athens-greece-guide

What to see in Athens

Athens has so many attractions to see that will take you a week to discover. There are many who say Athens is worth a visit of just a couple of days and then continue on to the Greek  islands.  But this not true. Except the world famous monuments of Athens, the Acropolis and Parthenon, worth to see is the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Furthermore, during the summer season the Athens festival is held at the Theater of Herodes Atticus under the rock of Acropolis  and is the best chance to see on stage an ancient Greek drama.

The atmospheric pedestrian streets around the Acropolis, the large exhibitions, the rich potential of the museums, highlighting the New Acropolis Museum, the cultural complexes and the festivals, the lively, even in times of crisis, gastronomic landscape, the lively downtown neighborhoods, make the center of Athens the strongest attraction for visitors to the city.

Increasingly hip in recent years, Gazi has now become an all year round hot spot. Especially in summer, the main road and the square of the metro station resemble an island. Restaurants and bars set tables outside, everyone is on the street, in a perpetual motion.

Metaxourgio, which follows closely with more alternative and art profiles, the timeless “village of art and entertainment” in Psyrri, which along with the night spots now gives reasons for all-day walks, the idiosyncratic and forever young Exarchia, the Syggrou Avenue with the dynamic cultural package of the House of Letters and Arts, the museums and cultural centers of Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, and the ever-changing Piraeus Avenue are some of the neighborhoods of the wider city center that keep your interest constant.

During the Athens Festival there are many of world famous artists who  perform at the ancient  theatre. It is an amazing experience on a warm Athens night to watch any display on that great Amphitheatre .Next to the Parliament the National Garden and the Zappeion are places of interest  a green oasis in the middle of the big city, walking through Zappeion you arrive opposite  the Panathinaikon Stadium where the first modern Olympics took place in 1896.

A few metres away towards Acropolis you have the monuments of the ancient temple of Olympic Zeus and the Adrianos Gate, at this point starts the Adrianou street which takes you through Plaka all the way down to  Monastiraki with its flea market and Thission.

At the end of Andrianou street is the Ancient Agora and the Attalos stoa museum. Most of its exhibits are connected with the Athenian Democracy and this is the reason that the ceremony of the entrance in the European Union of the 10 new member countries at the spring of 2003 took place at the Attalos Stoa. The Roman Agora located at the beginning of Andrianou street next to the mosque. 

Walking up the Agora you get to the peripheral road under the Acropolis walls. Another easy way to go up to Acropolis is taking the Dioskouron street parallel to the Ancient Athenian Agora and after a few steps you get there. From this direction before you get to the main entrance is the rock of Arios Pagos the place where the Apostle Paul spoke to the Athenians, his speech is carved on a metal plate on the rock, it is worth climbing up the rock, the view of Athens and Piraeus especially during a full moon night is amazing but you should  not wear high heeled shoes because the steps are uneven and slippery.

From Arios Pagos you can watch the Sound and Light displays  which are held every summer in Athens at the Pnika hill, the sound and light show consists of light and sound effects on the Acropolis and the Parthenon .The Lycabetous Hill is another place of interest . The small church of St George on the hill overviews the whole basin of Athens , the view is worth seeing. You can go up either by the funicular train. 

From Ploutarhou street between Kolonaki and Hilton at the right side of Vasilisis Sophia’s street. But the heart of Athens for the tourists and many Greeks as well, is Acropolis, Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian street that goes around Acropolis,  the areas of Plaka , Anafiotika, Psiri,  Thision, Gazi, the Parliament square, Ermou street, the Metropolis of Athens and Monastiraki.

NORTHERN ATHENS SUBURBS

KIFISIA ATHENS Going up Kifissias and Mesogeion avenues, the newly built shopping malls, the Olympic sports facilities and the neat apartment buildings reveal the elevated shares of the northern suburbs in the real estate of both accommodation and night life.

Typical landmarks are the geographical boundaries of the region, Psychiko where many diplomatic missions of foreign countries reside and Kifissia.
This suburb with its old mansions, apart from being a privileged place of residence, is a destination for shopping, gastronomic pleasures, but also for family educational trips to the Goulandris Museum of Natural History.

For your night outings, Nea Erithraia is the hot spot of the northern suburbs, Chalandri has become the joy of the baroque while Psychiko and Melissia have been moving a lot lately.

SOUTH SUBURBS OF ATHENS

GLYFADA Inextricably linked to the sea, the southern suburbs become in the summer the playground of the Athenians who descend from the morning with trams and buses for diving on the nearby organized beaches, from Alimos and Voula to Vouliagmeni and Varkiza, and in the evening for food in some of the best restaurants and bar restaurants in town.

The first stop on the coast descending from the center, Faliro, focusing on the renovated Marina Floisvou, is suitable for sunbathing for cyclists and summer cinema and awaits the implementation of major projects for the regeneration of Faliriko bay. 

Glyfada is a classic destination in the area for shopping in its shopping malls but also for drinks or food, while Vouliagmeni and Kavouri with its luxury resorts is identified with the upper class version of the Athens Riviera.

List of sights and places of interest in Athens

Filopappos hill and Pnyx

From the junction of Dionysiou Areopagitou and Apostolou Pavlou streets, a path starts to the hills of Filopappos and Pnyka. Along the way we meet the post-Byzantine church of Agios Dimitrios of Loubardiaris, as well as traces of the ancient wall of Athens. At the top of the hill is the burial monument of Julius Antiochus Philopappos. Next to the hill of Philopappos or otherwise the hill of the Muses, the hill of Pnyx with the stage where some of the most important politicians of ancient Athens spoke, as here was the gathering of the Church of the Municipality (Demos) of Athens.

The Ancient Agora of Athens

Entering the archeological site from the entrance of Adrianou Street, our attention is drawn to a building that survives almost intact, Thiseio, the temple of Hephaestus, which dominates a small hill, the hill of Agoraios Kolonos. It is the most well-preserved ancient temple in Greece. A little lower, archaeologists have carved the so-called western route, which passes in front of the most important monuments of the political life of the Agora: the ruins of the Vasileos Stoa o, the remains of the Stoa of Eleftherios Zeus, the Register, the Dome and the Vouleuterion. One of the most important monuments of the area is the restored Stoa of Attalos that houses the museum of the Ancient Agora.

Roman Agora

Next to the Ancient Agora, a new market was created with a joint donation of Augustus and Julius Caesar, exclusively for commercial purposes, the one we now call Roman Agora. Its most famous monument is the Tower of the Winds, the Clock of Andronikos or the “Winds” as it is called. It is an octagonal tower made of Pentelic marble, which is kept in excellent condition. At the top was a weather vane, pointing to one of the eight winds pictured at the top of each side, hence its name. Other important buildings of the area are on the other side of the marble courtyard, the western propylon, or the Gate of the Athena.

National Garden

Southeast of the Greek Parliament is the largest park in the city center and a favorite promenade of the Athenians. The former Royal Garden was designed by Queen Amalia herself and features tall perennial trees, dense shrubs and climbing plants. You will find a beautiful playground, a small zoo, an artificial lake, a children’s library and a Botanical Museum. 

Zappeion

Zappeion Mansion is located next to the National garden. Take a walk between its well-kept alleys and the statues like that of Georgios Karaiskakis and Diskovolos and do not forget to pass the impressive gate of the Mansion to admire the impressive circular atrium with the marble colonnades. Exhibitions are organized in this building, while the surrounding area often hosts various street events and a Christmas village. Opposite Zapeion are the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Hadrian arch.

Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos

It is the most important ancient cemetery of Athens. The entrance to the archeological site is from Ermou Street. Right in front of the entrance stretches one of the most characteristic streets with rich private tombs, such as the tombstone of Dexileo and the column of Jesus. The burial monuments are mostly copies, as the originals are in museums. In the background there are ruins of the wall, while the fact that the river Eridanos still flows in the area is impressive.

Thisseion and the temple of Hephaestus

The square of Thisseion even more cafes have opened with a view not only to the Acropolis but also to the Stoa of Attalos that emerges from the Ancient Agora. The area around the train station of the same name is suitable for leisurely walks and nonsense on the counters of small sellers, chestnuts and street performers. The temple that dominates the top of the low hill of the Ancient Agora, the best preserved ancient temple in Greece, is also known as Thiseio or temple of Hephaestus.

Plaka

The oldest district of today’s Athens, with its neoclassical houses and narrow cobbled streets is one of the most touristic, due to its proximity to the Acropolis. The main street of Adrianou and the surrounding streets and pedestrian streets are full of shops with tourist items, cafes, traditional taverns and restaurants. The area also has many old churches, some of which are Byzantine, such as the Transfiguration of the Savior dating from the 11th century. Its narrow streets house several museums, such as the Children’s Museum, the Kanellopoulos Museum and the Museum of Greek Folk Instruments, while the visitor will also see monuments such as that of Lysikrates, also known as “Diogenes’ Lantern”, the mosque, but also archeological places such as Hadrian’s Library, the Roman Agora and the hammam, the “Bath of the Winds”.


Monastiraki

Another tourist area of ​​Athens, as it is located near Plaka and the Acropolis. Monastiraki Square, right in front of the electric station, is the starting point for “Yusurum”, the large bazaar on Hephaestus Street, which was formerly known for its second-hand shops, but today also has shops with modern streetwear. Next to the square is the Tzistaraki mosque, which now houses a collection of pottery, and the church of Panagia Pantanassa, also known as the “church of the Great Monastery”, from which the square took its name.