Continuously inhabited for over 7,000 years, Athens is one of the oldest capitals in the world and is often referred to as the cradle of Western civilisation and democracy. Today the Greek capital is a vast, modern city with a cornucopia of things to see and do. Explore antiquity up close, immerse yourself the culture and life of the city and feast on delicious food.
From the instantly recognisable Acropolis, Athens stretches its urban limbs in all directions, and even when gazing out across the city from the fortified hilltop on a clear day, it can be difficult to spot where exactly the city ends. Visit the Acropolis in the morning, when the tourist crowds are less sizeable and a fresh breeze from the sea blows gently over the ruins of the Parthenon temple. On your way up the winding paths, enjoy the views of the city below and briefly stop at the ancient Herodes Atticus Odeon, which to this day continues to put on plays and operas. After having explored the magnificent sights of the Acropolis, you can head back down to the newly-built museum that is connected to this UNESCO Heritage Site.
If your appetite for ancient history is still going strong after all of this, you can visit the Temple of Zeus and Panathenaic Stadium, where the latter was the stage for the first Olympics ever held. Alternatively, visits to the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Ancient Agora of Athens are also worth spending some time exploring. After this heavy dose of history, stroll through the quaint areas of Plaka and Syntagma. Among romantic coloured houses, you’ll find pedestrianised streets that abound with souvenir shops and cafés. Some of the streets are clearly geared towards tourists, but in among the narrow streets, there are plenty of places where you can pick up great local produce like honey, olives and wine.
Wander around the Syntagma Square, where you can catch the changing of the guards in front of the Greek Parliament, before escaping the baking midday sun from the refuge of the trees that populate the National Gardens immediately behind the parliament. Athens is a city with more layers than the robes of ancient ruins and museums. Explore the galleries and local shops of Kolonaki, experience the more raw and artistic side of the capital in Exarheia or head to the trendy area of Psiri for a drink before dinner. The city is full of restaurants and cafés that offer great Greek dishes. Find one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants that adorn the buildings in the centre and watch the lit-up Acropolis against the night sky as you tuck into a delicious dinner.
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