If the thought of exploring Greece’s ancient world makes your skin tingle with anticipation, you’ll struggle to contain your excitement on a holiday to Athens. The historical capital of Europe, Athens’ landmarks and old ruins are known the world over, attracting history buffs and all types of tourists eager to lose themselves in their imagination as they stroll through the remains of a distant world. On top of that Athens is a mecca for shopaholics with everything from designer clothes and ornate handmade crafts to souvenirs, which you can follow with a cool walk in the beautiful gardens and pretty landscapes of Athens.
Things to do in Athens
Be transported back in time
You’ll be hard pushed to fit in every site and attraction on an Athens holiday, but the Acropolis and Parthenon that rise above the city draw in crowds year after year and should be top of your list. In addition to telling their own story, they also offer some of the best views of the city. Be sure to pay a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern day Olympic Games were held, the Cape Sounion, and the Temple of Poseidon at sunset for a great photo opportunity.
Visit the ‘burbs
Athens’ various suburbs offer fantastic walking opportunities and breath-taking views. Visitors can appreciate day to day living, stunning villas, interesting shops and secret museums. Most of the suburbs have their own shopping malls and many also have their own beach. Visit the Southern suburbs on the coast of the Saronic Gulf, where you can enjoy seaside walks, relax on beaches, indulge in retail therapy and party the night away. Further north, the Maroussi suburb is home to the Olympic Athletic Centre of Athens where Greece’s most recent Olympic Games were hosted.
Escape to the coast
The Greek islands may be the number one go-to for beaches in the country but Athens certainly gets a pat on the back for trying. No need to jump on a ferry when the beaches of Alimos and Glyfada are close to the city and easily reached by public transport – with crowds to prove it. Pireaus is the nearest and if you are seeking some wind-surfing action then head to the beaches between Saronida and Anavissos. The further you go the better the reward, with sandy Schinias leading the pack in both beauty and facilities, as well as providing a pine forest backdrop and plenty of authentic fish tavernas serving up the fresh catch of the day.
Attractions in Athens
The Acropolis and the Parthenon
Attracting visitors from all corners of the world throughout the year, Athens’ most popular attraction, the Acropolis and the Parthenon not only offer the opportunity to discover an ancient world, but also incredible views and an excellent museum. The Temple of Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena and is one of the most famous buildings in the world, and is definitely not to be missed.
With its streets winding around the Acropolis, the neighbourhood of Plaka offers quaint shops, local architecture and a range of eating options, ideal for a day out. Explore the oldest part of Athens and enjoy handmade jewellery and local handicrafts before pausing for a strong Greek coffee in the cute cafes.
The world’s largest planetarium can be found on the edge of Athens city centre. Breath-taking high-tech visual displays, IMAX productions and 3D screens create a ‘wow’ experience that will keep the kids quiet for hours. Learn about the history of the universe and take a trip to the galaxy as you witness exhilarating use of technology never seen before.
The huge, central Syntagma Square is also a transportation hub, shopping destination and home to the Parliament Building. Immerse yourself in the Greek atmosphere and impressive surroundings where you can catch the ‘Changing of the Guard’ which occurs daily and is well worth a visit.
Best for adults…
National Archaeological Museum
Greece’s flagship museum, the National Archaeological Museum, is jam-packed with treasures from ancient times. Hours can be spent exploring the many exhibitions, tracing history from eras long forgotten. Discover interesting artefacts and stunning Greek art and an insight into Greek civilisation.
Temple of Hephaestus and the Agora
Search out the Temple of Hephaestus, an ancient building with stunning architecture sure to impress. You’ll also find a museum within its walls and other smaller monuments at the Agora – an ancient Greek meeting place.
Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon
The famous Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon are also a favourite spot with both tourists and locals, where you can enjoy magical sunset views. Dedicated to the God of the Sea and dating back to the 5th Century BC, this historical structure offers a unique story and location and is a must-see on your holidays in Athens.
Towering above the city of Athens is the awesome Mount Lycabettus. Take the train to the top for some panoramic views of the city, as well as a visit to the resident amphitheatre which in summer hosts world famous artists, and not forgetting the cute café.