Athens, Greece is a city that combines ancient history and culture with modern city life. But because it’s located on Greece’s mainland, it often gets overlooked by those looking for a beach and island getaway. If you love history, shopping, local markets, cafes and tavernas, and vibrant nightlife, you'll find Athens is an exciting city to explore. Most travelers will stop in Athens’ airport on their way to the Greek islands. I highly recommend that you spend a few days here and take the opportunity to explore both the old and the new. Here are just a few reasons to linger in this beautiful city.
With a recorded history of several thousands of years, Athens is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city is filled with ancient ruins and historical landmarks dating back to the 5th century BC, and there are several historical museums. The most famous archaeological site in Athens is the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the sprawling city. Other magnificent sites include the Ancient Agora and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. In addition, the National Archaeological Museum is home to some of the most impressive collections of ancient Greek art in the world. You can easily visit the ancient sites on your own, but a guided tour is a great introduction to the ancient city. You will see the archaeological ruins under a new perspective, and learn a lot about the Ancient Greek Gods.
Athens has a lively arts and music scene. Art lovers will be glad to hear that numerous art galleries have opened in the last few years. These include the National Art Gallery, the Goulandris Art Museum and the National Museum of Contemporary Art. If you love music, a visit to the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments is a must. It holds an extensive collection of musical instruments, and you can listen to several pre-recorded songs and tunes. Athens also holds hundreds of music festivals, theater performances, and other artistic events year-round.
Athens is famous for its vibrant nightlife. It has hundreds of bars and clubs, and nightlife in the city is very varied. Whether you’re looking for a cozy place to have a drink, or a lively club to dance the night away, you’ll find it in Athens. If you want a more laid-back experience, head to one of the many rooftop restaurant-bars that offer amazing views of the Acropolis at night.
Athens is a food lover’s paradise. The restaurant scene in Athens has been steadily growing in recent years. Tavernas and small cafes are still found all over the city, but there are also some new fine dining restaurants that offer authentic Greek cuisine. If you have a sweet tooth you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try some traditional Greek desserts like baklava, kataifi, and There are also excellent ice-cream and gelato shops everywhere in Athens. One of the best ways to learn more about Greek food is to take an Athens gourmet food tour, where you'll get to sample many local foods.
Athens is relatively inexpensive to visit. Unless you are looking for a 5-star hotel, a trip to Athens can be done very economically. You can easily find good value accommodations and food options, even if you are on a budget. There are also many free things that you can do in Athens, such as walking tours, exploring neighborhoods, checking out the markets, exploring the churches, and looking for the street art.
Helpful Tips Visit Athens in the spring or fall, because summer in the city is HOT! In winter, you will find rain, wind, and maybe even snow. June-August is the peak time to visit, and along with the heat you will find crowds. However, if you visit in the summer, you are unlikely to see rain and you will have very long daylight hours. Fall in Athens has weather that is warm and sunny with a fraction of the crowds. December-February is the low season for the city. The winter weather is mild, but you will get rainy days and sometimes thunderstorms. The city doesn't have a good drainage system so you will encounter water puddles.
If you still want to see some of the beautiful Greek islands, Athens is the ideal base for island hopping. They have an efficient ferry system to most of the islands. Best of all, Greeks are known for their hospitality, so they will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive until you leave.