Athens Greece - Attractions & Sightseeing
Athens is the capital of Greece - a vast, modern city dominated by one of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. The inspirational Acropolis is without doubt its biggest attraction and many foreign visitors do the obligatory climb to the top before moving swiftly on to one or more of the Greek islands. But linger a while in this smog-filled, hopelessly congested, sprawling metropolis and you'll find a feast of unexpected treasures.and you don't have to be a history or culture buff to enjoy them.
You won't be inspired as you make the journey from the airport by taxi or trolleybus. The tendrils of modern Athens have spread far and wide since the early part of the 20th century when a compulsory population exchange between Greece and Turkey led to the hasty construction of ugly apartment blocks. As you wait with bated breath for your first glimpse of the Parthenon all you'll see are endless lines of car showrooms, factories, high-rise housing and seedy sex clubs.
The traffic in Athens is nothing short of manic and driving in the city can be hair-raising, whether or not you're at the wheel. If you're visiting in the summer there's every chance that you'll arrive at your hotel very hot, very tired and very frustrated. But don't despair. After a cool shower, change of clothes and a spot of deep breathing, make your way via the city's ultra modern metro to Syntagma Square which is a five minute walk from the delightful old Turkish quarter of Plaka. Just before the sun goes down, find yourself a taverna with a roof terrace giving views of the Acropolis then sit back and enjoy one of the most splendid sights in the world.
Plaka is a magnet for foreign visitors at night time. This is the historic heart of Athens consisting of an alluring maze of pedestrianised streets. Few could fail to be charmed by Plaka's fairytale quality despite the fact that the place is chock-a-block with souvenir shops and restaurants which employ some of the pushiest waiters in the world (one can only assume they earn commission for each customer they manage to drag inside).
If you only have a few hours to spend in Athens a visit to the Acropolis is a must and it won't disappoint. Grit your teeth, fight your way through the scrum of tourists on the long trek up to the top and marvel at the ancient remains of the Parthenon - the famous temple of the goddess Athena, built in the 5th century BC.
Other top attractions in town include the National Archaeological Museum - one of the finest museums in the world housing a priceless collection of Greek antiquities including the golden mask of Agamemnon.
There are enough museums and ancient sites to satisfy the hungriest of historians (this is a city where important archaeological finds are displayed in glass cases in the metro!). And for the less culturally inclined, there are shady tavernas, the Monastiraki flea market where you can pick up some great bargains and a huge supply of late night music bars offering traditional bouzouki music and Greek folk dancing.
Also see the Athens holiday city break guide......