10 TOP attractions in Athens
The sacred rock of the Acropolis and its most recognized monument, the Parthenon, has withstood the test of time. Natives have often commented on its commanding presence that is instilled in their daily life. But nothing compares to witnessing its grandeur up close and in person. In a clear day, the views from the hill are amazing: you can see the port of Piraeus and the entire capital. The archeological park, known as the Unification of Archaeological Sites, (4.7 km or 3 miles wide) that surrounds the Acropolis, encompasses some of the world’s most ancient treasures.
The New Acropolis Museum
Years in the making, this museum and its creative use of natural Greek light is the new gem of Athens and has been heralded as a masterpiece in itself. Aside from offering panoramic views of the Acropolis, the museum houses interesting exhibitions, such as replicas and items found in the ancient buildings.
National Archaeological Museum
One of the richest museums of ancient Greek art in the world, its collections span cultures that flourished in Greece from the prehistoric age and beyond. . It is also the largest in Greece, housing around 20,000 exhibits.
This must-see monument opposite Zappeion Gardens is the stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. The stadium, first built in 330 B.C., is made of white marble from the mountain Penteli and has a seating capacity of 45,000 for the concerts and events.
The Greek Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Every vacation portfolio should not be without a photo alongside the tall, commanding Presidential Guards, known as evzones or tsoliades. Worth the wait is to witness the changing of the guards, a ten-minute ceremonial procedure that takes place every hour on the hour. The foustanela or skirt that is part of their uniform is made up of 400 pleats, each one symbolizing a year that Greece was under Turkish rule.
Monastiraki & Plaka
Shop for bargains at the Monastiraki Flea Market: Every Sunday, the market is teaming with life. Most of the market is a collection of small shops mean to satisfy the travellers’ needs.
Plaka: With its undisputable charm, this area is one of the most frequented by visitors and natives alike. Plaka’s winding pathways carry thousands of years of history. Walk amongst the buildings whose facades are dressed in 19th century neoclassical design and architecture. Dine at one or several of its restaurants. And explore the ancient monuments, contemporary museums and traditional souvenir shops throughout.
At a height of 277 metres (approximately 1,000) feet Lycabettus Hill is perhaps the best spot in which to get an aerial view of the city. Visible from here is the Acropolis, the port of Piraeus, and the island of Aigina. If a mini-trek up is not appealing, take the cable car to the top (and back down). The entrance is on the corner of Aristippou and Ploutarchou streets. If you decide to walk down the forest path you will encounter Dexameni Square in Kolonaki,where you can grab a bite to eat.
The Athenian Riviera (Attica Coastline)
Athens is surrounded by pristine beaches, where you can swim for many months during the year. Visit a beach in Athens and you are likely to feel like you’re on a Greek island, as you are greeted with stretches of crystal sands, fine pebbles and blue, clean waters. The tram and bus take you to nearby, organized beaches (some offer water sports) in Faliro, Alimo, Kalamaki, Glyfada and Varkiza in less than an hour. Ideal for the whole family is a walk on the Flisvos Marina promenades a great destination for all ages, at any time of year.
Temple of Poseidon-Cape Sounion
Take a road trip to the southernmost tip of Attica for a breathtaking drive along the coastal highway and you are rewarded with a visit to one of the most fascinating temples in ancient history. It is no wonder that the ancient Greeks built the temple to their sea god Poseidon here in Sounion. Situated on a plateau on the top of a cliff it welcomes ships and sailors even today. This is a favorite sunset viewing point for both locals and tourists.
Athens by night
Athens is famous for having a vibrant and diverse nightlife. Locals and tourists like to party every day of the week, if possible. Dinners in tavernas and restaurants start after 10 p.m., while the partying in the clubs starts past midnight. And in Athens most of the clubs are open during winter (October to late April). During summer, the fun moves to the beach areas close to the capital and only a handful of clubs remain open on the city.