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Your guide to Athens
All About Athens
The birthplace of Western democracy and the home of some of the most influential ancient philosophers of all time, Greece’s largest city has led the way in science, the arts, and knowledge for millennia. The Greek capitol, surrounded by mountains on the mainland’s southern peninsula jutting into the Aegean Sea, has a rich mythological, literary, and dramatic history. You can relive history at sites like the Acropolis, where Greek gods competed for the right to name the city, or the Agora, which once held religious temples and was used as a meeting place to discuss democratic matters. For one of the richest collections of artifacts and antique treasures discovered across Greece — including prehistoric pieces from the Neolithic Period and the Bronze Age as well as sculptures and statues from the Classic Period — you’ll want to check out the National Archaeological Museum.
Street art and buildings dripping with bougainvillea line the area of Plaka, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited neighborhoods at the foot of Acropolis Hill — where you’ll also find restaurants serving up local fare like moussaka, souvlaki, and spanakopita. The neighborhood of Monastiraki, one of the busiest areas of the city, is home to a picturesque main square, rooftop bars, and an extensive market where you can buy handmade goods, antiques, and jewelry.
The green, sprawling National Gardens have entrances all over the city as they comprise nearly 60 acres of manicured grounds and crisscrossing pathways, and for art lovers, the National Museum of Contemporary Art showcases modern works created by Greek and international artists.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Athens?
Athens has relatively mild weather compared to other major European cities, so there is no bad time to secure your vacation apartments in Athens. But during the summer, the days are very hot and sunny. You’ll want to get as early a start as possible to avoid being outdoors during the hottest time of the day. During this time you can also catch parts of the Epidaurus Festival, which runs all summer and celebrates Greek music, theater, and dance. This is also a popular time to visit the Greek Isles — although if you’re looking for a quieter experience, you may want to island-hop in spring or fall when you can still enjoy warm weather with fewer people around.
Winter brings much cooler temperatures, though it never gets below freezing, and there is a higher possibility of rain. The season also brings fewer visitors to Athens, giving you the chance to explore the city in a relatively quieter atmosphere.
What are the top things to do in Athens?
The towering columns of the Acropolis and the cracked steps leading up to them are synonymous with Athens. Many of the structures in the complex date back to the fifth century B.C., including the Parthenon and the Erechtheum. Originally dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient citadel symbolizes democracy and the beginning of Western civilization.
The National Archaeological Museum
As the largest archaeological museum in the country, this sprawling building is home to many of the greatest treasures of Ancient Greece. Here you’ll find antiquities dating back to the sixth century B.C. and pieces of Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art, including sculptures, drawings, and pottery. The museum cafe has a leafy garden patio that hosts works of art, musical performances, and other events.
Standing 909 feet tall, Lykavittos Hill is the highest point in Athens and offers sweeping vistas of the city. It’s a photo-worthy spot to get a good view of the Acropolis, and it is particularly stunning at sunset when you can see the sky explode into a sea of colors before the lights of the city’s ancient buildings begin to pop against the dark sky.