Athens, the capital and largest city of Greece, dominates the Attica periphery; as one of the world's oldest cities, its recorded history spans around 3,400 years.
The Greek capital has a population of 745,514 (in 2001) within its administrative limits and a land area of 39 sqkm (15 sq mi). The urban area of Athens extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3,130,841 (in 2001) and a land area of 412 sqkm (159 sq mi). According to Eurostat, the Athens Larger Urban Zone (LUZ) is the 7th most populous LUZ in the European Union (the 4th most populous capital city of the EU) with a population of 4,013,368 (in 2004).
The heritage of the classical era is still evident in the city, represented by a number of ancient monuments and works of art, the most famous of all being the Parthenon, widely considered a key landmark of early Western civilization. The city also retains a vast variety of Roman and Byzantine monuments, as well as a smaller number of remaining Ottoman monuments projecting the city's long history across the centuries. Athens is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Acropolis of Athens and the medieval Daphni Monastery. Landmarks of the modern era, dating back to the establishment of Athens as the capital of the independent Greek state in 1833, include the Hellenic Parliament (19th century) and the Athens Trilogy consisting of the National Library of Greece, the Athens University and the Academy of Athens. Athens was the host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games in 1896, and 108 years later it welcomed home the 2004 Summer Olympics. Athens is home to the National Archeological Museum, featuring the world's largest collection of ancient Greek antiquities, as well as the new Acropolis Museum.
A city rich in history and monuments, an Athens Greece vacation can be a learning experience or a pleasurable getaway. Athens, Greece, accessible by foot, car, or public transport is a great town to visit many sites.
1. The AcropolisFrom the heights of this monument that was home to the statue of Athena, the breathtaking view is reason enough to make the climb up the stone steps. The Acropolis is part of the historical Athens tourist attractions. The term, Acropolis, means upper city. This upper city built before 5th century BC is now part of the beautiful ruins of the Ancient Greece. Warning: It is best to visit this historic monument late or early in the day (climbing in the heat is not advisable)
During the day, it is a craftsmen’s paradise, but if you are looking things to do in Athens nightlife, visit Psiri after dark. Described as a “mecca of cafés, bars and restaurants, it is described as an atmosphere that is similar to New York’s Soho. The area is also patrolled by law enforcement to ensure security while enjoying the nightlife.
3. The Hani
This restaurant has been transformed from a tacky tourist trap to a hub of travelers and Greek natives. Live music plus a fabulous garden makes this eatery a pleasant atmosphere perfect for enjoying their meats, fresh fish, and grilled vegetables. After taking a break from Athens sightseeing, this is a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat.
4. The Athens Zoo is an ideal Athens attractions for kids. Home to the world’s second largest bird collection and a host of exotic animals, this zoo is unique in their “up-close” attitude. Some of the cages are open and front and center, giving visitors an opportunity to get better photographs or pet some of the animals.
5. Sofitel Athens Airport
One of the Athens airport hotels that is rated a five star stay is the Sofitel Athens Airport. Flying in and out of the Athens airport is made easy by this quick commute. Athens center city is about 15 minutes away from this hotel. Featured amenities include: spa, two Mediterranean restaurants, and fitness center.
6. Frissiras Museum of Contemporary Greek and European Painting
This collection is perfect for an afternoon of the artistic things to do in Athens. The museum has private collections, drawings, and art exhibits year round. The art museum is also in two neo-classical buildings, which adds to the architecture and artistic atmosphere.
7. Athens Planetarium
The planetarium of Athens is one of the best digital planetariums in the world. Reasonably priced showings that occur multiple times a day makes this cinema easy to plan other Athens things to do around a magnificent digital show. To find out various showtimes and shows, you can email the planetarium anytime.
8. Byzantino Jewelry
An array of handmade jewelry is the best Athens has to offer. This dealer offers a wide variety that fits anyone’s price range. Located in the Plaka of Greece, it is near other sightseeing opportunity which is perfect for the shopping traveler.
The Kerameikos archeological site is a getaway from the crowds of the Acropolis. This ancient cemetery of Athens is located in downtown Athens on the northwest corner of the city. The cemetery includes a small museum with pottery and pieces of the ancient walls that used to border the area. This serene, beautiful area is a unique visit for even the Athens local.
10. Theatrical Musesum
A trip to Athens, Greece would not be complete without a tribute to the theatrics of the Greeks. Known for their performances on the steps of now-historical buildings, these ancient plays and costume are now captured in this museum. With free admission, it is a hard deal to beat.