The capital of Greece is a sprawling port city with about 3.7 million inhabitants surrounded by Mount Ymettos, Mount Parnitha, Mount Pendeli and the Aegean Sea. The birthplace of Classical Greece, and in many ways Western civilization, boasts numerous famous classical buildings now regarded as icons of Ancient Greece including the Parthenon, Erechtheion,Hephaisteion and the temple at Sounion.. Most travelers focus on Syntagma Square (Plateia Syntagmatos), as most points of interest are located near to this epicenter. Athens also offers visitors great restaurants, an excitingly varied nightlife and festivals such as the well known Athens festival. Honeymooners can also venture out of the city to enjoy the sandy beaches just south of Athens.
When To Go:
Best weather: March to May, and October to November. Summers can get quite hot (73–89?F averages), while winters can be chilly (44–58?F averages).
What To Do:
Climb Lycabettus hill: Dine in open-air taverns and restaurants next to the spectacular caldera. Local specialties such as octopus in onion sauce and mussels with rice and raisins will keep you coming back night after night.
Take in the views: Legend has it that the hill was created from a rock dropped by the goddess Athena who wanted to build a temple as close as she could to the heavens. The walk will take around 20 minutes, with rewards of panoramic views across to the Acropolis and the sea beyond.
Watch the changing of the guard: In Syntagma Square. The Evzone guards, who wear pleated skirts, long socks and bobbles on their shoes, goose-step past each other in a 15-minute changing of the guard ceremony that takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside the parliament building.
Wander the bazaar in Monastiraki: The 19th-century covered market houses regiments of butchers' counters and marble shelves of ice-coated fish, while outside, alleys reminiscent of an oriental souk are stacked with highly-specialised stalls selling anything from pistachios to buckets of olives and slabs of cheese.
Acropolis views at Thissio: Sit, relax and enjoy one of the best views of the Acropolis from the large pedestrianised square on the corner of Apostolou Pavlou, in Thissio. The rock of the Acropolis rises above the trees, crowned by the Parthenon, and looks at its best in the golden, late-afternoon light.
The national gardens: Take refuge in the shade of the 15-hectare national gardens, once the private gardens of the presidential palace, and stocked with plants from all over the world. Rest and picnic on one of the numerous benches or stroll past tall date palms and ponds filled with ducks and terrapins.
Party central: The Greek are a carpe diem kind of crowd, living it up every night of the week. (They work this into their schedule with the help of a nice afternoon nap for fortification.) The laid-back Athenians roam the Plaka until late in the evening; eat a leisurely dinner; and then spread out to dance the night away in the city's plethora of bars, lounges, and nightclubs. Join the pack, and you'll find yourself deep in one of Europe's hottest nightlife scenes.