The highest point in Athens. You can walk to the top using the footpaths but it is fun to catch the funicular railway (Telefrik). It is about a ten minute walk from Kolonaki square through some steep backstreets, but the funicular station is not well signposted. The little trains run every thirty minutes, and more frequently in busy times and costs six euros return. The views from the top are absolutely stunning.
10 minutes walk from Kolonaki square.
Google map: bit.ly/11w8a1O
This was a real find just around the corner from the James Joyce pub. The small entrance on Agiou Filippou Street leads onto a rooftop terrace with a great view of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Hephestus.
Beers available from €2 and also serves food.
For the best views of the Acropolis, climb Philopappos just before sunset. Turn back and watch the Parthenon turn from white through gold to pink and then watch the floodlights come on. One of the best free views in the world.
Walk up the Dionysou Areopagitou (a wide pedestrian road between the Acropolis and the new museum) and up through the park
These super-stylish self-catering apartments are only five minutes away from the Acropolis, and are spacious enough for families on a budget, groups of friends, or couples who want a bargain alternative to backpacker hostels.
The open-plan studios are styled with funky furniture and modern art on the walls, and fully equipped with a kitchen, free internet, a flatscreen TV, bathrooms, and air conditioning - a welcome respite from the intense summer heat and city smog.
The bedroom and sitting room both have their own balconies, or you can head up to the rooftop bar for a breathtaking view of the Acropolis as the sun sets. The perfect accompaniments are a well-priced cold bottle of beer and Sheesha Pipes in every flavour from Coca-Cola to Vanilla.
There's also a happy hour from 7-8pm every night with half-price cocktails-the Parthenon Passion is a must!
If you want budget accomodation but aren't quite ready to bunk down in a hostel dorm, the Athens Studios allow you to tackle this frenetic city at your own pace.
An easy stroll up this pine-covered hill offers one of the best views of the Acropolis, and is known as the 'hill of muses' for inspiring poets with its beauty.
A maze of paths winds lazily to the top and is well-shaded - ideal for coping with the blistering August heat. Most people come here for the views of the Acropolis opposite and southern Athens stretching to the sea, but you'll come across many more historic sights on your travels.
Highlights include the cave where Socrates was imprisoned, the Pnyx, a limestone theatre carved into the hillside, and the birthplace of Athenian democracy, and the Neo-Classical Old Observatory.
If you have time, make sure you catch a performance of traditional Greek dance at the Dora Stratou Dance Theatre, and a enjoy a coffee at the Loumbardiaris cafe.
Just below the Acropolis lies this enchanting area of whitewashed cottages which were built by migrant workers from Anafi island when Athens was first established as capital of Greece. Although the city is busy and loud, the old-fashioned style and quiet alleys make Anafiotika feel like a tiny island village.
Between Lysicrates Monument and Kanellopoulos Museum, Plaka.
Heading to the top of the Hill of the Muses (Museion) offers a great perspective on the Acropolis, Athens’ most famous landmark. There are no large structures between the two hills and fewer coach trips around so it’s the ideal spot to appreciate the sight from a distance – and snap a photo or two.
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the landmarks of Athens like Acropolis and Parthenon. Its construction began during the 6th century BC and finished in the 2nd century AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The temple of Zeus is situated next to Zappeion at the junction of Vasilissis Amalias and Vasilissis Olgas Avenues, the main entrance is at Vasilissis Olgas Avenue 1. On the same field you can visit Hadrian's Arch.
One of the most famous historical places in Greece is Delphi. If you stay in Athens you can take a day trip to Delphi. Visit the museum to see the statue of the Charioteer of Delphi, the temple of Apollo and enjoy the mountain view.
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If the fug of central Athens is getting to you then try this little stroll for a head-clearing day. Catch the metro down to Piraeus, soak up the hustle and bustle of the big ferry port for a full five minutes before quickly heading off round the peninsula towards the quieter and more upmarket Zea Marina for a trendy coffee overlooking the yachts and fishing boats.
Then continue strolling round the bay, stopping to admire the coastal views of the seaside districts of Athens (Glyfada, Vouliagmeni) until you reach the mikrolimano (little harbour). Sadly all the traditional fishing boats have mostly disappeared but in their place is a superb range of seafood eateries and coffee bars, where anybody who is anybody can be seen hanging out with their parea (groups of friends).
As the sun begins to sink down you can then complete the loop by walking to the metro station at Faliro (past the stadium of Olympiakos football team) and hopping off again at Thisseio station to catch a moonlit stroll around the Acropolis and sip raki in Monastiraki until the sun comes up again. Bliss.
All stations are on the Greek metro map (green line) - Piraeus is the terminus so you can't miss it. Zea Marina can be found by following the brown cultural signs for Piraeus museum
It’s true that Athens should no longer be a short stay destination, but if circumstances dictate it, I recommend the following route (only because it should at least allow you to get a first impression of the diverse faces/ juxtapositions of the city).
Start early in the morning with a visit to Kolonaki square. Watch the posh (and wannabe posh) people walk by while having a coffee/breakfast in one of the numerous - though slightly overpriced- cafes.
Then again, if you'd prefer something more down to earth, rather bohemian, choose to start your day by visiting Exarheia, a neighbourhood right next to Kolonaki. Have a stroll round the nearby streets and then head towards Panepistimiou Avenue, for a short stop at the Hellenic Academy and the other nearby buildings of architectural interest.
From Panepistimiou Avenue, head towards Syntagma, to see the Greek parliament, and then keep walking down Ermou Street until you reach Monastiraki. Pass Monastiraki Square and then head towards Plaka, for a light lunch/drink in one of the kafeneia/tavernas (kafeneio Dioskuroi is highly recommended).
Take a deep breath and then start walking up the hill, for a visit to the Acropolis. On the way back, walk round Plaka for a bit longer, or visit other very interesting areas, which are all a short distance away, such as Thission, Psiri, Athens Central Market or Gazi.
A nice cold beer, a dish of Greek delicacies, the Parthenon above, the Ancient Agora below, crowds strolling by, lazy dogs and cats sleeping under the sun waiting for a treat, maybe a frappe afterwards. Dioscuri, a traditional outdoor café on the street that leads to the Acropolis has them all, and at minimal cost.
Dioscuron 13 Street, Plaka, Athens tel: 210 3219607
Metro: Monastiraki Station
On the Hilton Hotel's top floor this is one of the hippest and most elegant bars in Athens. A huge variety of cocktails and tasty finger food at somewhat high prices in Wallpaper-like surroundings. Bonus: a stunning view of the Acropolis that will impress you unless you are an Athenian and used to it.
Hilton Hotel, Athens
Temple of Poseidon, just outside Athens. The journey there is along the coast, which is great. Sounio has breathtaking views and a nice cultural trip also. I never miss a drive there when I visit Athens.
Take a KTEL (coach) from Syntagma which will take you straight there.
You can’t miss it. Smack bang in the middle of central Athens, cone-shaped Lycabettus is probably the best-known natural landmark in the Greek capital after the holy hill of the ancient Acropolis. From its 300-metre high peak you have spectacular panoramas across the entire city, down to Salamis and the wine-dark waters of the Saronic Gulf. Best accessed by funicular cable car at the upper edge of Kolonaki, or if you’re feeling hardy, through the wooded trails up the side of the hill. Those who insist on wheels can also drive up.
Funicular from Aristippou & Ploutarchou; Tel: 210 722 7092; Nearest metro: Evangelismos; Open: Funicular 9am-11.45pm daily (every 30mins); Price: €3.20 single
Lykavittos hill is a limestone outcrop that rises 277m above sea level. Sometimes you see a 'b' instead of a 'v' in its various English spellings, but in Greek it is pronounced with a 'v'. Take the old wooden funicular to the top for a retreat from the noise and bustle of Athens. There is a chapel and a restaurant, but it is the wondrous view afforded over the whole city including the Parthenon, and the atmosphere of calm and peace, that is the real attraction.
When I last went a Russian Orthodox choir was passing the time singing, waiting with me for the funicular to ascend, and the acoustics of the tunnel and the time-worn wooden carriages were perfectly suited to their harmonies. Of course they won't be there to serenade every ascent but for an hour or so, Lykavittos can offer a new perspective and tranquillity. What more could you hope for in the sometimes overwhelming experience of Athens?
The funicular rises from the higher slopes at the northern end of Kolonaki
You don't need a car to visit Hymettos. In fact it is probably easier without one. Simply take the bus from the central terminus on Panepistimiou to Kaisariani. Stay on all the way to the other end, then get off at the Kaisariani cemetery, about 20 minutes away, and follow the main road up to get across the ring road. The mountain is the big rock ahead of you. Can't miss it, guv.
If you are lucky to know a local, or daring enough to drive yourself, it's definitely worth visiting Hymettos mountain, particularly its north-east side (drive up from the Katehaki or Papagou exits of the ring road - Attiki odos). Discover a Byzantine church, a traditional monastery and other archaeological sites of interest, have a drink in a cafe nearly hidden between the trees, enjoy some of the greatest panoramic views of Athens, do the bike or footpaths, or check for events/activities taking place throughout the year. Hymettos is also renowned for its marble and thyme honey, as well as for being Greece's most crazy mountain, (ie "trelos" or "trelovouno" in Greek) probably because of its propensity to change colour under shifting sunlight.
After the huge success of the best Olympics that Greece organised last year, a trip around the legendary facilities where famous athletes broke records, it is a must when visiting Athens.
Taking the metro and tram it's the best way to do it, probably allow half to one day for that and it is worth it, especially this amazing arcitecture and style!
In various places in Athens, from Pireas to the north of Athens where the Olympic village is.
A day ticket for metro and tram is essential and cheap.
For an unrivalled eye-feast of the Parthenon on its pedestal of limestone rock, head for the pine-clad Hill of the Muses – marble seats erected close to its summit make the experience all the more heavenly. From the network of little pathways along the hill you get spectacular glimpses of all the Acropolis temples and, beyond the urban sprawl, the sea. From here you’ll understand why the ancients elected this part of Attica to build their 5th century BC Golden Age wonders.
Nearest metro: Acropolis or Thissio
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