Athens

Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimp
Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas
Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to

Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel its power. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two verdant hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Museum of Cycladic Art and the Byzantine and Christian Museum beautifully and elaborately illuminate the history of particular regions or periods.

Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka to get the flavor of the 19th century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika thread past tiny churches and small color-washed houses recalling a Cycladic island village. Vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas, occasionally a court garden enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees, ancient ruins scattered in sun-blasted corners.

Makriyianni and Koukaki are prime real estate, the latter recently voted sixth-best neighborhood in the world by Airbnb. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Kerameikos, Gazi-Kerameikos, and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleio, have undergone some gentrification, although they retain much of their post-industrial edge. The newly trendy area around Syntagma Square, including the buzzing, gay-friendly café scene at Monastiraki's Ayias Irinis Square, and bleak, noisy Omonia Square, form the commercial heart of the city. Athens is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otto, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet), with a man-made forest. Each of the city's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: Pangrati, Ambelokipi, and Ilisia are more residential in nature, densely populated, with some lively nightlife hotspots and star attractions like the Panathenaic Stadium and the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis).

Just beyond the southern edge of the city is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views that is still connected to Central Athens by metro. And beyond Athens proper, in Attica to the south and southeast, lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife.

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  • 1. Acropolis

    Acropolis | Archaeological Site/Ruins

    You don't have to look far in Athens to encounter perfection. Towering above all—both physically and spiritually—stands the Acropolis, a millennia...Read More

  • 2. Acropolis Museum

    Acropolis | Museum/Gallery

    Designed by the celebrated Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greek architect Michalis Fotiadis, the Acropolis Museum made...Read More

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  • 3. Ancient Agora

    Monastiraki | Archaeological Site/Ruins

    The commercial hub of ancient Athens, the Agora was once lined with statues and expensive shops, the favorite strolling ground of fashionable...Read More

  • 4. Benaki Museum

    Kolonaki | Museum/Gallery

    Greece's oldest private museum received a spectacular addition in 2004, with a hypermodern new branch that looks like it was airlifted in from...Read More

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  • 5. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

    Makriyianni | Museum/Gallery

    Housing the creations of internationally renowned artist-jeweler Ilias Lalaounis, this private foundation also operates as an international...Read More

  • 6. Mt. Lycabettus

    Kolonaki | Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

    Myth claims that Athens's highest hill came into existence when Athena removed a piece of Mt. Pendeli, intending to boost the height of her...Read More

  • 7. Museum of Cycladic Art

    Kolonaki | Museum/Gallery

    Funded by one of Greece's richest families, this museum has an outstanding collection of 350 Cycladic artifacts dating from the Bronze Age,...Read More

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  • 8. National Archaeological Museum

    Exarcheia | Museum/Gallery

    Many of the greatest achievements in ancient Greek sculpture and painting are housed here in the most important museum in Greece. Artistic highlights...Read More

  • 9. Numismatic Museum Iliou Melathron

    Syntagma | Museum/Gallery

    Even those uninterested in coins might want to visit this museum for a glimpse of the former home of Heinrich Schliemann, who famously excavated...Read More

  • 10. Varvakeios Agora

    Monastiraki | Market/Bazaar

    Athens's cacophonous Central Market runs along Athinas Street: on one side are open-air stalls selling fruit and vegetables, with a few stores...Read More

  • 11. B&M Theocharakis Foundation

    Kolonaki | Arts/Performance Venue

    A key reference point for Athens's culture vultures, this private nonprofit foundation focuses on the visual arts and music, with a special...Read More

  • 12. Benaki Museum of Islamic Art

    Gazi-Kerameikos | Museum/Gallery

    Housed in a gleaming white neoclassical mansion with a sweeping view of the Kerameikos cemetery (that can be relished over coffee at the rooftop...Read More

  • 13. Byzantine and Christian Museum

    Kolonaki | Museum/Gallery

    One of the few museums in Europe focusing exclusively on Byzantine art displays an outstanding collection of icons, mosaics, tapestries, and...Read More

  • 14. Center of Folk Art and Tradition

    Plaka | Museum/Gallery

    Exhibits in the neoclassical family mansion of folklorist Angeliki Hatzimichali (1895–1965) include detailed costumes, ceramic plates from Skyros...Read More

  • 15. Filopappou

    Acropolis | Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

    This summit includes Lofos Mousson (Hill of the Muses), whose peak offers the city's best view of the Parthenon. Also there is the Monument...Read More

  • 16. Flea Market

    Monastiraki | Market/Bazaar

    Here is where the chaos, spirit, and charm of Athens turn into a feast for the senses. The Sunday-morning market has combined sight, sound,...Read More

  • 17. Gennadius Library

    Kolonaki | Library/Archive

    Book lovers who ascend the grand staircase into the hallowed aura of the Reading Room may have difficulty tearing themselves away from this...Read More

  • 18. Hadrian's Arch

    Makriyianni | Memorial/Monument/Tomb

    One of the most important Roman monuments surviving in Athens, Hadrian's Arch has become, for many, one of the city's most iconic landmarks...Read More

  • 19. Kanellopoulos Museum

    Plaka | Museum/Gallery

    The stately Michaleas Mansion, built in 1884, now showcases the Kanellopoulos family collection. It spans Athens's history from the 3rd century...Read More

  • 20. Kerameikos Cemetery

    Gazi-Kerameikos | Cemetery

    At the western edge of the modern Gazi district lies the wide, ancient green expanse of Kerameikos, the main cemetery in ancient Athens until...Read More

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