The capital of Greece is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having played an integral part in the workings and successes of Ancient Greece. Unsurprisingly, Athens, which is also known as the birthplace of Western civilisation, has a host of activities, buildings and landmarks that showcase its well-known past.
Today, Athens is fast becoming one of the go-to destinations for millennials, as it combines historical sites such as the Acropolis with hip and trendy bars and restaurants, as well as a popular nightlife scene.
Cruise ships dock at the New Passenger Terminal in Piraeus, which is approximately eight miles from Athens city centre.
There are 11 berths and three terminals for cruise ships, hosting approximately 20 million passengers per year.
Taxis are usually located outside the terminal, while there is also a bus service from Piraeus to Acropolis. Line 1 of the local metro system, which runs directly into the centre of Athens, is about a 20-minute walk from the terminal.
NEED TO KNOW
Public transport is widespread in the city, with bus, metro and tram systems in operation. The city has also recently transitioned from paper tickets to smart cards, similar to the Oyster card in London.
The summer months are warm in Athens, with average temperatures of 26-30°C. Take the Euro when travelling to Athens, however be prepared to carry cash as some smaller shops and restaurants do not accept card.
The large shopping centres are generally open from early till late, although smaller shops will often follow a different pattern.
WHAT WE LOVE
Benaki Museum: Guests can explore three floors of exhibits, ranging from the Bronze Age to World War Two, as well as Byzantine artefacts and Greek regional costumes. The museum was established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, in memory of his father, and is housed in the original Benaki family mansion.
Benizelou Mansion: The oldest house in Athens, built during the Ottoman era, is now a popular visitor attraction. The main exhibitions focus on the Benizelos family, and in particular Agia Filothei, who became a nun and lived in the mansion during the 16th century.
Panathenaic Stadium: The Panathenaic is one of the foremost monuments in Greece. Notable for its connection to the Olympic Games – it hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern games in 1869 and is where the Olympic flame is transferred to the next host city – the venue traces its roots back to 338 BC, when Lycurgus, an orator in Ancient Greece, outlined plans for a stadium.
Hadrian’s Gate: Sitting in one of the city’s busiest avenues, this arch, also called Hadrian’s Gate, pays homage to the Roman emperor of the same name. It was erected in approximately 131 AD and has survived in remarkably good condition.
- Bursting with classic architecture, Athens is a bucket-list destination for history fans
- The nightlife options make it an up-and-coming place for younger travellers
- Culture on every corner