Athens city guide, all you need is here...

In these pages you will find all the necessary information you need for Athens. You will find information about hotels in Athens, where you can eat good food, what sights to see, information about all the museums in Athens, several city maps and information on all the embassies located in Athens.

Athens

Athens is named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, who is celebrated by an ancient temple on the Acropolis, rising proudly above the concrete jungle that is modern Athens. As a city state, Athens reached its heyday in the fifth century BC, with the construction of many of the great classical buildings regarded as icons of Ancient Greece. Democracy was born, drama flourished and Socrates conceived the foundations of Western philosophy.

Today, Athens remains a major European centre of culture, with its stunning classical sites and world-class museums. The Acropolis, crowned by four ancient Greek temples, the best known of which is the majestic Parthenon, has been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearby, the New Acropolis Museum opened in 2009, bringing 21st-century design into the Greek urban landscape with its high-tech structure and light and airy exhibitions spaces. And then there’s the more staid 19th-century neo-classical National Archaeological Museum, displaying the world’s finest collection of ancient Greek artefacts.

Modern Greeks, like their forefathers, are insatiable hedonists. The Greek capital has the country’s finest restaurants, ranging from traditional tavern-style cooking through to creative Mediterranean cuisine, and the most varied nightlife, ranging from urban-chic cocktail bars to glitzy waterside dance clubs. Thanks to a blissful Mediterranean climate, during the summer, much of this lauded eating, drinking and dancing takes place in the open-air.

Athens’ two highest points, the Acropolis and Mount Lycavittos, are visible from most places in the city centre and are essential landmarks for orientation. Below the Acropolis, touristy Plaka merges into grungy Monastiraki, which in turn is linked to Syntagma (home to the Greek Parliament) by the pedestrian-only shopping street of Ermou. West of Monastiraki lies Psirri, known for its bars and tavernas, and further west still the post-industrial nightlife neighbourhood of Gazi. Between the pine-scented slopes of Mount Likavittos and busy Syntagma, you’ll find up-market Kolonaki, with its designer stores and foreign embassies, and west of Lykavittos, bordering on Omonia, the bohemian quarter of Exarchia.

Southeast of the city centre, a glorious stretch of coast affords dreamy views over the glistening blue Aegean Sea. Surely few European capitals can claim sandy beaches and clean water for swimming within such easy access. Then there are the fabled Greek islands (the real reason why many visitors come here in the first place), served by regular ferries and catamarans from Athens’ port, Piraeus. Athens therefore offers the best of both worlds – a fantastic city break as well as a lazy beach holiday.

During the last year, Greece’s economic woes have given Athens a lot of bad press; indeed the socio-economic situation is worrying, with the standard of living plummeting for many ordinary Greeks. Unemployment has shot up, social services are seriously under-funded and there has been an unprecedented rise in homelessness. Nonetheless, the city’s proud monuments are as dazzling as they have ever been, the sun is shining, and you can be sure that if you visit Athens now, the money you spend will be helping a country that needs every bit of support it can get.