Since the Age of Pericles the Acropolis has dominated the Athenian skyline, it is an ancient backdrop to this modern, cosmopolitan city. The bustling city of Athens is crammed with shops, lively tavernas, bars, historic landmarks, and cafes, where you can take refuge from the mid-day sun and enjoy a frappe (ice-coffee). The chic district of Kolonaki has dozens of trendy cafes and boutiques. Nestled beneath Lykavitos Hill, it is “the” place in Athens to sip coffee and people-watch.
There are hundreds of inexpensive eateries serving up dishes of hearty Greek cuisine. Often the little holes-in-the-wall with a simple grill and rickety tables are the best, but if you are looking for something more upscale, Athens’ has it. Some delicious dishes worth sampling are moussaka (layers of eggplant, minced meat and potatoes topped with cheese sauce and baked), yemista (stuffed tomatoes or peppers), soutzokakia (spicey meatballs in tomato sauce), and melizanes papoutsakia (baked eggplant, stuffed with meat and tomatoes and topped with cheese). You can also pass the evening at an ouzeri in the old Turkish quarter of Plaka, nibbling on small plates of mezedhes (appetizers) and sipping ouzo under the Acropolis.
The nightlife does not end till the break of dawn. There is a multitude of hip seaside clubs. Wandering around the famous flea market of Monastiraki will prove absolutely delightful. The whole area is littered with ancient ruins. There are several good museums in Athens, but the nations finest is the National Archaeological Museum. Opened since 1874, it has the world’s greatest collection of Greek antiquities.
A stay in Athens would not be complete without a visit to the Acropolis. Towering over the winding alleyways of Plaka and Monastiraki, it is unsurpassable in grandeur, beauty and historic importance. The Parthenon is a particularly awesome sight in the setting sun and by the light of the full moon. It was the original city and dwellings of the early Kings and their court. Pericles spared no expense, only the best materials, architects, sculptors and artists were good enough for this city dedicated to the goddess Athena. Amongst the four surviving monuments is a museum, which houses a collection of sculptures and reliefs from the site. The Theatre of Herodes Atticus, on the slopes below the Acropolis, host’s dance, drama and music performances throughout the summer.
South of Athens is Piraeus, the largest commercial port in Greece with boat connections to all the Greek islands. Continuing along the coast from Piraeus, there are several fine marinas: Marina Zea, charming Micro Limeno with a multitude of outdoor fish tavernas to choose from, Palaio Faliro, Kalamki (the largest), Glyfada, and Vouliagmeni, where the rich dock their impressive yachts. In addition there is Lavrion, the newly constructed Olympic Marina, it is a jumping board to the Cyclades. All of these marinas are conveniently located only an hour from Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Spata.
At the southeastern tip of Attica, 70km from Athens is Cape Sounion. It is here, 65m above the sea, where the Temple of Poseidon is located. Built in 444 BC, during the same time as the Parthenon, the temple is discernable from a great distance. It is a worthwhile excursion; the stretch of coastline from Athens is dotted with lovely beach resorts.