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Athens City

Athens City: Sounion Temple

Athens guide - The capital of Greece

general information
  • Athens City is the capital of Greece
  • Athens City is the capital of Attica prefecture which belongs to the Central Greece district
  • Piraeus is approximately a 15km drive from Athens centre
  • Population: approximately 5 million
  • Ports of Athens are Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio
  • Airport: Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos)
Short Description
Athens City is the capital of Greece and, together with its suburbs, it contains approximately 45% of the country's population. Clearly overpopulated, like most of the major cities in the world and due to its limited size, Athens faces the common problems of such a city, i.e. heavy traffic and polutions. However, it still remains as one of the major tourist attractions of Greece due to its ideal location, picturesque areas, great food and mainly due to its historical background.

Moored caiques in Piraeus port of AthensAthens City hosts some 250 theatres, many cinemas, countless eating places like taverns, souvlaki shops and restaurants of Greek and International cuisine, night clubs, art galleries, museums, archaeological sites, wonderful beaches, many picturesque traditional coffee shops and, of course, accommodation units to host its many guests coming from around the world.

Nightlife in Athens is considered by some as "to be found nowhere else". Greeks are famous for their party-like lifestyle and Athens is the centre of fun in Greece.

general information

what to do
Athens has always been a friendly and hospitable place. It's the capital of Greece since 1834 and consists a city of history and civilisation. Walking throughout Athens, the visitor comes upon monuments and sites, that show the long and glorious past of the city which hasn't lost that old magic of the years of Socrates, Platon and Pericles. Don't forget to visit the Holly rock of Acropolis and the hill of Pnyx where democracy was born, the impressive columns of the Zeus temple and the Panathinaikon Stadium where the first modern Olympic games took place in 1896.

Don't miss a walk in Plaka with its narrow roads, numerous tavernas and many interesting monuments, at Monastiraki where a constant big bazaar takes place and at Psirri, a picturesque area with old tavernas, all coming from the past. But don't forget Athens of the present. Get a look of Kolonaki, an elegant area at the foot of Lycabettus hill, full of big squares and exclusive shops, bars and restaurants. Visit also the plain, neoclassic and impressive building of Greek Parliament and the Music Hall, a beautiful modern building which houses every night music events from all around the world. We wish you a nice stay and hope that your moments here will remain unforgettable.

Taxis in Athensuseful tips

The most important thing you should know about Athens is that is a city that never sleeps! Any time of the day or night you can find something to eat, you can have fun, go shopping, make phone calls.

Fortunately Athens continues to be a safe town especially the centre of it. Normally there is no danger to walk even late at night alone in the streets of the center of Athens. Of course there exceptions so it's better for you not to be alone very late. Here you will find some info which might seem useful for your trip in Athens.

street kiosks (periptera)
Street kiosks (periptera in Greek) are every day of the week, weekends and holidays. Some, like the ones at Syntagma, Omonia and Kolonaki square, are open 24 hours a day. They sell newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, condoms, ice-creams, juice, chocolates, candies, bus tickets, telephone cards, as well as any small things you have run out of, like shampoos, soap, razor blades, pantyhose, lighters, and much more. At the street kiosks around Omonoia, you can even find alarm clocks, belts, wallets, hats, purses, batteries, etc. Street kiosks are not obliged to issue receipts so don't expect one no matter how much your purchase costs.

post offices
Post offices are generally open Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 2:30 p.m. and closed on weekends and holidays, except for the post office at Eolou str (near Omonia), open Monday through Saturday 7:30 am to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday 7:30 am to 1:30 p.m.; the post office on 60 Mitropoleos str, open Monday through Saturday, 7:30 am to 8:30 p.m. Stamps are obtained from the employees at the post office or at "periptera". Post your letters or postcards from your hotel or at the yellow mailboxes located on street corners. For more information on letter posting call +30 2105224949 or +30 2105235595 (Omonia square post office).

View of Athens and AcropolisHistorical sites in Athens

acropolis holly rock
It is impossible to describe the rock of Acropolis since words can not express the feeling and the magic you get when you visit it. It was built the 5th century BC during the glorious democracy times of Pericleous to celebrate the rise of the city state of Athens to the zenith of its power. Famous sculptors and architects, like Phidias, Mnecicles and Iktinos created a monument that would reverberate down the century the glory of this city.

Don't miss Sanctuary of Dionyssos, at the south side of Acropolis where one can see the most ancient theater of Greece, the Roman market which used to be the religious, financial and social center of the city during the Roman period, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, an impressive temple dedicated to the father of the Gods, Zeus, and the Ancient Agora, a very interested archaeological site of Athens, in the north side of Acropolis, which used to be the financial and social center of Athens in ancient times and Keramikos the ancient cemetery of Athens, an open art gallery of today.

Acropolis of Athens plaka
The neighbourhood of the olympic Gods. The most picturesque area of Athens. Narrow small roads, numerous taverns, restaurants, coffee shops, small picturesque squaresand beautiful interesting corners. All the houses are charecterised as 'diatiritea' so with the renovation they keep their original appearance.

A crowdy, busy part of the town where a constant bazaar takes place. Don't hesitate to bargain. Some columns from the Hadrian's library, a mosque which has been turned into a library and a beautiful small church are some of the monuments of this area.

Modern Athens

syntagma (constitution) square
The official center of the town. This is where the heart of modern Athens beats. The building of the Parliament in front of the square demonstares the derivationof its name. In 1843, the Greeks received here their first constitution after numerous and persistent demonstations. Visit the beautiful metro station at syntagma square which is decorated with ancient ''eyrimata'' and is considered as one of the best over the world.

A plain neoclassical building which today is the Greek Parliament. It was built between 1834 - 1838 the days that Greece used to be a kingdom as the palace of the kings. In front of the building is the monument of the ''Unknown soldier'' guarded by guards called ''Evzoni'' who are the presidential guards.

national garden
A green oasis in the center of the city. Beautiful, rare flowers, trees and bushes as well as little ponds decorate the garden, which is open all day long. You can enjoy a cup of coffee at the little cafe in the garden for relax. Admire Zappion neoclassical building at the end of the Garden.

panathinaikon stadium
This admireful beautiful marble stadium was built in the 4th century BC. It has been restored twice since then and its capacity is 70000 spectators. In 1896 the first modern Olympic games took place in this stadium that is why Greece wanted in 1996, 100 years later, Olympic games to be held in Greece, as an honour to the country that created this thesmo thousand years ago. Visit it and you will be amazed of what people created in a BC period and especially if you think the reason they created it.

The highest hill of athens (which has many hills) is 277m high offers a fantastic view of whole Attica. The funicular brings you up to the top of the hill or you can even walk till there. The nice little chapel of St George and the theater in the north of the hill are two of its attractions. You can enjoy there a cup of coffee or a dinner at the cafe-restaurant at the top of the hill admiring the magnificent view.

The most elegant and cosmopolitan area of athens, streching out at the foot of lycabettus hill. Big squares, all the exclusive shops, lots of coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Full of nice streets only for pedestrians.

Moored caiques in Piraeus port of Athenscommercial centre of athens

The nowardays commercail centre of Athens consists of a triangle created by Panepistimiou -Athinas - Ermou street. Visit it.

panepistimiou street - connects syntagma & omonia squares
Panepistimiou street or else Eleftheriou Venizelou street is one of the main roads in the centre of Athens. You can admire beautiful buildings at the road long: Iliou Melathron meaning the palace of Troe. It was the house of Heinrich Schlieman, the Academy the highest spiritual institution of the country, the 'University' the 'National Library' with thousands of books and manuscripts, and many other buildings hosting today banks or other organisations.

Academy of Athensathinas street
Athinas street is a central road connecting Omonia squate with Monastiraki. It used to be the old market of Athens, that is why one can feel the oriental character of the city. The main market of the city (food market), the little shops and the peculiar merchandises give the street a strange character and make it very attractive.

ermou street
One of the most main commercial streets of Athens turned the last few years in pedestrian streets. You will find many shops and nice things to buy. Elegant shops, huge ''poikilia'' and better prices than Kolonaki area.

psiri street
Another picturesque area with a strong local colour, revived the last 5 years, very close to Monastiraki square and Athinas street. Old, nearly forgotten taverns, small special shops, A strong taste of the past. Most of the taverns offer live Greek, old music.

voukourestiou - valaoritou streets
Here you will find the best and most expensive jewellery shops in Athens. Ask for a better price , there is always perithoria. The streets are crossed again only by pedestrians and you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

seaside athens & piraeus
If you have more time to spend in Athens don't forget that it is a city that is surrounded by sea. Its south and east suburbs lie by the seaside. Especially during summer time the center of Athens becomes totally empty (especially by night) while the south suburbs become the centre of life and entertainment and the east remain more quiet and less organised. You will find wonderfull cafes and taverns just by the seashore as well as elegant and cosmopolitican shops and restaurants. You get the feeling that you are found in an island. Glufada, Faliro, Kavouri, Vouliagmeni are the most elegant suburbs while Nea Makri, Rafina, Zoumberi are less organised.

But an even more traditional area offering a taste of the past and a little bit of the islands is Piraeus. Piraeus is to the southwest of Athens, about 10 km from the center of town. It is connected to the city by bus and the Athens metro and by many is now cinsidered as an Athens suburb. Visit Mikrolimano, full of fish taverns and nice bars and the experience will remain unforgettable.

Explore athens in just two days

day 1
Kolonaki, Plaka area, Lycabettus, Psirri area, Syntagma, the Parliament, Panepistimiou and Athinas streets lie next to each other and you can visit all of them even in one day. So we would suggest you to begin your early day with a walk to Lycabettus, enjoy the view and then go to Kolonaki area. Visit the shops, buy if you need something good, but keep your money for the street market of Monastiraki and Plaka.

Kolonaki is an expensive area but you will find very good quality clothes and shoes. (after all you will see all the international firms there). Have a nice cup of coffee at Kolonaki square and then by foot get till Syntagma (the constitution square). You can make a stop at Valaoritou and Voukourestiou street if you are interested of spending your fortune in jewelleries. At Syntagma admire the Parliament and walk down to Panepistimiou (University) street to get you to the Panepistimio (University) and Akadimia (Academy). Admire again these wonderful buildings and enjoy the walk to this main road of Athens. Then turn left, cross Stadiou street and continue till you find Athinas street. At Athinas street walk left (this will get you to Monastiraki). Enjoy at Athinas the food market and before you get to Monastiraki visit Psirri area where you can enjoy your lunch. ( we suppose it's midday and it didn't took you the whole day for that) Then take Athinas street again to get you at Monastiraki where you can walk and bargain with the merchandises. You may find nice things to buy but be carefull what you buy.

If you wish to buy clothes, shoes or something else you can visit Ermou street a few steps from Monastiraki. If you have finished with shopping it' s time to wander in the narrow and picturesque streets of Plaka area and get till the foot of Acropolis rock. Enjoy all the evening and have dinner at one of the local taverns even with Greek music and with the rock of Acropolis standing epivlitika over you full of light and magic. It is waiting to be explored by you first thing in the next morning.

day 2
Of course Acropolis worths more than all these above. So begin an early day (remember in Athens it's too hot so you've better start early) and visit Acropolis rock. Don't miss the museum as well as all the interested sites at the foot of the rock, Ancient Agora, Erechthion, Irodion ancient theatre ,the Sanctuary of Dionyssos, the temple of God Zeus. But don't stay there , that's not enough. At the foot of Acropolis you will find many streets. Wander around. Some of them will lead you at little cafes and some other at Plaka. To my very personal opinion there is nothing better than a walk at Plaka very early in the morning the moment that the shops begin their day (about 9.00 am) and especialy Sundays when the whole city sleeps. Of course I live in this city and I can't wait to see it quiet, a dream that might not apply to you. you can combine your visit to Acropolis with Thission area, Panathinaikon stadium and another walk at Plaka and Monastiraki during day time this time.

Marina Zeas in PiraeusTourkolimanoYour evening remains free to visit the south suburbs of Athens (Glyfada and Voulagmeni) or even better Piraeus and its Mikrolimano.

Glyfada has also many exclusive shops and nice cafes. It is considered somehow as the Kolonaki area of summer time. Visit it for shopping and for a nice cup of coffee by the sea. Later at dinner time go to Piraeus. Piraeus's little natural harbors are among its busiest and most touristic areas: Mikrolimano, Passalimani, Zea, Freatida and Hatzikiriakio. Countless seaside tavernas provide delicious seafood washed down with the uniquely Greek drink, ouzo. The fresh smell of the sea and the sounds made by the assortment of caiques, yachts and sailing ships, which are moored next to the tables, complete the enjoyment of the food.

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