in Attica peninsula and surrounded by the mountain Aegaleo in the Northwest, the mountains of Parnitha and Penteli to the northeast and mountain Hymettus in the southeast. The Saronic gulf finally surrounds the east coasts of Athens and Attica. The climate is typically Mediterranean with dry and hot summer and rainy winter, average temperature 27C in July, 9C, in January. The city is named after the patron goddess of Athens. Today Athens metropolitan area has 3.7 million inhabitants, which puts it in second place on the list of largest European capitals (only behind London). The Urban Capital Group consists of 37 municipalities and 19 communities. Besides the City of Athens, there are the municipalities of Agia Varvara, Agia Paraskevi, Agios Dimitrios, St. Anargyroi, Egaleo Alimos, Maroussi, Byron, Galatsi, Glyfada Dafni, Zografou, Heliopolis, Heraklion, Kesariani Kallithea Kifissia, Muscat, Nea Ionia , New Smyrna New Philadelphia, New Liosia, Palaio Faliro, Peristeri, Taurus, Hymettus, Haidari, Halandri, Cholargos, Piraeus, Agios Ioannis Rendi, Drapetsona, Keratsini, Korydallos, Nice and Perama.
Athens City Districts
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt Hymettos, Mt Parnitha, and Mt Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are eight hills (one more than Rome!), the Acropolis and Lykavittos being the most prominent. These hills provide a refuge from the noise and commotion of the crowded city streets, offering amazing views down to Saronic Gulf, Athens’ boundary with the Aegean Sea on its southern side. The streets of Athens (clearly signposted in Greek and English) now meld imperceptibly into Piraeus, the city’s ancient (and still bustling) port. Most things of interest to travelers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city center at Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicenter is surrounded by the districts of the Plaka to the south, Monastiraki to the west, Kolonaki to the east and Omonia to the north. Further afield is the port of Athens, the Piraeus. the Acropolis – the ancient “high city” of Athens, crowned by marble temples sacred to the city’s goddess Athena the Plaka, Monastiraki, and Thissio.
The neighborhood of the Gods as Greeks and foreigners alike have dubbed it, singing its praises. Plaka is for Athens what Covent Gardens is for London or Montmartre for Paris. Located on the northeastern slopes of the rock of the Acropolis, Plaka was the center of Athens even in antiquity. The area took its present form after the proclamation of Athens as the newly constituted Greek state when the excavations also began. Then builders come in from the Cyclades, from the island of Anafi in particular, in order to work on the excavations. In order to have a place to sleep at night, they built their humble dwellings under the rock of the Acropolis, and thus that neighborhood took the name “Ta Anafiotika”. Plaka is unique and extremely colorful, full of Athens tavernas, wine shops, cafeterias, squares, trees, columns, churches, tourists, barrel organs, and bars.
History of Athens
According to archaeological finds, the first attempts at an organized city in the region of Athens took place during the Neolithic period.
Erechtheus, according to myth, settled the disagreement between the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon, who were rivals for protection of the city, as well as for the name. Athena offered an olive tree to the residents, whereas Poseidon offered a horse. The residents settled on the olive tree, and Athena. For this reason, the city took the name of the goddess.
Around 800 BC, the unification of villages took place in Athens, an event which was thereafter celebrated in a yearly rite called the Panathenaia, which was offered in thanks to the goddess Athena.
Theseus was considered the founder of Athens because he was the orchestrator of the synoecism which brought about a united city named Athens in honor of its divine protectress.
During the eighth and seventh centuries BC, Athens underwent nautical and commercial development. Up to the fifth century BC, three politicians distinguished themselves especially: Themistokles, Miltiades, and Aristeides.
The fifth century was the Golden Age under, in part, the leadership of the statesman Perikles. During the time, Athens reached its apogee of a cultural and artistic flower.
Later, Christianity did its work on the city, and the Crusades followed. In 1392 the Turks arrived on Greek soil. After about 300 years, the Venetians invaded Athens, with one result being that the Parthenon suffered enormous damage.
Athens is a city that respects its important past and lives strongly today. Many different pieces make up the puzzle of the capital. Theaters, art events, music scenes, festivals, art galleries, and museums. There are excellent sports facilities that have been greatly improved to accommodate the 2004 Olympic Games as well as buildings that are real ornaments of the city.
What we Do
Why is Athens important?
Athens is well-known worldwide and occupies an important place on the international tourist map. Here is the whole history of Greece, because for many centuries Athens has been a strong center of civilization. It was the birthplace of democracy, theater, and science. It shared knowledge, principles, moral values, culture and the arts with other peoples. Monuments are shown everywhere in the city beneath the shadow of the sacred rock of the Acropolis. There is no monument and archaeological site of Athens that has not been photographed and has not reached every corner of the planet. A walk in the city will fill us pictures of a 6,000-year history coexisting with those of modern European metropolis and historical capital of Europe.
Travel to Athens
Throughout the year millions of visitors travel to Athens. For the majority, the best way to arrive is by air but there are, or course, the alternative routes by train, car or ferry boats which leave from various Italian ports. (Venice, Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi).
“Eleftherios Venizelos” International Airport, in Spata, connects Athens with the major cities and islands of Greece and with all the countries of the world. It has a large and modern transport network that makes all parts of the city accessible. In our move by metro, it is worth seeing at its stations the protected archaeological finds that came to light during its construction.
As Athens is a city surrounded by sea, the port of Piraeus is the second-largest entrance spot to the city for foreigners. Boats and cruises flock to the Harbor every day, making Piraeus one of the most bustling and busy places to be. Yet, very charming indeed.
Entertainment in Athens
In the segment of dining and entertainment, a huge selection fan opens. Endless nightlife that starts from the smallest neighborhood bar and reaches up to the city’s largest clubs and clubs. Gastronomic choices ranging from a simple fast-food tavern to the most luxurious gourmet restaurants are countless. You can choose traditional Greek cuisine, sophisticated Mediterranean flavors or restaurants with all international cuisines. For your stay, you will find simple and economical hotels as well as the most luxurious accommodations, depending on your budget. For your shopping, you will find shopping for every taste and every balancing in thousands of shops and big shopping malls.
Sports and Recreation
Water skiing is easy to practice in Athens, for almost every beach organized by the National Tourist Organization of Greece (EOT) proposes water skiing hiring. The most famous place to go is at the Vouliagmeni beach or on the beaches at Varkiza.
The A.Karagiorga School
Vouliagmeni Bay, Tel 896-0939
The G. Kssidokosta School
Astir Vouliagmeni Beach, Tel 896-0820
The Vitoratos School, Varkisa Beach
Sailing is possible in good weather conditions, usually fundable in Athens, especially during summer. Weather and hire information can be obtained from the Hellenic Sailing Federation.
Hellenic Yacht Club
Tel: (210) 41.27.575, (210) 41.79.730
Piraeus Sailing Club, Mikrolimano, Piraeus
Tel: (210) 41.77.636
Vouliagmeni Naval Club
Vouliagmeni, Athens,Tel: (210) 89.62.416
Fishing, in a country where it is one of the biggest activities, is ideally provided by Greek waters. Boats and fishing tackle can be hired in Piraeus. Further information can be gain at the Amateur Anglers and Maritime Sports Club in Piraeus.
Amateur Anglers and Maritime Club
Moutsopoulou Quay (Akti), Piraeus
Tel: (210) 45.15.731
Piraeus Central Harbor Master’s Office
Tel: (210) 45.11.311
Athens Horse Riding
Horse Riding is also available in some parts of Athens, outside the city. Information can be obtained at EOT’s offices.
The Hellenic Equestrian Federation
55 Messinia Street
115 27 Athens,
Tel: (210) 77.86.297, (210) 77.81.572
Equestrian Sport Clubs
Attikos Riding Club
5a Alopekis Street
106 75 Athens
Tel: (210) 66.26.429
Panellinios Riding Club
15 Profiti Ilia Street
171 10 N. Smirni, Athens
Tel: (210) 66.25.690
Diving is also a great thing to do, to admire the beautiful water of Greece. For more information about where to find diving centers in Athens, contact the Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activities.
The Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activities
Post Office of the Old West Air – Terminal
166 04 Elliniko, Tel: (210) 98.19.961
The Union of the Owners of Diving Center
67 Zea Port, Piraeus
Tel: (210) 92.29.532, Tel: (210) 41.18.909
Windsurfing is possible in every beach organized by EOT where you can hire windsurfs for the day or a few hours. For the passionate of windsurfing, there is a good windsurfing center on the public pine beach of Schinias. For more information, one can call the Hellenic Windsurfing Association.
HELLENIC WINDSURFING ASSOCIATION
4 FILELLINON STREET
ATHENS 105 53
TEL: 210.323.3696, 210. 325.5000
Cycling is not very popular in Athens as only a few Greeks use a bicycle to move around town (with the high pollution level it’s not really recommended) but it is possible to hire a bicycle from every car and motorbike hiring center.
The best place to go, for well-trained cyclists, is on the Mt. Hymitos hill, quite close to the town center to enjoy a nice, quiet and non-polluted ride.
Informations: Hellenic Cycling Federation, 28 Bouboulinas Street, Tel: (210) 88.31.414
Athens is not just an inexhaustible archaeological site with important historical monuments and tourist attractions. It is a modern city with intense cultural happenings and entertainment. At night, Athens gets dolled up and turns into a city with positive vibes which reach out to every resident and visitor with its rhythm. In the inexhaustible nightlife of Athens, the visitor can find everything and of course can be found in the disconcerting position of having no idea what to pick out of so many choices!
Athens entertainment not only lasts until the next morning but stretches out to all the regions and suburbs of the city. During the winter, nightlife is centered for the most part in the center of the city, whereas in the summer it tends to move out to the coastal areas of Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni where the large clubs open up practically on the water, or even farther out in other areas of Attica like Porto Rafti, Kalamo, Loutraki, and elsewhere.
Streetlife in Athens is an entertainment in itself, but there’s no shortage of the paid-for variety’ Clubs, bars and concert halls offer everything from jazz, blues, rock and whatever the latest thing is in the West to classical and traditional Creek folk music. The English-language Athens News weekly paper carries listings and the city’s lamp-posts are plastered with posters. Be aware better Greek singers and musicians get out of Athens during the summer: they take their bouzoukis to the islands. There are a nightly sound and light show on Pnyx hill near the Acropolis, it’s very popular with tourists, so get there early to make
sure of tickets. Look out for the outdoor cinemas: some of them are on rooftops. One of the best is the Cine Paris in Plaka. Most of the movies screened are Anglo-American and almost alone in Europe the Creeks don’t dub foreign movies – truly the mark of a civilized country.
Try as you might, you can’t avoid Plaka. Under the Acropolis, its main streets are grossly commercialized but explore its back lanes and stairways and you’ll discover its natural charm has survived in quiet neo-classical hotels, good tavernas, cafes, restaurants, boutiques that don’t sell Parthenon shaped plastic lavatory paper holders, and more ruins. It’s the place to stay and eat out under the trees, but ask for a quiet room and try to avoid restaurants into which you are invited by the touts.
Not too far from Plaka is Psiri, which during the day looks like the run-down small business district it is, but which at night bursts into life as cafes, restaurants, and ouzeries open and put out tables and chairs for the young Athenians who steer well off too-popular Plaka. For a memorable dinner, cool off by taking a taxi to Glyfada and outer Piraeus(Mikrolimano Kalipoli and Piraiki) where you can eat and drink al fresco at excellent seashore restaurants.
Where to Eat in Athens
Athens can be considered one of the most important gastronomic capitals of Europe, with her vast array of choices for locals and visitors. This suggests correctly that the Greeks have a tradition of food. There are so many restaurants, in fact, that you cannot decide what to try first. In Athens, you will find flavors from all over the world, not just Greek. The latest trends include post-modern taverns and restaurants which combine beloved traditional Greek dishes with modern gastronomic compositions.
Shopping in Athens
For jewelry, leather goods sandals and bags and mass-produced tourist tat Plaka is the place, but for interesting bargain-hunting go to the Athens flea market close by in Monastiraki. Open from around 6 am to 2 pm every Sunday, it spreads over seven to eight blocks and offers everything from junk and kitschy pan-European stuff to antiques and collectibles plus tons of stuff that can be described only as odds and ends, Just go there and see what takes your fancy. if you’re killing time on a Sunday morning in shabby Piraeus, the port has its own flea market. Only 5oo yards from the quayside it attracts few tourists and serious antique traders. For a taste of Greece, visit one of the liveliest and noisiest places in the city – Athens Central Market where Athenians buy their fresh meat, fish’ fruit vegetable olives, spices and cheese.
Athens Useful Information
Athens is a modern Western city; no dress code or any other restrictions are implemented. Featuring a rich nightlife, with hundreds of bars, beachside restaurants, and clubs all over, and a well-appointed GLBT scene, Athens can meet all needs and requirements, whether you are up to wild night out, or a relaxing and cozy dining out the evening.
Credit cards can be used everywhere and ATMs are available in every corner all day long.
Being one of the top tourist destinations in the world, Athens features a vast array of accommodation options. Luxury hotels, seaside resorts, boutique hotels, hostels, apartments, houses for rent or studios can meet all expectations and needs and are suitable for all tastes and budgets.
Monuments of the Acropolis – Temple of the Parthenon – Erechtheion – Temple of Athena Nike – Propylaea – Herod Atticus Conservatory – Asclepieion – Ancient Agora – Columns Olympus Zeus – Roman Agora – Panathenaic Stadium – Hellenic Parliament – Olymbio – Pnyx Hill – Lycabettus Hill – Planetarium – Athens Observatory – Philopappou Hill etc.Museums / Places of Worship: New Acropolis Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Museum of Ancient Agora, War Museum. Museum of Byzantine Art, Folklore Museum, Benaki Museum, Numismatic Museum, Museum of Cycladic Art and Natural History Goulandris, National Gallery.
Sights You Should Not Miss in Athens
Athens is one of the places you need to spend some time in order to be able to see everything; however, the absolute must-see sights in Athens are:
- The Acropolis and the Parthenon
- The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
- The Theater of Dionysus
- The Archaeological Museum of Athens – one of the largest and richest in the world
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus
- The Kallimarmaron Stadium – where the first modern Olympics took place –
- The Ancient Agora, meeting place of the ancients and focal point of cultural and political talks
- The Museum of Cycladic & Ancient Greek Art
- The Benakis Museum
- Zappeio and the National Gardens of Athens are just a few of the art -historical sites to see.
But a visit to Athens is by far incomplete without a leisurely stroll in Plaka and the Anafiotika neighborhood, one of the most picturesque sites in Europe, Psirri with the traditional taverns and cafés, or Thisseio, with the exquisite view to the Holy Rock of the Acropolis.
If you are visiting during the summer months, a visit to the numerous beaches situated at the southern, eastern and western parts of the city is mandatory. A visit to Glyfada, the south suburb, or Mikrolimano for a drink is also among the absolute must-dos.
Parthenon is the emblem of Athens and probably of Greece as well. Parthenon is considered the most perfect Doric temple ever built, and one of the most known and recognizable monuments in the world.
The temple of Parthenon is known for its imposing position on the Acropolis, its architectural refinements and the reflection of the ancient Greek culture throughout the centuries. For many philosophers and historians, the Parthenon is a symbol of Western civilization.
Attica Zoological Park
The Zoological Park lies on 19 hectares of land and features thirty species of reptiles, 238 species of birds and 46 species of Mammals. Monkeys, tigers, horses and farm animals from the Greek fauna live together with animals from the African Savannah which are at the brink of extinction.
Gift shop, café and relaxation spots are also featured in the premises, but if you are up to a small ride, you can ask our experienced and well-informed drivers to take you to one of the lovely seaside restaurants located in nearby villages and towns, such as Loutsa or Markopoulo.
The acropolis of Athens means the rock on which the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, and other smaller buildings were built. The rock was used as a natural sanctuary, warehouse and administrative space in cases of siege in Athens and had early stone and wood buildings until Pericles decided to erect the buildings that have been preserved to this day.
The architects Iktinos and Kallikrates, as well as the sculptor Phidias, were the designers and responsible for the building execution of the Parthenon. The works of the Parthenon began in 447 BC. and continued until 432 BC. Other buildings were completed up to 406 BC and other additions were made to the complex, most important of which was that of the theater of Herodes Atticus, in 161. Pericles used the money of the Delos Alliance, which caused great reactions inside and outside of Athens, by Pericles’ opponents, who accused him of wasting public money and embezzling foreign money in times when Athens was moving all the way to the war with Sparta. Subsequently, the Parthenon was used as a temple, mosque, and pyrite in the Byzantine era and Turkish domination. The buildings were bombed, quenched by earthquakes and destroyed by Byzantines, Franks, Turks, and English throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, the Parthenon continues to provoke awe and is one of the wonders of the ancient world. Access: The Acropolis of Athens is served by metro, line 2, Acropolis stop or from lines 1 and 3, Monastiraki station, via Plaka and the Ancient Agora.