With over 5,000 years of history and an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Athens, Greece, serves as an ideal vacation destination. Centered around the ancient Acropolis, Athens is the cradle of Western civilization and home to the ancient Olympics, as well as the modern. A bustling and cosmopolitan metropolis, Athens offers up the inspiring juxtaposition of new and old. Take in a stunning view of the ancient Parthenon from the cutting edge Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009. Or, stroll through the cobblestone streets of the old Plaka district before heading to the trendy Gazi neighborhood, home to the newest restaurants, cafes and bars in Athens.
In months leading up to the 2004 Athens Olympics, Greece invested in city enhancements including a new airport, Olympic buildings, improved public transportation and the planting of trees and shrubs throughout the city. Athens boasts an extraordinary number of historic sites. Among the most visited are the Agora, Temple of Zeus and the Dionysos Theater. Athens also offers notable museums with extensive collections of ancient Greek artifacts. Absorb Greek history and culture at the National Historical Museum, National Archaeological museum, the National Art Gallery and the new Acropolis Museum.
Spend a day wandering through the lively neighborhoods of Athens. Visit picturesque Plaka, the old city, situated on the slopes of the Acropolis, wind through Monastiraki and uncover a hidden treasure at the Athens flea market, or do some credit card damage at the high end shops of the fashionable Kolonaki district.
Greek cuisine is another draw of the country’s capital. Athens provides a plethora of restaurants that allow visitors to taste flavors from almost every area of Greece. Savor Greek’s top culinary products: Fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, yogurt and fresh seafood. In the afternoon, be sure to snag a table at one of the city’s countless outdoor cafes and chill out with a Frappé -- a foam covered iced-coffee drink.
When to Go
With mild winter temperatures and hot summers, throngs of visitors come to Athens year-round. Tourism peaks between June through August and top tourist sites become very crowded. April-May and September-October are ideal times to visit and hotel rates are less expensive.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Athens is to fly. Direct flights are offered by the Greek carrier, Olympic Airways, from JFK to Athens International Airport (Eleftherions Venizelos). Delta also offers nonstop service to Athens from the U.S. Travelers can also find indirect flights to Athens and many major carriers that require connections through Europe. Once at the airport, travelers can easily access central Athens via convenient public transportation. The Metro links the Athens International Airport to the heart of the city.