A city of legends – legendary heroes, legendary beauty and legendary hospitality – Athens is a place to delve into ancient history and to be immersed in Europe’s exciting contemporary culture. Known as the Cradle of Western Civilization, city breaks to Athens offer access to a metropolis like no other. Set in the Attica region of Greece with a history spanning over 3,400 years, Athens attracts visitors from all over the world with its iconic temples, ancient monuments and cosmopolitan centre.
The Plaka area, with its narrow streets, is certainly lovely, but it is also one of the most touristy spots. To get away from the crowds during your weekend in Athens, head to the area around Syndagma square instead. You will be right at the heart of Athens life. This will allow you to visit the National Garden, a real oasis in the city centre. Have a change of ambiance and discover the Kolonaki, the hip quarter of Athens. Go window shopping in its chic stores, settle in one of the bars frequented by the local youth to try some Greek coffee and observe the frenzied activity of the city.
Athens is a really lively city at night. Athenians like to meet up in taverns to chat, drink, play music and dance. Psirri and Gazi are two trendy areas with bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Your city break in Athens will be a real success if you go to the Filistron, with its breathtaking view of the Acropolis from its terrace. For a different style, head to the Kouzina-Cine Psirri restaurant in the district of Psirri to taste typical local cuisine.
Open-air cinema: in fine weather, enjoy the open-air cinemas. Watching a film under the stars will be an unforgettable experience – a memory to cherish during your city break in Athens. You can choose from several cinemas: the Cine Paris or the Kouzina-Cine Psirri, for example.
Flea markets: feel like scouring the flea markets during your short trip to Athens? Head to the Monastiraki, the noisiest and most colourful area of Athens, where you will find all kind of antiques and bric-a-brac dealers.
The panorama: the most beautiful sunset can be admired from Mount Lycabettus. Climb it by funicular (or by foot for the bravest) and admire the views…
Simply put, The Acropolis is one of the most important historical locations in the world. Thousands of visitors from all over the globe flock to see the remains of this iconic citadel; nestled on the top of a rocky outcrop that looks out over the hustle and bustle of contemporary Athens. Although there has been human settlement on the site of The Acropolis from around 4000BC, it wasn’t until the 6th century BC that that area was designated an area for the gods. There are several must-see sites in The Acropolis, the most famous of which is The Parthenon. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, this building is a key remnant of Ancient Greek civilisation and was built between 447BC and 438BC. The temple of Erechtheion features the awe-inspiring Porch of the Caryatids, while the Propylaea serves as a monumental gateway to the Acropolis.
You could very easily spend your entire break in just one of Athens’ many world-class museums and galleries. Set in the southern foothills of The Acropolis is the Acropolis Museum, where the majority of the historical treasures from The Acropolis are preserved. There’s more ancient history on display at the National Archaeological Museum – one of the world’s finest archaeological collections with over 11,000 different items. The Benaki Museum has a rich diversity of ancient Greek and Islamic art, or for an insight into the contemporary culture of Greece, make your way to the Pireos Annexe of the museum, where you’ll find a range of exhibitions and live performances.
Another thing to thank ancient Greece for is the creation of theatre. Make your way to the historical Roman amphitheatre, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where you’ll find a range of plays in spectacular outdoor surroundings. For a taste of contemporary Greek performance, the Technopolis centre has an eclectic line up of live music, dance and theatre, while the Olympia Theatre is regularly home to ballet and the Greek National Opera. Athens is proud of its artistic heritage and visiting the National Theatre in the birthplace of the art form is a treat.
Thanks to the Olympic Games, the infrastructure is well developed and you can easily use the metro and the bus system during your short trip to Athens. Taxis are everywhere and can take several passengers going in the same direction, but the fare is not shared. Be careful when driving – one-way streets are all over Athens!
Greek cuisine is amongst the greatest in the Mediterranean, and there are plenty of options to choose from in Athens when it comes to food and drink. One of the most famous areas for food in the city is Plaka, at the foot of The Acropolis. If you’re travelling on a budget there’s Kostas, home to the self-titled ‘best Souvlaki in Athens’, while Platanos is one of the oldest tavernas in the area and serves a mouthwatering selection of Meze. During your stay in Athens, you are going to indulge! There are numerous specialities, and the local specialities are delicious. Try the olives, feta, fish, moussaka (of course) and the keftedes (meatballs), spanakorizo (spinach rice) and chtapodi (Greek octopus). For something sweet, be tempted by the kurabies (butter cakes).
Don’t think twice about stepping into taverns with dilapidated exteriors. This is where you’ll try the true flavours of Greek cuisine.
Prioritise autumn or spring for your weekend in Athens: then you’ll be guaranteed the most attractive prices and ideal weather! Between mid-June and late September, attend the amazing Athens festival. Jazz and classical music, opera and theatre are on the agenda!