When most people think of Athens, they still picture it in ancient times, full of amphitheatres and temples, poets and philosophers. Yet this does a great disservice to what is one of Europe’s most thriving and fashionable cities. The city has a booming bar and nightlife scene and is fast becoming a major world player in fashion, music and art.
On top of this, Athens has worked hard to give its ancient sites a whole new lease of life. Efforts have been made to pedestrianize major routes and restore some of the iconic archaeological sites that formed ‘the cradle of civilisation’. As a result, the tourist experience in Athens has never been better. The people of Athens realise how essential tourists are to their city, so will go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.
Of course, the main draws of Athens are still the remarkable historical sites that formed the heart of the ancient Greek empire. The most iconic of all is the imposing Parthenon that towers above the city on the mighty Acropolis. Accessing the other historical sites of Athens has never been easier thanks to a new 2.5-mile walkway which winds its way through the city. Known as the ‘Archaeological Promenade’ the route will take you past several key sites including the New Acropolis Museum, the Odeon and the Theatre of Dionysus.
Athenians are famous for their love of film. In recent times, hundreds of open-air cinemas have sprung up everywhere from public parks to city centre rooftops. The cinemas offer a great way to unwind with a cool glass of wine as the sun sets over the city. One of our favourites is the Thiseion, set in a beautiful walled garden on the Southern side of the Acropolis.
The best way to start the day in Athens is with a couple of ‘Koulouri’. The Koulouri is to Athens what the bagel is to New York – a tasty fresh breakfast bread topped with a seemingly never-ending array of flavours. The bread tastes best when fresh out of the oven, so make sure you head down to your local bakery as early as possible for the authentic Athenian flavour.
A great tip is to head to the New Acropolis Museum restaurant. Heavily subsidised by the museum and the Greek tourist authorities, the restaurant offers top quality Greek cuisine at amazingly cheap prices!
Greece is rapidly gaining a reputation for its wine. Athens is leading the way with a crop of trendy wine bars offering the best of the local varieties at very reasonable prices. We recommend getting there soon before the secret gets out.