Athens is an ancient city that's young at heart—a place where 2,000-year-old classical monuments and 12th-century Byzantine churches co-exist alongside a sparkling metro train system, superb museums, modern shopping centers, and a multitude of excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars. Athens is an unforgettable European vacation destination. You can choose to stay in accommodations that vary from moderate to 5-star hotels, in the city center, near the port, or on the Athens Riviera.
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Athens' 6,000-year history makes it a living legend, where magnificent reminders of the past are central to today's vibrant, exciting, and cosmopolitan city. In the 21st century, the city has come into its own, boasting a vast new infrastructure, an ever-expanding metro system, and a large pedestrian zone that has transformed Athens into one of Europe's most walkable cities. View the awe-inspiring historic sites along the glorious grand promenade at the base of the Acropolis, and stop for a glass of wine at one of the hip, open-air cafes along the way. Lunch on delicious Greek specialties at a rustic taverna and dine at one of Athens' amazing Michelin-star restaurants. You'll find wonderful shopping in colorful small shops and trendy designer boutiques—and more options for nightlife than you could explore in a year, because Athens never sleeps.Package includes:
- Choice of accommodations
- Hotel taxes
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should go?
Athens has been called an open-air museum—it's a treasure trove for anyone even vaguely interested in history, art, or archeology. With numerous contemporary art galleries, and more than 25 museums housing thousands of artworks and antiquities, dozens of monuments and archeological and religious sites, and architecture that spans centuries, Athens is a must-see for art and history lovers.
Athens is one of the safest capital cities in the entire world, and your family will find much to do: Tour the Children's Museum, take a 3-D journey through ancient Athens at the Hellenic Cosmos, stroll among colorful street markets, visit the zoo in the National Gardens or catch a show at the world's finest planetarium, or spend a fun family evening at the Allou Fun Park.
What's the climate like?
How do I get around town?
Transfers between Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport and your hotel are not included with your hotel package, but are available for purchase via minibus or private car. The Suburban Railway and the Athens Metro offer the quickest and most convenient way of getting into the city from the airport.
The Metro is the underground public transport system of Athens. It's fast, clean, and is a very affordable way to get around Athens. You can buy daily tickets that can also be used on other public transportation, such as buses.
Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful in Athens. Make sure the meter is running when you get in and don't be surprised if the driver picks up other passengers en route; he will work out everyone's share of the fare.
It's easy to do most of your sightseeing on foot in Athens, since much of what you'll want to see and do is in the city center. You'll also find pedestrian zones in sections of the Commercial Triangle, Plaka, and Kolonaki, making for relaxed strolling and window-shopping.
What kinds of dining and nightlife are available?
In warm weather, outdoor dining prevails in Athens, and restaurants are everywhere. You'll find plenty of authentic and delicious Greek cuisine in traditional tavernas, as well as mezodopoleia or ouzeri where you can enjoy many small dishes. You'll also find cafes for casual outdoor dining, fusion and international restaurants, bar-restaurants, and 3 new establishments that have been awarded the prestigious Michelin star. Be aware that many Greek restaurants do not accept credit cards.
This chic bistro in the Zappeion Gardens serves fine international cuisine, with specialties including oysters and tenderloin with ginger and coffee sauce. Watch a movie at the open-air cinema, or celebrate with delicious crème brûlée at a table under the trees.
- Bar Guru Bar
A favorite Athenian destination with excellent Thai-Asian dishes in an exciting setting. The bustling bar that serves great Thai martinis and jazz swings until 4am on the top floor. The Burmese chicken with caramelized onions and coconut milk is highly recommended.
Elegant Greek cuisine with a modern twist, this refuge of a restaurant is housed in a beautiful 19th-century house.
An absolute must for any seafood lover, featuring fresh catches sent straight from the fishing boats then exquisitely prepared. Expensive but worth it.
- El Pecado
Exceptional Spanish and South American cuisine in sexy bar-restaurant surroundings. Enjoy excellent empanadas, chocolate soufflés, fine wines, the murals, the music, and a jumping scene.
- Socrates Prison Taverna
Close to the Acropolis, with loads of atmosphere, excellent grilled chicken, roast lamb, and other meats and vegetables, delicious mezedes, great wine, and outdoor tables.
Spondi earned its second Michelin star in 2008 with French-inspired gourmet dishes that are beautifully presented in the stone-walled dining room or outside in the pretty shaded courtyard.
- Taverna Sigalas
This fun taverna on the Plaka has been run by the same family for a century and serves hearty stews, moussaka, gyros, and other Greek fare to the accompaniment of Greek Muzak.
You'll find budget décor and budget prices at this popular restaurant, which serves gigantic portions of amazing Greek fare such as grilled lamb chops, oven-roasted lemon potatoes, and salads.
Nightlife in Athens is sophisticated and varied—from bars, bar-restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs to theater, opera, dance, and concerts. At the clubs, the real action doesn't begin until around midnight. The downtown hotels house some of the city's most happening bars, and you'll find a lively scene and music at the many terrific bar-restaurants. To find a great concentration of nightlife in one spot, head to the Gazi neighborhood. Since large clubs in Athens have steep cover charges and drink prices to match, ask at your hotel for a good recommendation.
Where should I go shopping?
You can find finely crafted silver and gold jewelry, ceramics, hand-woven rugs, and leather goods in Athens, though you may not find great bargains unless you're shopping during the sale months of January and August. Greek wine and spirits, olive oil, honey, worry beads, and small ceramic plaques make affordable souvenirs. Prices are as marked, and haggling is frowned upon.
The mile-long, pedestrianized Ermou Street is the center of Athens' prime shopping district, where the fashion-conscious flock to buy jewelry, shoes, and fashions at trendy retail chains and small boutique shops.
Plaka—the picturesque historic neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis—is where you'll find a labyrinth of pedestrian streets teeming with bazaar-style souvenir shops that carry everything from T-shirts, trinkets, sandals, and reproductions of antiquities, to ceramics, textiles, and jewelry of varying quality. Head to the Monastiraki neighborhood's flea market on Sunday for retro clothing, antiques, and other unexpected finds.
The Center of Hellenic Tradition in Athens is an outlet where you can shop for good quality traditional Greek art, including icons, pottery, ceramics, wood carvings, embroideries, weavings, and prints.
On the slopes of Mount Likavitos, in the Kolonaki area, you'll find many of Athens' most exclusive boutiques. Don't miss the gloriously expensive shops along the pedestrian streets of Tsakalof and Anagnostopoulou.
When are the local events?
Feb - Mar. Central Square is the epicenter of this traditional festival, where performers often wear folk costumes sporting bells and entertain audiences with Greek dancing, mandolin tunes, and more.
The first day of Lent. Rich pageantry, colorful kites, and music fill the air, and visitors have the opportunity to savor delicacies such as octopus, shrimp, bread, olives, and sweet halvah while sipping wine and dancing to traditional Greek music.
Church bells and hymns can be heard all over the city during Holy Week, culminating in the spectacular Greek Orthodox Epitaph procession and candle vigil on Good Friday.
Lycabettus (Likavitos) Festival
Summer. Pop musicians perform at the outdoor amphitheater near the top of Mount Likavitos.
Early June through mid-July. Features exciting music, theater, and dance performances by famous Greek and foreign artists—on the slopes of the Acropolis and in other impressive venues—to celebrate all forms of artistic expression.
Athens International Dance Festival
The first 2 weeks in July. Dance enthusiasts enjoy dynamic performances during this contemporary dance festival at the Technopolis arts complex in the Gazi neighborhood.
The August Full Moon
August. On the night of the August full moon, the city opens its monuments and archeological sites to the public for free, and stages moonlit concerts and other free events.
November. The original marathon, which begins in the town of Marathon itself and ends at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
The Acropolis, home to the Parthenon, Greece's most famous temple, is an absolute must-see. But crowds and heat can distract you from the site's sheer magic, so time your visit after 5pm in the summer, when the crowds have thinned and the late-afternoon light paints the white marble a warm, rich honey.
For an unforgettable experience, attend a Greek tragedy or comedy under the stars at a magnificent ancient theater: the Odeion of Herodes Atticus theater, on the slopes of the Acropolis, or the theater at Epidaurus (2 hours outside Athens, bus excursions available). It's a thrill to sit beneath Greece's night sky in a place where audiences have watched performances for thousands of years.
The Grand Promenade
Stroll this unique paved footpath as it winds around the base of the Acropolis. On one side of the path, you'll be able to view an amazing cross-section of Athenian history—marble temples, Byzantine churches, ancient theaters, and neoclassical museums. The other side of the path bustles with sidewalk cafes, galleries, renovated mansions, and rotating outdoor art installations.
Good to Know
|Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport
|April - mid-June and September - mid-October
|November - March
|Athens is 8 hours ahead of Central Standard Time. Greece observes Daylight Savings Time April - October.
|Government legislation requires all people traveling via air to and from the United States and Canada to have a valid passport. For details on passports, visas, and health requirements, see Entry Requirements.
|Athenian restaurants include a 15% service charge in the bill, but many visitors add a 10% tip. Most Greeks round up the fare to the next Euro for taxi drivers.
|Athenians tend to dress stylishly even in casual settings; often dresses/skirts for women and slacks for men. Before entering monasteries and churches, women are expected to cover their arms and upper legs, and men are expected to wear long pants rather than shorts. You may want to carry a large, sarong-type scarf to wear as a wrap in such situations.