Weekend City Break in Athens - Attractions - Tours & day trips
Athens has been attracting visitors for more than 3500 years, so it's hardly surprising to find that the city is knee-deep in history. Home to arguably the most famous building in the world, the Parthenon represents the 'golden age' of Athens urban planning and is aesthetically impossible to compete with, yet the Romans, Byzantines and Venetians also left impressive architectural footprints on the city.
But far from being a museum piece, Athens is a living and breathing city which is home to just less than half the population of Greece. Beneath a jumbled skyline of elegant neoclassical facades and whitewashed sugar-cube houses, the historic Plaka quarter is a colourful mishmash of antique shops and flea-markets, market stalls are piled high with fresh fish and enormous tubs of olives, while well-stocked tables spill out of pavement tavernas. While most people visit Athens to get a flavour of the ancient city, it's the modern one that they fall in love with.
Many of the problems that have historically dogged Athens (such as poor public transport and a lack of decent mid-range hotels) have been consigned to the history books thanks to the financial windfall provided by the 2004 Olympics. New museums are opening up, streets are becoming pedestrianized and in short there's never been a better time to take a city break in Athens.
The Acropolis tops most visitors' 'to do' lists, and understandably so. Crowned by the Doric bulk of Perikles' Parthenon; the Acropolis provides the best lesson in classical architecture that you'll find anywhere on the planet. Satellite buildings include the slender Ionic columns of the Temple of Athena Nike and the six female Caryatids of the Erechtheion . The sheer scale of the Theatre of Dionysus is testament to the role of theatre in ancient Greece (after all they did invent tragedy and comedy), and summer performances are still put on in the neighbouring Roman Theatre of Herodes Atticus .
Athens is one city that doesn't want anyone to leave without feeling culturally full - if not stuffed. However, if you're still feeling peckish after the Acropolis the Benaki Museum offers a smorgasbord of cultural curiosities, while the National Archaeological Museum could keep you busy for days (although for many a quick gawp at Agamemnon's Death Mask will do). For a break from the bustle of Athenian life, and a chance to take stock of everything, it's hard to beat the 40 acres of shady peace and quiet provided by the National Gardens.
http://www.gnto.gr - Greek National Tourism Organisation
Map of Athens (Αθήνα)