With a recorded history of 3,000 years, Athens is the capital of Greece and among the most interesting places in the world. Actually Athens Greece is the best destination for a city break as it has amazing sightseeing to visit, including the world-famous Acropolis with the Temple of Parthenon, the New Acropolis Museum, the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora and others. After a full day walking around Athens city, do not miss a drink at night in the many hot spots. Located in a central spot in Greece, the city is also very convenient for day trips to archaeological sites in the mainland and close islands in the Aegean Sea. Located in the centre of Greece, Athens is a convenient transportation hub for the Greek islands and road trips to the mainland. Due to the long history and rich culture, this is also an interesting place for sightseeing. The Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Hellenic Parliament and the Neoclassical trilogy is among the top ancient sites to visit in the Greek capital. Many museums also dot the city centre, hosting valuable archaeological findings and art treasures. The new Acropolis Museum, in particular, and the Archaeological Museum are very interesing museums for a visit. Holidays in Athens combine a cultural visit in important attractions and a swim in beaches close to the city centre. In fact, there are many hotels along the coastline of Athens, the Athenian Riviera as it is called, that provide easy access to beaches.
Most popular and historical neighborhoods of Athens are located in the city centre: Syntagma, Plaka, Monastiraki, Acropolis, Thissio and Gazi are the most tourist places to walk around and include most sightseeing. Many tourist facilities are located in these places.
Although Athens is mostly famous for its sightseeing and not for the beaches, there are though many beautiful beaches in Athens. Athens beaches are spread all along the southern and the north eastern side of the Attica peninsula. All the coastline from Glyfada to Cape Sounion have nice organized Athens beaches as well as secluded coves to enjoy a day at the sun.
Hotels in Athens are concentrated around the city centre, particularly in the regions of Syntagma, Plaka, Acropolis, Monastiraki, Thission and Panepistimiou Avenue. Most archaeological sites are found in a walking distance from these regions. Accommodation in Athens city ranges from luxurious hotels and suites to budget hostels. The squares of Omonoia and Metaxourgio also have some hotels, but crime rates are higher there. Hotels of all kinds and price ranges are also found in Piraeus as it is the main port of the city.
Athens city is the most important in Greece and it is found in the region of Attica. Taking its name after its protector, goddess Athena, Athens Greece is famous because here the political system of democracy, sciences and philosophy were born. The most important monument of Athens city is of course the Acropolis. There are several other important ancient sites and monuments that can be found mainly around the lovely neighborhoods of Plaka, Monastiraki, Thissio and in the vicinity of the Acropolis. They include ancient temples, ancient theaters and stadiums, public buildings and interesting museums. Athens is the capital of Greece and the most important Greek city. It has many beautiful quarters. The historical centre (Syntagma-Monastiraki-Plaka) is a gem for history lovers, as it includes monuments from all periods of time, from the Classical and Roman times to the Byzantine and Neoclassical period. Do not miss a visit to important sights, including the Parthenon and the temple of Olympian Zeus, theatres, such as the Herodes Atticus, and public buildings, such as the Agora. However, the city is not only about sightseeing and lovely restaurants. Athens holidays may also include swim in nice beaches. There are many beach resorts to enjoy a relaxing swim in the hot summer days in the peninsula of Attica. The beaches from Glyfada to the south till Cape Sounion are mostly organized and get very popular, especially in summer weekends. The present guide of Athens offers all the necessary information about a visit to this wonderful city, the birth place of the Greek history and also the seat of the modern Government.
Athens experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), with extremely long periods of sunshine throughout the year and with the greatest amounts of precipitation mainly occurring from mid-October to mid-April; any precipitation is sparse during summer and it generally takes the form of showers and/or thunderstorms. Due to its location in a rain shadow because of Mount Parnitha the Athenian climate is much drier compared to most of the rest of Mediterranean Europe. The mountainous northern suburbs, for their part, experience a somewhat differentiated climatic pattern, with generally lower temperatures. Fog is highly unusual in the city centre but it is more frequent to the east, behind the Hymettus mountain range.
Snowfalls are not common and these do not normally lead to significant, if any, disruption. Nonetheless, the city has experienced several heavy snowfalls, not least in the past decade. During the blizzards of March 1987; February 1992; 4 January-6, 2002; 12 February-13, 2004 and 16 February-18, 2008, snow blanketed large parts of the metropolitan area, causing havoc across much of the city.
Spring and fall (autumn) are considered ideal seasons for sightseeing and all kinds of outdoor activities. Summers can be particularly hot and at times prone to smog and pollution related conditions (however, much less so than in the past). The average daytime maximum temperature for the month of July is 33.5 °C (92.3 °F) and heatwaves are relatively common, occurring generally during the months of July and/or August, when hot air masses sweep across Greece from the south or the southwest. On such days temperatures soar over 38 °C (100 °F).
Athens holds the all-time temperature record in Europe of 48.0 °C (118.4 °F) which was recorded in Elefsina, a suburb of Athens. The respective low-temperature record is −5.8 °C (21.6 °F), recorded at Nea Filadelfia.
The sprawling city is bounded on three sides by Mt Ymettos, Mt Parnitha and Mt Pendeli; whilst inside Athens are twelve hills [the seven historical are: Acropolis, Areopagus, Hill of Philopappus, Observatory Hill (Muses Hill), Pnyx, Lycabettus, Tourkovounia (Anchesmus)], 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 intoPiraeus, the city’s ancient (and still bustling) port.
Places of interest to travellers can be found within a relatively small area surrounding the city centre atSyntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos). This epicentre 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.
Plaka, Monastiraki and Thiseio – Charming historic districts at the foot of the Acropolis, with restored 19th century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city’s Roman era.
Kifissia– The northern part of Athens, rarely visited by tourists.
Nea Smyrni– The southern part of Athens, it is a modern European district.
Kolonaki– Upscale residential area with many cafes, boutiques and galleries.
Pangrati and Mets– These adjoining pleasant residential neighborhoods south of Lycabettos and east of the National Garden are rarely frequented by tourists, but they do include a few hotels and a number of good traditional tavernas.
Psiri– Former industrial district, now full of trendy and alternative restaurants, cafés, bars, and small shops.
Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos)- Dominated by the old Royal Palace, Syntagma Square is the business district of Athens, complete with major hotels, banks, restaurants and airline offices.
Acropolis / Parthenon
2. Old Temple of Athena
4. Statue of Athena Promachos
6. Temple of Athena Nike
7. Eleusinion: An Athenian temple to Demeter, the Eleusinion was the place where all sacred objects associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries were kept between ceremonies. It was located at the base of the Acropolis.
8. Sanctuary of Artemis Brauronia or Brauroneion
11. Arrephorion: a small building sited beside the north wall of the Acropolis. It provided the lodgings for the arrephores, the girls who worked for a whole year just below the acropolis weaving the new peplos for Panathenaic procession.
12. Altar of Athena
13. Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus: a walled open-air sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Polieus (city protector) around 500 BC, sited to the Erechtheion’s east. None of its foundations have been discovered and its trapezoid plan and many entrances have been worked out from rock cuttings on the acropolis. The eastern area of the sanctuary is thought to have housed the oxen for the annual Bouphonia or ox-sacrifice. Its main entrance had a pediment.
14. Sanctuary of Pandion: an open-air sanctuary or shrine at the south-east corner of the Acropolis, dedicated to Pandion I or Pandion II.
15. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
16. Stoa of Eumenes
17. Sanctuary of Asclepius or Asclepieion, the god of healing.
18. Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus
19. Odeon of Pericles
20. Temenos of Dionysus Eleuthereus
21. Aglaureion: a shrine to Aglauros
The Parthenon is a temple of the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their protector. Its construction began in 447 BC and was completed in 438 BC on the Athenian Acropolis, although decorations of the Parthenon continued until 431 BC. It is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered to be the culmination of the development of the Doric order. Its decorative sculptures are considered some of the high points of Greek art. The Parthenon is regarded as an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. The Greek Ministry of Culture is currently carrying out a program of selective restoration and reconstruction to ensure the stability of the partially ruined structure.
The Parthenon itself replaced an older temple of Athena, which historians call the Pre-Parthenon or Older Parthenon, that was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 480 BC. Like most Greek temples, the Parthenon was used as a treasury. For a time, it served as the treasury of the Delian League, which later became the Athenian Empire. In the 6th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman Turk conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman Turk ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures, with Ottoman Turk permission. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London, where they are now displayed. The Greek government is committed to the return of the sculptures to Greece, so far with no success.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
Address: Vasilissis Olgas 1, Athens; Tel: 210 922-6330.Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. AcropolisAdmission: €2, or with €12 joint ticket for all Unification of Archaeological SitesThe Temple of Olympian Zeus, also known as the Olympieion, is a colossal ruined temple in the centre of the Greek capital Athens that was dedicated to Zeus, king of the Olympian gods. Construction began in the 6th century BC during the rule of the Athenian tyrants, who envisaged building the greatest temple in the ancient world, but it was not completed until the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD some 650 years after the project had begun. During the Roman periods it was renowned as the largest temple in Greece and housed one of the largest cult statues in the ancient world.The temple’s glory was shortlived, as it fell into disuse after being pillaged in a barbarian invasion in the 3rd century AD. It was probably never repaired and was reduced to ruins thereafter. In the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the temple was extensively quarried for building materials to supply building projects elsewhere in the city. Despite this, substantial remains remain visible today and it continues to be a major tourist attraction.
Theatre of Dionysus
Address: Dionyssiou Areopagitou across from Mitsaion, Athens; Tel: 210 322-4625; 210/323-4482 box officeOpen: May to October, Monday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; November to April, Monday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.Admission: €2, or with €12 joint ticket for all Unification of Archaeological Sites
The Theatre of Dionysus was a major open air theatre in ancient Greece, built at the foot of the AthenianAcropolis and forming part of the temenos of “Dionysus Eleuthereus”. Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine (among other things), the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens‘ biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It became the prototype for all Theatres of ancient Greece.
It was the first stone theatre ever built – cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis – and the birthplace of Greek tragedy. The remains of a restored and redesigned Roman version can still be seen at the site today.
In Classical Athens, when the theatre was the venue for the Greater Dionysia, competitions were held between Greek dramatists as part of the occasion. The categories that could be entered were Greek Tragedy, Comedy and Satyr play. The plays were performed by a Chorus, and the audience served as judges. Amongst those to have competed are all the renowned dramatists of the Classical era, such as Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Aeschylus.
In the mid 4th century BC, racked stone tiers were constructed (where wooden benches probably resided before) in order to allow more seating. After this the theatre fell into disuse and little is recorded until 61AD where there is evidence of major renovations done by the emperor Nero.
Address: Dionysiou Areopayitou 15, Athens; Tel: 210-3210219.The site of the New Acropolis Museum is immediately below the Acropolis, three hundred meters from theParthenonOpen: Tuesday to Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.Admission: €5
The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum located in Athens on the archeological site ofAcropolis. It is considered as one of the major archaeological museums in Athens and ranks among the most important museums of the world. It opened to the public on June 21, 2009. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 m². The Acropolis Museum is filled with ongoing archaeological excavations and contains valuable ruins.
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
Address: 12 Kallisperi Street, Athens Transportation: Athens Metro stations:, Akropolis
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum is a museum in Athens, created by the renowned Greek jewelery designer Ilias Lalounis. It is comprised by 24 collections of a total of over 4,000 jewels and small ornaments dedicated to the history and art of jewelery making. The permanent exhibition displays 3000 pieces designed in the period 1940-1992.
Arch of Hadrian
Address: Vasilissis Amalias at Dionyssiou Areopagitou, AthensAdmission: Free
The Arch of Hadrian is a monumental gateway resembling – in some respects – a Roman triumphal arch. It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus. It has been proposed that the arch was built to celebrate the adventus (arrival) of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and to honor him for his many benefactions to the city, on the occasion of the dedication of the nearby temple complex in 131 or 132 AD. It is not certain who commissioned the arch, although it is probable that the citizens of Athens or another Greek group were responsible for its construction and design. There were two inscriptions on the arch, facing in opposite directions, naming both Theseus and Hadrian as founders of Athens. While it is clear that the inscriptions honor Hadrian, it is uncertain whether they refer to the city as a whole or to the city in two parts: one old and one new. The early idea, however, that the arch marked the line of the ancient city wall, and thus the division between the old and the new regions of the city, has been shown to be false by further excavation. The arch is located 325m southeast of the Acropolis.
Hellenic Parliament Building
Address: Leoforos Vasilissis Sofias 5 ( Syntagma Square), Athens; Tel: +30 210-3707000.
The Hellenic Parliament (transliterated Vouli (also Boule) ton Ellinon) is the Parliament of Greece, located in the Parliament House (Old Royal Palace), overlooking Syntagma Square in Athens. It is a unicameral legislature of 300 members, elected for a four-year term. During 1844-1863 and 1927-1935 the parliament was bicameral with an upper house, the Senate and a lower house, which retained the nameVouli.
Address: Ethnikos Kipos, Athens; Tel: 210-3223509.
The Zappeion is a building in the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens, Greece. It is generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private.
In 1869, the Greek Parliament allocated 80,000 m² of public land between the Palace Gardens and the ancient Temple of Olympian Zeus, and also passed a law on 30 November 1869, “for the building works of the Olympic Games”, as the Zappeion was the first building to be erected specifically for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern world. The ancient Panathenian stadium was also refurbished as part of the works for the Olympic Games. Following some delay, on 20 January 1874, the cornerstone of the building was laid; this new building would be designed by Danish architect Theophil Hansen. Finally, on 20 October 1888, the Zappeion opened. Unfortunately for its benefactor, Evangelis Zappas, he did not live long enough to see the Zappeion built, and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas was nominated by Evangelis Zappas to complete the building.
National Garden of Athens
Designed by Amalia, the first Queen of Greece, it is an oasis in Central Athens
Address: East of Vasilissis Amalias, between Vasilissis Olgas and Vasilissis Sofias; Tel: 210 721-5019.Open: Monday to Sunday, 7:00 a.m. to sunset
The National Garden (formerly the Royal Garden) (Greek: Εθνικος Κηπος) is a peaceful, green refuge of 15.5 hectares in the center of the Greek capital. It is located directly behind the Greek Parliament building (The Old Palace) and continues to the south to the area where the Zappeion is located, across from the Panathenaiko or Kalimarmaro Olympic Stadium of the 1896 Olympic Games. The Garden also encloses some ancient ruins, tambours and Corinthian capitals of columns, mosaics, and other features. On the south-east there are the busts of Capodistrias, the first governor of Greece and of the great Philhellene, Eynard, and on the south side of the celebrated Greek poets Dionysios Solomos, author of the Greek National Hymn, and Aristotelis Valaoritis.
Henry Miller wrote in 1939
“It remains in my memory like no other park I have known. It is the quintessence of a park, the thing one feels sometimes in looking at a canvas or dreaming of a place one would like to be in and never finds.”
Syntagma Square (Constitution Square) is named after the Greek constitution (syntagma) that was proclaimed from the balcony of the royal palace that overlooks the square on 3 September 1843. The former palace has housed the Greek parliament since 1935.
Syntagma Square is a good point from which to begin your orientation in the city – its also much better in appearance than it used to be even a few years ago: the manic Athenian traffic has been re-routed and a concerted effort at beautification has been in place – with some good results. Points of convenience include numerous cafes, restaurants and all the usual fast food outlets, a new metro stop, a host of airline offices, etcetera.
The square serves as an occasional rallying place for demonstrations and public celebrations.
The square proper is bordered by Vassileos Georgiou A’ Street to the north, Othonos Street to the south, Filellinon Street to the west and Amalias Avenue to the east. The eastern side of the square is higher than the western, and dominated by a set of marble steps leading to Amalias Avenue; beneath these lies the Syntagma metro station. The stairs emerge below between a pair of outdoor cafes, and are a popular city-centre gathering place. Syntagma also includes two green areas to the north and south, planted with shade trees, while in the center of the square a large water fountain traditionally hosts the occasionally sighted Syntagma pigeons, along with heat-tormented Athenians during the summer.
Syntagma Square is also the frequent site of political demonstrations. The Greek Parliament is immediately across Amalias Avenue to the east, and surrounded by the extensive National Gardens, which are open to the public. Every hour, the changing of the guard ceremony, performed by the Presidential Guard, is conducted in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the area between the square and parliament. On Sundays and official holidays, the ceremonial changing of the guard takes place with an army band and the majority of the 120 Evzones present at 11am.
Syntagma Square is also a hub for many forms of public transportation in Athens; Syntagma station of the Athens Metro is here, the tram stops here, and buses or trolley-buses are available to many points in the city. Travel between Syntagma Square and the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport is available via special airport bus and metro lines. Free wireless Internet access at high speeds (4 Mbit/s) is offered by the Municipality of Athens at the Square.
The Square is also located near many of Athens‘ oldest and most famous neighbourhoods and tourist attractions. The neighborhoods of Plaka (Πλακα), Monastiraki (Μοναστηρακι), Psiri (Ψυρρη) andKolonaki (Κολωνακι) are all within walking distance, and most of the famous sites of ancient Athens are nearby, including the Acropolis (Ακροπολις), the Theater of Dionysus, the Areopagus, the Ancient Agora of Athens (Αρχαια Αγορα των Αθηνων) with Hadrian’s Library, the Tower of the Winds in the RomanAgora, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the Arch of Hadrian (Αψις του Ανδριανου), the Temple of Olympian Zeus (Ναος του Ολυµπιου Διος), the Pnyx (Πνυκα), the Philopappos Monument (Μνηµειο του Φιλοπαππου) on the Hill of the Nymphs, the Kerameikos Cemetery (Νεκροταφειο Κεραµικου), the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Μνηµειο του Αγνωστου Στρατιωτη) and Lycabettus Hill. Historic churches also dot the area, some dating from the Middle Ages.
Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens
Annunciation Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, popularly known as the “Metrópolis”, is the cathedral church of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece.
Construction of the Cathedral began on Christmas Day, 1842 with the laying of the cornerstone by King Otto and Queen Amalia.
Workers used marble from 72 demolished churches to build the Cathedral’s immense walls. Three architects and 20 years later, it was complete. On May 21, 1862, the completed Cathedral was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God by the King and Queen. The Cathedral is a three aisle, domed basilica that measures 130 feet (40 m) long, 65 feet (20 m) wide, and 80 feet (24 m) high. Inside are the tombs of two saints killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Turkish Occupation: Saint Philothei and Patriarch Gregory V.
Saint Philothei built a convent, was martyred in 1559, and her bones are still visible in a silver reliquary. She is honored for ransoming Greek women enslaved in Turkish harems.
Gregory V the Ethnomartyr, Patriarch of Constantinople, was hung by order of Turkish Sultan Mahmud II and his body thrown into the Bosphorus in 1821, in retaliation for the Greek uprising on March 25, leading to the Greek War of Independence. His body was rescued by Greek sailors and eventually enshrined in Athens.
To the immediate north of the Cathedral is the little Church of St. Eleftherios also called the “Little Mitropoli.”
In the Square in front of the Cathedral stand two statues. The first is that of Saint Constantine XI the Ethnomartyr, the last Byzantine Emperor. The second is a statue of Archbishop Damaskinos who was Archbishop of Athens during World War II and was Regent for King George II and Prime Minister of Greece in 1946.
The Metropolitan Cathedral remains a major landmark in Athens and the site of important ceremonies with national political figures present, as well as weddings and funerals of the rich and famous.
Currently, the Cathedral is going under renovation. Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens announced at the beginning of 2009 that the Cathedral will be closed for a year due to a revamp.
Tavernas in the side streets of Plaka
Plaka (Πλακα) is the historic heart of Athens, located to the north of the Acropolis. Gentrified during the 1990s and now very popular with tourists, Plaka is a charming historic district, with its restored 19th century neoclassical homes, pedestrianized streets, shops and restaurants, and picturesque ruins from the city’s Roman era. Thissio, to the west side of the Acropolis, is very similar and now houses many restaurants and cafes. Between the two is Monastiraki, a very bohemian district increasingly popular with tourists, with stores selling a variety of items including antiques, cookware, souvenirs, arts and crafts, movie posters, punk culture, funky clothing, and pretty much anything you can think of. Another part of Plaka is Anafiotika and is located on the northermost place. There you will find the first university of Athens before it was relocated in central Athens. Its an oasis of calm and quietness, and there are many green spaces which are part of the green space of Acropolis.
Plaka’s boundaries are not precisely defined. Clear borders are the Ancient Agora and Plateia Monastirakion the west, the Acropolis and Dhionysiou Areopayitou street on the south, the Temple of Olympian Zeusand Leoforos Amalias on the south-east, and the west part of Mitropoleos street, up to the cathedral on the north (but Mitropoleos street and Leoforos Amalias, though boundaries, shouldn’t be considered part of Plaka, since they have a modern and fairly non-descript atmosphere). The north-eastern and eastern boundaries are a bit less well defined, but if you’re south of Apollonos street and west of Nikis street you’ll probably feel like you’re still in Plaka.
Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea
Located: In the downtown of the modern city of Athens, right in the middle of the high-traffic shopping area of Ermou street, at the edge of the Plaka district
The Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea or just Kapnikarea is a Greek Orthodox church one of the oldest churches in Athens.
It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a female goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter.
A souvenir shop on Pandrossou Street
Monastiraki (literally little monastery) is a flea market neighborhood in the old town of Athens, and is one of the principal shopping districts in Athens. The area is home to clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, and specialty stores, and is a major tourist attraction in Athens and Attica for bargain shopping. The area is named after Monastiraki Square, which in turn is named for the Pantánassa church monastery that is located within the square. The main streets of this area are Pandrossou Street and Adrianou Street.
The Monastiraki Metro Station, located on the square, serves both Line 1 and Line 3 of the Athens Metro. There is luggage storage available in the station, 3 € for 24 hours and you can leave it there for a maxium of 15 days.
Kerameikos is an area of Athens, located to the northwest of the Acropolis, which includes an extensive area both within and outside the city walls, on both sides of the Dipylon (Διπυλον) Gate and by the banks of the Eridanos River. It was the potters’ quarter of the city, from which the English word “ceramic” is derived, and was also the site of an important cemetery and numerous funerary sculptures erected along the road out of the city.
Address: 28 Oktovriou (Patission) 44, Athens; Tel: +30 210 821-7717.Directions: It is five minute walk from Viktoria station and a 10 minute walk from Omonoia stationOpen: April to October 15, Monday 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; October 16 to March, Monday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission: Adults: €6, Students and Children under 6: Free
Tip: The museum houses a large recently renovated gift shop with artifact replicas and a popular cafe for tourists in the sculpture garden
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens (Greek: Εθνικο Αρχαιολογικο Μουσειο) in Athenshouses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from the Greek antiquity worldwide . It is situated in the Exarhia area in central Athens between the streets Epirus, Bouboulina and Tositsa while its entrance is on the Patission Avenue adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic.
Omonoia Square (Greek: Plateía Omonoías, Concord Square, often plainly referred to as Omónia) is a square in Athens. It is served by a train station used by the Athens Metro and the Ilektrikos, appropriately named Omonoia Station. The square with 3 Septemvriou almost aligns to the north.
Address: Koumbari 1, Athens: Tel: +30 210 367 1000.www.benaki.grOpen: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.Admission: €6; Thursdays: Free
The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens. The museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. Although the museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic art, Chinese porcelain and exhibits on toys, its 2000 re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focused on specific collections, allowing the main museum to focus on Greek culture over the span of the country’s history.
Byzantine and Christian Museum
Address: Vassilissis Sofias Avenue 22, AthensDirections: Down the street from the Hilton Athens; It can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Evangelismos station
The Byzantine and Christian Museum (Greek: Βυζαντινο και Χριστιανικο Μουσειο) is situated at Vassilissis Sofias Avenue in Athens. It was founded in 1914 and houses more than 25,000 exhibits with rare collections of pictures, scriptures, frescoes, pottery, fabrics, manuscripts and copies of artifacts from the 3rd century AD to the late medieval era. It is one of the most important museums in the world in Byzantine Art. In June 2004, in time for its 90th anniversary and the 2004 Athens Olympics, the museum reopened to the public after an extensive renovation and the addition of another wing.
Athens War Museum
Address: Rizari 4, (Vassilissis Sofias Avenue), Athens
The Athens War Museum, established on July 18, 1975, is the museum of the Greek Armed Forces. Its purpose is the exhibition of weapon artifacts and the relevant research in the history of war. It covers the history of war in all ages. The museums’ collections include the collection of the Greek Army, with artifacts from other civilizations such as Ancient China and Ancient Japan.
The museum’s centerpieces are weaponry from wars in which Greece was involved.
The National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum
Address: Vasileos Konstantinou 50, Athens; Tel: + 30 210 723-5857. Tel: + 30 210 723-5937.www.nationalgallery.grDirections: The gallery is situated on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, opposite the Hilton Athens; It can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Evangelismos stationOpen: Monday and Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Closed: TuesdaysAdmission: €6.50
The gallery is situated on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, opposite the Hilton Athens. It can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Evangelismos station. The National Glyptotheque is situated at the “Alsos Stratou” (Military Park) in Goudi, near Kanellopoulou Avenue and can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Katehaki station.
The National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum (Ethniki Pinakothiki (Greek: Εθνικη Πινακοθηκη)) is an art museum in Athens devoted to Greek and European art from the 14th century to the 20th century. It is directed by Marina Lambraki-Plaka.
Address: Base: 15-min walk northeast of Syntagma Square; funicular every 10 mins from corner of Ploutarchou and Aristippou (take Minibus 060 from Kanari or Kolonaki Square, except Sunday) Tel: 210 722-7065.Open: Funicular: Monday to Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.Admission: Funicular €4
Mount Lycabettus (In Greek: Lykavittos, Λυκαβηττος) is a Cretaceous limestone hill in Athens. At 277 meters above sea level, the hill (also known as Lycabettos or Lykabettos) is the highest point in the city that surrounds it. Pine trees cover its base, and at its peak are the 19th century Chapel of St. George (Agios Georgios Church), a theatre, and a restaurant.
The hill is a popular tourist destination and can be ascended by the Lycabettus Funicular, a funicular railway which climbs the hill from a lower terminus at Kolonaki.
Lykavittos appears in various legends. Popular stories suggest it was once the refuge of wolves, possibly the origin of its name (which means “the one (the hill) that is walked by wolves”). Mythologically, Lykavittos is credited to Athena, who created it when she dropped a mountain she had been carrying from Pallene for the construction of the Acropolis after the box holding Erichthonius was opened.
Ancient Agora of Athens
View of the ancient agora. The temple of Hephaestus is to the left and the Stoa of Attalos to the right
Directions: Located just to the west of Plaka and easily walked to by following the pleasant section of Hadrian (Adrianou) Street leading west from Hadrian’s Library, was formerly a political and administrative center of ancient AthensAdmission: Shared ticket with Acropolis: €12
Stoa of Attalos
The reconstructed Stoa of Attalos in modern-day Athens
The Stoa of Attalos (also spelled Attalus) is recognised as one of the most impressive stoæ in the Athenian Agora. It was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon who ruled between 159 BC and 138 BC.
Typical of the Hellenistic age, the stoa was more elaborate and larger than the earlier buildings of ancientAthens. The stoa’s dimensions are 115 by 20 meters wide and it is made of Pentelic marble and limestone. The building skillfully makes use of different architectural orders. The Doric order was used for the exterior colonnade on the ground floor with Ionic for the interior colonnade. This combination had been used in stoas since the Classical period and was by Hellenistic times quite common. On the first floor of the building, the exterior colonnade was Ionic and the interior Pergamene. Each story had two aisles and twenty-one rooms lining the western wall. The rooms of both stories were lighted and vented through doorways and small windows located on the back wall. There were stairways leading up to the second story at each end of the stoa. The building is similar in its basic design to the Stoa that Attalos’ brother, and predecessor as king, Eumenes II had erected on the south slope of the Acropolis next to the theatre of Dionysus. The main difference is that Attalos’ stoa had a row of rooms at the rear on the ground floor that have been interpreted as shops.
Temple of Hephaestus
Address: Ermou Street, Hill of Agoraios Kolonos, Athens Directions: The temple is located about 500m north-west of the Acropolis and about 1km due west of the modern centre of Athens, Syntagma Square
The Temple of Hephaestus is the best-preserved ancient Greek temple in the world, but is far less well-known than its illustrious neighbour, the Parthenon. The temple is also known as the Hephaesteum orHephaesteion. It is sometimes called the Theseion (Greek: thisio), due to a belief current in Byzantine times that the bones of the legendary Greek hero Theseus were buried there; in fact the bones alleged to be those of Theseus were buried in the 5th century BC at another site nearer to the Acropolis.
Do in Athens
Near Athens in Glyfada (50 min by tram from the center), there is the Sea Turtle Rescue Society Archelon. They are regularly looking for volunteers who are willing to work on their own costs and are able to take care of injured sea turtles.
Every Sat/Sun you can join a free bike tour of the old area of Athens. To take part in this, you should contact the NGO Anthropos or call 210 8838914 but you can just turn up if you aren’t able to contact them in advance. Groups meet at 10:40am outside Thissio metro station.
If the weather is good, head out of town on buses A2, B2 or E22 from metro station Sygrou, or the tram from Syntagma to the beaches to the south of Athens. Just get off wherever the sea takes your fancy. Be aware though that beach-side cafes can hit you hard with prices of food and drinks. If you are the only person getting on the bus, be aware that you need to flag the bus down to get it to stop or it will just fly on by.
EasyCruise, Syngrou Avenue 362, Kallithea, 176 74 Athinai, phone +30 211 2116211. The infamous cheap flight company now runs a variety of cruises from Greece [Athens] to Turkey and surrounding islands such as Mykonos, Paros and Syros. For the classic enthusiast, their tour company visits Acropolis, Epidavros, Nemea, Mycenae, Corinth, Olympia and Delphi.
Although a huge city, Athens has relatively few shopping malls or large department stores; the small, family run shop still conquers all. Souvenirs are of course available everywhere that tourists go. Other shopping opportunities are antiques, museum reproductions, embroideries and other folk art goods, and Greek food and drink products. Here is an overview of the Athens shopping scene; detailed listings will be found on the relevant district pages:
Plaka is lined with souvenir shops, most of them selling cheap souvenir knick-nacks, though there are a few higher-quality shops here and there. Prices can be high for quality items.
For a more reasonable price tag, try Ermou Street, beside Syntagma Square. Turn right off Ermou at the MAC makeup shop and you’ll find yourself on Aghiou Markou and other small streets which are home to incredibly cheap shoes, bags, jewellery, gifts, homewares, and so on.
“The Mall” at the Metro Station “Neratziotissa” is the biggest shopping mall in Athens.
Street vendors, with their wares laid out on blankets on the pavement, can be found in many places where tourists congregate, especially in Plaka and Monastiraki. Their goods are mostly forgeries, cheap knock-offs, and illegal CDs. These vendors are unlicensed, which is in violation of Greek law, and you may notice them vanishing as soon as a policeman is in sight, to reappear the instant the police have gone. They are best ignored. (This warning doesn’t apply to vendors of fruit, nuts, etc. from street carts, who are usually legitimate.)
While Athens is generally a very safe city, there have been reports of pickpockets on the Metro and in other crowded areas. Street crime is rare; when it happens, it’s most commonly purse-snatching from women walking away from banks and ATM machines.
The friendly stranger bar scam has been reported from areas of central Athens frequented by travelers, including Omonia, Syntagma, and Plaka. Recently, there have been some reports of fraud. Usually, someone will stop you and ask for directions. A couple of other guys then show up claiming to be police, showing a badge (obviously s fake one). They ask passport and wallet for verification. While you are busy trying to convince them that your passport is valid, one of them sneaks out some money from your wallet.
Another danger recently reported, especially by travelers boarding the Airport Express Bus in Piraeus, ispickpocket gangs operating buses used by tourists. As the bus is boarding, a large group traveling together (who are reported often to be of various nationalities other than Greek) will divide itself in two, with half of them going on board and then stopping in the aisle to cause a jam-up among passengers trying to board through the door behind them, the other half then offering to help the jammed passengers lift their luggage on board. Just before the bus leaves, the half of this group on the bus gets off. Then, joining the other half outside the door, they all quickly disperse.
What has happened, of course, is that the passengers who were being “helped” with their luggage by some of this group were being pick-pocketed by others. The theft is particularly effective because it’s directed at travelers who are leaving the country and are thus not likely to report it — many victims don’t realize they’ve been robbed until they get to the airport or even until after they get on the plane. Some travelers have claimed that certain bus drivers are party to these crimes by neglecting to open the rear door of the bus for boarding passengers, thus ensuring a tighter and more confused crowd of jammed passengers trying to board through the center door, making the criminals’ job easier.
Athenians hold negative perceptions for the areas from Omonoia Square to Karaiskaki Square and the area near Larissis train station (in the western areas of the city proper), and locals advise you to avoid these areas late at night.
The National Garden in Athens and the back streets of Piraeus are probably also places where its unwise to wander around late at night. More recently, Sofokleous Street (a major street south of Omonia), especially the western part near Pireos Street, has gotten a reputation for crime and drugs; some Athenians will advise you to avoid it even during the daytime.
Special care should be taken in crossing streets in Athens’ chaotic traffic, even if you have the walk light.
Athens is one of the most political cities in Europe. Demonstrations and riots are common and accepted as part of everyday life and democracy by most Athenians. Keep abreast of news of demonstrations, and avoid them if you don’t want to run the risk of being arrested or tear-gassed.
Anarchist and leftist groups often target police, government, and corporate targets during the night. It is unlikely that tourists would be hurt, as the anarchists usually take care to damage only property as opposed to people. Nonetheless, parking by a McDonald’s, police station, or bank could get your car damaged.
In addition, you should be aware that Athens has many stray dogs. Though the dogs are usually friendly, they may be alarming and unusual upon your first arriving into the city. Athenians feed and take care of them, and it is not unusual to see a shop owner offering plastic plates full of leftovers to the dogs on the street.
Piraeus, the harbour of Athens, and Rafina (on the east coast of Attica) are the departure points for a large number of ferry services to the Greek Islands and other destinations in the eastern Mediterranean, including ports in Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Cyprus. Fast hydrofoil, catamaran or helicopter services also take you to the Greek Islands. Italy is easily approached by boat from Patras (take a train or a bus to Patras).
The port of Lavrion in southern Attica is being increasingly developed as a ferry port, especially for Cyclades routes.
The closest islands, suitable for a day trip, are located in the Argosaronic (or Saronic) gulf: Hydra, Aegina, Poros, Spetses and Salamina.
Day trips to the Corinth Canal, the theatre at Epidaurus and to the ancient sites of Olympia, Delphi and Mycenae are easy with a rental car. Other towns along the Peloponnese such as Nafplion are charming and worthwhile.
Hydra is deservedly one of the most popular day-trip destinations from Athens.