Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city that combines ancient history with modern culture. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a recorded history of more than 3,000 years. Athens is home to some of the most iconic monuments of Western civilization, such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. But Athens is not only about the past. It is also a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, with a rich artistic and culinary scene, a lively nightlife, and a diverse population.
If you are planning to visit Athens, you might be wondering what are the best things to do and see in this fascinating city. Here are some suggestions for you to make the most of your trip.
Explore the Acropolis and the Ancient Agora
No visit to Athens would be complete without seeing the Acropolis, the hilltop citadel that dominates the city skyline. The Acropolis is the symbol of Athens and the birthplace of democracy, philosophy, and theater. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with some of the most impressive ancient buildings in the world. The most famous one is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. Other notable structures include the Erechtheion, a temple with six female statues called Caryatids; the Propylaea, a monumental gateway; and the Temple of Athena Nike, a small shrine with a relief of the goddess.
You can also visit the Acropolis Museum, which houses various archaeological findings from the Acropolis. The museum has a modern design, with glass floors that offer a peek at the ruins situated beneath the building. Some of the highlights of the museum are a relief of Athena Nike, several carved statues from Erechtheion, and a gallery with various Parthenon artifacts.
After exploring the Acropolis, you can head down to the Ancient Agora, which was the political, social, and commercial center of ancient Athens. Here you can see the remains of various public buildings, such as the Stoa of Attalos, a covered walkway that now serves as a museum; the Temple of Hephaestus, one of the best-preserved ancient temples; and the Tholos, a circular structure that was used as a dining hall by the magistrates.
Visit the National Archaeological Museum
If you are interested in learning more about the history and culture of ancient Greece, you should not miss the National Archaeological Museum. It is one of the largest and most important museums in Greece, with more than 11,000 exhibits that span from prehistoric times to late antiquity. The museum showcases some of the finest examples of Greek art and craftsmanship, such as sculptures, pottery, jewelry, frescoes, and metalwork.
Some of the most famous exhibits in the museum are:
- The Mask of Agamemnon, a gold funeral mask that was found in Mycenae and dates back to the 16th century BC.
- The Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient device that was used to calculate astronomical phenomena and is considered one of the first computers in history.
- The Jockey of Artemision, a bronze statue of a young boy riding a horse that was recovered from a shipwreck and dates back to the 2nd century BC.
- The Aphrodite of Melos (Venus de Milo), a marble statue of the goddess of love and beauty that was discovered on the island of Milos and dates back to the 2nd century BC.
Stroll around Plaka
Plaka is one of the oldest and most charming neighborhoods in Athens. It is located under the Acropolis and has a picturesque atmosphere with narrow streets, colorful houses, flower-filled balconies, and quaint cafes. Plaka is also known for its traditional tavernas, where you can taste delicious Greek dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, tzatziki, and baklava. Plaka is also a great place to shop for souvenirs, especially if you are looking for gold jewelry.
Plaka is not only about eating and shopping. It also has some historical attractions that are worth seeing. For example:
- The Roman Agora, which was built in the 1st century BC by Julius Caesar and Augustus and served as a marketplace and administrative center.
- The Tower of Winds (or Horologion), which is an octagonal marble structure that was used as a clock, a sundial, and a weather vane.
- The Byzantine and Christian Museum, which displays a collection of religious art and artifacts from the Byzantine and post-Byzantine periods.
- The Anafiotika, a small area that resembles a Cycladic island village, with white-washed houses and blue doors and windows.
Enjoy the view from Lycabettus Hill
If you want to see Athens from a different perspective, you should climb up to Lycabettus Hill, the highest point in the city. From here, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the cityscape, the Acropolis, the sea, and the mountains. You can also watch the sunset or the sunrise, which are spectacular from this spot.
You can reach the top of Lycabettus Hill by foot, by car, or by cable car. On the summit, you will find a small chapel dedicated to St. George, a restaurant, and a theater that hosts concerts and events during the summer.
Experience the nightlife in Psiri and Gazi
Athens is not only a city of history and culture, but also a city of fun and entertainment. The nightlife in Athens is vibrant and diverse, with something for everyone. Whether you are looking for bars, clubs, live music, or theater, you will find it in Athens.
Two of the most popular areas for nightlife in Athens are Psiri and Gazi. Psiri is a former industrial district that has been transformed into a trendy and bohemian neighborhood. Here you can find many bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants that cater to different tastes and styles. You can also enjoy live music, especially rock, jazz, and blues.
Gazi is another former industrial area that has become a hotspot for nightlife. It is named after the old gas factory that now houses the Technopolis cultural center. Here you can find many clubs, discos, and lounges that play various genres of music, from pop and dance to alternative and electronic. Gazi is also known for its gay-friendly scene, with many bars and clubs that welcome the LGBTQ+ community.
Athens is a city that has something for everyone. It is a city that combines ancient history with modern culture. It is a city that offers amazing sights, delicious food, and exciting entertainment. It is a city that will surprise you and make you fall in love with it.
If you are looking for a destination that will enrich your mind, your soul, and your senses, Athens is the place for you.