Athens, a bustling city of 4-million-plus residents and the oldest inhabited city in the world, is full of contrasts and pleasant surprises. A leisurely stroll around the narrow alleys of the old Athenian quarter of Plaka – the “neighbourhood of the Gods” – is a must, while a walk down history lane on the pedestrian zone that unifies the city’s archaeological attractions – starting at the ancient Stadium – reveals the rich heritage of its past; then off for a cup of coffee at a side-walk café in central Syntagma Square – where the heart of the modern city beats – or at the trendy Kolonaki neighbourhood where the capital’s “beautiful people” go to “see and be seen”.
The walk up to the top of Lycabettus Hill – or a ride up on the funicular – rewards the daring with a panoramic view of the city, the surrounding mountains and the Saronic Gulf; the green suburbs of Kifissia and Ekali to the north can be easily accessed by train, while spending a few hours by the sea at the port-city of Piraeus or at the upscale southern suburb of Glyfada is an equally relaxing and exciting experience. Throughout the city, excellently preserved churches with unique wall paintings and rare mosaics dating back 1000 years are nestled amidst contemporary buildings, while a plethora of indeed interesting museums will satisfy the most discerning visitors. Not far from the capital there are many attractions that are ideal destinations for leisurely day trips.
Choose to explore the 11th century Kaisariani Monastery, the battleground, tomb and museum at Marathon, the archaeological site of Ramnous and the splendid Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion rising over a stretch of coastline dotted with luxurious hotels.
One could travel to Athens a hundred times and never tire of it. From the Acropolis to its sun-soaked beaches, the city’s antiquities merge harmoniously with the refined, cosmopolitan air of a modern resort with luxurious hotels, broad tree-lined avenues and rich commercial stores.