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Athens

A guide to the centre of Athens

Each neighbourhood in Athens has its own character, history, atmosphere, political colour and little secrets. So what should you absolutely see in Athens? Which are the best shopping areas? Which museums are not to be missed? Where do you find the best Greek restaurants? What about the nightlife in Athens? And where in Athens should you stay?

What to see and do in Athens

If you are only in Athens for a day or two, I think you should divide your time between Plaka, Monastiraki, the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Start early (before it gets too hot and the crowds arrive) with the Acropolis and the Parthenon. I don’t think this archaeological masterpiece dating from the 5th century BC needs a further introduction, but let me suggest you wear good shoes, as you will have to negotiate many steps, pebbled paths and slippery marble. You could spend the entire day admiring the temple and the antiquities, but there’s more to see in the cooler setting of the new Acropolis Museum, one of the modern architectural highlights of Athens.

Your next stop should be Plaka, Athens’ oldest neighbourhood, at the foot of the Acropolis. Stroll through the charming pedestrian streets with tons of little shops and boutiques, small museums (including two for children!), little cafés and typical Greek restaurants. If you have time, also visit the Agora, the ancient heart of Athens and the birthplace of democracy. Souvenir shopping is best done in Monastiraki, the adjacent neighbourhood. It is packed with tiny shops where you will find anything from kitsch to antiques, from worry beads to jewellery, from beachwear to leatherwork, from fake icons to real art, and, on Sundays, when the whole neighbourhood turns into one big flea market, anything from junk to real finds.

 

Guided tours and activities in Athens

Trekking Hellas (the ‘active holidays’ specialist for travellers in Greece who are interested in activities off the beaten track) offers a few guided walks and activities in the centre of Athens that will allow you to experience some of the best the Greek capital has to offer a little differently. There are two fantastic walking tours (Hills of Athens and Between East & West) as well as an early morning city running tour. The photo treasure hunt must be one of the most fun ways to explore Athens and learn about its history and culture.

 

And even more things to explore in Athens

If you have more time in Athens, there is a lot more to see and do. Here is a small selection of suggestions:

Small hotels and other special places to stay in Athens