Athens

Athens

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About Athens

Embodying the legacy of ancient Greece within a modernist hub

A visit to this bustling Greek metropolis is a must-see to explore the sophisticated modern Athenian city. In a city already renowned for its vibrant and rich cultural history Athens has undergone a startling transformation since its urban renewal for the 2004 Olympic Games, and is now recognised as one of the safest and liveliest cities in Europe. In addition to a vibrant street life and stylish, boutique fashion culture, Athens has banished all cars from its historic centre to create a stunning pedestrian promenade; where visitors can stroll in the moonlight at leisure to enjoy the ancient architecture and majesty of this awe-inspiring cultural hotspot.

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Athens is blessed with an impressive array of five-star accommodation, allowing you to spend your time in the city in lavish indulgence. Expect rooftop terraces, enticing pools and views over the Pantheon, with good places to find such luxuries including the Electra Palace Hotel Athens (Navarchou Nikodimou 18-20), Royal Olympic Hotel (Athanasiou Diakou 28-34), and Divani Caravel (Vasileos Alexandrou 2). There are also plenty of decent three-star hotels to choose from, many of which boast rooftop views of the Acropolis such as the Adrian Hotel (Adrianou 74) and the Central Hotel (Apollonos 21).

Athens provides great scope for interesting shopping opportunities, none more so than at the vibrant Central Market, known as the Agora (Athinas 42). Fresh produce abounds here, while the characterful Monastiraki Flea Market (Adrianou Monastiraki) is held every day and can be great for picking up unique odds and ends. There’s lots for tourists to explore in the Plaka district, although those adept at browsing will come across superb arts and crafts at stores such as Koukos (Navarchou Nikodimou 21). Head to Ermou Street and explore the surrounding area for clothes and accessories.

Athens is a veritable hotbed of excellent eateries, which range from fancy foodie retreats to traditional tavernas. Splash out at one of the city’s top restaurants, Michelin starred Varoulko (Pireos 80), and be sure to try the much-vaunted seafood dishes. It can be a good idea to stay away from the touristy spots of the otherwise attractive Plaka, but the historic Psarras (Erechtheous 16) is worth a visit, and boasts outdoor tables that are overlooked by the Acropolis. For modern twists on traditional dishes try Tzitzikas kai Mermigas (Aischilou 26), while the nearby Melilotos (Kalamiotou 19) is similarly creative.

Events

Apokries (Carnival)

March/April

Athens’ pre-Lent carnival is a vibrant concoction of street parties, parades and costumed revellers that takes place over three weeks. Apokries translates as ‘goodbye to meat’, so as much barbecuing and gorging on meaty treats as is humanly possible goes down on Tsiknopempti, or Smoke Thursday. The city’s hills and beaches come alive with flying kites on the last day of the celebrations, Ash Monday.

World Jazz Festival

March

An eclectic blend of swing, Afro-jazz, bossa nova, cabaret, Balkan jazz and traditional brass instruments allows the customs of the Macedonian Carnival to be shaken up with New Orleans vibes, resulting in this superb jazz festival each March. 

Independence Day

25 March

Traditional Greek costumes and flags adorn the city’s children, as Athens celebrates the beginning of the Greek revolution with a national and religious holiday, punctuated by school and military parades.

European Music Day

June

Technopolis in Gazi joins in the fun that pervades Athens over three days in June thanks to the annual European Music Day. Local and international artists put on free performances of anything from hip hop to classical music on stages across the city.

Athens & Epidaurus Festival

June – July

The ancient amphitheatre of Epidaurus is the focal point of this absorbing celebration of ancient Greek culture. Performances are held here in addition to other venues around Athens, such as the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Useful Information

Key facts

Language:Greek
Currency:Euro
Time zone:GMT +2 hours
Flight time:3 hours 50 mins
Airport code:ATH
Holiday type:Beach / City Break / Summer Sun

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Athens map

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