THE Greek capital has a charm all of its own – a mix of ancient sights and great places to eat and drink.
WHY SHOULD I GO? Modern Athens has an infectious energy. There are famous monuments and museums that remind you of the city’s role as the birthplace of democracy.
If you want to add beach time to your break, the Athenian Riviera spreads along the Attica peninsula offering clear waters and sandy beaches within 40 minutes.
STREETS ARE MADE FOR WALKING? Athens’ centre is easy to navigate on foot but take shoes with good grip, as pavements are often uneven and slippery.
Enjoy a break from the urban buzz with a stroll along Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, a tree-lined promenade linking the main archaeological sites — the Acropolis, Parthenon and the Herodion.
Nearby Plaka, the city’s oldest neighbourhood and once the Ottoman quarter, has pink bougainvillea, gorgeous houses and plenty of cafes and restaurants with terraces, serving strong Greek coffee or ouzo.
ANYTHING FOR THE BUCKET LIST? Sitting high up on the Acropolis, the Parthenon is the most famous sight in Athens, and deservedly so.
Built between 447 and 437BC, the white marble monument gleams in the sun and is illuminated at night, visible from most parts of the city.
The views will impress even the most jaded of travellers and on the first Sunday of the month, from November to March, entry to the Acropolis is free.
Take in a show at the beautiful open-air Odeon of Herodes Atticus — known as the Herodion. This 5,000-seat stone amphitheatre, just below the Acropolis, is the main venue for the Athens Festival, running from May to October.
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For a cooling and unforgettable end to the day, book a sunset sea kayak trip along the Athenian Riviera at Cape Sounion under the Temple of Poseidon.
WHERE SHOULD I EAT? From street food to fine dining, Athens will feed you well. The cafe and taverna scene brims with places for classics such as souvlaki (marinated meat skewers), spanakopita (spinach and feta filo-pastry pie) and the ubiquitous Greek salad.
Food markets are a great way to see the produce that goes into the local dishes and the centuries-old Athens Central Market is a good starting point.
Whether vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater, everyone who goes to eat in Avocado, on a side street between Syntagma and Plaka, loves the generous portions of organic and seasonal dishes.
I FANCY A DRINK: Make sure you pick a venue with a view, whether it’s the Acropolis or a deeply scenic street where you can watch the Athens nightlife go by.
Shedia Home is a non-profit venue close to the Acropolis that trains the homeless and sells household items they create from leftover copies of Shedia, their version of the Big Issue magazine. Sit inside sipping a cold Mythos beer.
There’s also Drunk Sinatra, a fun bar paying tribute to ‘Ol Blue Eyes, with Fifties and Sixties-inspired decor. Jazz and bossa nova up the atmosphere on a weekend night.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY? The 5H Green Suites Hotel is a little further out, in the suburb of Nea Chalkidona. You will love the plant-filled patio where you can enjoy breakfast.
This minimal, new-build hotel is all about energy saving in style, with a rooftop pool and bar overlooking The Acropolis, Lycabettus hill, and Mount Parnitha, and the soothing spa and sauna.
In the city centre, The Asomaton is a 100-year-old townhouse, once a derelict repair shop for horse-drawn carriages.
Guided by the strict laws of the Ministry of Culture, the 19-room boutique hotel features original stone walls, industrial-style metal stairs and beams.
Sit on the Acropolis rooftop terrace with a glass of red, white or rose from the all-Greek wine cellar and some sun-ripened olives.