Athenians place the city’s hills and Attica’s sandy beaches at the top of the list of best spots for a first date.
Verdant Ardittou Hill lies in the centre of Athens right above Kallimarmaron Stadium. Of enormous archaeological value due to its position, Ardittou Hill is a favorite spot amongst Athenians for romantic strolls as well as a spot of jogging. It probably has the best view to the Acropolis, Lycabettus, and the Columns of Olympian Zeus and a night walk along its cooling pathways will reveal many a charming secret, both ancient and modern. Continuing along these paths will bring you to Mets, an area with a growing reputation for fun and entertainment. What better way, in fact, to end your meander down lovers’ lane than with drink in hand soaking up the atmosphere with other Athenian fun-seekers?
Climbing up the picturesque steps of Kallidromiou Street in Exarhia, picking your way through the playfully cunning cats who’ve made this place their domain and admiring neoclassical buildings of exceptional beauty, you will find yourself on Strefi Hill. This particular hill is one of the favourite haunts of the Athenian young, and it’s not uncommon for parties to be held there, just below the little stone theatre. The night, as we all know, is made for romance, but if you prefer something less intimate,during the summer months you have the option of “Exostrefis”, one of the best known restaurants in Athens which serves excellent food and wine. The panoramic view of the city from the hill is invigorating, its trees, shrubs and flowers giving us a deep breath of cool fresh air in the summer.
Perhaps the most iconic hill in Athens, second only to the Acropolis, Lycabettus is the highest point of the Athens basin, standing at 227 metres above the city. Access to this wonderful hill can be on foot but the most popular way is the picturesque cable car. Romanticism without the weariness of the climb and the whole of Athens at your feet! Atop the hill of Lycabettus sits St.George’s chapel in its whitewashed splendor, as if on permanent loan from the Cyclades. Before you decide to visit the hill, check if there is a concert on that day, as the theatre of Lycabettus is one of the most popular open air venues, and its stage has hosted top acts from the international music scene. However, even without musical accompaniment the climb to the top of Lycabettus is well worthwhile because of the unrivalled view when you get there. Sprawling Athens is at once tiny and vast, its myriad lights a starscape to match the heavens.
Philopappou Hill, named after the monument discovered there, is one of the most beautiful in Athens. With a strong flavor of ancient Greece, full of olive trees and in full view of the Parthenon, Philopappou Hill seems to encapsulate huge swathes of Greek history, ancient and modern, in a single image. Besides the Parthenon, you can cast your eyes down on the Acropolis Museum, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the whole of Apostolou Pavlou Avenue and the Observatory. On a clear day you can see the sea. Especially at night Philopappou Hill is transformed into an Athenian beacon , its monument bathed in a single orange spotlight. After a romantic walk on Philopappou, there are many districts resting in its shade to discover. Theseion, Monastiraki, Koukaki, Petralona. Pick one and have fun until the stars disappear from the sky.
Temple of Poseidon, Sounion
On the southernmost tip of Greater Athens lies the headland of Sounion, with its iconic Temple of Poseidon ,which adorns the clifftop 60 metres above the sea. Sunsets in Sounion are cinematic to say the least and have served many a passionate liaison with a sumptuous mauve and orange backdrop. So, if you are in Athens, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Sounion at dusk so you too can marvel at the sun’s majestic descent into the Saronikos gulf and – if you are lucky – perhaps a bright full moon rising a little later on. In the summer months don’t miss out on a night dip on one of the nearby beaches. The sea, an ancient floodlit temple and you. A leisurely jaunt down the coast from the city and this paradise can be yours.
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The precious gem of the Athenian Riviera is Laimos Vouliagmenis. It is one of the favourite Athenian destinations for a swim in the summer, as well as walks in winter. The Temple of Apollo Zoster, which is definitely worth a visit, is also nearby. At night, sat next to the sea, you can enjoy the canopy of stars and choose from its many restaurants and bars to prolong the magic.
About twenty kilometers from the centre of Athens you can find the “vrahakia”(little rocks) of Varkiza, also known as Limanakia (little harbours) a favourite Athenian destination for a Sunday swim in the summer months. They probably have the best waters of the entire Attica coastline, with a deep blue colour you rarely come across near the city. The descent by a fairly rough footpath is well worthwhile as the tiny bays in moonlight are spellbinding.
Lagonisi is a gorgeous resort in Attica. Its beaches, such as the popular Mavro Lithari, give the opportunity for romantic walks on the beach framed by a magnificent sunset. Stay on the beach until nightfall as it is then that the firmament is revealed in all its glory, with every constellation in our galaxy on display. Also, don’t resist the temptation to take a swim after dark. Nothing is more romantic on a summer night.
The National Observatory of Athens
On Nymphon hill, opposite Philopappou hill lies the National Observatory of Athens. Hansen’s gorgeous building was opened in September 1995 and by 2010, it had been graced by more than 200,000 visitors from Greece and abroad. In January 2015 came the introduction of the new option of evening guided tours for groups of 25 or more and in languages other than Greek and English. They include nightly observation through Doridis’ telescope if the weather allows. So, don’t forget to visit the official website of the Observatory to look up dates and make your bookings for an extraordinary experience and then impress your partner with your newly-found knowledge of the stars.
The Eugenides Foundation Planetarium is a great way to learn about the mysteries of the sky above us. A magical trip to planets and galaxies awaits children and adults visiting the Planetarium. Its programme is embellished with many presentations which explore past periods in the life of our planet and the secrets of the universe. One of the most impressive features of the Planetarium is the Stargate, whose thematic sections deal with the study of celestial bodies and chart the creation and evolution of the universe. Sink into the comfortable seats of the Planetarium and travel to the stars.