Athens

An ancient city with a modern soul
The Acropolis hill in Athens
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Ancient yet modern, classic yet creative, traditional yet constantly changing… Athens is a city of memorable contrasts.

An enduring symbol of democracy, philosophy and all those big-picture ideals of the ancients, the Greek capital also has a unique way of living in the moment. It is versatile and inventive, alive with the power of possibility day and night. 

Whether Athens is your focal point or you’re in town on a stopover on your way to an island or elsewhere on the mainland, it has become one of Europe’s most exciting city break destinations. 

At its heart is the Acropolis, continuing to emit its unique energy and acting as a beacon to the world – just as it would have done in antiquity. Around it, the likes of the Ancient Agora, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the temples of Olympian Zeus and Hephaestus and so many other world-renowned cultural highlights stand ready to reveal their secrets, like an open-air museum.

History revealed, one step at a time

Supplying the narrative to this visual feast are the museums. First among them, is the Acropolis Museum, one of the finest in the world – not just because of the richness of its exhibits but because of the beauty with which it displays statues and artefacts of the Parthenon and other monuments of the Acropolis, as well as objects unearthed during the construction of the museum in an area continuously inhabited for 4,000 years.

Meanwhile, the National Archaeological Museum reveals the extraordinary breadth of the history of Greece. And everywhere you look, another fascinating museum seems to call to you… the Benaki Museum and Museum of Cycladic Arts and, at the other end of the timescale, the Goulandris Museum of Modern Art, with works from Picasso to Van Gogh. 

Away from the centre, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre is a wonderful recent addition to the cultural identity of Athens, housing the National Opera House and National Library. This, after all, is a place that is constantly reinventing itself. Most recently, a grand pedestrianisation project is changing the way visitors and residents communicate with the city, with new walkways and cycle paths linking ancient sites and neighbourhoods.

Creative flair & a culinary revolution

Beyond the antiquities, you’ll find a city that has lived a decade of unprecedented creativity. New shops and entertainment options have flourished and the food scene has undergone a revolution, with talented chefs reinterpreting Greek and Mediterranean classics. This is where Michelin-starred gourmet cuisine can be found right next door to street food – each memorable in its own way. 

From traditional tavernas and rooftop dining with views of the lit-up Parthenon to bistros and dine-in delis (where the owner has hand-picked products from around the country), the choices seem infinite. As do the wine & cocktail bars and cafes, bringing colour to previously hidden neighbourhoods. New life has been breathed into the likes of Psyrri, Thissio and Kypseli, and neighbourhoods like Koukaki, Pangrati and Petralona call for your attention every bit as much as well-established districts such as Plaka and Monastiraki. 

Just as you will be rewarded for seeking out the smaller boutiques selling clothes by local designers and handmade souvenirs, found in so many neighbourhoods (Kolonaki stands out), as well as venturing down the shopping thoroughfares of Ermou and Voukourestiou streets.

Feeling free under the stars

Athens is an outdoors city, whatever the season of your visit. How could you top watching an opera, concert or play under the starlit Athenian sky? By doing it in a venue like the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, below the Acropolis, that’s how! Or settling back to a classic in one of the historic outdoor summer cinemas, some operating for more than a century.

And in a city made to be walked (or run, if you’re here for the Athens Marathon in November), you’ll find unexpected pockets of greenery. The National Garden and Zappeion Hall deservedly stand out (perfect for a morning or afternoon run or stroll), but there is other greenery to explore. And for an amazing view of the city, Lycabettus and Philopappou hills offer an easy climb and incredible vantage points.

A never-ending taste of summer

But perhaps the most unexpected outdoor highlight of Athens lies along the coast. The Athens Riviera is a series of beaches and marinas, from the southern suburbs of Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza… extending all the way down to Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon on the southeastern tip of Attica. 

It’s a seemingly never-ending taste of summer in the Greek capital, enhancing a city break in a way that no other European city can hope to. Unless you go a step further, of course, and visit the islands close to Athens… Aegina, Hydra, Poros and Spetses … each just as magical as the more celebrated cousins in the Aegean or Ionian seas. Just a short ferry or hydrofoil journey away, they’re close enough for a day trip. 

Lying on the beach on an island in the afternoon and dining under the Acropolis in the evening… contrasts you could live time and again. 

The National Library of Athens

Experience the best of Athens

View from Lycabetus hill in Athens

Fill your lungs with the unexpected green spaces of Athens

Perfect for picnics, strolls and jogs, Athens’ parks and hills offer a serene counterbalance to the energy and bustle of the city centre
View of Acropolis and Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The cultural wealth of Athens revealed in a stroll

Walking around Athens is like visiting an open-air museum, with some of the world’s most impressive cultural monuments appearing at every turn.
Sunset in Poros island

A day cruise to the islands close to Athens

So close that you feel you could almost touch them, the islands of the Saronic Gulf offer a generous taste of Greek summer to anyone...
Goulandris Museum of Modern Art in Athens is a gem of a museum and a dream that was more than 30 years in the making

A tour of the Goulandris Museum of Modern Art in Athens

A gem of a museum – and a dream that was more than 30 years in the making – allows us to enjoy the biggest...
You can appreciate the museum’s stature even before you enter, with its imposing 19th-century neoclassical facade

Journey through time at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

Presenting some of the most important artefacts ever unearthed in the country, the National Archaeological Museum leaves no stone unturned in revealing the epic story...
The Museum of Cycladic Art presents us with artwork so elegant that it still influences fashion trends today

A tour of the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens

Discover how some of the most ancient objects in the world are also amongst the most graceful, continuing to inspire fashion and design thousands of...
  • The Acropolis
  • The Plaka district
  • Monastiraki
  • Syntagma Square
  • Temple of Poseidon
  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Highlights
How to spend 72 hours in Athens
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7 Islands close to Athens
Hydra, Spetses, Poros, Aegina, Tzia/Kea: Welcome to the charming little islands near Athens, which offer history and style in abundance and are ideal for a quick getaway all year round.
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Hydra's alleyways

Plan your trip

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