Holidays to Athens are rich in culture and mythology, from its Temple of Athena dating back to 406 BC to its pre-historic Cycladic art and a world-renowned Olympic stadium. It’s one of the world’s oldest cities with a heritage spanning 3,400 years, so when it comes to things to do, ancient relics are plentiful. And when you’re not getting lost in its old-world charm, the picturesque Plaka neighbourhood is a must for cosy Greek tavernas, while the Monastiraki flea market has your bargain buys covered. You won’t be short of panoramic vistas either thanks to its hilltop hideaways such as Lycabettus.
Follow in the footsteps of the Greek gods
No holiday to Athens is complete without visiting the site that hogs the city’s skyline, the almighty Acropolis. Over the centuries, this famous landmark has been a home to many kings and Greek gods, as well as a citadel which has stood the test of time. Speaking of pre-historic gems, a stop by the world-famous Parthenon is a must. Not forgetting the 16 columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus which offers a glimpse into what would have been the largest temple in ancient Athens.
One of the more tucked away places to see in this Greek capital is the charming Byzantine church of Agios Eleftherios. Built in the 12th century, it’s a beautiful example of later Byzantine architecture. Located alongside the larger Cathedral of Athens, this small yet perfectly formed medieval church is a pint-sized hidden treasure among the hustle and bustle of Athenian life.
Relax on Blue Flag awarded beaches
Step away from the archaeological wonders to check out Athen’s coastal delights, after all you’re in Greece which is famed for its beaches. With the Acropolis dominating your backdrop and silky soft sands fronted by clear Aegean waters begging you to unwind, it’s easy to enjoy the best of both worlds here. Moraitis Beach is a watersport haven, think wakeboarding, windsurfing and catamaran voyages. Meanwhile, couples will be in awe of Varkiza. This secluded spot takes you away from the crowds into a small sandy bay with unique rock formations - the perfect base for a romantic picnic.
For luxury cabanas combined with world-famous nobu cuisine and backed by luxurious five star hotels, Astir Beach should be on your must-visit list. More than just turquoise-tinted waters, this beach club is made up of 400 metres of sun-soaked coastline with access to spa treatments, stylish boutiques and a cocktail venue.
Overindulge on Greek cuisine
When you want to take a break from museum-hopping, Greek food is the answer! Before heading on your first tour, check out a local bakery. Early in the morning they sell delicious pastries such as tiropita (cheese and egg) and spanakopita (spinach, feta and onions). And if you need something more substantial, there’s always the tried and trusted souvlaki, which is pork meat garnished with onions, tomatoes, tzatziki and wrapped in a pitta!
When you need a quick bite, head to Smak, just off Ermou Street in Plaka. This tasty street food spot whips up peinirli (a boat-shaped Greek pizza) for as little as 5 euros! And for traditional taverna eats, check out the Psyrri neighbourhood where the rustic Lithos restaurant is renowned for its meze platters.
Head off the beaten track
When you’ve ticked off big-name attractions, discover some of Athens’ best-kept secrets. From Greek cooking classes to sipping cocktails in rooftop bars and admiring street art in Exarchia. We highly recommend a stroll through Evripidou street, where you can savour the scents at the spice market. And did you know Athens has a thriving contemporary art scene? Kolonaki is home to many of the city’s leading modern art galleries including Nitra, which showcases the work of new and up-and-coming artists.